How to Admit You Need Help

Not all massage therapists need help. Lots have excellent boundaries, stable home lives, emotional equilibrium, or some healthy combination of the three, for most of their lives. Their families are normal, or at least, some of the darker aspects of human living don’t impede their quest for health and happiness.

There are, however, some of us who find things falling apart in our lives and realize we’re powerless to do anything about it. On top of it all: our mornings are black and our nights swollen with distress. Worst: our days are panic-stricken and filled with anxiety: we focus on our clients, not with curiosity and affection, but out of desperation, with tension shimmering beneath our touch, and when they’re gone we gasp and flop about, frightened and confused, like a guppy out of water.

By “we” I mean “me” of course.

Bluntly: I’m in recovery. There’s been a crisis in my family and I’m back in the Anonymous program I was in five years ago. I’m attempting two meetings a week, I have a sponsor, I’m reading literature, I’m working the Steps. I’m better. But there for a long while I was not. And things could get worse. I know that now.

With this comes time for little else: I haven’t been exercising nearly enough (sadly this would be true anyway, what with the relentless winter weather) and certainly haven’t tackled many projects that desperately need a tackle: my taxes, my client files, this blog. Homeostasis and maintaining sanity is a full-time job, on top of the other full-time job: maintaining my practice.

Projects and plans become back-burner stuff when you’re trying to keep yourself from having a meltdown.

“In every life there are peaks and valleys” so goes a trite saying that some people like to share with you when you’re suffering. (I would love to suffer such speakers a firm pinch on the nose, even though I know they mean well.) Oh ho: you know what? Sometimes it is just not a cute valley, all green and quiet and with a discernible end. Sometimes it is a yawning, howling cavern where you and your loved ones must walk, straight into the heart of darkness.

from a card I found at Coyote Moon in Belfast, Maine

from a card I found at Coyote Moon in Belfast, Maine

So: how do you know you need help? How do you come to admit the fact?

Interestingly, a big problem with knowing whether or not you need help is hardwired into the profession itself. From my perspective: I see myself as a resource for health and wellness for many people. I am used to making people feel good, all day long, by the sheer benefit of my presence.

“Thanks, I feel so much better” is a phrase I hear regularly in my day. Through a little effort on my part, I may not create miracles every time I touch someone, but usually there is big pay-off for me having everything under control: my clients are happy, I’m happy, even my officemate Jean is happy. (Especially when we have successfully and succinctly negotiated whose turn it is to resupply the TP and take out the trash.)

A whole day of getting paid for making people feel better spoils a person, particularly when you get back into the mess of non-professional relationship, i.e. family. It is really easy for me to advocate self care and dispense advice on health and wellness in my office: I have a little authority, and even when I have a client who is in the bowels of despair and/or pain, in about an hour they’re no longer my problem.

When standing in the heart of addiction with my family, we are on equal terms and whatever we’re experiencing together I cannot fix in an hour: not with all my technique, experience, good intentions, essential oils, nice music and sheets.

You know you need help when you think you can fix people.

You know you need help when you realize you have no control over others: you know you need help when you keep trying.

You know you need help when you realize another person’s behavior is turning you into a crazy person: when you catch yourself doing something, saying something, thinking something that makes you go, “Hey wait a minute. Whoa there,” but then you catch yourself doing it again. And justifying it, to boot.

You are just as out of control as everyone else. That’s when you need help.

I reached out for the Anonymous program because it was a perfect match-up for what my family and I were going through. I’m into a full month of participating in this free 50-year-old program and things are better. I am not looking for “perfect”: not anymore: but I’ll take better, any day, especially after the February I had.

If one of the Anonymous programs are not for you, there are other ways to ramp up getting help, beyond the occasional yoga class or acupuncture session (although both of these things are very helpful too). Talk therapy, meditation, meeting with your doctor are all openings into deepening your commitment to bringing yourself back to yourself. Getting massage more! (That ALWAYS helps, and in my next blog I hope to write about how the massage I got during this time of crisis felt like it saved my life.)

You might find certain authors really helpful, as I have: Richard Rohr (“The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis“), Anne Lamott (“Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers“,) Pema Chodron (“When Things Fall Apart“), Melody Beattie.

You may feel it’s time to re-engage with a faith community once again: perhaps a church, a synagogue, sangha or mosque is calling you. Try going. Maybe that’s what you need most right now.

Whatever you choose, let the dark valley you walk into wake you up to your true potential, and give you hope for your future. This is where I have found myself today. And it’s because I admitted I needed help.


