Recently I worked on a woman who did massage back in the days when you were a masseuse, as opposed to a massage therapist, and when a masseuse was assumed to be a sex worker.
She took control of the session right from the start. She started giving me information before I had a chance to ask any question. Possibly before I opened my mouth, I can’t really remember. That can throw a person off.
She started on her medical concerns and issues. She asked where I trained and what the focus of my training was. She went back to her medical stuff. She started speaking of the tension she experiences at points on the occipital ridge, was I trained in the points?
She continued to rub her occipital ridge and mentioned a few other things.
Then she said, shall I get on the table?
I have some questions.
I asked the questions I needed answers to, went through my spiel about undressing as much as she is comfortable, how to get on the table, that I would be back in a minute and I left the room.
Thinking, oh, this is just going to be awesome.
In case you can’t see it, that thought was dripping with sarcasm. This was my first service of the day, 9AM, it was not looking good. I’ve been a massage therapist for 12 years, I have worked for a chiropractor, a spa and a large yoga retreat, as well as maintaining my own small private practice. In addition to my original training I have studied thai massage, reflexology, orthopedic massage, Lee Albert’s Positional Therapy Protocol, Reiki, prenatal massage, energy balancing, EFT. I’ve been exposed to shiatsu, trigger point therapy and Trager. Where I trained and the focus of my training, at the beginning of a 50 minute massage that will end at 10 till the hour, is not dispositive.
When I walked back into that room prepared for her to hate the session, to complain, to make my life difficult.
Again my client immediately took up control of the session. Unfortunately it was long enough ago, and I didn’t write it up soon enough, that I can’t remember what she said on the table.
What I do remember is that it was not correct or accurate.
I also remember that a part of me wanted to lay it out. Let her know that she needs to let the practitioner, me in this case, ask the questions and do the work.
Which, of course, is massively inappropriate and I would never do.
I took a nice, deep breath.
I find a nice, deep breath helps in every situation. A nice, deep breath quiets the body. A nice, deep breath quiets the mind. A nice, deep breath allows time for perspective.
A nice, deep breath. Suddenly this was all her thing, and I realized it didn’t need to be my thing.
Sure, she had controlled the intake, completely ignoring the fact that she maybe didn’t address everything I needed to know. Sure, she was still peppering me with questions about my knowledge once she was on the table. Sure, it felt like she was questioning my capability.
None of that made me less good at what I do. None of that subtracted from what I bring to the table. None of that actually made me less than what I am. None of that needed to be part of my process.
It was all her process. It only had to do with her needs. All I needed to do was respond honestly and do what I’m really good at - work the body and the energy.
I walked into that room needing to be right. Needing to be in control. Needing the service to go follow my flow, my comfort.
Until I took a nice, deep breath and realized I just needed to do what I do. And let her do what she does.
Letting go of the need to be right, to be acknowledged in a particular way, allowed me to experience the client, and her body, in the way I usually do, instead of through a cloud of righteous whatever.
She loved the work, told me I was talented and had wonderful energy.
I enjoyed it too.
Because letting go of being right and allowing is a truly beautiful place to be.1