I work with feelings. From my fingertips, through my palms, my wrists and into my lower arms. A sense of ‘feeling’ is vital to my work as a massage therapist. When you have a massage with me, you ‘feel’ my touch on your skin and through into your muscles. But I also have other kinds of ‘feelings’ whilst I do massage – and you do to too. Good and bad feelings about who we are, what we are doing, the world we live in – all sorts of feelings. We usually think of the first sort of feelings as physical and the second sort as internal or emotional.
But, are these types of ‘feelings’ actually different?
Our brains are mighty clever. They react to an insane number of external and internal stimuli in nano-seconds day in day out. They experience physical external stimuli (your fingers feel the fork when you eat) but they also work in reverse, taking internal stimuli and turning it into physical sensations. Remember the last time you’re anxious or scared… think about how your body felt. Were you a little tense, sweating, sitting on the edge of your chair? The reality is, whichever way you get to it (from inside or out), your brain is always interacting on a physical level with your body. It is always creating or experiencing physical sensations.
So – if you can physically touch a ‘feeling’ can you change it by physically moving it? I believe you can. You can help someone to slow and deepen their breathing by using assisted breathing techniques which can calm them down. You can hold someone so they feel safe and their heart rate slows. You can also do massage techniques to invigorate and wake the body which in turn wakes the mind.
When you are next having, or giving, a massage just spend a little while thinking about this. What feelings are you touching, sensing, experiencing? What difference does touch make to those feelings? Really spend the time you are on the couch feeling what is happening right there, right then. And see how the touch changes your feelings – both the ones you sense and the ones your mind creates.