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Massage Today
September, 2008, Vol. 08, Issue 09

Hitting Your Target

By Rita Woods, LMT

Recently, my brother Lee won the Triple Crown in bow shooting. This event hosts hundreds of expert shooters from around the country and is fiercely competitive. As you might have surmised from the "Triple Crown," it means he won the three events which make up the 'Triple Crown." It is indeed a high honor to win this event.

You might be wondering what this has to do with massage. Plenty.

Life is about experience and the application of our gained wisdom and knowledge. This is what makes us good in our profession. It is practice, studying and more practice that determines if we will be mediocre or expert therapists. In fact, many therapists practically reinvent themselves every few years. For some of us, as we get a little older or wear out our thumbs or develop wrist pain, we need to be creative in finding alternatives that allow us to stay in the field we love but do it with less physical intensity. For others, the new younger and stronger therapists, looking to more aggressive techniques and physically demanding therapies might be the path they follow.

It's about transition for all of us. As we constantly seek to find our most comfortable place, it can be seen as always trying to find our perfect posture. What best supports us with the least amount of harmful stress. We develop a new career posture by learning new things. Just as our clients take our advice on such things as proper stretching, we must learn to give and accept our own advice about doing something new, even if that stretch is uncomfortable at first. It will take time and practice but as Will Rogers once said, "Even if you are on the right road, you'll eventually get run over if you just sit there."

So I was thinking about my brother winning the Triple Crown and how he did it. Pulling back on the bow and letting the arrow fly is only the tip of a very big iceberg. It's the end result of his years of practice and study in this sport. But it's that work that allowed him to hit the target. One room in his house is dedicated to physical training. He works out to have the strength and stamina to perform. I can't even pull the string back on the bow! It's like lifting a 50-lb. weight with two fingers. As therapists, we, too, must keep fit and healthy to perform our work and let's face it, to be an example to our clients.

If we want to be good at something, we must do it a lot. Lee built an indoor shooting gallery so he could practice all year, no matter the weather. For us, the more bodies we touch, the better we become. I remember in massage school asking one of my instructors, "How long do you think it will take us to gain the experience we need to feel confident." She said "About 200 bodies." I remember thinking she cleverly answered in terms of experience. Time didn't matter; practice and experience did. Even if you have to do volunteer work, do it to gain the experience. For our growth and evolution on this planet, now is not the time to hold back. Go after what you really want. If you can think it, you can do it.

Nothing is an event and everything is a process. I don't use the words never or always very often. But I will say with confidence, "Never is an event, an isolated incident. There are always choices and decisions that culminate in a result." These results build upon themselves in our life, and this is what makes our world as we see it.

I receive phone calls and e-mails from many therapists and the most common theme is about them changing their career posture. They are looking for ways to offer an innovative new service and keep working without the physical demands. If you are a therapist looking for more manipulative clinical work, someone like David Kent might be your next phone call or e-mail. The fact is there are many educational options available to everyone. Decide on your target and begin the process.

I recently found a great book on facial reflexology by a French physician who has unearthed some surprising information. Based on Korean reflexive medicine, there were charts and correlations of reflex points on the face to the rest of the body. As I continue my research into the whole-body benefits of my face work, I was thrilled to find this and even more thrilled to have an immediate application. A friend who gets regular acupuncture shared with me that her circulation/sex meridian was almost always in need of work at every visit. She also has developed severe facet arthrosis and L5 S1. I found a point on the face for arthrosis and recommended she massage it. Much to her surprise, she told me just two days earlier she discovered that exact point was sore to touch but had no idea why. And much to the surprise of both of us, that point also relates to the circulation/sex meridian. Hmm...

As I have mentioned in previous articles, I have begun serious study into the CNS responses to face massage techniques. While in Florida at the annual massage convention, I had the honor of having Dr. Tiffany Field watch me work as I performed mini face sessions to raise money for the Touch Research Institute. I mentioned to her how I have noticed a deep state of relaxation and apparent whole-body benefit from this work. Dr. Field gave me direction to further my own study and offered to assist with my research. For those of you familiar with her internationally acclaimed research on touch, you might imagine how I felt by her suggestions and offer.

I share this with you to let you know these encounters don't come by chance. They will come to you as a result of your choices and decisions. Do your homework, volunteer, practice, set your sights on a target and practice hitting it. I have heard luck is the point where preparation and opportunity intersect. I think there is valuable truth in that for all of us. Are you feeling lucky?

Click here for previous articles by Rita Woods, LMT.


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