Going Through the Motions

I’m enamored of the Olympics for one reason: humans are amazing. What we can do with our bodies is miraculous. For good or ill, the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are a smorgasboard for the philanthropic (“human lovers”).

Watching the women’s ice skating short program, before Gracie Gold took her silver medal-winning turn, the announcers expressed concern as she swooped around the ice, warming up. I think it was Scott Hamilton (one of my all-time favorite skaters) who said this (in paraphrase):

“I’m worried for her. She needs to loosen up for a good performance. She’s wound pretty tightly right now…her body knows what it needs to do, she needs to not over-think this skate. She just needs to relax.”

There is good information here for all of us.

Heaven help the athlete who brings too much to mind while exerting themselves to the utmost…and heaven help the rest of us. When we are “going for the gold” in our lives, it definitely helps to train ourselves to think positively, but in the actual moment it’s crucial to relax and not think at ALL. Commentary doesn’t serve us. (And if you, like me, had quite enough of the announcers when watching the Opening Ceremonies, you know this is true! “Just stop talking and let me watch it” I kept yelling at the screen. Interestingly this could be a good mantra for my life.)

I’d rather have the body wisdom to just correct myself midstream, by instinct, than think “How am I going to…?” and then coming up with an intellectual answer that doesn’t correlate with what is actually happening. In asking the question, valuable time is already lost. Your body is already moving into the how. Best let it do what it needs to do.

I’m fascinated by the power our body has over our minds for a few reasons: personal experience and stuff I’ve been reading. A few weeks ago I spent nearly four days in the grip of flu, and during that time I realized my brain was not working. Tried as I might, i couldn’t think clearly, not for one second. It was as if my organs had a manual override button for my mind that I hitherto had not been made aware.

(Or, you know Doctor Who? When they have to jettison some rooms of the TARDIS if they want to switch into hyperdrive or something like that? Maybe that’s what happens in dire illness, or dire feats of strength: brain firings are considered nonessential.)

Along with it came a blessed quelling of scheming and worrying. I felt moribund, in the abject throes of despair at times, but behind that was no wretched attempts to improve myself, which is, I feel, is not only one of the great deceptions/maladies of our lives as Americans, but actually is a sin, if you consider sin to be a transgression of some sort upon yourself, as well as another.

One of my favorite authors, Fr. Richard Rohr, writes of the disservice that we in general (and Christians, in particular…he is a Franciscan priest)  do to ourselves when our body is treated as a second-class citizen, in “The Art of Letting Go: Living the Wisdom of St. Francis“)

“There seems to be some bias against embodiment, against materiality, against physicality and you’d think if there was any religion in the world that would not think that way, you’d think it would be Christianity, ’cause Christianity is the only religion that believes God in Jesus became a body….became a human being.”

When the pressure is greatest, our minds do us the least service. In fact the best place for us to be is in our body, for that’s where our power and ability to be transformed – and to aid the transformation of others – truly reside.

Gerry Pyves wrote in his January 2014 article for Massage Today “The Psychotherapy of Massage: What Makes us Human?

“So many bodyworkers I meet seem to just want to prod and poke and frantically “fix” the body; as if it is an enemy to be controlled. Do we really have to subjugate and control the body? Must we still follow these apparently touch phobic leaders of the massage profession (whether male or female) who seem so very frightened of simple nurturing touch?”

Before I give someone a session, we always talk a little (or a lot) beforehand. Talking things over is essential to establish trust and understanding, the “what” of the session. But the “how” is always figured out in the silence and beauty of the work: in the moment.

In our speech is guessing. There is no speech for when the body finally breaks through and surmounts, or lets go. Also, in our flesh, we can be present with one another. Physicality is best medicine, for most of us. We can talk all we like about getting better, but nothing really heals us until someone gives us a hug or holds our hand.

Or, gives us a massage that truly meets us where we are.

Our best moments – whether we’re an Olympic athlete or an average person just trying to figure it all out – could very well be when we don’t over-think things, and we just relax into what’s happening now…and now….and now.

You are the Light of the World

Does it ever occur to you – as it does me – the classic Nativity is an Instagram photo, a freeze-frame, a screen capture? Every creche, every painting, every re-enactment gives us quiet, well-behaved adults, properly dressed (in some depictions, quite ornately) with holiness and adoration their only agenda.

