What is Holistic Massage by Andy Fagg, Director of BCMB
What is holistic massage?
The term holistic massage can be woolly, vague, wet. At best, practitioners may talk of treating the “whole person” – body, mind and spirit. At worst they just burn incense, play whale music and charge you a stupid price.
Actually I like the word holistic although I agree with those who object to its “holiness” connotation. So just what is the “whole” that we refer to here?
At BCMB, massage is seen as a process of engagement, a dynamic communication of touch and response. There are three aspects to “wholeness”:
- the whole client, with physical, emotional and spiritual needs;
- the whole practitioner, present and focused, paying good attention;
- a whole range of techniques used as appropriate to the situation.
So how does massage work?
As I touch your body, a whole range of physiological responses can occur, affecting the skin, sensory nerve receptors, muscle tissue, circulation of blood and lymph, ease of joint movement, breathing, digestion and so on. My skill as a therapist means I vary the depth, speed and intention to enable different responses to occur.
Yet there is much more than this.
Your emotions are body felt sensations. Anger, joy, fear, hope, shame, sadness – consider how each feels and you will evoke a physical sensation.
Also, your tissues display your conscious and unconscious belief systems. If you are confident and outgoing, you will present with very different postural and muscular patterning than if you feel insignificant and unimportant.
So when I touch you, I literally touch your view of yourself and how you feel. And that is the product not only of who you are now but also all your personal history up to that moment.
There is more.
When I touch you, not only are your physical and emotional responses present, but so are mine. All my physical symptoms, feelings and personal history are also in the room. Of course, as a professional therapist, I take care of myself elsewhere, but I may also draw on my experience to support your personal process. So I may develop an expertise in working with clients whose experiences relate to mine. The range of outcomes from each therapeutic relationship is enormous, rich and constantly exciting.
As human beings, we are physical entities. Part of the deal of the human condition is that each of us has a body! Yet we have a culture that marginalizes the body, teaching us to be ashamed of its size, shape and functions. Many of us are not properly “embodied”. Our families, the media, partners and our own inner critics try to tell us that our bodies are not good enough.
The role of holistic massage is both radical and simple, namely enabling people to live fully in their bodies. That’s it!
In future blogs I will define massage in one sentence and reveal the 4 principles that guide our work at BCMB with students and clients.
BCMB Founder and Director
12th May 2016