stomach tension. maybe headaches. or whatever. It‘s the job of the practitioner to suss out the subtle ways that each individual deals with the stresses and tensions in their body. and slowly to get to the root of them. For some people one massage every six months might be sufficient. for others nothing less than an intensive programme of weekly sessions will do. Others still might find that another less-physical form of therapy is more appropriate.
In describing the effects of
It’s not unusual for my practitioner to be working on one part of the body, say the
hips, while I experience a sensation in a completely different part as the flow of energy is restored.
massage. it‘s easy to sound either naive or. worse. like a spaced-out hippy. This is because the effects are simple and are experienced through a physical. not mental. process. There's no complex ideology. no intellectual phrasing that can make me sound anything but stupid — or else a tremendous pseud — when I explain how. on one of my first sessions, I became aware of the vast landscape of my foot for example. It's easy to lose touch with your body, and when someone reactivates the nerve endings. reconnects the lines of communication. it can come as quite a revelation. Yes. my feet seemed huge that day.
One of the ideas behind therapeutic massage is that there are lines of energy running vertically up the body which can be blocked by the tension of muscles. It‘s not unusual for my practitioner to be working on one part of the body. say the hips. while I experience a sensation in a completely different part — pins and needles in my fingertips. for example — as the flow of energy is restored.
Similarly — and I used to notice this '
more than I do now — it is quite common to feel less well for the day or two after a massage. as toxins are released and expelled from the body. The massage initiates the work. but the body continues it.
It‘s not only physical tension that our muscles hold in. The stomach in particular is often the store of all manner Of emotional tension. the release of which can sometimes be
Tender all over.
traumatic. Some months into my year of massage. my practitioner felt confident enough — it takes time for both people to feel comfortable with each other - to begin serious work on the muscles in my stomach. To my surprise. I was confronted by the same pain that had been diagnosed as ‘psychosomatic‘ when l was fourteen and which I thought I had felt the last of. The cause of this pain might indeed have been cerebral. but it was a shock to realise. thirteen years on. that the pain itself was not ‘all in the mind‘. but very real and. more to the point. still with me. Facing up to this pain during massage involved an emotional release that drove me to tears. A truly cathartic experience. albeit rather disturbing at the time.
Mid-way through the year. I became obsessed with an ill~defined idea of 'truth‘. I think it was to do with facing up to emotional tension. but perhaps also to do with beginning to recognise life as a physical as well as an intellectual experience. You might be able to deceive your mind. but it‘s a lot harder to deceive your body -— you can convince your brain that everything is hunky-dory. but lie to your body and one way or another it's going to let you know about it. And it struck me that in one respect my practitioner knew more about me than almost anyone. without her knowing any of the daily details of my life. In other words. it seemed possible to have an awareness that wasn‘t determined in the ususal verbal or mental way.
I can‘t express myself more clearly — certainly not without being hounded out of the office — except to say that in some hard—to-pin-down way. massage goes beyond the mere relaxation of muscles and begins to effect your whole outlook. Indeed. this is true to the holistic aim of the practice which. according to the official blurb. seeks to integrate ‘the energies of the body. mind and spirit through a two-way flow of touch and response‘. You might go in because you‘ve got a bad back. but you're likely to come out feeling positive about a great deal more.
My practitioner is ( 'indy Cunningham, 94 [)undas Street, Edinburgh. ()3/ 556 7736.
A complete list of practitioners is available from The Registrar. The Society of Holistic Practitioners. 4 Craig Park, Demzistotm G3 I ZNA.
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The List 20 December 1991— 16 January 1992 89