The skill of receiving

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The skill of receiving

Postby EgoMagickian on Tue May 03, 2011 4:34 pm

Split off from Never enough pressure:

drea543 wrote:
Receiving bodywork, just like giving it, is a skillset that develops over time...


As someone who recently started receiving bodywork on a regular basis as a way to deal with stress and overall wellness, I would love for EgoMagickian or someone else to elaborate on receiving bodywork as a skillset.

If there's already a thread on that subject, just point me in the right direction. :)


Somewhere I have notes about this for an article I planned to write on the subject, but I can't find them now so I'll answer off the top of my head and hopefully others can share their ideas and experiences as well.

- Receiving regularly vs "as needed"... this is often about valuing the self enough to make self-care a priority... some people don't have this skill and instead of receiving massage regularly are instead irregularly trying to make last minute appointments once their stress or pain has built past whatever their breaking point was. Then too much rides on that one session, which stresses them out during their session! It would be more skillful to set a regular appointment, even if it's every 3 or 6 months.

- Letting go of the mind vs monkey mind... sometimes clients have real trouble allowing their mind to switch off/go on a vacation, and it chatters on thinking about work, relationships, whatever... sometimes the whole session. Over time and with experience, they can learn to let it go.

- Trust vs guarding... sometimes clients have a hard time trusting the work, even if they consciously feel like they trust the therapist. On some level or another, the bodymind guards against the therapist's work and less rather than more is accomplished. Of course this can also be a reaction to inappropriate technique, so it's not always the client. When there's the right match though, the invitation is for the client to let his or her guard down more and more and over time actually embody (not just think/feel) deeper levels of trust.

- Level of awareness... practitioners are familiar with the idea that some clients who want really deep pressure request such because they are so disconnected from their body that they are in some way "numb" to lighter touch. So there are levels of gross physical awareness that different from client to client. There are also levels of subtle awareness. Some clients can feel energy work; some can't. And in some modalities the line we imagine is there between the gross and subtle levels gets blurred or erased. Over time, clients can begin to perceive more and more about what is happening in their bodies on more levels.

I'm curious what other receiver skills clients or practitioners can think of. I'd also be curious to hear about people's experiences with becoming a more skillful receiver (yourself or a client) over time.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby GreenDragonfly on Tue May 03, 2011 4:54 pm

I'm going to jump off this post to agree that regular bodywork does make for a 'better' receiver. Now I can only give my experiences, but here they are:

I get bodywork regularly once a month from one person. Sometimes I mix it up and add into that, but it is at a minimum once per month. My whole mindset is different because I don't feel that *everything* has to be worked out to perfection, but I am more open to whatever progress I can make and I am relaxed during the process.

I notice that for those clients I see on a regular basis, they have more trust, a certain level of letting go that I don't seem to experience or notice with other clients (new clients).
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby Taoist on Tue May 03, 2011 9:24 pm

Trust vs. Guarding.. that gets me thinking about a client I had earlier today. I asked him if I could work on his psoas and I'm not sure if he's ever experienced it before (he gets regular massages but usually goes to one of the local school clinics). Anyway, he said it was ok, and a lot of people seem to feel uncomfortable or nervous during psoas work which makes me nervous about doing something they don't like. This guy seemed really trusting and comfortable the whole time, and I think it helped me relax and I was able to get some really good work done.
It's always a little damper to my confidence when I can tell someone isn't completely relaxed, regardless of whether it's me or not. I learned to not think about it and just continue the massage as normal, but it's interesting to reflect on how it can change the way I work.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby drea543 on Wed May 04, 2011 7:57 pm

@EgoMagickian,

Thanks for expanding on the skill of receiving. The more bodywork I receive the less stress I have which I think is priceless. I also have fewer thoughts (while on the table) about chunkiness, decadence and selfishness. I've also tried to establish my own pre-massage rituals of listening to calming music etc.


@GreenDragonfly,

I still have trouble relaxing/letting go of my head but my MT says that it'll get easier with time.


@Taoist,

It usually takes me about five minutes or more into a massage to relax and, even when I feel relaxed, I usually hear "relax xyz" at some point. :confused:
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby Taoist on Thu May 05, 2011 7:08 am

drea543 wrote:@Taoist,

It usually takes me about five minutes or more into a massage to relax and, even when I feel relaxed, I usually hear "relax xyz" at some point. :confused:

What do you mean?
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby drea543 on Thu May 05, 2011 8:08 pm

@Taoist,

Oops, I should have been more specific. By "Relax xyz," I meant that I've been told to relax my arm, head or leg at some point during a massage.