This sanitized moment is as blisteringly bizarre, to me, as anyone who knows what shenanigans occur any time you try to get “a good shot.” Before and after the perfect picture of the whole Engleblart family on their couch (everyone wearing red and green) or the tasteful sepia-tone candid of Janet and her dog Esther, you and I and everyone else knows there was high-pitched yelping, pinching, groaning and biting, especially between the Engleblart twins. Big fat catastrophe. Not much “calm and bright.”

It would have been wholly surreal to Mary, I’m sure, or Joseph, or anyone involved in that most holy of nights, for their story to be epitomized forever by tranquility, ease and cleanliness. The Christmas story starts with injustice and upheaval (Augustus Caesar forcing everybody to pay tax in their hometown), with some healthy doses of illegitimate pregnancy, poverty, homelessness, abject terror, and giving birth in a stable (=messy). Some time after, gaudy rich guys show up and give over-the-top gifts: and hundreds of babies are slaughtered as Jesus and his mom and dad (?) sneak away into Jesus’ vastly under-reported childhood. Next thing we know he’s twelve.

"Adoration of the Shepherds" by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

“Adoration of the Shepherds” by Gerard van Honthorst, 1622

But the only part most of us envision is the squeaky clean versions that involve sane, rational people, which we know have disappeared from the planet, much like gifts of myrrh, swaddling clothes and wise men.

I am not ever surprised by the amount of selfishness, sorrow or rage we feel during this time. Nothing takes a break during the “happiest time of the year”: not heartbreak, poverty, bad weather or, perhaps worst of all, our expectations of what we should be doing and what we should have. If we start to feel like we’re being gypped in any way, we are tempted to lash out.

Christmas is about getting what we want, after all.

It’s as if every single person you run into is planning a wedding, and everyone’s wedding is the 25th of December. Think about it, that’s how Christmas is sold to us: an event, not a state of the heart.

I think we aim for the creche and forget everything else that came before, during and after: pain, fear, murder. We want a Christmas montage, where even the bad things that happen aren’t all that bad; and they are funny, in a “Doh!” Homer Simpson way, not tragic, like a Slaughtering of the Innocents way. We’re supposed to be happy, and in our modern minds, happiness equates perfection: which leaves no room for error: which is why we feel so crazy.

Our lives are full of mistakes, bad judgement and failure: they are also full of success, good calls, and lovely moments, but during the Christmas season we just want it all to go perfectly and for nothing to get effed up. That’s not possible, not even on a normal day, but especially not when we’re staring right at it, insisting that it be so.

As a massage therapist I see the toll this season has on everyone: emotions bottled up, ignored, shoved aside only show up in other places, like trying to hold a balloon under water. There is rampant fatigue, me included: I am always grateful for the camaraderie of my officemate Jean, but never so much as this time, when our peer counseling becomes essential to sanity. Everyone’s tension is literally right under the surface: muscles like ropes torquing under the skin, pinched faces, caved-in chests, cold feet.

What a relief, to me and my clients, that something can be done about that: massage therapy rekindles the dwindling fires of courage within each person. A bad day gets sloughed off with the loofa brush of triumvirate goodness: communication, depth and intention. Strength and motivation is restored. “A light has come into the darkness.”

I feel the great blessing of putting my hands on people and giving them wordless reassurance that everything is going to be okay: oiling their skin, working their muscles. “Fear not.”

I am reminded that – as far as the Christian God was concerned, and as much as you believe this kind of thing – one of the best ways the Divine could help us understand how loved we are was to show up in a body. “The Word became Flesh.”

Sliver the snapshot: explode the creche. Darling though they be, they can’t hold a candle to our lives just as they are. Be completely open to everything the holiday season brings, which includes pain and discomfort, feeling lost and alone, feeling forsaken and poor, and also being treasured, rescued, maybe even adored. This is the real Christmas story, because it is everyone‘s story: yelps, groans, bites and all.

“I Explained To Him I Loved Him”

On Tuesday August 20th in Decatur, Georgia, Antoinette Tuff talked a gunman out of coming into the elementary school where she’s employed as a bookkeeper, and wreaking mayhem.

This is how she did it:

“I just explained to him that I loved him,” she said. “I didn’t know his name, I didn’t know much about him, but I did love him.” — from Washington Post

Don’t feel bad, baby. My husband just left me after 33 years. … I’ve got a son that’s multiple disabled. — from Huffington Post

That’s a good thing that you’re just giving up and don’t worry about it. We all go through something in life. No, you don’t want that. You going to be OK. I thought the same thing, you know, I tried to commit suicide last year after my husband left me. But look at me now. I’m still working and everything is OK. — from CNN

The 20-year-old gunman, Michael Brandon Hill, put down his weapons and let the police come in and take custody of him. He suffers from bipolar disorder: that day he was off his medicine and knew he wasn’t mentally stable.

