We Only Had Five Minutes
Just a few days after returning home from a trip to Esalen where I had studied Brazilian energy clearing with Maria Lucia Sauer, I spent an afternoon doing volunteer massage at a local cancer support center. The monthly "spa day" was an opportunity for cancer patients and their caregivers to receive a variety of spa mini-services, including 20-minute massage sessions. We were working in a church that offered its space for the afternoon. I brought my massage table, and put out a sign-up sheet where clients could write their names into 20-minute time slots. By the time we got started, the four-hour sign-up sheet was already full.
In this public situation clients cannot undress, so I did 20-minute mini-shiatsu sessions, with clothes on. At the end of the four hours, the last client left, and I started to pack up my table and supplies. It was already after 4:00, and I knew that they wanted to lock up the church by 4:15, so I had to quickly fold up the massage table, put it in its case, clean up the area I had used, put away sheets, CDs etc., and get out the door.
Just as I started to pack up, a woman came in and said, I know you're done for the day, I tried to get on your list but it was full. I wonder if I could ask for just a few minutes of your time; if you feel my shoulders, you'll see why. She indicated the trapezius muscles on the top of each shoulder, a typical place where many of us get knots in the muscle. The muscles there were hard as a rock.
Really, really hard.
I couldn't turn her away, but I knew I only had five minutes. I said, okay, I need to be out of here by 4:15, so let's get you on the table and take care of this right away!
She laid face up on the table, and I began to palpate the tight muscles. It was December, and she was wearing a tailored shirt buttoned up to the collar, beneath a crew neck sweater. The clothes were so snug around her neck that I couldn't even get my hands inside her shirt to touch her skin.
I thought, uh oh, how am I going to pull this off?
Then I remembered the work we had done in Maria Lucia's Spiritual Massage workshop at the Esalen Institute. I had learned to grab excess energy -- associated with tension and pain -- and pull it off the body and throw it away. This can be done through clothing. In class, we worked in this way on any one area of the body for as long as we needed to. But now I had a tight deadline. I decided to make one pass across each shoulder, working from the outer end of the shoulder across the trapezius and up the neck, grabbing energy and pulling it away. I was absolutely determined to do it in one pass, because I didn't have time to waste, and because I didn't want to worry my client about the weird thing I was doing. In Maria Lucia's class, we tended to use the breath or the voice to help move energy during the energy pass, but I didn't want to startle my client, so I decided to do it quietly and quickly. I turned her head to one side and went, whoosh -- across the shoulder and up the neck. My client opened her eyes briefly to look at me, a little surprised. I gave her a reassuring look, she closed her eyes, I turned her head to the other side, and did it again. Then I said, okay, we're all done!
This was a pure leap of faith; I hadn't even touched her shoulders to check the result. She stood up, put her hands on her shoulders, and smiled with amazement, saying, feel this! The muscles on both sides were nice and soft. She was happy, I was happy. I gave her a quick hug, she left, I packed up my table, and was in my car by 4:15. Whew!