I recently had an outcall massage at the home of a Kung Fu practitioner in the Richmond District of San Francisco. Before the massage session, during our intake interview, I asked him about incorporating stretches into his table time and he replied, “Although I probably need them, I’d prefer not as I want a lighter, more relaxing session.”
Stretches and mobility are a big feature of my Deep Esalen Bodywork offering, as they help inform the body as to the expansive and full possibility of its movement. So, I replied, “I will mix some stretches in and if they make you uncomfortable, speak up.” As the session went on its winding, organic 90-minute trajectory I ended up employing almost all of my signature stretches and mobility movements. Adjusting to what he said earlier, I was sure to be more subtle in how I moved his limbs and employed a lighter touch.
Not surprisingly, he was delighted by the session and the “stretches.” What dawned on me while I was working on him is that we had gotten tripped up over semantics. To him, a “stretch” meant something forced or reached for in a Kung Fu studio, not a flowing addition to a relaxing Swedish massage.
As I have alluded to in the website and blog, due to my brain injury speaking is not easy for me, and the whole interaction reminded me to choose the words I do choose to speak carefully. And, of course, in massage touch and experience are far more powerful than words.