Take the 13-14 minutes you’ll need to listen to the 911 call (nearly all the news outlet sites have a link to it)  and have a hanky handy. Personally I’ve never been so moved: not only the honesty Tuff displayed (using total self-disclosure to reassure Hill she knows how he feels) but the tone she uses. She is matter-of-fact — professional, even! — but speaks utterly from her heart.

“I just started praying for him,” she said later.

Part of why this story moves me so tremendously is the huge risk Tuff took. At any point in the exchange, Hill could have decided she was fooling him and shot her. Tuff risked everything – her dignity, her personal details, her very life – to help this young man. She didn’t care what it took: she tried. And as she prayed, she was given insight and courage that she didn’t feel.

Another part of why this story moves me so is it clearly shows what active compassion can do. Yes, there are no guarantees that being forthright, loving, understanding and composed leads to a peaceful stand-off: at any point in the interchange, things can go horribly wrong.

But she chose comfort over confrontation; compassion over condemnation; love over fear. And, in the end, no one was hurt: not even the gunman.

So: tell me again, what’s the role of massage therapy in today’s confrontational, condemning, hateful world?

Isn’t it one of our noblest gifts: to be the ones who comfort, reassure, restore?

We are one ensemble of many — nurses, pastors, social workers, doctors, crisis counselors, mental health advocates, chaplains, teachers, many others — who provide what Kate Braestrup refers to as the “spiritual equivalent of triage.”

I know we, as an industry, are moving forward: science-based evidence for practice, medical spas, stronger research, provable outcomes. We are rapidly ascending into mainstream healthcare’s playing fields; we’re proving our right to exist, stand toe-to-toe, with The Big Guys.

I dunno, though.

The bottom line, for me? Of why what we do, works? Is that we provide safe human connection: physical, emotional, spiritual solidarity on a hard, harsh, punitive planet. We can be real with our clients, and take the time we need to do it: not too many professions allow that. We can love our clients, deeply, while holding professional boundaries. We can pray for them if we choose.

In all these ways we help bring them back to themselves, and they, in turn, can make other people’s lives better too. It’s not secondary or tertiary, it’s the primary gift we have to offer.

That’s not something that shows up in research: it’s the pesky “anecdotal evidence” that has always dogged our reputation as practitioners. I’m not downplaying the importance of progress in a field. But I really, really want all of us to understand the huge gift we really do give the world, simply by giving individuals quality, heart-felt, educated, intuitive massage therapy sessions, over and over again.

We never know whose life will be saved by the strength of our love, compassion and understanding.

Bad Reiki.2

( Cont. from Bad Reiki.1) …Pardon me already, for sounding angry in this installment. Like I said, I have a history with people who think they can save me or that I need to be saved. What I’m tapping into is a lot of my own stuff, but maybe there’s something here that could/should be said, and perhaps it will resonate with you as well.

People who lay their hands on someone and feel capable of removing someone else’s toxicity are either on the mark – which I utterly and completely accept – or totally crackers, with an overweening sense of self and their healing powers, and shouldn’t be making people feel diseased, malformed or deficient without loving them into wholeness before they leave that practitioner’s room.

It is unconscionable, in my feeling, for a Reiki practitioner to tell someone they have blocked chakras, have evils spirits following them, or have dark matter in their aura (all thing I’ve had Reiki clients tell me that other practitioners told them they had) without then being accountable to that person for their healing, in a loving respectful way, so they don’t walk around feeling powerless and woeful in their own lives. Reiki should make people come to a full realization of their own wholeness, their goodness and strength, not corroborate the individual’s fears.

I’ve had some bad experiences from both Christian and Reiki healers who thought they could see or sense things in me they wanted to rid me of, either in the name of Jesus or through the awesome powers of their Reiki-ness. What infuriates me about this is the complete lack of human kindness and regard this connotes. There’s no respect for the person: how it might come across to them, how it might make them feel to be surprised with (or, in certain circumstances, have confirmed) how leprous they are. The practitioner cares more about Doing To the client, rather than Being With the client.

