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The massage, The therapist

Massaging in the Zone

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Giving a massage can become like meditation for the therapist. Once immersed fully into the massage, the hands seem to be moving on their own and conscious thought is reduced to a bare minimum.

My hands just “know” where to massage and what techniques to use. I can place my hands on a client and instantly find that spot that’s sore and needs attention. Sometimes I even surprise myself by what techniques I use, them being different from what I logically would choose. I “Just” know if I should be gentle and use long soft strokes, or I should be intense and use pinpoint focus. I “Just” know if there’s need for more caring and compassion or it’s a need for physical attention.

When I’m in that state, it can feel like knowledge is flowing through me, that my “Higher Self” or some other power is directing my massage. My intent is crystal clear and intense and the results are very powerful. I don’t consciously use my learning or logic to massage with, but just know what’s right and wrong in that particular moment.

It’s a difficult thing to fully describe. The closest expression I’ve come across is when artists say they go into the “Zone” or “Flow”.
As Wikipedia describes it: “Flow is the mental state of operation in which the person is fully immersed in what he or she is doing by a feeling of energized focus, full involvement, and success in the process of the activity … The hallmark of flow is a feeling of spontaneous joy, even rapture, while performing a task.

As with artists, not every massage brings me into the “Zone”. Some massages lack the challenge to bring on the Flow and become relaxing instead. This perhaps becomes more of a meditation, which centres and calms me.

Reading what artists write about the “Zone”, we share many common experiences. We both feel time disappear and can be surprised by discovering how much time actually did pass. We share a feeling of very narrow focus, barely or not at all, noticing what goes on around us. Often we work intensely but afterwards only see the results and have only a vague recollection of what we actually did to achieve it.

Some painters can only reach the “Zone” being completely undisturbed and alone. I’ve found that when I give massages, especially short chair-massages, then my environment doesn’t matter. I “zone out” the noise, people and disturbances around me and become completely immersed in my task.

It is after those “Zone” sessions that people always rise from the chair or table with a huge smile on their face, feeling amazed by the effect of the massage.

It’s not only the receiver who gains benefits from it, I do as well. Being in the “Zone” is very rewarding in itself, it’s almost thrilling. And to see how people react and how happy they are for the massage brings on a second reward to me which always lights up the day no matter how grey it was.

Have you received a massage from a therapist in the Flow and was it different from a non-Flow massage? Share your experiences by posting a comment below.

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About Pia Poulsen

Pia Poulsen is educated as a wellness massage therapist at Institut FIGARI in Paris, from where she passed her certification exam in January 2008. Since then she has expanded her skills to become the first Advanced LaStone® practitioner in France as well as a certified LaStone® instructor.


2 Responses to “Massaging in the Zone”

  1. You mention that therapists often get in the zone and it is a bit like meditating when giving a massage. Would a client talking during the massage spoil this meditative environment? I am a bit of a newcomer to the joys of massage but recently had a very good one with a young massuese. As it was my first time with her I tried a bit of small talk to try and make a “connection”, to establish a level of trust and also to try and learn a bit about various techniques to better understand what might be best for me in future. However, she wasn't very talkative and seemed to be concentrating on what she was doing. I didn't mind though because as I said it was a very enjoyable experience. So, as a therapist do you prefer a more quieter, meditative environment so you can concentrate and maybe “get in the zone”. Do you think this type of environment is spoilt by small talk from the client? Do therapists in general prefer clients to be quiet? Should I just shutup and relax?

    PS. I stumbled across this site by accident but I find your comments and responses very enlightening, very helpful and very well said, even on the most sensitive subjects. Thank you.

    Posted by Novice | Thursday 8 July, 2010, 02:23
  2. Dear Novice,

    How I prefer the environment depends on what type of massage I give and what the intent of the massage is. For instance, the Massage Créatif is meant to be a journey into relaxation and sensation. Here it's beneficial for the client to just let go, receive and float away so to speak.

    When I give Deep Stone, chatting feels natural. It's a more physical/treatment oriented massage and the flow of the massage is very different. I ask the client to participate, take a deep breath, explain what I'm doing, ask them for feedback and where tensions are etc, so they can't just let go and disappear into the massage and meditation.

    There are massage types, eg when using “Presencing” where the talk and communication is essential to the massage.

    I think the entering the flow is more a matter of experience and confidence than it's the type of massage or if the client talks.

    When I did my first couple of hundred massages, I was still practising and trying to remember all I had learnt, I would become very distracted and disturbed by a client talking. Now that I have confidence and experience, and no longer have to think about what I have to do but just do it, I find that chatting might break the mood a bit (in case of eg. the Créatif), but it doesn't break up the flow and “meditation” I'm in. I do have a short period of time where I need to focus on what I do every time I take a new massage course and implement the techniques into my treatments.

    One time where I really noticed being in the flow, was at a chair-massage demonstration with lots of people walking around, constantly changing clients, people talking, me answering questions etc. The exact opposite of a calm, quiet, meditative environment.

    You mention it was a young massage therapist you had, so my guess is that she doesn't yet have the long experience and confidence in what she's doing and still has to think about what to do and how to do it. This doesn't necessarily make the massage bad, she just needs to spend a bit more energy on giving it. In cases like this, it might be better to wait until after the session to ask all the questions.

    I hope this answers your questions. Thank you so much for your feedback and participation. I love to hear what my readers think and help where I can.


    Posted by Pia | Friday 9 July, 2010, 06:51