By Teresa Eisenlohr
When you hurt and go get a massage, you just want someone to make the pain go away. The last thing you want is more pain! Sometimes, though, on the way to healing, that’s what you get. When pain stuck in one place is released, it can reveal a greater pain lodged deeper within our body’s structure. This is discouraging for both you and the massage therapist. If we can be patient when this happens, the healing relief can be greater in the long run. And if we can get ahead of that pain instead of just following it with maintenance massages that keep you going, in the long run you’ll have less pain and have to have less massage. In the meantime, more frequent massage for a couple months and Epsom salt baths, along with other natural measures, can help you through the pain of a healing transition.
Sometimes the additional pain that arises during a massage is an emotional one. It can be surprising when we suddenly burst into tears on the table. Years after I’d buried my first husband, I got a massage and found myself sobbing great gobs of snot on someone else’s table. Not given to emotional displays of grief that I thought was as resolved as grief ever gets, I was embarrassed by my perplexing tears.
I now know that this is a rather common reaction. Our emotional memories are just not stored somewhere in our brains, but throughout the nerve centers in our bodies. Our nervous and muscular systems permeate one another, so it’s no wonder that the release of chronically tight muscle can also release concomitant memories and emotions we didn't even know were an issue. When this emotional release happens, there’s no need to be embarrassed. It doesn’t mean you’re falling apart. It just means you’re human.
So if you start crying or laughing with a release of muscular tightness, just know that it’s perfectly natural, and just let it go. Ask for a tissue when you need one. We’ll help you hold the emotional heaviness until it lightens up, just like we do with your head for an atlas-occipital release. We're a compassionate witness of your pain. If you want to talk about it, you can. Though we’re not psychological therapists, we’re pretty good listeners. If you don’t want to talk about it, we'll honor that and follow your lead. When someone’s having an emotional release, I simply hold them in the Light as I gently continue massage--after handing them a tissue, if needed.
All good massage therapists try to follow and honor your body’s wisdom about what is best for your healing by not only giving you the best massage tailored for your body, but also by holding healing space open for you to release whatever pain is holding you back from being your best self.