I've had a therapist "shake" my arm and, while they're holding it, tell me to relax the arm that they're holding. I felt relaxed but, apparently, my arm felt tense to the therapist.

And my head? I definitely know that I'm not relaxed when the therapist is trying to work on my neck muscles; she'll have my head in her hands and want me to relax and I almost find it next to impossible to relax my head...
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Critical mass

Postby holley on Sun May 08, 2011 12:48 pm

Believe there is a threshold in receiving(& giving) bodywork
that, once met, celebrants becomes "transparent to transcendence".
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby robbin on Mon May 09, 2011 5:55 am

Level of awareness... practitioners are familiar with the idea that some clients who want really deep pressure request such because they are so disconnected from their body that they are in some way "numb" to lighter touch. So there are levels of gross physical awareness that different from client to client. There are also levels of subtle awareness. Some clients can feel energy work; some can't. And in some modalities the line we imagine is there between the gross and subtle levels gets blurred or erased. Over time, clients can begin to perceive more and more about what is happening in their bodies on more levels.


As someone who can enjoy all types of massage, I prefer and seek out Deep. I often hear other therapists say that clients who like deep pressure are "disconnected" with their body. I really take offense at this. I think that more often then not, this speaks to a therapists lack of skill in the area then it does to a client being "disconnected". Handy excuse.

Our bodies are an amazingly adaptable thing. People who use their hands for example, they grow tough and gnarly, thick and calloused. This hand is able to do things that would make a less used hand weep. The hand has ADAPTED... has grown insensitive to certain stimuli out of necessity . It is not fair or right to say that this hand is "disconnected", and that perhaps if it learned to "receive" better, it may learn to enjoy less pressure. No doubt the hand enjoys less pressure, but it does not feel that less pressure is creating a change or relief.

I do agree that the OP should find a practioner who can give very focused work. If she/he wants Deep, then specific areas of the body should be the focus, and not the whole body. Any client (not pointed at the OP) who wants a 60 minute, full body, deep tissue massage is not going to get it. Impossible. Impossible even in 90 minutes.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby robbin on Mon May 09, 2011 7:33 am

Humm? I think what I'm trying to say here, is that it is my belief that it is a physiological adaptation born out of necessity that causes a body to lose "sensitivity". Should a soldier be as sensitive as a princess? Not if you want to win wars. We as massage therapists should stop telling clients that they have lost "connection" with their bodies. We need to work with the realization that the body, even small frail bodies, are coping with large demands and by necessity, have learned to ignore certain pressures. This will not change until the demands change; it is not a matter of "connecting".
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby tranquilspirit2006 on Mon May 09, 2011 8:19 am

I don't think we are talking about hardened bodies (physically) such as soldier vs princess, or that calloused or well used body parts require more pressure or more frail bodies require a lighter touch. It's about an emotional connection to the physical body, an energy thing. I don't really know how to describe it, I'm sure someone (Josh, probably) can explain it better. IT's something I feel mentally, emotionally, energetically, when I work on someone. This isn't physical we're talking about here.

As an MT, I don't tell any client they're disconnected from their body. But I know I've worked on a few that are.
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Re: Critical mass

Postby EgoMagickian on Sun May 22, 2011 7:40 pm

holley wrote:Believe there is a threshold in receiving(& giving) bodywork
that, once met, celebrants becomes "transparent to transcendence".


I think holley is saying that receiving bodywork can evolve your consciousness. That's certainly what has got me interested in craniosacral work.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby EgoMagickian on Sun May 22, 2011 7:47 pm

robbin wrote:
Level of awareness... practitioners are familiar with the idea that some clients who want really deep pressure request such because they are so disconnected from their body that they are in some way "numb" to lighter touch. So there are levels of gross physical awareness that different from client to client. There are also levels of subtle awareness. Some clients can feel energy work; some can't. And in some modalities the line we imagine is there between the gross and subtle levels gets blurred or erased. Over time, clients can begin to perceive more and more about what is happening in their bodies on more levels.


As someone who can enjoy all types of massage, I prefer and seek out Deep. I often hear other therapists say that clients who like deep pressure are "disconnected" with their body. I really take offense at this.


Well I am really glad I did not say that, as it's certainly not my intention to offend. To recap: when I said, "the idea that some clients who want really deep pressure request such because they are disconnected from their body in some way", you say you hear "clients who like deep pressure are 'disconnected' with their body."

Of course not all clients who like or prefer deep pressure fall into one category. To argue about this is to have a different conversation than the one I started.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby EgoMagickian on Mon May 23, 2011 12:52 pm

drea543 wrote:@Taoist,

Oops, I should have been more specific. By "Relax xyz," I meant that I've been told to relax my arm, head or leg at some point during a massage.

I've had a therapist "shake" my arm and, while they're holding it, tell me to relax the arm that they're holding. I felt relaxed but, apparently, my arm felt tense to the therapist.

And my head? I definitely know that I'm not relaxed when the therapist is trying to work on my neck muscles; she'll have my head in her hands and want me to relax and I almost find it next to impossible to relax my head...


This is interesting to me because my experience as a practitioner has changed over the years... I regularly have the experience of a client's limb not easily moving where I want to move it. Sometime after studying with James Waslaski and learning unwinding from Hugh Milne, things changed.

Waslaski taught us to shake limbs randomly while doing certain moves so that the client can't predict the movement and try to "help". In unwinding, Milne taught us to listen to where the limb wants to go and to follow it rather than lead. With certain clients while doing the former I found it difficult not to switch to the latter.

At some point it became clear that most of those clients who "had trouble letting go" actually needed to unwind. I like the metaphor of a conversation to explain the situation: you know what it's like to have something you want to say so badly but the other person just will not shut up? You're bursting to say whatever it is that you're holding in, you can barely contain it, to the point that you can't even hear what the other person is saying.

That's what it's like for the body that needs to unwind. It can't "hear" what I'm trying to "say" to it as I push and pull it around because it so desperately wants me to "shut up" (come to stillness) and listen. That's how you start unwinding. And then the body begins to "speak": it moves where it needs to move, not where I have decided it needs to move.

After unwinding, I find the body much more amenable to whatever I was trying to do before.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby Taoist on Mon May 23, 2011 2:21 pm

EgoMagickian wrote:This is interesting to me because my experience as a practitioner has changed over the years... I regularly have the experience of a client's limb not easily moving where I want to move it. Sometime after studying with James Waslaski and learning unwinding from Hugh Milne, things changed.

Waslaski taught us to shake limbs randomly while doing certain moves so that the client can't predict the movement and try to "help". In unwinding, Milne taught us to listen to where the limb wants to go and to follow it rather than lead. With certain clients while doing the former I found it difficult not to switch to the latter.

At some point it became clear that most of those clients who "had trouble letting go" actually needed to unwind. I like the metaphor of a conversation to explain the situation: you know what it's like to have something you want to say so badly but the other person just will not shut up? You're bursting to say whatever it is that you're holding in, you can barely contain it, to the point that you can't even hear what the other person is saying.

That's what it's like for the body that needs to unwind. It can't "hear" what I'm trying to "say" to it as I push and pull it around because it so desperately wants me to "shut up" (come to stillness) and listen. That's how you start unwinding. And then the body begins to "speak": it moves where it needs to move, not where I have decided it needs to move.

After unwinding, I find the body much more amenable to whatever I was trying to do before.

Very fascinating concepts. Thanks for sharing!
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby EgoMagickian on Tue May 24, 2011 7:13 am

Quite welcome. There's a good example of a situation where it looks like the client needs to grow his or her skill at receiving ("letting go") but in fact the growth that needed to happen was on my part as a giver/practitioner.

To touch on some previous posts in this thread, certainly some clients who want more pressure with some therapists whose work does not satisfy them would have to fall into a similar category: the client is not disconnected from his or her body, genuinely wants/needs deeper or more specific work, and that particular therapist's training, experience, or inclination just isn't getting there.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby JasonE on Wed May 25, 2011 9:20 pm

EgoMagickian wrote:Waslaski taught us to shake limbs randomly while doing certain moves so that the client can't predict the movement and try to "help". In unwinding, Milne taught us to listen to where the limb wants to go and to follow it rather than lead. With certain clients while doing the former I found it difficult not to switch to the latter.


