Sunday, July 27, 2008

Spiritual Massage: Suggestions for Experiencing Sacred Bodywork

Everything in life has a spiritual aspect, and receiving massage is no different. There are times, however, when a bodywork session seems particularly sacred and you feel as if you have transcended your ordinary material world and entered a special state. You connect with your essence and are immersed in a deep well of peace. You find restoration in being connected to the spirit – both personal and universal. In this sacred space, there is access to powerful resources of healing and transformation.

Experiences like this can’t be forced, yet there are conditions that support the flow of spiritual energy during the massage session. These include feeling safe, having a meditative object to focus on, and letting go of an expected outcome.

Possibly the most important condition is having a sense of safety. Feeling safe includes being listened to, having a sense of privacy, having confidence in the massage therapist, and feeling comfortable in the environment. Knowing that you are accepted and that the massage therapist can meet whatever arises with compassion and respect is also important.

In addition to feeling safe in the external environment, you need to feel safe on the inside. This means trusting your ability to handle pain and emotions, so that you can allow yourself to feel as fully as possible. Ironically, when you let go of your defenses against feeling what you fear is unpleasant, you open the door for spiritual connection.

During the massage, getting into a meditative state is helpful. Finding a massage therapist with a good quality of touch is a strong foundation for this. When the massage feels great, you have less mental distraction about the actual bodywork. The wonderful touch can become an object of concentration. If you find yourself caught up in thought, bring your awareness back to the physical sensations of the strokes. Watching the breath is also very helpful. It’s not necessary to force deep or slow breathing, in fact this, effort could detract from the experience. Just bring awareness to the breath and notice its flow in and out of the body.

Finally, let go of expectations or desires of actually achieving a “spiritual” massage. Allow it to be what it is. If you spend the massage striving to achieve something, you lose the opportunity to relax. By relaxing and doing nothing, you are actually just being. It’s in the moments of being that you can experience your Essence, where you are connected to your deep Self and everything in the universe. In your essence, you find everything you need, including clarity, strength, compassion, peace and joy.

Try using these suggestions the next time you receive bodywork. You just might find it divine!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

The Healing Power of Crystal Singing Bowls

From August 7th - 10th, Angela Vaughan-Clark will be teaching a Singing Bowls workshop at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts. I asked her to write a guest post to describe her work.

I am very excited to share that I am about to give a ground breaking new class at the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts in Durango, Colorado. I feel that this class is ground breaking because it is the first time that I have partnered with a Massage School to offer information on the Singing Bowls.

After 25 years in the holistic field, and 12 years working with Singing Bowls, I can sincerely say this is the best knowledge available on the subject. I have personally experienced the outcome of taking the art of the Singing Bowls to previously undiscovered heights.

I have always known the incredible impact of utilizing the power of the Singing Bowls along with mind/body modalities. I will be teaching this knowledge to others against the gorgeous backdrop of Durango, Colorado.

Specifically, I will be letting the secret out about how the massage experience can be turned into a profound healing release when applying the Singing Bowl principles.

The vibrational sacred sound of the Singing Bowls assists the massage therapist is countless ways when working with the physical, mental, and emotional issues of their clients.

The sound alone is like a vacation on the table. Then you add the physical relaxation that comes along with the vibrational medicine created by the Singing Bowls and you have one happy client.

The Singing Bowls are a wonderful addition to a massage practice. They are easy to use but definitely have to be applied accurately to the situation. With correct training any massage professional can reap the numerous rewards offered by the beautiful Singing Bowls.

I am very excited about working in partnership with the Rocky Mountain Institute of Healing Arts. They are wonderful people and a whole lot of fun!

See you there ... August 7-10th!


Angela Vaughan-Clark
Singing Bowls Master Teacher/Practitioner

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Emotional and Spiritual Aspects of Receiving Massage

massage school experience,
When we are touched by another person, we can focus of the physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual aspects of the touch. The physical aspect of touch is usually pretty accessible. We’re used to experiencing the sensations of pressure, speed, pleasure or pain that accompany getting touched. For many of us, the mental qualities of our lives in general, not to mention touch, are very obvious. There’s the constant soundtrack of commentary going through our heads, even when we want to relax and have a massage or share a foot rub with a friend.

It can be much harder to be aware of the emotional and spiritual qualities of touch. Sometimes we compartmentalize these aspects of life. Emotions get relegated to talks with other people, sad movies, weddings, and extreme sports. Our spiritual lives are saved for church, temple, mosque, or the meditation cushion.

In spite of how we might tend to compartmentalize them, there’s no really no separation of the body, emotions, mind, and spirit in reality. This is great news because it points to using bodywork as a way to get “in touch” with our emotions and spirit.

As we receive touch, we can pay attention to the emotions that begin to surface. With just enough fortitude, we can meet these emotions with acceptance and even appreciation, allowing them to run their course. By being touched, we have an avenue for feeling what’s in us to feel. It’s a way to develop self-knowledge and authenticity. As an added bonus, when we allow the emotions to arise and run their course, we release them from our bodies and energy fields where they have been held, waiting for us to truly feel them.

Getting touched can open us into spiritual worlds as well. When we feel safe and are receiving bodywork from someone who is being present, we can notice our energy shift. We become connected to expansion and movement, united with something greater than ourselves, or aware of the qualities of our own essence as they arise. When we return to our ordinary state of consciousness, we may return with the awareness of peace, love, compassion, clarity, strength, or whatever else the touch opened up within us.

To explore the emotional and spiritual dimensions of massage or bodywork, find a therapist with maturity, experience, good boundaries, a non-judgmental attitude, and the ability to stay present throughout the massage experience. If you chose, discuss your intentions for the session and determine if the therapist feels like a good match for you. During the session, stay open to the possibilities without becoming attached to things turning out in any specific way. Allow yourself to have whatever experience you might have (even if it turns out to be a nap!) and welcome any rejuvenation or enlivenment that might occur. Enjoy!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Qualities of Touch: Physical, Emotional, Mental, and Spiritual

Touch: it’s one of our most basic needs and yet we usually don’t spend much time considering it. We know there’s a difference between “good touch” and “bad touch,” yet these terms are often limited to the discussion of sexually inappropriate touch. When we go to a master bodyworker, we sense that there’s something special about the quality of touch, but it can be hard to explain just what made it so special. It’s helpful to consider four aspects of touch—the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual—to understand what’s going on when we give and receive touch.
Physically, touch can run the gamut of experience from superficial or deep, fast or slow, smooth or abrupt, etc. Touch can have various physical effects on the recipient’s body. It can scratch the skin, break up scar tissue, dissipate or cause bruising, distribute oils, and activate endocrine or nervous system responses.

Emotionally, we can communicate feelings such as delight, surprise, anger, fear, and sadness through our touch. On the receiving end, emotions can arise in response to getting touched. For example, many people have experienced profound emotional releases while getting a massage.

Mentally, touch can be driven by our thoughts and beliefs. We can bring our intellectual knowledge of muscular anatomy to the way in which we touch another. We may notice our thoughts and beliefs driving how, why, or where we touch another-- such as in the “right” way to shake hands in a business setting. Just as emotions surface in response to receiving touch, so do thoughts and beliefs. We may notice judgments about our bodies, memories, or sudden insights arise when we are touched.

Spiritually, our touch can be fueled from our essential nature in ways that bring connection to our spirit and to another and emphasizes our union with all. We can bring essential qualities such as love, peace, compassion, strength, and clarity into the touch we give. Receiving touch can also connect us with our essential natures and with the ground of Being. During and after bodywork, recipients may feel expanded, peaceful, and connected. Obstructions to one’s true Self may be detected or transformed.

The next time you give or receive touch, notice what’s going on in each of these dimensions. Recognizing the various qualities of touch can empower you beyond the concepts of what feels “good” and “bad” to more fully meet your deepest needs in the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual realms.

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Self Love: An Added Benefit of Massage School

Sometimes it's hard for me to convey how much of a difference massage school can make in a person's life. I got this thank you email last month and was really touched by our graduate's words. I've reprinted it with his permission.

Rebecca (as well Donna, Davida, Ryan, and Kim),

I've been meaning to write to you for a while now but find this is the best time for me to do so. I wanted to say thank you. Thank you for helping me discover, in myself, the ability to be who I can. Even though I was still and arrogant little shit while at RMIHA, I was instilled with the tools to be someone who is compassionate and can learn to love-to love with my entire being. These last few years have been extremely difficult for me, and most especially my relationship with [my partner]. We entered each others lives as unhealthy, destructive children, who tried to love each other without knowing how to love ourselves. We tried, but our fear of pain kept us from fully opening up to each other and that fear spilled over into every aspect of US. When the bottom fell out we were both wounded so deeply, and old wounds that were never resolved joined in the fray. I pushed her away, and she felt abandoned. If, for nobody other than myself, I want you to know that I am indebted to you, because in that darkness of fear and pain, I found a grain of light. A grain of infinite possibility that I am a beautiful person. A grain that was revealed to me through my education at RMIHA. I realized that the person who really hurt me the most was myself, because I had not forgiven myself for things I still carried with me, and they prevented me from loving myself, and in turn, loving [my partner]. I have been buried in David Richo's books (which I also would not have known without my education) and I have realized that I can forgive myself, and I can love myself. And that now I can truly love those around me. To love them in a way which I had never known before. I see now that massage was not what I really learned, rather, I learned how but be human. How to feel, and how to love, truly and deeply. And so, from the bottom of my heart, thank you-so very much thank you. I'm ready to begin a new chapter in my life, and a new relationship with [my partner] that will finally be healthy and productive, and be the father that [my son] needs...I'm ready to grow up.

much love always,

-ef, Class of 2005

Friday, July 4, 2008

Massage Ethics as a Tool of Personal Growth: An Introduction

Most massage therapists receive Codes of Ethics and Standards of Practice from various sources. These lists of guidelines and rules are helpful in setting the professional standards for massage therapy. Yet, the "rules" can be slightly different from one organization to another and, like anything in life, external rules need to be supported by internal values to be successful. When we notice ourselves in the gray areas where the rules don't seem to work, it's a good time to look inward to see what's going on.

Take, for example, the rule "don't accept gifts from clients." A lot of times we will ask, "why not, what's wrong with that?" or "do we really want to become so impersonal that we can't accept a gift?" Good questions. In a situation where a client is offering a gift and we recognize the standard of not accepting gifts, yet we want to anyway, it's a great time to look at ourselves. Is the desire to accept the gift based upon our perceptions of what the client needs to enhance the therapeutic relationship? Is it based upon our own needs to feel special, appreciated, or wanted? The notion that if our motivations are client based it's less of an ethical dilemma than if they are personally based may or may not apply in all situations.
So...this rule ("don't accept gifts") is pointing to the emergence of transference and countertransference issues, which are rich ground for healing. When we delve into our countertransference, we often discover unmet needs, unexplored fears and desires. Which is really cool because when we bring them to consciousness, we have the ability to grow and transform.
While ethical dilemmas usually aren't very comfortable, if we approach them with the willingness to look inward, we can bring a lot of healing to ourselves--a true gift!

© 2008, Rebecca Mauldin, All Rights Reserved