I have been thinking a lot about my work, but not saying much....
First of all, I haven't been working-- at all! Before Christmas, my studio space flooded. There was way too much snow piled up on a flat roof, and as it all began melting, water started running down the back walls like a waterfall. Fortunately, all of the damage was covered by insurance, but that also means that it needed to be fixed through the insurance company's process. That is to say, It's. Still. Not. Fixed. I have been given several dates by which I should be back in business, but none of those have happened. I'm hoping for next week.
There is a silver lining, although even that has both good and bad news. The good news is that I have not been paying rent. The bad news is that this is really good since I haven't had many calls in the new year. At first, I thought maybe I was just getting a little break and would have a month off in which I was not really losing any money. Now that it has stretched into almost three months and there is still little interest, I am getting nervous-- but still thankful that I am not paying rent!
I have used some of the free time to get started on the beauracracy of getting onto some insurance panels-- a long process! I don't really want to get work through insurance companies, since they really control a lot of what you do, but I realize that with "the economy" and all, many people can no longer afford bodywork unless it is covered by insurance-- I'm just giving myself one more option for getting enough work.
Another positive here is that I have had a lot of opportunity to just think about the type of massage practice I'd like to have. In the past, most of my work has been deep tissue, orthopedic body work that is rather taxing for me. I have had a lot of success with this and really enjoy the problem solving aspects and the more dramatic changes in a person's pain levels or range of motion. On the other hand, I don't feel like this type of work is very sustainable for my body, and I have found much gentler therapies that really work, and that I really enjoy using.
Beyond the physical aspect of the work, I would like to shift my focus from the purely physiological effects of massage more to the psychological/ emotional component that certain types of massage address. More specifically, I would like to specialize in women's health. I recently took a course on abdominal/pelvic massage which opened up so many new ideas for me. I think that this is a really important time in history for women. Not so much in terms of equality or achievement, but in the way we are talking about our experiences in life as women. Ladies are sharing with one another about what it's like to have a miscarriage, to struggle with not being able to concieve a baby, about disappointment with motherhood. Women are becoming empowered to leave abusive relationships, are actively pursuing healing from sexual abuse they suffered as children (many of these women are in their 50's-- they have waited this long!) and others are openly seeking support for traumatic experiences related to their gender and or sexuality. This is really exciting!
I have touched on this subject before, but an important part of working with someone's body is the acknowledgment that our emotions/ thoughts have a direct impact on our tissues. Emotions are chemicals that, when they are unable to be released, are stored within our bodies and manifest in aches, pains and disease. Likewise, when problematic areas are worked on, emotions can be released. Bodywork cannot heal the experiences, but it can help a person work through them-- even if the emotional damage happened a long time ago. I love the idea of being able to work on areas of the body that are specific to our experience as women-- namely, the uterus and pelvis. So much of what we believe about ourselves as women can affect our bodies on a cellular level--in the same way that when our bodies malfunction it can affect us on a mental/ emotional level. I am thinking in particular of women who struggle with infertility, or those who were unable to deliver their children the "natural" way and had caesarean births or even struggled with being able to breastfeed (I raise my hand on all counts.) These "failures," and so many others, while easily rationalized on a physical level, have a serious affect on our psyches and our experiences as women. And of course these feelings find their way right back into our bodies!
I am feeling so much excitement about this new direction. I have realized that much of my body's own healing process involves resolution of emotional issues, and I have been able to get some of that work done on myself (and I will continue to do so.) As a side note, after I took the course on the pelvic work, I left feeling great-- I can hardly exaggerate about the improvement I experienced! Anyway, I plan to use that type of work, along with the cranio-sacral therapy (CST) I already practice, and still incorporating other modalities that I have always used. This year, I plan to take further CST classes, as well as breast massage (it may sound crazy, but there is actually a serious need out there, particularly for women at risk for breast cancer,) somato-emotional release and lympatic drainage. That sounds busy, and I hope it will be. I have waited for such a long time to have my own massage practice. I am a little anxious about the lull here, but thankful to have the opportunity to reevaluate where I am and where want to go with it. Thanks for listening!
All images courtesy of flickr.