Learn massage for your partner
Massage is the sharing of touch – hands on body, on head, hands or feet. And yet massage goes farther than skin deep, deeper even than muscles and bones – a good, caring massage penetrates right to the depth of your being.
The massage is often called holistic, or intuitive, massage, to distinguish it from sports and Swedish massage. Holistic massage treats the individual as a whole, rather than just concentrating on physical conditions, and its movements are generally slower and more meditative. In holistic massage, the attitude of both giver and receiver, and the communication between them, are of paramount importance to the effect of the treatment. The receiver’s role is to be relaxed but alert, concentrating on the giver’s touch, while the giver should try to remain centred and bring an attitude of genuine caring to the massage.
Remember that any tension or awkwardness in your posture will be felt by your partner. If you practise letting your whole body move from the hips, rather than using just your arms and hands, you will soon find that your hands relax and the strokes begin to come naturally to you. With experience you will begin to improvise new strokes and develop your own language of touch as the body beneath your hands suggests possible movements.
When giving a massage, ask for feedback on what feels good, but avoid too much verbal communication, as talking will take your concentration away from your hands. The slower and more rhythmical your strokes are, the more relaxed and safe your partner will feel. Try to arrange to have a massage yourself while you are learning, so that you can experience different speeds and pressures of stroke for yourself.
A good massage affects you on all levels of your being. Physically, its benefits include relaxing and toning your muscles; assisting the venous flow of blood; soothing the nervous system; encouraging the lymphatic flow; and stretching the connective tissue of joints. Holistic massage also affects the energy centres or chakras of the “subtle body”. On a mental level, massage not only relieves stress and anxiety, it also helps you to become more conscious of your body as a whole, of the parts that you are in touch with and of those that feel “cut off”. Once you are aware of where of where your energy blocks lie, you can begin to try and integrate your body and, in developing a more positive self-image, take responsibility for your own happiness and health.
A caring massage creates feelings of well-being, trust and joy. It can also release a great deal of energy hitherto wasted in tension and, by transforming chronic habits of acting and reacting, effect profound changes on both posture and facial expression. The emotional aspect of massage is extremely important.
On a spiritual level, the benefits of massage are hard to describe, for we are talking of something that is intrinsically indefinable – the essence, the “life force”, the whole that is more than the sum of its parts. But it is not uncommon during a holistic massage for both giver and receiver to attain a state of heightened awareness, of “presence in the moment”, that is akin to the experience of meditation.