If you surrender to the wind, you can ride it. ~Toni Morrison
I’ve been dog sitting for the last few days, well weeks, and it has given me a lot of time to think about things. While I’ve been walking the dogs I’ve been listening to podcasts of different sorts, mostly with a more spiritual bent. Too add to that, I’ve been reading quite a few books and magazines on the subject as well. It’s seems like I’m running into some themes that make some sense for myself.
Most of what I’ve been paying attention to is on the Buddhist philosophy regarding being and presence of mind. I loved this podcast by Jack Kornfield the most. It talks about applying Buddhist principles to daily life, finding the presence and mysteriousness in little things to remind yourself of where you really exist: in the now. It reminded me to just let life flow and be a part of it without trying to struggle to be what I think should exist. It’s concept I should truly take to heart.
Another podcast I listened to, entitled The Four Truths and Their Tasks ,involved a review of The Four Noble Truths of Buddhism. It talked about being able to be aware of suffering, the source of suffering, and how to let go of it or deal with it. (More or less, I think. I was a bit more focused on the dogs today.) It reminded me of accessing the source of my tensions and anxieties in order to overcome them. Although both the philosophy and me both agree that’s not an easy path, it still provides me some hope.
On the flip side of all of that, I noticed I have kept saying a phrase this week as a type of advice to some new massage therapists, some advice that was most helpful to me. I didn’t have an easy road to becoming a massage therapist, not as in schooling issues, but just being in the field and having terrible nonsupporting mentors. No one really helped me out with technique or honing my skills, so i spent quite a few years in confusion and desolation, thinking I was just terrible at my craft and maybe I shouldn’t have chosen this as a career. However, I was incredibly devoted and passionate with massage, just lost and confused on what i was doing wrong, plus the aforementioned “mentors” I had previously decimated my confidence instead of building it. (Looking back, I don’t think they had a clue on what to do either, as though massage comes to everyone naturally, and I was just the weird bird that couldn’t fly on it’s own.)
Until i started working at my current place of employment, I stayed lost and confused, defeated but determined inside to build something of myself. Finally I decided to find a new mentor there and asked her what I was doing wrong. And it was then she asked me the best question ever: “What type of therapist do you want to be?”
I looked at her in confusion. It’s odd. Until then I had never thought about that. After all, well, I wanted to be a massage therapist, and massage therapist help bodies relax and remedy pain. There’s a varied mixture on schools of thought about how to be this or that and sometimes they really oppose each other’s doctrines, but in a nutshell that’s what all massage therapists do. After a little pause, I finally answered I wanted to be a therapist that helped people feel peace and relaxation while also doing a bit of therapeutic muscle work. My hesitation for this simple answer stemmed from a current (local?) philosophy that unless you were being a deep tissue neuromuscular therapist, then you were worthless as a member of the developing massage community, i.e. people didn’t need “fluff and buff” massages, but medically therapeutic sessions so that massage therapy can really break into and be acknowledged by the western medical world in America. I felt locked into this train of thought (debilitated by it really), and to finally being able to speak aloud to a manager/mentor about my real desire to be a deeply calming massage presence instead of a deep tissue one was liberating. However, her next statement hit me even more bewildering. She said, “Then just be that.”
Wait, what? Just be that? Just be that in this confusing world where a medium to light pressure therapist was ridiculed because they didn’t do absolute physical muscular change on clients? That those therapists were hindrances into moving the field into a serious medical field. Just be that which seemed defunct and superfluous in my career field? Even though, I knew deep down that it wasn’t either of those things. The idea that got me into massage was the idea of technology never allowing people to disconnect from work would cause much more stress and illness, that they would need massage to help with disconnecting and getting balanced.
So just be that which I was already deep down, accept who I was, stop the struggle, and let it all flow. Be in the moment of my soul with each client and not over analyze everything. Not to try and be something else that I thought was needed. Just like in Buddhism, be in the flow, find the mysterious, and stop the struggle. After I started doing this, much to my disbelief, my schedule became very filled with clients wanting to see me, loving me, requesting me. And in the end, I’m happier.
I found myself telling new therapists to go decide on what type of therapist they wanted to be and to be just that. I think I’ve said it 4 times in the last week or so, and suddenly it dawned on me that maybe I should be asking myself that question as it related to my soul happiness. What type of person do I want to be? And then just be that. Work towards being that while accepting the flow of life around me, and yet to not force it, not over analyze it. Just accept, acknowledge, and grow as needed while moving on. (Which if you have ever meditated, that is also what is taught about thoughts.) Accept my faults, accept my tragedies, accept my faux pas, and accept my lack of kindness or compassion, acknowledge them all, and allow myself to be better and grow from them. Move on, and don’t allow stagnation to create road blocks in my psyche and life.
So again, I’ll ask myself, “What type of therapist do I want to be?” and be just that.