A few months ago, I was working with a regular client who was experiencing an acute flare-up of chronic low back pain, among a number of other long-term physical and psychological symptoms, including anxiety and fibromyalgia. Indeed, her sympathetic nervous system was spending more than its fair share of time in the driver’s seat; for more information about the sympathetic nervous system, check out this month’s feature article.
As I began to work on her low back, taking care as usual to be sensitive to her pain, it became more and more clear that the “traditional” or “standard” massage techniques I was using weren’t going to work that afternoon. In fact it seemed that, even using very light pressure, her pain was only getting worse. To make matters worse, her anxiety level was rising steadily as she became more and more concerned about how she was going to get through her day with this pain.
And then I thought, sometimes less is more.
Since my client had mentioned that her back pain had flared up for years, most often in response to acute anxiety, I figured there might be more to going on than meets the eye. So with her permission, I decided to change course and go with the more gentle approach of Reiki, a modality she had not yet experienced. I had recently learned a Reiki technique to remove “stuck energy,” the underlying premise being that trauma that is stuck in the body on an energetic level can, over time, manifest as physical pain. And, I thought, if all else failed it would at least help to calm my client’s nervous system. Reiki is an excellent way to move from a state of “fight or flight” to one of “rest and digest.”
I was somewhat hesitant to try the new technique because it was new to me, was difficult for me to wrap my head around, and also because it involved asking the Reiki recipient to describe what her pain looked like – not what it felt like but what it looked like. But my intuition said to go for it, and my fears were forgotten when my client unflinchingly answered my query without so much as a pause. Her pain, she said, was violet in color, about the size of her fist, and sort of like a rock but with the texture of a meteorite.
My own nerves now calmed, I proceeded with the technique, and amazing things began to happen.
I suddenly felt chills throughout my own body, as my client exclaimed, “I’ve got the chills! Whatever you are doing is working; I am already feeling so much better!” When I explained that although my hands weren’t physically touching her, I was still working on moving her back pain out, she was confused because it felt to her like my hands were touching her low back. She could hardly believe it.
A couple of minutes later, she hopped up from the table and exclaimed that her back was pain free. And, having previously been hesitant to try Reiki, she exclaimed, “Oh no! That was that Reiki thing, wasn’t it? Oh well… I guess we’ll have to do some more of that next time.”
In massage, as in life, sometimes less is more.
In my work as a massage therapist, I am grateful to have experience and training in a variety of techniques. Massage isn’t a “one-size-fits-all” approach. You, my clients, all have very different needs, and
Curious? Want to try Reiki? Ask me about incorporating Reiki into your next massage!
If you are not sure what Reiki is, here’s a short description.
Stay tuned for more “Reiki connections” in next month’s newsletter.