11 Ways to Get the Most Out of your Bodywork Session By Jane Lightbody Thomas

I have been practising Massage and CranioSacral work for over a decade.  Throughout the decade I have worked on a many different clients and have received bodywork from many different massage therapists and CranioSacral therapists.

I was hoping to share with the reader, the perspective of a bodyworker and how, as a client, you can get the best value for the time and energy you have invested in receiving a massage or other type of bodywork.

1.  Number one,  recognize that the healing  of your ailment or relief of your symptoms is partially related to your ability  to receive and allow your body to do what it needs to create a healing response.  Many of us in the alternative health field recognize that our bodies are programmed for selfhealing.  Sometimes the challenge is more in getting our outdated belief systems out of the way and opening up to the belief that our bodies have the capability of self healing.

Being supported and witnessed in our healing process can be a big part of the success or effectiveness of a bodywork session.

As a bodyworker, I am a facilitator between you and your body.

My skill set is to refine the art of listening to your tissue and then acting a mirror for you to be in touch with the wisdom of your own body.

The body likes to speak in metaphors.  Often it can be so ridiculously obvious, that you may even question the message as it may seem too obvious.

Eg.  Chip on our shoulder, knife in the back, not feeling supported.   Each of these metaphors can show up as pain spots in our body, in our shoulders, mid back between the scapulas and lower back issues.

Some other metaphors may surface after some time. For example, I am working with one client who was describing how her head felt heavy… like lead. .

She will be exploring heavy metal detox and looking into whether heavy metals, particularly her amalgam fillings could be contributing to some of her symptoms.

2.  Once you have arrived in the treatment room and you are laying on the table, acknowledge to yourself that you have just accomplished a very major feat.  If receiving a pat on the back is not part of your session, then make a point of giving yourself one.  You may have noticed that it is becoming more and more difficult to schedule in down time amongst our urban western culture of busyness.    Be very proud of the fact that you have deemed yourself and your body important enough to be supported in encouraging the healthy expression of your body.   This is no small feat, and this practice of taking time for yourself and your body is the skill set that will serve you in your lifelong journey to wholeness and health.

3.  Set an intention as to what you would like to see happen in the session. Share this intention with your therapist.   Or as a therapist, I think it is a great idea to ask your client” what  is their intention for the session?” When the intention has been spoken out loud and you are both in sync with the intention, the energies align to create that outcome.  You are not acting at crosscurrents to each other.

4.  Try to remain curious throughout the session.  Be open to learning something new about yourself and your body or at least have a deeper understanding of some of your symptoms. Try to spend the hour or hour and half of your session, tuned into your body.  If you catch yourself thinking about the day or getting caught up in your plans about  what you need to do after the session, or the next week, see if you can tune into your breath and stay in observer mode as best you can throughout the session.

If you find yourself landing in that very lucid place between sleep and being awake, this is good thing, simply enjoy, as this can be a very healing space for your body.

5. If you suffer from Chronic pain, see if you are able to stay with the pain or even attempt to tune into the pain throughout the session.    Attempt to use the bodywork session as an opportunity to connect with the message of what your body’s pain signals are attempting to communicate.     Not all pain is the same, and each type of pain sensation has its own message or code.   Nerve pain and muscle pain have different sensations and learning the difference can be beneficial data for yourself and your bodywork therapist.   Instead of focusing on easing the pain see if you can go deeper into the pain or feel into the pain, supported by your therapist.  This approach may well be the way out of the pain.   We sometimes exert so much energy in avoiding pain, that we may create unnecessary holding in our body. We may actually brace our body against the pain, or oftentimes we leave our bodies.    Bringing our awareness and consciousness within our body, is part of the healing process.

6.  Have a bodyworker amongst your team of health practitioners who you feel can hold space for some deeper emotional work.    Not all therapists have the experience, desire or depth to be able to hold space or be fully present to you and your body.   You do not have to necessarily talk or share your experiences throughout the session, but it would be beneficial to you to have the choice and the space to be able to share with someone who has the depth that can hold space for some deeper healing.

7. Try to be aware of emotions or memories that may come up for you as your body is being worked on.  Tissue holds emotions and memories, and often just being aware and allowing yourself to feel the emotion can change or transform the holding pattern in your tissue.   You may also be surprised at how certain memories get triggered.  Often memories that you haven’t thought of consciously for many years may come up to the surface.  This can often be good information for you.   We do not want to relive trauma, or relive the past negative experiences, however there is an inherent wisdom in our body and often a particular memory or emotion can be a catalyst to unhelp start unwinding restrictions and holding patterns we maintain in our body.  The key is to stay in observer mode and not to embody the actual trauma again.

8.  See if you can meet the therapists touch with your awareness in your tissue.  Think of it as exploring your own body with the aid and support of another human.   Be open to receiving information that your body may want to share with you in the way of sensation, thoughts, emotions or memories.

9. Allow yourself to receive.   Try to remain as open as possible to receiving and allowing the tissue in your body to soften and unwind if that is what needs to happen.   If you are working with a bodyworker for the first time, recognize that your body may not be able to simply let go and relax.   Hopefully your body is discerning and will allow itself the proper length of time to feel out the therapist and recognize the touch as safe and nurturing.    No two bodies are alike, although we can all share similar holding patterns.   The first session can often be more exploratory and a time to allow your body to get used to the touch and presence of the therapist.

10.  Breathe and stay grounded as best you can.   One of the easiest ways to stay grounded and in your body in a bodywork session is to sense into where your body is in relation to the table that you are laying on.  Feel the weight of your body on the table.  Feel into the sensation of your body touching the table.

11.   Use your own voice to ask for what you need.   When a client of mine speaks up and asks for me to lower the arm rests or raise the head rest or asks for deeper pressure on a certain area, I feel like I have succeeded at creating a safe healing space for the client.  Most of us have yet to master the  art of mind reading and although we pride ourselves on being intuitive and sensitive to your needs , we appreciate when you are able to speak up for yourself.  Only you are able to  speak up for your own body and your body will appreciate it.

As a bodyworker, our job is to get you back into your body and by listening to and taking cues from your body, we allow the health of your body to upwell in the tissue.

As a client, you are able to maximize the benefits of your session by recognizing that you are 50% of the healing equation.   As a bodyworker we act as a witness to you and your body’s innate healing wisdom.

As a bodyworker… sometimes the best thing that we can do, is  to allow the mystery and the wisdom of the body and nature do what it needs to do, instead of going in there and manipulating tissue according to how we were taught in a book.   Each client and each session is unique… and if each session can be met with presence and an openness to a healed outcome, and the reverence of holding and creating a healing space, we may just create that sweet, sweet place of bliss experienced only from being  a participant in a great bodywork session.

If you are interested in working with  a bodywork therapist from Healing Connections please check out our practitioners at this link.

Be curious to who and what type of modality you are drawn to.   Trust your own intuition.

We look forward to being a support to you on your journey to wholeness.

About the Author

Written by Jane Lightbody Thomas, RMT, CranioSacral Therapist and Owner of Healing Connections