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  • Writer's pictureRachael Scott, BS, LMT

Massage as a Form of Meditation

In mythology, every hero has an origin story... and so as a massage therapist, here's mine.

When I was 17 years old and living at boarding school during the week, while working at the hardware store in my hometown on the weekends my life looked like this: class, homework, drive, study, work, eat, sleep, repeat. Everything was tightly scheduled, though it felt the delicate balance could collapse at any time.

The underlying issue that made everything that much harder, was a completely unstable home life with mental illness and codependency as the norm. My whole system was wound up so tight, it was hard to breathe. That's why I went to boarding school in the first place - seeking stability, control and focus on academics in a safe and supportive environment.

In hindsight, it's not surprising that was the year I developed a severe recurring pain in my right ear. This terrible pain would strike suddenly, seemingly from nowhere and completely debilitate me for hours or days. I went to see specialist after specialist in hopes they would find out what was wrong with my ear and fix it so I could get back to business.

After MRI's and sleep studies and all manner of being poked and prodded, it was declared that there was nothing wrong with my ear. It was severe pain with no obvious physical cause. A familiar story to many.

Eventually an ear, nose and throat doctor recognized that my neck and shoulders felt tight and that I was clearly under lot of stress. He recommended that I try massage therapy to see if it would relieve my ear pain.

Through massage I discovered a new meditation.

For the sake of convenience, I scheduled with the massage therapist in the office above the hardware store where I worked. She saw me - this anxious, exhausted teenager - and provided an hour a week of nothing more or less than soothing touch for my neck, head and shoulders.

It was during those hours of peace and quiet that I discovered a stillness within myself. The burdens of school, family and work which occupied my mind drifted away as I melted into a state of deeper consciousness. Massage offered a new form of meditation, more powerful than anything I'd experienced before.

Though I'd already practiced self-hypnosis for years at that time, massage offered a completely new way through which I could access a restful, relaxed state. Focusing on the sensations of pleasant touch, breath and movement allowed me to drift into a calm awareness of simply being. So much of my days were consumed with trying to stay in control of everything, that the letting go feeling bodywork offered was a revelation.

Now I create the opportunity for others.

Years later my love of both receiving and giving touch in this way led me to study massage as a profession. Because of my personal experience, I've always striven to craft sessions where people feel safe to explore their bodies and find freedom from pain and anxious thinking.

It doesn't come easily to everyone. In massage, there are times when talking and emotional sharing are just as therapeutic as silent meditation. Not everyone wants to let go of words and thoughts, or at least not all the time.

Yet, there is an opportunity within the context of holistic bodywork to do just that. Out beyond thinking and speaking and doing - there is a place where movement, breath and touch invite a playful awareness of being in the moment. When we find peace and enter a state of blissful oneness - we can let go of pain, stress and fear.


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