Annette's Head Didn't Explode!
   Annette was clearly stressed out when she came into the spa for her massage appointment.  Speaking rapidly and anxiously, she told me that she has had three concussions, most recently two years ago, but she still feels the effect of the concussion in her head.   She said that she feels so much pressure -- not pain -- in her head that it feels like it's about to explode.  Just watching and listening to her, I could feel that pressure too in her nervous energy and her emotional distress. 

   I asked Annette whether she's seen a doctor, and she said yes, the doctors have checked her out thoroughly but they said there's nothing they can do; they characterize her condition as a post-concussion disorder.  She also told me about her stressful work situation, which involves working with a family who had recently lost a loved one, and absorbing all of their emotional distress.

   I realized that the playlist I had pulled up on my iPod was the wrong music.  Many massage clients tend to be tired, have tight muscles and restricted joints, and need music with some yang energy, a definite rhythm and lots of movement in the music, to get energy moving.  Annette was so hyper and stressed, she needed soft, sweet, gentle music to match the quiet energy needed in her massage work.  If I used the playlist that I used for my previous client, including tracks from David & Steve Gordon's Drum Medicine CD (which I love!) with a driving beat, Annette's head would probably explode from adding more yang energy to her already yanged-out state.  I thought, this is a job for Sophia the songhealer!  I quickly pulled up a playlist with my favorite Sophia tracks, including Return, Sweet Surrender, Gentle With Myself, Prayer of St. Francis, Charana Kamara, and other exquisitely beautiful songs.  I often use these tracks for more rhythmic work too, but I knew that Sophia's angelic voice and spiritual lyrics would help Annette to quickly become transfixed and focused, feeling the music in her body.

   I wanted to begin the massage holding her head for a few minutes, which I might do more easily in a face-up position, but it was essential for Annette, who was mightily stressed, to shift quickly into a state of deep relaxation.  I decided to start face down, so she would be more likely to close her eyes and let Sophia work her magic.  I held her head gently, to communicate a feeling of "help is here."  She had indicated that she felt the pressure at the crown of her head, but I felt a spot on the right side of the skull that was warm and pulsing, so I just cradled that spot in the palm of my hand and held it like a baby.  Then I began to gently massage the entire scalp, and eventually moved to the top of the neck, where the neck muscles attach under the base of the skull, and gently, slowly, made deep contact there to release those muscles.  Annette had told me that she feels tension in her neck, and I knew that excess energy in her head could be released more easily if it can move down through the neck and into the body.

   I continued with a whole-body massage, returning frequently to the head and neck.  The whole body below the neck was surprisingly free of tension, the muscles were toned, the joints loose and flexible.  It seemed like her head was the stress storage cabinet for the entire body.  I worked with long whole-body strokes, rocking, and long stretches, to help her feel her body in a whole way, and to feel pleasure in the body to replace the distress she had been focused on in the head.

   After 40 minutes, when I asked Annette to turn over, she was so deeply relaxed that she could barely respond, so I knew that we were on the right track!  I finished her massage with more cradling of the head.  When we were done, the pressure was gone and she was happy and grateful to get some relief from her distress.  And I was happy and grateful that her head didn't explode!  We talked a little about how to continue to release excess energy from the head.  I was so glad that Annette happened to find Esalen Massage for herself.  Although everyone benefits from this type of work, she needed the deeply calming effect more than anything.