Massage & Bodywork

MAY | JUNE 2015

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SAVVY SELF-CARE best practices In last issue's column, I wrote about three ways to find support in your life as a massage therapist or bodyworker: personal self-care practices, creating a supportive physical environment, and connecting with a special person whose job it is to support you. In this issue, I want to delve more deeply into personal self-care practices because these are the rituals that give shape to our days. I think of personal practices as a way of holding a baseline in life. We set up routines and rituals that nourish us, help us release the past, and prepare us for the next great thing. Returning to these practices again and again over time lays a foundation of trust for ourselves and for life, while also supporting our physical, mental, and spiritual health. FOR YOUR BODY Life as a massage therapist or bodyworker is physical. While some people sit in chairs all day and do their work almost exclusively with their minds, we bodyworkers are called to join the mind and body to create the tool of our trade. For this reason, one of the most important personal practices we can establish is a consistent physical practice. In my experience, it is difficult and painful to approach a client's body with presence and engagement if I have not first found presence and engagement in my own body. What do I mean by this? Before I can be of any help to another person's physical experience, I must first be attentive to my own. It's sort of like what we are reminded of every time we get on an airplane: "Put your own oxygen mask on first!" My physical practice is yoga. Moving through a joint- freeing series or a few sun salutations is sometimes all I have time for, while on other days I schedule an hour Personal Practices Rituals That Shape Your Day By Jennie Hastings Stancu 28 m a s s a g e & b o d y w o r k m a y / j u n e 2 0 1 5 or two on the mat. Going out for an early morning walk or hitting the gym with my husband can also bring me into my body and prepare me to work with others. There is no right or wrong way to physically practice (unless what you are doing crosses the line from restorative and strengthening to overdoing it and causing injury). All of the massage therapists and bodyworkers I know who have found success and longevity in their careers have a physical practice. It doesn't matter what the practice is— swimming, dancing, martial arts, yoga, or stretching and weights—as long as it helps energize you from your core, stretches your muscles, and improves postural alignment. Keep in mind that as a physical preparation for work, high-impact activities like running or long-distance biking may not be as helpful as slow, mindful movements. This does not mean you shouldn't run or bike, but perhaps think of these pursuits as a mental or spiritual practice (with physical benefits) more than a purely physical one. FOR YOUR MIND Our minds are powerful tools, and they love to stay busy. One of the most common challenges I hear from people is how difficult it is to clear their minds, and I have to agree. It's been estimated that we have between 60,000–80,000 thoughts per day, and most of them we have had many times before. What can we do when we feel overwhelmed by the thought loops continually playing in our minds?

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