Are You SatisfiedAnd let me clear about what I mean by “Bad” – the energy behind both forms of healing are both 100% wonderful, pure. There is no such thing as “Bad Reiki” at all. But boy oh boy.  None of us are perfect, and dangle the carrot of power in front of any of us, we’ll make a lunge. Even if we try to make it all casual and stuff; a surreptitious lunge, perhaps, an off-the-cuff lunge. An “Oh I’m being a healer it’s all okay” lunge.

What makes Reiki “bad” is when it’s used to exploit weakness, betray good faith, create unhealthy dependency and in general makes it impossible for the person to think for themselves without that practitioner around, calling the shots for them and giving advice.

If someone is truly sick –  if someone is suffering, shrunken, beat down – they need deep reassurance and Love. In the presence of Love, what is misaligned? Aligns. What might not serve this person, WILL be cast aside.

Over and over and over again: the question is: what is the most loving thing I can do for this person? How simply, purely, kindly and respectfully can I give this person all the best healing energy they deserve in this moment?

When I was given my Reiki Master training from Lindsley Field in 2003, she started the class by telling us, in no uncertain terms, that becoming a Master was not a title of power, but one of servitude. “You are saying to the universe, ‘Here I am. Use me.’ It is the path of the Bodhisattva: one who, through compassion, does everything they can to save others.”

The greater, the farther we go, to help and serve others, the more humility we need and the more deference we should show to what pours through us. I am not the source of Reiki: I am a conduit. I seek to be the best damn conduit I can be, basically by getting myself and all my pride out of the damn way. Those who heal, in the name of whatever deity they choose, do it not on their own strength, but by making way for Something Greater to happen.

Let us truly heal by being our client’s companion, not their arbiter. We don’t know really know what someone needs. But we CAN make sure we are available, open, and ready to make it possible for them to have it in session. That’s Good Reiki. That’s good…anything.

What you just read is not my fault. It’s because my friend, colleague, co-conspirator and pants kicker Rowan Blaisdell talked me into it, and also, because I cannot resist a write-off: 31 Posts in 31 Days August Blog Challenge, Business Blogging School. Caution snuffed, perfectionism cast off like a smelly cloak: this is blog #4.

Bad Reiki.1

“You do Reiki. That’s so cool. My cousin got attuned and gave me a Reiki session,” said my new client as I did her intake form.  “She told me I had all these blocks in my chakras and said I was really messed up. I guess I’ve got a lot wrong with me.”

There’s not a lot that makes me see red in the bodywork/energy work world: I am pretty content to live and let live, aside from egregious breaches of protocol. The reason I get so bristly when I hear about people having these kinds of experiences with Reiki is twofold:

1) I have a history with “healers” and
2) Reiki is not about making people afraid or unclean, or dependent on their practitioners, but infusing them with Love.

Let me explain: I grew up in an evangelical fundamentalist church, daughter of a minister. My mother and father had amazing, life-changing experiences in the peak of the Charismatic Movement, during the 1960s and 70s. I could see clearly how much it meant to them to sing and speak in tongues, in community with others who were also infused with the Holy Spirit.

As a child I was awed by what I saw, but even when small I was skeptical. I couldn’t understand how some of the people who were leading the services were being taken seriously: they seemed to be overly manipulative, putting words in people’s mouths, wanting huge emotional responses from parishioners or else, insisting everyone come along for the ride.

I knew they meant well, but whenever an adult who had the power of the Holy Spirit came at me to lay their hands on me, I always felt incredibly uncomfortable.  It was like they were so filled with zeal for what they had to give, they weren’t seeing me at all. They were into their thing, and having me Get It, no matter what.

So yeah. I guess you could say I’ve got a little baggage around healing and healers.
So what the <bleep> got me into Reiki, you might ask?

I became a Reiki practitioner because I had a profound, undeniable experience with it, seen with my eyes open and felt in my body (probably how my parents felt when they were annointed by the Holy Spirit, come to think of it).

I had always thought Reiki total new-agey silliness-  to quote Tommy from NPR’s “Car Talk,” “boooooguuuuus!” – until it happened to me. Although I was finishing my training in massage therapy, I knew I wanted to study Reiki the minute I got out of school. When I moved to Maine, I did.

I studied Reiki over three years, finally finishing with Master but not after being immersed in Reiki culture and finding wonderful humans, incredible teachers, filled with humility and love…and also quite a lot of the opposite.

So here’s what I have to say about that. And pardon me already, for sounding angry in the next blog. Like I said, I have a history with people who think they can save me or that I need to be saved. What I’m tapping into is a lot of my own stuff, but maybe there’s something here that could/should be said, and perhaps it will resonate with you as well.

