When Your Hands Become Your Heart
by Kathy Padecky, AS, CMT, Aromatherapist, CBS
Massage is perhaps the oldest and simplest of therapeutic treatments. In traditional cultures, it is accepted that everyone can benefit from massage. Massage is widely used in Chinese medicine, and a range of massage techniques have been developed over the long course of the evolution of Chinese medicine. Tui Na is one example: it’s a very safe technique, and one of its major applications is relieving chronic pain. Massage can be used effectively for a myriad of ailments, as it adjusts and regulates the qi circulation to maintain health.
In the western world, we have probably all experienced a cookie cutter massage. This is the type of massage students learn in basic massage training. Every massage school will teach the fundamentals of massage, and students will practice and perfect these strokes. The focus is generally on the technique. In my experience of teaching at numerous massage schools, a mindful touch is often overlooked. Mindful touch requires a still mind, sensitivity, and focus. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), a mindful touch and sensitivity is vital for an accurate pulse diagnosis.
Regardless of the massage modality, there is a void in a bodywork session when compassionate touch is missing. It is possible to go into a sacred space and to then create a deep, mindful connection between you and your client. Your work at that point is more intuitive, and your hands will naturally gravitate to the client’s areas of discomfort.
The sacredness of touch requires a presence that easily gets lost when we focus on the process or become distracted. Yes, it is necessary to know the origins, insertions, and functions of muscles. The process of working on the channels and meridians is very important. Yet, when you put aside your ego, with no concerns about you or the recipe to perform, and begin to focus on the highest and best good for your client, a transformation occurs.
When you are cerebral in your massage, it becomes mechanical and clinical. One of the best massages I ever received was from a beginning student who knew little about massage techniques. She intuitively connected through her heart to the areas of my body that needed attention. She worked miracles with her nurturing hands because her focus was on my comfort and recovery from the stresses of life. Listen and feel with your heart and hands. They will guide you to the areas of concern. You will lose all concept of time as you are absorbed in that sacred space. It is an honor to share and facilitate the client’s recovery process.
Research has shown massage can boost the immune system. Zach Thomas’s book, Healing Touch, says “Massage may stimulate the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, into the brain and nervous system. The physiological reaction to caring touch, it is currently postulated, helps rebalance the flow of nerve chemicals within the brain, called neurotransmitters, which may be responsible for the feelings of well-being or euphoria that often follow a massage or Healing Touch session.”
In my experience, most clients are touch deprived. Research is showing the extraordinary effects of touch. When your heart becomes your hands, the client responds to the compassion in your touch. It fulfills the need for the touch they unconsciously seek. When this happens, their protective barriers drop and the client becomes especially receptive to your work.
Taking a few moments to meditate or to be still before you work with a client gets you centered and focused. When the mind is quiet, you can instill love, peace, and compassion. You create a space where you integrate compassion, process the client’s needs, and can then begin to exceed those needs.
Begin every bodywork session by visualizing your hands infused with love and compassion. You will be in an expanded state of awareness, and will be able to project these gifts of love and compassion, creating a protective nurturing space. When you begin by creating a loving heartfelt space, your consciousness surrounds the body of the client. You may feel the various rhythms of the body, and these will guide your hands to remove energy blockages and soothe tired muscles. Your heart will guide your hands. Let it. This is the perfect time to integrate Reiki, Healing Touch, or Quantum Touch to raise the energetic frequency of the client’s body. Their body will enter the highest frequency and be receptive to the nurturing aspects of the massage. In this energetic state, you will receive far more than you give. Clients will have profound experiences and they will book more sessions. Your business will thrive by word of mouth.
I had the privilege of meeting a Japanese scientist, Dr. Masaru Emoto, who wrote many books on the power of thought in relation to water. He experimented with one message for each sample of water and then froze the water at 23 degrees Fahrenheit. He infused numerous samples of water with positive and sometimes negative words or phrases before he froze them. He photographed the frozen water crystals. He found the words love and gratitude to be the most powerful phrase and the most beautiful of all the frozen crystals. Dr. Emoto says “Negative thoughts also have a negative effect on human beings because they destroy our crystalline structure of water.” The negative messages distorted the frozen crystals. Dr. Emoto says that “Words are the spoken manifestation of our thoughts.”
