This is an email received after the April 2016 TouchPro Chair Massage Class at the Connecticut Center for Massage Therapy. It made my day.
Hey there, David ~
Thanks for the memories, as the song goes. Just wanted to express my appreciation again for holding such an awesome class! As is often the case when I’m on sensory overload, it takes me a while after the experience for me to process all that occurred, and all I gained in the process. That was probably the most uncomfortable weekend I’ve spent in a while … which is actually a compliment, as I remind myself over and over again, that my greatest growth has so often sprung from my greatest discomfort. My head was reeling when I left, and my body just wanted to crawl into bed! But, over the past couple of days, I’ve been so excited about the idea of integrating chair massage into my practice, rather than merely using it as a marketing tool. I wasn’t sure what to expect from the workshop, figuring I’d learn some “nice” chair techniques that I could add to my toolbox, but what I came away with was so much more! If I hadn’t had such an acute case of massage head, I would have written a longer response to what I liked best about the course on the evaluation form.
Listening to your inspired talk about the evolution of chair massage to facilitate much-needed touch in our culture was inspiring, and motivating, and so much of what you said resonated with me. Without you knowing it, it’s as if you gave me permission to provide nurturing touch to my clients, without feeling the need to “fix” them … Wow, a breakthrough moment for me! Your teaching of a Kata really resonated with me, especially when I read what you wrote about the term in your manual: “If you trust the Kata and develop an honest relationship with it, you will be rewarded with unlimited insights about the nature of touch, massage, service, relationships, yourself, and your place in the grand scheme of the universe. Another advantage of practicing the Kata is that it becomes a discipline in the spiritual sense of the word. One of the hallmarks of every spiritual discipline is the practice of repetitive rituals that become automatic and allow for openings into higher states of consciousness… When you practice the TouchPro Kata it eventually becomes like a beautiful dance or a piece of classical music. Highly structured and choreographed, while it is the same each time, it is also different.” Beautiful!
For me, practicing massage has been like a sacred ceremony. Before I meet with a client for a table session, I say a prayer of intent, thanking God for allowing me to be a conduit, through which whatever my client needs most is delivered. I pray for focus, clarity of thought, and that I be filled with, and emanate, Divine love, light and healing energy. My intent is always to first connect with my clients, and then to create a nurturing haven in which they can relax, release, let go and drift off to that altered state of consciousness about which you spoke. Most of the time, I end a session feeling relaxed, happy and at peace, even more so than when I started. And, I know that, along the way, I am increasing their circulation, facilitating the release of oxytocin into their bloodstream, and activating their relaxation response, thereby also, hopefully, diminishing any pain or ills they were experiencing when they walked into my office. On occasion, I am asked to “work” areas of muscle tension, but more often than not, I believe what clients are seeking is relief period. As you pointed out in one of your articles, massage makes everything in life seem more manageable (pardon my paraphrasing if I’ve butchered it).
Initially, I used my chair for home sessions on family, and then, as a marketing tool to entice salon clients where I was working to give a table session a try. After taking your workshop, I’m now seeing chair massage as something simple, but grand at the same time—rich with possibilities! One of my concerns has been that I would only be able to offer massage to people who could afford it, when I could see that so many others, with little discretionary income, needed massage as much, if not more … Enter your Kata! I thought, “Here’s a way I can offer a session, performed with all the sacred intent I value, and with wonderful physical, psychological and emotional benefits for the client, and at a price that is so much more affordable than my standard 90-minute table sessions … Eureka!” And, yes, with chair massage also comes ease and an increased comfort level, as the client need not undress and feel as vulnerable. In essence, you’ve package chair massage in a way that spoke to my heart, and for that I am grateful!
I know you mentioned in your manual that your ultimate vision is to have all children in primary school learn basic shoulder rubs as a way of introducing more human touch at an early age. Have you given any thought to trying to find an inroad to high schools? During their second semester senior year, both my son and daughter were required to find an internship. Some chose work related to their interests or the area they were thinking of pursuing in college, while others, just logged hours. I could see how shadowing a chair massage practitioner could provide a wonderful introduction to young people to massage, and touch, in general. I totally agree with your view that chair massage should be the stepping stone to table massage, with its own, less stringent licensing requirements. Chair massage would also make an excellent vocational choice for some high school students who don’t plan to attend college.
I’ve also thought a lot about ways to bridge the gap between high school students and the elderly. When my son, Chris, was in high school, I could see that if he found his niche, he’d shine. About that time, he was required to log volunteer hours to satisfy his confirmation class requirements (yes, I was brought up Catholic as well :-D). He chose to volunteer at our town’s senior center. During his time there, I discussed with Chris the possibility of starting an in-home computer tutoring service for seniors, since he was good with technology and most of the seniors had computers, but many were not as adept at using them. We printed a brochure at home, and then Chris pitched the idea to the director of the senior center, who embraced it, and helped market him. It was an interesting time. Chris came into his own, and shine he did. Chris took pride in his work, which made him feel good about himself; he felt good about helping the seniors; the seniors loved him, and the fact that they could get computer tutorials from someone patient and who spoke in plain language for far less than anyone else was charging. It was a win, win. This very long-winded story is my attempt at illustrating a way of connecting the two groups of people in a way that made everyone feel good. And, then I thought, “Would there be a way to do the same using chair massage instead of computer tutoring?” But, yeah … there’s that whole deal about licensing and liability. Anyway, just throwing it out there in case you have any ideas how it might work because I love the “idea” of it, but have no clue “how” it could work.
Wow! So Sorry! Intended to send a short thank you and realize I’ve just purged all over the page! Don’t know what happened, but I started typing and … it was like someone turned on the kitchen faucet and forgot to shut it off! Well, just shows you how much of an impact your two-day workshop had on me, so THANK YOU again!
With warmest wishes & a big hug,
Lori (Lorraine Steinmetz)