Searching Out the Perfect Massage: What “Perfect” Really Means

massage-on-tableToday is September 11th, 2013. In fairness, I probably won’t get this blog up for several days, but today’s date has had an effect on me, and it’s an effect that I don’t want to gloss over. Driving into the office this morning, I remembered the deep pit that sat in my stomach as I watched the smoldering Twin Towers on the news all those years ago; and I remembered with almost perfect clarity the overwhelming feeling of helplessness that attached itself to me in the weeks and months that followed.
For anyone who is old enough to remember that fateful September morning, these sentiments are probably somewhat familiar even if you experienced them differently than I did. In a way, September 11th has become a thread of connectivity between us: it is, for all its tragedy, a day we share, a day whose weight we take on collectively. So, what does this have to do with massage? Why have I felt the need to discuss September 11th today (aside from the obvious, of course: that it has been exactly 12 years since)?
I’ll do my best to explain.
Last night, I had a massage. I have them often, so this is nothing out of the ordinary, and my massage therapist has become something of a friend over the years. We gab at leisure about our kids, our husbands, the latest and greatest book or film, and the ever-tumultuous ups and downs of this ride we call life. Some people prefer silence during their massage (and that should always be respected); I, however, am perfectly content to chat myself blue-faced.

Over the course of my massage last night, I brought up the topic of September 11th. I had been feeling down all day and, somehow, purging myself felt like the right thing to do. Looking back at the evening, I’m convinced that it was the right thing. I know that my massage therapist isn’t a psychologist (nor do I think that she would ever try to give me advice to that end), but through the simple act of listening and the healing power of touch, I left the session feeling far more centered (physically and emotionally) than when I arrived. It made, as they say, all the difference.


As it turns out, I share a remarkable amount about my personal life—my hopes, fears, and even failures—with my massage therapist. Perhaps it’s because we happen to get along so well; perhaps it is the intimacy that comes naturally during any healing session. Probably, it’s both. Whatever the reason, more than ever, I realize that my massage therapist is a tremendously important person in my life, both for the fact that she does allow me to vent and gab, but also because, for an hour a week, I can let go of every other stress in my life and focus on me: my body and my spirit.

When I originally outlined this blog, I considered giving tips for getting the most out of a massage—for getting that “perfect” massage if you will; after last night, I’m convinced that there isn’t a key to the perfect massage, at least not one that would fit for each of us. The important thing is that we find someone we feel a connection to, someone who we feel heals us physically, and someone with whom we can truly relax. For many of us, the time we spend on a massage table is practically the only time we have to ourselves. That time should be about wellness in the broadest possible sense of the word. For me, that means incessant gabbing. For you, it might mean perfect, meditative silence. Whatever it means, search it out.

The key to a perfect massage is measurable only in the serenity and happiness that you experience for having had it. I say: Throw out any preconceived notions about ideal massage, find a therapist who offers you what you need, and then relax and enjoy.


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