What most people who receive bodywork are wanting to achieve is therapeutic beneficial change. What they expect in exchange for their resources and time invested is to feel less stress, less tense, more relaxed and have less pain.

With the primary intention being to feel noticeably better (to heal); how they achieve it might look different for each person. The aim remains the same. So what really can one expect from the therapies they participate in?

The ONE thing you CAN EXPECT is CHANGE.

Change will happen, that you can be sure. But that is why you are in “therapy” – to change the way you feel in your body. However, CHANGE, as you know, is NOT always so orderly, or pleasant, or pretty. Worth it? Challenging? YES. Predictable? No.

When manual therapies are employed, the body initiates a healing response and this can momentarily manifest some intense sensations. Ones that are near impossible to describe. The body’s language takes time to learn, enough to interpret what it has to say. There are some wonderfully delightful sensations – that give you the head tingles, make you sigh in relief or send you off to la-la land. Accompanied by other more intense  sensations. Spots that when palpated with presence, patience, and precision – hurts so good! (Why the “No Pain, No Gain” Mindset Won’t Serve You in Bodywork)

I think we inherently know when pain is therapeutic and when it is causing injury. Hurts good vs. hurts bad. Such as exercise vs. a repetitive motion injury. The techniques aren’t so painful that you necessarily want the therapy to stop (or least they shouldn’t be). In fact, you may NOT want the body worker to stop pressing at all. Not until the tension reaches its release point.

You might possibly have your attention be brought to how exhausted you are or how un-tamed your nervous system has gotten. Or realize how opposite of relaxed you currently are. (By the way, I have never worked on a person who doesn’t have tension in their body).

Therapeutic touch shines a light on the dark corners, in the nooks and crannies of our frame (our structure) and exposes our mind to our body’s current state. 
When a body worker reaches the deeper older layers of tension and trauma that have been stored in your muscle memory. Underneath the armor and the ego that shields us. As we release the patterns that are tightly bound and etched into our soft tissues, fastening down our bones, impinging on our nerves and impacting our attitudes →  belief structures; you may discover the inter-connectedness and the relationship between your physical and emotional health.

For many, therapeutic touch produces the release of feel-good neurotransmitters. Resulting in feelings of gratitude, relief, love, nourishment, reverence, etc. Its awe-inspiring intensity can induce what can only be described as a body-gasm. The opening of blockages increases sensations within and heightens bodily awareness. A self-care regimen that includes bodywork can prompt feeling more connected and in dialogue with your body. It can lead to personal insight if you allow yourself to tune in and center there. It is one of many vehicles to encourage a mystical experience or personal revelation.

You may also find yourself traveling to a deep abyss of hidden and forgotten traumas. Distances within that one must travel, in order to reconcile the very underpinnings of our distress. Past injuries that were never really felt or dealt with. Never having processed it fully when the incident occurred; causing us to become fragmented.

I don’t like to plant seeds in my client’s head, that the pain WILL get worse before it gets better. Because most of the time, it doesn’t play out that way. But when it does, I want to help people to be prepared. 

Your symptoms may temporarily increase while participating in therapies. Or perhaps you just become more aware of them. The therapeutic process is a continuous journey of surrendering. Including surrendering any expectations you might have about how healing is supposed to look. It is good to go into bodywork knowing that sometimes healing and change don’t happen as fast or as easily as we want it to.

I always tell people to give any type of bodywork treatment, a couple of days to “land.” For 2-3 days after a session, your body will continue to release and repair. This is what I refer to as the 2 Day Rule. 

It’s good to reminded that when you are in the midst of a healing crisis, there are oftentimes breakdowns before breakthroughs. This can be uncomfortable in the beginning and middle stages. Yet, it is necessary for transformation (resolution) to occur.

It helps to ask your body what it has to say. To ask it what it needs and listen closely to any messages that are being conveyed. Acknowledging intensity as it arises, allowing yourself to feel raw and unfettered sensations, even if you afraid things are going to get messy. 

Be willing for change to happen. It must, in order for healing to happen.  

Expect the unexpected. Expect, no ALLOW, for healing to happen jst as its needs to. Surrender to it and be grateful for it just the same.

Allow us to honor the healer’s sacred path. Healing work is a hero’s journey. May you have many allies on your’s.

How does one go about benefiting from bodywork’s application? If you’re curious, check out our other blogs on the topic. In the next blog … Shalene will be exploring How Often You Need to Get a Massage

Shalene Zarate, LMT, NMT, CST
Beyond being a massage therapist, Shalene’s calling is to help deepen the relationship people have with their own nature, by helping them re-establish a close relationship with their bodies, and with the foods and lifestyles that nourish them.