Saturday, January 31, 2009

Student's Perpective on Massage

Preamble: Students are required to give and receive massage both in and out of class. Here is one student's experience.

I have a friend who is a massage therapist. This therapist has a client diagnosed with Parkinson disease. She asked if I could practice on him. I jumped at the opportunity. How lucky I was to be asked. Unfamiliar with the disease, I did my research on how to massage a person with Parkinson disease and set off to his house.

What a beautiful house it was. His home was built in 1904 and had a 200 year old live oak tree in the front yard. Ironically, I have driven by this beautiful house many times and pointed it out to my family. I remember wishing I could meet who lived there and walk inside. Now, as fate would have it, I was standing at the doorway about to get my wish.

My client was a gentleman in his mid sixties stricken with a severe case of Parkinson disease. As I help him on my massage table, I began worrying… “Was I ready for this?” Perhaps sensing my apprehension, his wife joined us in the room. She told me about what my friend, the massage therapist, had done. This information was both interesting and valuable. The man’s speech was affected by his disease, so his wife translated so I could understand what he was saying.

I let my hands follow my heart and started the massage. I used a light to medium pressure and lots of long gliding strokes. Throughout the experience, I heard the voices of my instructors in my head. I am thankful for them and their wisdom. Many times they assured me and my classmates; they had faith in us -- we could do the work. My client drifted in and out of restful sleep as his wife and I chatted. She stayed with us for the entire massage, telling me stories about their family and their life together.

Turning over was a challenge. He was very stiff and did not move easily. It took a few minutes for him to become supine. But once there, all was good. I worked on his neck doing some light stretching and pressure points. He told me that he felt much better and that he enjoyed my touch. It was at that moment that I saw the look in his loving wife's eyes. That look of love she had for her husband - that deep, from her soul, with everything she had, kind of love. The experience blew me away.

He asked me how long I'd been married. “Only 19 years,” I said. With a small tear in his eye, he told me that next month he and his wife will celebrate 50 years of marriage. He reached out for her hand and she stood there and held it for the rest of the massage. The love, compassion, and gratitude I saw exchanged between them were amazing. They not only loved each other, but respected and honored each other unconditionally. One rarely witnesses this kind of love anymore. At that moment, I realized that was the luckiest person in the world; massage had allowed me to be there in that moment. To see such love was a gift.

I know that being a massage therapist will be more than just a job; it will be a way of life. Massage is a gift and it is an honor to be able to help people -- to share a client’s joy and pain – to help heal the body and spirit. I feel grateful for my life’s path and for this school. The knowledge, support, and confidence all the instructors have shown for me and my fellow students is unbelievable. It propels us to be better therapists and better people. I'm sure that massage therapy will open many doors for me.

To feel is to know…

to know is to be.

-Lisa B.