Friday, June 08, 2007

Ice Fishing

I was a little surprised when Debbie said, at the start, "I don't like really aggressive work, or really deep work." Maybe it's something she says at the start of every student massage; I hope so; I really don't want to be projecting the sort of energy that would prompt someone to say that. Anyway, it was with some chagrin that I got the feedback at the end that she had the feeling I was pulling my punches a little, holding back from what she called "deep contact." "Well of course I was," I didn't quite say, "that's what you told me to do!"

But it's part of something that I've been learning all this quarter: to trust my instincts, and not to let what my client says override what my hands are telling me. "Rely on the chief witness," as the Tong Len aphorism has it. Meaning oneself.

But I know I gave a very competent massage, and she fell asleep a couple times; since what she'd asked for was relaxation, that's pretty good evidence that she got what she asked for. It wasn't however -- obviously -- what she really wanted.

I highlight the only dissatisfaction I had. It was a lovely experience. I have had a close rapport with Debbie since the day last August when -- supposedly to get my documentary proof that I had had a professional massage, but really as part of researching the teachers at East-West -- I got a massage from her. She gave me a warm hug at the door, as I left, then. (Something I gallantly forebore to disclose when a couple months later, in her Massage I class, she told us one shouldn't do that.) A few days later I walked out the door of IBM for the last time. I was done with cubicle-land. I wanted to touch people.

That time, the massage was excellent but not -- in Debbie's words -- "memorable"; this time she gave me a kick-ass massage. I think she was showing off a bit; certainly she was demonstrating what she meant by deep contact. I went in feeling pretty stoked about all I'd learned since Massage I, and I left feeling like I didn't know a damn thing. But inspired. My body had been torn down and completely rebuilt. By God, I thought, I'm going to learn how to do work like that.

I love her office. Earth tones and orange and red -- the padma colors, the heart-Buddha colors. That's what I mean to have too. It's interesting that the Medicine Buddha is blue -- if I were going to do physical therapy, or massage that leaned in that direction, I'd go for blue. Ratna. But that's not what I'm aiming for. I'm all about padma. Connection. Detachment is not my path.

She has a little fountain that gives the sound of trickling water. Can't quite decide whether I think that's sublime or a bit artificial and over the top. And music. I've got to get my music act down. People are going to want it, by and large. I liked the heated table, which surprised me, since I'm often too warm (especially after doing massage!) But it was fine.

She said my abdominal massage was fabulous, which delighted me. She also, like Tele, was completely fine with me reaching under both sides at once to work around the iliac crest from beneath.

She spoke of how she uses accupressure points. "It's like ice-fishing," she said. "Ways in." A whole new set of terminology and locations to learn. But obviously worth it. Several times she used them, to tremendous effect: where I would have laboriously worked over a whole muscle with deep compression and petrissage, she went straight to one spot, and melted the whole muscle from there. She did what I take five minutes to do in one. No wonder I always want to take two hours; it's because I'm so slow. It's good that I want to do a complete massage, but the clock-time required to do that may be a lot less than I've always thought.

No comments: