Excellence and Intuition in Massage
by Patty Ceccoli, LMT
Excellence exists in all professions. In sports, it can often be observed, as in tennis or ice skating where fluidity and gracefulness delight the observer’s eye. For the athlete, it is commonly referred to as “in the zone,” where training and experiences synergistically meld into a greater endeavor. In business, there are those who have the uncanny ability to resolve challenges and bring out the best in their co-workers. The components credited for this excellence are often the same; good training, experience and that mysterious “je ne sais quoi”,the roots of which lie somewhere beyond the cognitive mind. Interestingly, it is exactly that indefinable presence which is absolutely required. It is the one ingredient that changes everything, merging us with qualities beyond ourselves.
In massage, it is the same; experiences of excellence take place. Educationally, most therapists carry a wide spectrum; either a diversification of modalities or a deep study in one school of thought. In terms of experience though, we stand alone. Often, the experience of excellence first arrives while the therapist is but a novice, still in school. Impressive and memorable, the story can be told in detail even years later. Many therapists speak of pursuing this elusive encounter throughout their careers, hoping to be engaged in its delight yet again.
Wonder leads to awe
The experience of excellence itself is one of wonder. The feel of the body, as well as the connection with it, has suddenly changed. To attempt to describe the shift is only baffling and belittling to the reality. The hands move as if being moved --- knowingly. The tissues transforming with a unique quality. The mind is quiet as the therapist’s full awareness is transfixed and fascinated with this shift. Not sure how it started, you’re almost afraid to breathe for fear of “breaking the spell.” If the “spell” continues, you notice that the work is indeed different, even if the modality being used is used regularly in your sessions.
The therapist moves as if in a trance --- a radiant trance — and the therapy that is accomplished during this time is stunning. Yes, good results usually happen, but this is extraordinary! Then, as quickly as it arrived, it is gone. All you can do is stand there beaming, thinking, “Wow! That was amazing! I want to do it again!”. It is this experience that massage therapists label as intuitive, giving true definition to that mysterious ingredient.
Recognizing your sixth sense
Intuition, according to Webster’s, is the immediate knowing of something without the conscious use of reasoning. Intuition is a predominantly unrecognized, yet inherent, property of massage therapy, a natural byproduct perhaps due to the extensive amount of open hands-on physical contact. Outside the healing arts, no other profession has as much open palm to body contact. Ask any gathering of massage therapists if they have experienced intuition during a session and 90 percent will raise their hands --- all with extraordinary stories to back them up! There is no research to support this but, it is this author’s opinion that few professions herald such numbers!
Invisible to science and microscopes, yet well known to all practitioners of the healing arts from ancient times to present, the intuitive body resides within and beyond the physical body. It knows on all levels (physically, emotionally and spiritually) the personal past, traumas, victories, pure potential and requirements for healing. In a world where the measuring stick of validity is owned by hard science, it is easy to lose sight of the greatness and depth that lie within bodywork. Those who have had this resounding experience of excellence, know well that what took place was beyond the ordinary. Unfortunately, doubt is a common companion and if the experience is not repeated, doubt begins to eat away at the importance of what took place. As soon as therapists diminish their own work, it is over. Excellence cannot enter where there is no space for its presence.
What has taken place is a union, a partnership between the therapist and the intuitive body. This union produces the ability to move into excellence; an excellence that provides the therapist with precise, therapeutic information, displaying exactly what the cellular body requires for its healing at this time. Here, within the cellular structure, it provides a bridge into pure knowledge --- knowledge in the sense of knowing, not to be confused with intelligence. Intelligence is related to learning and provides vital information the therapist brings to the partnership. Knowing, on the other hand, is related to information beyond ourselves, beyond learning --- intuitive, indeed.
Partnering with the intuitive body
It requires a bit of mind bending to realize fully that entering into partnership with the intuitive body is always available. And yet it is true. Even more startling is the realization that the choice to merge --- or not to merge --- lies solely with the therapist. The intuitive body is always available; ready, willing and certainly able. The bridge into partnership is an element of the therapists intention, a quiet mind and a willingness to be led. The benefits of working in tandem are so numerous that it begins to sound like a fairy tale. Yet, it takes but a moment’s reminder to recognize that the work has changed --- for the difference is palpable to the therapist’s highly trained fingers, hands and forearms.
Bridging into partnership with the IB is much like entering into meditation. It requires quieting of the mind and, at first, stillness. The breath is a key component. In placing full awareness on the breath, while gently lengthening both inhalation and exhalation, the inner chaos begins to quiet. Now, listening is possible. The bridge becomes apparent as contact, firm but gentle, is maintained. Direction arrives through the senses. Movement may be seen, rhythm felt, instructions heard, even the experience of a scent if essential oils are a part of the therapists’ repertoire. From this point, it is a practice in attentive and very active following, as the body responds and unfolds. Each session is now a unique and truly fascinating exploration, even with regularly seen clients.
Working in tandem with the intuitive body , we participate in relationships with clients in an active, supportive role that nourishes body, mind, intellect, emotions and spirit for both parties. It is a soulful walk, an honor indeed, to have the opportunity with every session to touch and experience the realm of excellence once again! And so evolution evolves.