I am a Massage Therapist. When I put my hands on the naked body of a stranger, the best of me comes forward. When I touch the vulnerable, soft outer shell of a human being, compassion rises in my heart. Any judgment I would have had had they caught my eye on the street – their body type, their fashion sense, their possible political leanings – is washed away by the tender feelings I have for this individual of my species.. The simple environment of a private room, my clothed, upright posture, their naked, prone position puts a great deal of power in my hands. After years of studying this power and this relationship I know that the power I have extends into a realm of unspoken depths. I know that I believe in the power of intention.
I mean by intention, having a clear, professional and positive idea of how to proceed with the person that is before me. I silently hold in my head a simple, nurturing suggestion that I have guessed might be important in the inner experience of this individual. I keep my mind present. I work at not thinking outside this moment.
Years ago I worked with a man called “Mark”, referred by a counselor in hopes that bringing his body into the participation of his therapy would help his progress. He was a stooped and angular middle-aged man whose primary relationship was with the computer he worked on at his job. The unfamiliarity and intimacy of the situation made him sweat. Working on his back and arms and legs was like massaging a carved wooden statue. At the end of the hour he dutifully made another appointment for two weeks later as he felt honor bound to give this a fair trial. After he left I wondered if perhaps I should refuse to take him on. He was so resistant to “opening up”, to taking responsibility for softening his muscles. It was going to be too hard and maybe pointless. Then that compassion rose in me again and I stood inside him and saw his homely, hard face in the mirror. Unattractive. Unlovable.
Two weeks later I proceeded with the exact massage I had given Mark at our first meeting but I held in my mind the mantra of “you are worthy of love”. Repeating this silently in my head throughout the first half of the massage, “you are worthy of love…” I was sure I was starting to feel his muscles softening. When I had him roll onto his back, tears began streaming down his face. When I had finished, he opened his eyes and looked into my eyes with joy. Several sessions later he told me that the experience of that massage was the first non-sexual, loving touch he ever remembered experiencing. It changed his body. It changed the way he saw himself.
I have seen the magic of transformation happen again and again. Maybe what communicates to each person is that they are listened to, they are the leader of this event, they are safe here… they are worthy of love. Through the experience of working with intention I tell you, I am changed too!
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