[Continued with Bad Reiki.2]

Apple Potatoes

What you just read is not my fault. It’s because my friend, colleague, co-conspirator and pants kicker Rowan Blaisdell talked me into it, and also, because I cannot resist a write-off: 31 Posts in 31 Days August Blog Challenge, Business Blogging School. Caution snuffed, perfectionism cast off like a smelly cloak: this is blog #3.

Be Still and Know

Sometimes we create intentional, interesting obstacles to what we know is good for us. Besides the obvious answers – resources scarce, time spent – we also prevent ourselves from partaking because we’re afraid. Afraid to relax: to lay down.

My friend Jen Clark Tinker had a horrifying experience when she was a young teen: stuck in mud, sinking in farther and farther, family out of hearing distance, and darkness fast approaching. She is a Christian, and so she prayed for help, and the Lord told her, “Lay down.” As she heeded this dubious, divine advice, it was the thing that saved her: by going belly-first in the muck, her weight was redistributed, thus allowing her feet to gradually lift up and out and free. She could then crawl to safety.

By lying down, her life was saved.

Right now, I can tell you that I am being given the same advice and I’m fighting it for the same reasons: it doesn’t make sense. The July heatwave in Maine has led to fitful sweaty rest, filled with husband snores and cat yowls and horny owls caterwauling in the trees outside our house. I am fatigued today, and saying only semi-coherent things to my clients. I have a spare hour! But I’m caught between the devil and the deep blue sea: filled with an insatiable need to write, and also to just stretch out on my massage table (one of the perks of the biz: ideal set-up for catnapping) and have a snooze.

Kitty is resting...and waiting for inspiration. Or, maybe, just hoping I'll give her more kibble.

Olivia has the right idea. Resting, and waiting. Probably for kibble. But at ease, nonetheless.

The physical act of lying down means surrender. With so much to do, the thought of being still in repose, as a choice, appears an embarrassing waste of time. Behind the “I’m too busy” veneer there is a real fear that if we lie down, we’ll lose our edge, lose our chance. (Mary DeMuth’s “Chose Rest” addresses our need to fill our lives with activity.)

Lots of us, me included, want to marshal our forces as much as we can, for as long as we can, as hard as we can, to try to “get somewhere.” I blame it on the human condition: we are ambitious. And, from time immemorial, we have disliked being with ourselves. (The practice of meditation is hummityhummity years old? Thousands? We’ve been trying to get away from us for that long. At least.)

The first thing we start up in the morning is our phone or computer, and the tapping starts. It’s thrilling, addictive: the sense that you belong…no matter that it’s all pretend, folks (and I say this as a devoted Twitter and FB user, smartphoning away). I got into this line of work because I wanted to spend more time with souls than screens, but social media only feeds my instinctual hypervigilant, type A personality, and I’ve backslid. I have to put my phone away from me all the time, like someone trying to quit smoking who just can’t.

We’d far rather check in with — even a made-up reality? – before we check in with ourselves. It’s that bad.

So “Lay down” is not what we want to hear. We want to be rescued while we’re still flailing. We want to be told to just try a little harder and we’ll make it. We want everything we’ve been doing up to that point to have counted for something.

I don’t know about you, but I need help, climbing down from the cacophonous heights of aspiration and agenda, into cool pools of quiescence, where the Still Small Voice Within has a sparrow’s chance of being heard. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering wisdom or even poignant insight: I’ll even take just a small slice of silence to dial down my chattering, distracted, ego-driven mind. To quote lyrics from “Chicago: The Musical” – I can’t do it alone.

Massage therapy is an elemental bridge over troubled waters, the great vessel that conveys us from one reality to another, even if just for a brief while, and brings us back into our lives much better people, ready and able to grow and serve. It is the route around and past our reactive selves, into our basic humanity: touch, sensation, breath, rest.

Our need for this goes far beyond merely being blissed out. As a species, we are dying on the vine, naked shivering baby birds in the nest, crying out for food that either misses the mark or does not satisfy. Touch feeds. Touch sustains. Not just any touch: meaningful, intentional, professional, educated, and dare I say loving, touch. Massage therapists offer a prize meal: lay down. Receive. Arise, and go forth: stronger, clearer and renewed.

“Massage therapists turn out to be the mid-wives to the re-entry into the real world,” says David Lauterstein, and this requires recumbence, even when – especially when – it might not make sense. It might not save you any time. But it could save your life.

To hear Jen’s account firsthand, please give her first podcast a listen: “Where is God in the Muck?”