I just finished an Advanced Esalen Massage Workshop! The experience got me thinking about what it means to be doing "advanced" work. There are lots of ways to distinguish an experienced bodyworker, but the clearest indicator of skill, in my opinion, is the use of the pause.
A massage session is a compilation of various textures created with hands, forearms, fists, knuckles and a variation of pressure . These distinct sensations are woven together in a dynamic choreography by the practitioner. A seasoned Massage Practitioner will know that there's another texture, the texture of rest, that is as valuable to the healing benefit of bodywork as any massage stroke
(if not more so). The rest is the moment in which the mind of the receiver can 'drop in' to the experience, making deeper contact with their selves. The pauses cultivate energetic awareness and allows the massage to have an impact beyond the realm of the physical.
The advanced practitioner is truly an artist, carefully selecting the moments of silence and interspersing them with dynamic movement. It can take years to cultivate inner stillness and confidence to allow the experience to unfold without attempting to rush it. Even though I've been practicing for nearly two decades, I find that it's a constant practice to find my grounded-center and remember that I don't have to be constantly 'doing something' during a massage. To draw a metaphor from music - it's moments of silence, the space in between the notes that really brings the soul of the song to life.
I encourage you to play with the pause (both in your massage sessions and in the rest of your life). - You'll find that those intentional breaks will add a layer of meaning to your work.
Speaking of breaks, I'm still working hard on the 'self-care' guidelines for my students. If you have any thoughts or contributions, please email me 'firstname.lastname@example.org'
Wishing you all love,