If your body could talk to your partner what would it say?
My name is Linda Addario. I attended the Center for Natural Wellness School of Massage Therapy over 16 years ago, and have been practicing massage ever since. For me being in massage school was the big aha moment of: oh this is what I am supposed to be doing, and there was no looking back! I enjoy my practice and my clients. Often I meet a new potential client and help them with whatever pain or discomfort has brought them to massage, and they stay my client for years. I still see people that were my first clients. You can image the relationships that evolve in a similar way of hairstylists and bartenders. My intention has been to create a safe no-judgement space where people can really relax, open and heal.
Often, people will talk about their lives and what is on their minds. I have often joked, coming to my office is like going to Las Vegas. What happens here, stays here, like a vault. That being said, I will share a common comment: I wish my husband/wife/girlfriend/boyfriend/partner could do this for me. (Mind you what I do has no sexual implications.) Which got me thinking about how I could help bridge the gap. For years, I have pondered the possibility of couples massage class, not meant to replace the professional therapeutic massage, but to be used as a tool. Let’s talk about touch between partners. Touch is the first sense that we develop and it’s required for healthy development psychologically, emotionally and socially. Research has demonstrated that America is a low touch culture (Mead, 1955). In fact, American infants and children are the least touched on earth (Heller, 1997). Where does that leave us when we are in the world seeking connection? Living isolated lives leaves us touch hungry, even if we do not consciously recognize this reality. This touch hunger often extends into a feeling of isolation in our relationships. With many relationships today, we might only see our partner at the end of our fast-paced daily lives. By that point in the day, quite often each person’s head is spinning with the stress from work, family and economic uncertainties. Tension creeps into our minds and our bodies, leaving us feeling alienated from ourselves and others. Consequently, touch is the last thing on our minds. Now let’s consider the possible benefits of touch or massage. Science has shown that with massage chemicals are released in the body that can impact our bodies significantly. Massage can decrease the release of stress hormones such as cortisol (this stuff can make it hard to lose weight), norepinephrine, and epinephrine (think fight or flight response), while increasing serotonin and dopamine levels (think feel good hormones). The shift in these bio-chemicals has been proven to decrease depression (Field, 1998, 2003). It also enhances the immune system by increasing natural killer cells and killer cell activity, thus helping the body maintain its defense against pathogens (Field, 1998). Hence, touch is good medicine! Many couples have tried to share massage and touch, only to be met with disappointing complaints that they are too rough, or go too fast. Many men have commented their partner isn’t strong enough, or complain their hands get tired, or that they don’t know what they’re doing. There is also nothing great about someone who thinks rubbing a boney part is massage. Hint: Massage is for muscles - so stay on the soft spongy parts! All that being said, the great thing with massage is that once you get some of the logistics down and begin to enjoy the process of giving and receiving, the magic seems to happen. Space is created, that first touch happens, bodies relax, you both breathe, massage continues and the story unfolds - be the witness! What happens in life, manifests in the body, especially when it’s not the ideal fairy tale ending. Take this time to be kinder than is necessary. The body has memory, touch has the power to heal and help remind us of who we really are. Show up, do the work, enjoy the rewards! As a woman and a massage therapist, I love massage. I believe that any person who takes the time to hone his/her massage skills will increase his/her real estate value when it comes to relationships. Consider this your personal invitation to learn to help each other, heal each other, connect with and enjoy one another - to become partners in wellness!