The first massage I received was also my first day of massage school. An hour into my first class, we were asked to find a massage partner to exchange massages with. I was confused, how could they ask me to do something without teaching me first?!
My partner held up a sheet while I undressed underneath it, surrounded by 30 other students doing the same. I was already embarrassed about choosing a profession without ever having a massage experience, and now I am in a class with other naked people I had just met!
I suddenly became vulnerable. I hadn’t anticipated a stranger touching me THAT VERY DAY! I have always felt comfortable and secure in my skin, but in that moment I began doing a mental checklist:
- Do I smell?
- Did I shave my legs today?
- Is there sock lint in between my toes?
- What if my partner drops the sheet?!
Wide-eyed, I stared at the floor through the tiny face hole. My senses heightened and I tuned in to what was happening around me. My inexperienced partner practiced his massage while an instructor coached the students one by one.
Even in my own inexperience, I was already able to feel my partner's intentions. His mind wasn’t thinking about my unshaved legs. He wasn’t looking at that ugly scar on my arm. His focus was centered on why he was there in the first place. I relaxed to his touch, and the previously noisy conversations of the other students became ambient.
Too quickly, my turn was over and my partner was beneath my hands. I knew I had made the right career choice the more I worked his muscles. When my turn finished, I was surprised as he got up, as I had completely forgotten what he looked like! I was happy as he smiled and thanked me for the experience.
Years have passed since that first massage, and I still sometimes get so focused on my work I forget what my client looks like.
The point I’m making if it hasn’t become clear is this: don’t sweat the small stuff.
Your therapist only wants you make you feel better! They aren’t concerned with any of the little insecurities we worry about when we are put in a vulnerable position.
Relax, breathe, and tune out that little voice in your head. It’s the best way to enjoy your massage!