life with a soundtrack

When I was young I always imagined life’s slow progress would be less painful with a soundtrack…like they have in movies. Most of life’s successes are hard-won and accomplished by hours of practice and diligence. I liked how quickly progress could be made in movies when a soundtrack accompanied the heroine’s scenes of life.

The other day I realized my dream had come true and I hadn’t even noticed. Every day I work to a soundtrack. This made me laugh to think of. My work, hour by hour, is accompanied by music. Does it make the massage go faster? Not really, thankfully for the client, right?! Knotty muscles relax more quickly? Not exactly although it might help with the overall relaxation I hope.

I’ve put together a new compilation CD that I will enjoy using to massage you in the near future or whenever your schedule allows you to come in. Its songs are culled from some of my favorite CDs. Whenever possible I try to use “real” music instead of the never-ending, never-resolving massage-y music sold specifically as background music. This usually means I can only take 1 or 2 songs from each album. I hope you will enjoy it. Here are some of the artists you’ll hear on it:

One of my absolute favorite memories from massage school was our last day of technique practice. We usually listened to music while we worked. On this day, the owner of the massage school hired Stanley Greenthal to play for us LIVE as we worked. It was a generous act that blew me away. So great. Thank you Brian Utting!


top 3 things to never do

I could easily post a Top 10 list, but let’s start with just 3 things you should never do if you want to be kind to your body.

Numero Uno: Yes, yes, we all like to multi-task. But please consider the assault on your neck/shoulder muscles when you prop the phone between your ear and shoulder. It was bad enough when our phones were bulkier. Now phones are so slim you really have to torque your body to accomplish this time-saving, body-abusing convenience. Just wait to make a call, use an earpiece, use speakerphone or figure something else out. Save those muscles a lot of grief by avoiding this whether it’s while cooking, typing, holding a child or loading a car. Your body with thank you and your massage therapist will thank you!

Numero Dos: “I’ll just do this quick thing on the computer.” And I’ll also strain my neck, back, wrists, scrunch up my forehead trying to see…Oh, wait, look! There’s a chair within feet of where I am. Why don’t I just have a seat! Brilliant idea! We often see this at work, especially with people who service computers. When you’re at someone else’s work station, I think this temptation is pretty strong.  Just sit down – your body will thank you.

Numero Tres: sometimes my son and I get carried away with the wrestling…never underestimate the power of an 8-year-old boy thick with imagination.

Hats off to Lindsay George, professional photographer and retoucher. She is fantastic at what she does and only makes you look like this if you ask nicely. You can reach her at lindziam (at) gmail (dot) com. She took some lovely family photos for us last year.

body-psychology: guest post by Connor McClenahan

Hi Readers, I had a great conversation with a client recently who agreed to write it up for all of you to enjoy too. Write any questions in the comments below and I’ll get some answers for you from my guest writer. Susan

Hi, my name is Connor McClenahan, and I am currently studying for my doctorate in psychology at Fuller Theological Seminary in Pasadena. While I am by no means a professional, I have encountered some ideas in my studies that Susan asked me to share.

We live in a culture that separates mind and body. Many people have a belief that our bodies are secular houses for our sacred emotional souls. However, Body-psychotherapy affirms the body as an intimate part of the self.

Body-psychotherapy looks at how emotions are expressed in the body throughout life. It claims that the body’s expressions, posture, and muscular pattern tell the story of a person’s emotional history and personality. Just as words are the means for expressing ideas, so our bodies are the means for expressing emotions. Think about what you do when you want to express emotion to someone: You may move your hands, change your facial expression, or change your posture. When certain emotions are repeatedly experienced their pattern becomes engrained in the structure of one’s body.

Let me give an example: A girl grows up in a house where she is constantly afraid of her unpredictable mother. Whenever she’s around her, she raises and tightens her shoulders and breathes short breaths. As a woman, she will have a holding pattern in her muscles that reflect her emotional experience. She may often experience tight shoulders and shortness of breath, accompanied by the thought that her world is unpredictable (like her mother). She may also appear to have a collapsed chest and high shoulders. Her body is an expression of her painful emotional history.

Want to test it out? This exercise will help you see the intimate connection between your emotions and your body:

  1. Collapse your shoulders down and inward.  Allow your spine to slouch.  Sit with it… how do you feel?
  2.  Stand up, let your shoulders rotate back and down, keep your spine straight, your feet shoulder width apart, knees slightly bent.  Stand there for a second.  How do you feel now?

In position #1, you probably felt sad or defeated.  In position #2, you probably felt competent and self-assured.  For some fun, try doing position #1 while trying to feel self-confident, or position #2 while trying to feel defeated.  It’s pretty difficult to do without changing your body!

If you feel repeated soreness or tightness in your muscles, it may be worth spending some time processing through your own emotional history.  A Body-psychotherapist may be able to help you explore, understand, and heal not only your muscular patterns, but your emotional history that holds it.  Of course, massages will still help your sore muscles.  No wonder massages seem to not only relax your muscles, but your mind as well.

Here are some resources if you’d like to know more: