On the shuttle bus ride to BART yesterday on the way home from school, I was in a conversation with a friend, and she was asking me how did I know that massage was what I wanted to be doing, how did I connect with my clients, as she was finding that the shiatsu training she’s had so far wasn’t working for her and that she felt remote from her clients still.
We started talking about how my work isn’t just about me trying to make money from my clients, but about helping them know themselves on a deeper level, and about knowing that the work that I do ripples out from me into the world, making the world a better place. I told her that a one of the biggest parts of connecting with clients is in turning off my own ego during the work sessions, and communicating that to my clients so that they know that my sole focus is them and the work we are doing together.
But how do I communicate that to my clients, she asked. I told her that it all starts with the very first moment that the client comes into my presence. I look at them in the eye, smile, breathe fully, welcome them to my studio. I listen to them, ask questions of them that show I have been listening, yet I keep control of the session so that they feel safe and have confidence in me. I move and speak slowly, calmly, not rushing, to let them know that they can do the same, to relinquish their burdens for a time. The first touch is performed calmly, but confidently, slowly, with gentle strength, to let them know that my touch is completely controlled and intentional. I will often spend a few moments palpating their body, feeling the places where they are holding, guarding, or are in pain or injured. This communicates to them that I am giving thought to their needs and planning out how I want to work with them. In short, I told her, I make it all about them, and not about me.
I give them an experience of knowing. Of knowing that they are utterly safe and cared for. Of knowing that they have nothing to do but simply be. Of knowing that they are worthwhile and dignified creatures, respected and loved. Of knowing themselves on a more deep level than before.
Finally, I said to her that service to others was the highest form of living, and through serving others we find transcendence and inner peace. Service to others is what creates a loving and more peaceful world, and is something we should all strive for in our small corners of that world.