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they are my own child

My Washington State Massage License is going to be renewed late, costing me an extra $80 plus the continuing education I'm going to have to get. However, it made me realize how glad I am to have it, and how glad I am to have the opportunity to do bodywork.

I love the feeling of unfolding the table and shaking out a clean set of flannel linens. I fly them over the table with a billow and pull them down, smoothing out every corner. I stand up next to the person and say, "So...tell me about your bod."

Then they tell me all the ways they hurt and the ways they hurt themselves. All of their private worry about their poor mortal coils trickles out and they look at me, pleading with me somehow to fix them. But I can't fix anyone. Here's what I can do:

I have them lay down with their head up and I slide my palm underneath their head and just lift at the base of the skull ever so slightly. I see their fists release a little as I pull, and run my fingers through their hair. Slowly I rock them back and forth, pull at them, stretch them, dance with them in little pirouettes in my own mind as I see a little 3-D web of what needs to be released.

Tension is like a thick knot of yarn. You can't just go into the center of it and start yanking. You have to start at the edges and loosen things up. Sometimes you have to just take one thread and meticulously backthread it through a hundred loops. Sometimes you DO just tug a little.

Some people need to be touched super gentle, and other people need their bodies bossed around a little. Every person relates to touch differently. When I have their gentle skull resting in my hands, though, it always feels like they are my own child and I want to take care of them.

In the end, they get up a little less restricted, a little further out of the body's "fight or flight" response, where it can come into homeostasis and heal itself. No one has ever scome to me for any length of time and not noticed some real change. It takes two to create really good bodywork, and people forget that. They are thanking me when I should really be thanking them. It can be just as healing for me, and I'm the one who leaves with a cheque.