Many clients ask me why I trained in massage. There’s one simple reason: self-care.
In my 20s I lived in London and worked in a variety of media and marketing jobs. My other job was my social life, which I took very seriously!! It was a fast-paced, high pressure life, where I also exercised a lot. I got my energy from caffeine and every three months or so would burn out, break down and have to completely rest. It got to the point that, at the age of 25, I couldn’t go on as I was anymore. My health was suffering and I felt tired all the time. This was probably due to adrenal fatigue. I didn’t know how else I could live, I believed that this was just the way it was.
My health issues made me seek out alternatives and I discovered a variety of spiritual and personal development methods. I got heavily into meditation and by the time I was 32, I had experienced many states of consciousness way beyond my everyday life. This was great for my spirit but my body wasn’t doing so great. I have been on the edge of underweight most of my life and in the year before I started learning massage, I was dangerously so. It took me almost a year to realise that my body was basically starving and in a lot of pain.
Up to that point, I didn’t remember ever feeling good in my body – I’m sure I did as a small child, but as far as I can remember, I never registered that it felt good to be in a body. I was ambivalent at best and when I was working hard in my 20s, my body ached from sitting at a desk for hours on end and wasn’t getting anywhere near the nourishment it needed to live well. Every morning I would wake up with a stiff back, despite practising yoga daily. I didn’t realise that it was possible to enjoy being in a body.
After all the mind and spirit expansion that I’d experienced with meditation, I knew it was time to do something for my body. I had started to give massage informally to friends and found it was something I enjoyed. I knew some people who had done a training with a massage school in Bristol, which sounded just up my street, so I decided to check it out.
It was never my intention to practice massage professionally. I didn’t relish looking after others, I had no desire to be a parent or a carer of any kind. I just knew that I needed to do something for my body, that it needed some care and attention to be able to land all this expansion that I’d experienced. Massage seemed like one way I could do this, especially with an in-depth course that included meditation, dancing and a holistic approach to the body. I just knew deep in the heart of me that this was my next step.
Doing the course made me so much more aware of my body. Practising the posture for massage made me realise how high I held my shoulders, for example. In anatomy lessons, I learnt about the stress response and the symptoms of chronic stress in BS9. I became utterly fascinated with this and I knew this was what I had experienced when was I was younger – living constantly on the survival edge and never allowing the body to fully rest and repair – until it burns out and crashes.
I was so enthused by finding out this information – it hadn’t all been in my head, I wasn’t crazy, it was a chemical, biological reaction happening in my body and there were ways I could address it! The more I learnt about massage and the more I practised it, the more I understood about the nervous system and how I could work with mine to create more ease – and actually start to enjoy being in a body!
After experiencing this for myself I found by the end of the course that I wanted to share it with others – I realised how widespread in BS9 chronic stress is, and knew that I had something to offer to others who were going through what I had been going through, and was still learning to heal from.
In the seven years since I’ve qualified, practising massage, along with other factors in my life, has helped me to trust that I can let go into the state of rest and repair and that I don’t need to live in a state of constant high alert. This is the most kind of profound self-care I know – to respond to what my body needs and love and care for it enough to let it do what it is designed to do: live life, digest experience, heal and let go.