Following is a guest blog by Elena Davis, owner and massage therapist at Peace of Mind Massage in south Denver. I met Elena at my “poetry burial” for dias de los muertos (Days of the Dead) in November 2012. I retired five poems from performance. Elena then came to the community“poetry burial” I hosted for winter solstice that year. I was inspired by the way she spoke about the healing art of massage therapy. I experienced injury from a car accident in August 2013. Elena and the therapists at her practice have been extremely helpful to my healing process. They have also taught me a lot about the art that is inherent in our bodies and basic movements. I asked Elena to write about her art for The Artist Lens. ~ Molina Speaks
“The Art of Massage”
by Elena Davis, LMT, NCTMB, Owner
Peace of Mind Massage, INC.
I could say that I found the healing arts when I was 18 years old and went to Massage Therapy school. But, that would imply that one can not be born with the healing arts as an innate talent like other traditional art forms. As a child I naturally rubbed my parents feet and hands. As a teenager I comforted friends with shoulder rubs. It was a natural gift that took me 18 years to comprehend as something I could actually do for a living. Massage Therapy is often a second career for people as I discovered when I was one of the youngest in my class. The slogan for the school I attended (Central Florida School of Massage Therapy) was “A life evolving experience”. And, it truly was for me and many of my classmates. The technical application, anatomy and physiology, and pathology education is very important to building a strong knowledgeable foundation. However, the third eye opening, spiritual experience that one can go through in Massage school is what really helps form the healing art portion of bodywork. A therapist who does not go through spiritual and artistic growth during their career may deliver a technically precise massage but it will lack in creativity.
The creative aspect of Massage is similar to painting, writing, and playing an instrument in many ways.
First of all, the use of hands, fingers, and arms (and in some cases, feet and toes!) to perform the bodywork requires the Massage Therapist to be fluid at times, and precise and technical at other times. The entire time both hands must be in sync with one another. Secondly, a skilled Massage Therapist follows their breath during the session, and educates the client on how to use their breath to release tension as well. Using the breath, along with movement is very similar to playing a wind instrument. Lastly, something I’ve always said is “Massage is my art and the body is my canvas”. A therapist that has experience and is in tune with the healing art of Massage on a physical and spiritual level does not do a routine. Each session is different because the therapist is creating art with their movements. When I look down at the body of the client on my table I approach it like a new piece of art we are creating together.
Everybody is different yet the same. We all share the same anatomy but depending on how you specifically hold tension will alter how we approach the massage. Being creative is so important for a Massage Therapist to successfully treat so many different types of people. The owner of my Massage Therapy school used to tell us we were not experienced until we had touched 1,000 bodies. The reason he said this was because of the variety of people, syndromes, and conditions we would come across in our career. You start to see patterns after you have seen so many people. With experience in the healing arts a skilled practitioner will be very in touch with the texture and state of the human body. We become drawn to areas of tension and knotting like magnets once we are so attuned to the body.
A client recently asked me if I could tell what his emotional state was based on his muscular tension. I explained to him that after experience with so many people you do see that the areas of constriction in fascia and tightness in muscles correlate with emotional constriction. Bottled up feelings, emotions not dealt with, stress, grief, worry, anxiety, anger, all of the negativity we feel in our lives is stored in the human body. This is referred to as “muscle memory”. It is natural for us to soothe our souls with music. Vent our feelings through writing. Express our emotions through a painting. There is nothing comparable to the healing you receive through not only getting but giving Massage.
To create a beautiful massage experience both client and therapist must be present in the moment. Massage has the potential to transcend the client into a state of really listening to their body and allowing it to let go of pain and tension. The therapist listens to both intuition and the client to bring both people through a journey of healing. Traditionally during a massage trance, classical, or new age music is played to accompany the flow of the bodywork. Simple water sounds, waves, or sounds of nature can also help the feeling of escapism. The environment a massage is given in is just as important to the therapist as it is to the client. The client will usually soak in the room prior to the therapist entering but then closes their eyes during the actual massage. This is when the room is really there for the therapist. The space for healing is sacred and the therapist should be inspired by their surroundings. To me, a Massage room should be as rich and deep as a beautiful abstract painting.
Now that I own and operate a Massage center in Denver, the art of Massage has developed into the art of the Massage Experience. My goal is to design a space for healing that is unlike any other. I look at the Victorian house my business is in as a never ending art project. I will never stop changing, adding, altering, and tweaking the space. It’s like a canvas with several paintings underneath that has been painted over again and again. I look for Massage Therapists to work in this space who value the same love for the art of Massage as I do. They are drawn to this space because it is an artistic place and allows them to be creative in their bodywork.
Massage Therapy is an art form that takes education, experience, intuition, and also stability. To be a great bodywork artist the more grounded you are, the better. I am grateful to have made strong roots in Denver which has given me the stability to truly blossom as a bodyworker. Although my focus has changed a bit to creating the massage experience and finding other amazing bodyworkers, I will and always have been passionate about the art of Massage. I fuel my passion with continuing education as like any art, you can never stop learning and growing as an artist. I treat my Massage practice like an artist co-op where sharing techniques and ideas is encouraged as we share many of the clients. The idea of community is something that I believe strongly in. Artists and healers alike should come together! Support one another. Grow together. Create a more peaceful world, together.