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It's Not Just Sticking An Elbow Into A Tight Spot, You Know

I've been a massage therapist for about six or seven years, and it's one of the very best things I've ever done.

The only thing that rivals it is sitting onstage, playing principal flute in an orchestra (which I've also done).

orchestra musicians

They actually have a lot in common, you know. They both deal with nuance, subtlety, paying attention, and being in the moment. And they deal with vibration. For the record, I'm not talking about the "woo" kind of vibration (that may be a real thing, but I don't know), I'm talking about literal vibration. Playing a musical instrument is all about vibrations: making sure you're playing in tune, the correct notes, the right dynamic (loudness), and making sure the instrument is working correctly.

Massage therapy is about vibration, too, but in a different way.

When clients ask me how I know what's going on with their muscles, I've told them that muscles vibrate much like musical instruments. When I'm in the middle of the orchestra playing Dvorak's New World Symphony during a tutti (everybody playing) passage, I can tell by the way the flute feels on my fingertips if my F# key is leaking. I can feel it in my right hand ring finger, even if the surrounding sound is too loud for me to hear myself.

Flutist, playing an F#

When a client has a muscle that is tight, or injured, or swollen, that muscle fiber doesn't vibrate the same way a healthy muscle does. It might feel so tightly strung it's not moving (tight), or it feels reactive and erratic (injured), or puffy and bloated (swollen). I'm not always right, I suppose, but I'm right enough that I trust myself.

I love the feeling of being so focused that I can come in on a solo during a soft, delicate part and do so at exactly the right moment, in tune, with beautiful tone and vibrato. That kind of focus is life-changing.

I also love being so focused that I can notice a client's breath, or movement of their eyelashes indicating discomfort, or feeling a client gently settle even more deeply onto the table. Being completely in the moment, being aware of the interaction of breath and movement, between client and therapist, between dream state and awareness.

clouds, stars, crescent moon

Clients may wonder why I almost never talk during massages. The answer is here, in this post.

Bringing a client into balance is beautiful, delicate, and ... difficult. Rewarding, though.

Creating a musical performance that is moving, human, but also that transcends the normal experience of time and sound is worthy of focus and dedication.

See a theme forming here?

I'm not trying to just stick my elbow into that knot in your back, I'm trying to help you feel the magic of ... magic. It's so much more than tight muscles loosening up.

It's the vast potential of the human experience.

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