Depending on age and gender, 45 to 75 percent of the adult body is water. Our thoughts and emotions imprint in the fluids of our body. Clients will sense any discord or angst you may have, especially when you touch them.
Try this experiment. Fill two glasses with equal amounts of water. Hold one glass in your hands and project the feelings of love and gratitude through your hands into the water. Hold the glass for a couple of minutes and then taste it. How does it taste? Next, drink from the other glass without projecting any intention. Is there a difference? How does it taste? Notice how powerful our thoughts become when infused into the water in the glass we held. This is a simple example of the power of intention. Proper hydration nourishes the body, mind, and spirit. There is a condition best described as ‘brain fog’ when we are dehydrated. You become a clearer channel with proper hydration. I believe the body always knows. Clients will pick up on our feelings and emotions. Your attitude and intentions are the most important aspects in every bodywork session.
Center and focus on love and gratitude before your session begins. Find the still, deep peace within your core. Your positive thoughts create the foundation that protects, nourishes, and facilitates on behalf of your client. We become powerful through our loving thoughts and actions, and your client will feel this.
I want to share a story of a dear friend who, at the age of 49, received a heart transplant. Periodically, the doctor did a biopsy of her new heart. The surgeon used a long instrument called a claw to obtain the tissue sample. On one visit, the surgeon was consistently unable to get a sample. My friend finally suggested he rest the instrument on her heart for a few minutes and mentally connect to her heart. The surgeon thought about this and did as she asked. She told the surgeon to now take a sample. It was effortless, and for the first time, she felt no discomfort. The surgeon related how he experienced a deep connection with her heart. It has been nine years since her surgery. She is living a normal life, sharing her gift of touch and compassion as a therapist. This poignant story reminds me to think about how I approach my clients before each session. We have the power to impact everyone we meet through the quality of our touch.
Proper body mechanics are essential. A practitioner’s qi flows without restrictions when they stand properly and are relaxed. A comfortable chair and an exercise ball are great tools if you incorporate cranial sacral, reflexology, or acupressure into your massage. When you are at ease, you can easily feel what the client’s body is revealing to you. Your body mechanics are only as good as your posture, your state of mind, and your intention.
Self-care is vital to a practitioner. Take the time to pamper yourself. Get the bodywork and acupuncture sessions you need to stay in balance. When you incorporate a mindful touch, proper hydration and nutrition, proper body mechanics and mental stillness, this assists you to create a heart-centered session. Only a client can heal him or herself. We are the facilitators for their healing. Your client will feel your love and compassion through your hands. Healing can occur when you address the needs of your client. Your massage will get into a rhythmical flow with your client. You will experience a deep transformation when you work through your heart and hands. Your massages will become a joyful dance, in a sacred space, when your hands become your heart.
Kathy Padecky, AS, CMT, Aromatherapist, CBS teaches Advanced Massage Modalities and Aromatherapy at the Pacific College San Diego campus. Kathy has been in the holistic field for thirty years. She holds an Associate of Science in Holistic Studies from the International Professional School of Bodywork. She is certified by the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage and Bodywork and is a Certified Massage Therapist by the California Massage Therapy Council. She is a member of Associated Bodywork and Massage Professionals and the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. She received her aromatherapy certification from the American College of Healthcare Sciences. Kathy is a Certified Biofeedback Specialist by the Natural Therapies Certification Board. She is the author of a complimentary monthly aromatherapy newsletter entitled Sacred Scents ©.
This November Kathy will teach a Post-Symposium workshop on Integrative Modalities with Massage for the Health Care Professional. Kathy will incorporate therapeutic grade essential oils and crystals into four bodywork sessions. Attendees will focus on the lower arms and hands, lower legs and feet, and then experience a ground cacao peppermint back facial and a cornstarch palliative massage.
Chinese Qigong Massage, Dr. Yang Jwing-Ming
Chinese Medicine, Tom Williams
Healing Touch, Zack Thomas
Quantum Touch, The Power to Heal, Richard Gordon
The Book of Massage, Lucinda Lidell
The Handbook of Chinese Massage, Maria Mercati
The Message from Water, Dr. Masaru Emoto
The Web that has no Weaver, Ted J. Kaptchuk, O.M.D.