Preparing to Touch

Lesson 1

The main place people go wrong in offering massage to their loved ones, is right at the beginning.

If you're thinking of giving your loved one a shoulder rub, it’s easy to step into that thinking, “Here are some tense shoulders and I’m going to squeeze them until they’re not tense anymore.”  But remember, those shoulders are alive, and they might not feel that being squeezed is offering them the safety and comfort that they’re longing for.

In order to touch someone well, you begin with yourself.

To massage their shoulders begin with them seated in a chair and yourself standing behind them.  

The first thing is to notice your own body.  I call this listening for physical noise. Discomfort in your own body is like static on a radio station.  When there is no static you can hear the details of the music. When there is a lot of static, you might hear the major themes of the music, but all the details are lost.  If your own body is not comfortable and at ease it keeps you from hearing the details that your partner’s body can share with you.

Notice how your body feels. 

Is there some part of your body that is drawing your attention right now?  Are your feet sore? Is there anything else, a frantic thought, a headache?  All these sensations that draw your attention are like the background noise that keeps you from “hearing” the sensations of contact with the bodymind in front of you.  

If you can quiet this noise by changing something, making yourself more comfortable somehow, then take a moment to do so.  You may want to take a wider stance so that your center of gravity is lower or so that your wrists can be at a more comfortable angle.  You may want to ask your partner to shift somehow or sit in a different chair.

You’ll keep coming back to this while you engage with your partner, because sometimes a position that starts out quiet becomes noisy as it becomes uncomfortable.

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