When did you study with James? Perhaps he has changed that part of his instruction. When I studied with Waslaski in January 2011, he did NOT teach us to "shake limbs randomly." Instead, when doing certain types of joint mobilization work, he advocated intentional use of arythmic (AKA "broken rhythm") compression-traction to prevent the client's nervous system from bracing against or "helping" the work. My impression is that such methods were always to be employed specifically and intentionally (not randomly) and not in conjunction with "shaking" movements.

At some point it became clear that most of those clients who "had trouble letting go" actually needed to unwind. I like the metaphor of a conversation to explain the situation: you know what it's like to have something you want to say so badly but the other person just will not shut up? You're bursting to say whatever it is that you're holding in, you can barely contain it, to the point that you can't even hear what the other person is saying.

That's what it's like for the body that needs to unwind. It can't "hear" what I'm trying to "say" to it as I push and pull it around because it so desperately wants me to "shut up" (come to stillness) and listen. That's how you start unwinding. And then the body begins to "speak": it moves where it needs to move, not where I have decided it needs to move.

After unwinding, I find the body much more amenable to whatever I was trying to do before.


The phenomena you refer to as "unwinding" sounds like a neurological phenomena called ideomotion. There is a method called "Simple Contact" taught by Barrett Dorko, PT that uses ideomotion as the primary therapy. Here is a brief demonstration and partial explanation that you might enjoy:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5tfyi-bF ... er&list=UL
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby Taoist on Thu May 26, 2011 8:48 am

JasonE wrote:
EgoMagickian wrote:Waslaski taught us to shake limbs randomly while doing certain moves so that the client can't predict the movement and try to "help". In unwinding, Milne taught us to listen to where the limb wants to go and to follow it rather than lead. With certain clients while doing the former I found it difficult not to switch to the latter.


When did you study with James? Perhaps he has changed that part of his instruction. When I studied with Waslaski in January 2011, he did NOT teach us to "shake limbs randomly." Instead, when doing certain types of joint mobilization work, he advocated intentional use of arythmic (AKA "broken rhythm") compression-traction to prevent the client's nervous system from bracing against or "helping" the work. My impression is that such methods were always to be employed specifically and intentionally (not randomly) and not in conjunction with "shaking" movements.

It sounds to me like this could be the same thing just with slightly different interpretations. I think arrhythmic is really the key part whether it's shaking, compression/traction, or just small passive movements. I remember learning this as part of Structural Integration to find the natural holding patterns in muscles aside from the clients' conscious "help" or resistance.

But I could be wrong. I don't know James Waslaski's teachings. :)
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby JasonE on Thu May 26, 2011 9:03 pm

Could be, Taoist, that's why I asked the question. James DID say that he has changed much of what he teaches over the years. I am curious whether this is one of those things. I enjoy learning about how practitioners and instructors have changed what they do and teach over time, and WHY.
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Inpouring

Postby holley on Mon Nov 19, 2012 11:18 pm

A massage is an active process between celebrants. In this process the giver is present for the receiver; has faith in the process, keeps his/her own agenda out and allows what wants to happen of its own accord.
One receptive to this gift can have a myriad of experiences, from relaxation and pain relief to revelation and cosmic consciousness. What shows up, I'm guessing, depends on the physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual space the receiver is in/opens to. No skill necessary, it's in every one of us to be whole.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby truepeacenik on Wed Jan 30, 2013 11:20 am

Time for a 2013 post in this thread.

Arm shaking:
I'll admit I do it because my mentor does, in table and water massage.
I do it differently than he does, or at different points, but we'd both say the client's body directed us. We'd both be right, at that second.

I'll also shake legs if I sense holding. Sometimes lightly, sometimes as a vibrational "stroke."


That said, I think with my body, and can be a difficult client. I've gotten better, but sometimes I just have to say, I'm stealing that move.
Until then I wasn't aware that I was listening so intently to the work. And I try to shut that off for a while. Try.

For clients who hold, I throw in a different, unexpected movement. I'll reassure people who might be thinking I'm too small to support them that I toss around 350lb plus guys. They laugh and relax.
Sometimes, I'll simply ask them to take a deep breath and slowly let it out.
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Re: The skill of receiving

Postby rwhoski on Wed Jan 30, 2013 6:13 pm

I think for me today the line between giver and receiver blurred a bit. Maybe blurred isn't the correct word, but I've been under some really intense stress lately. My 11:00 am client turned her head and said I hope this is just therapeutic for you. Today it really was...
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