Massage & Bodywork

September/October 2012

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Insight: Working Blindfolded The Day My Hands Learned to See By Nancy Elizabeth Goodpasture It was 1997, and I was enrolled in the basic program at the Pittsburgh School of Massage Therapy. Toward the end of the program, our Swedish massage instructors required us to perform full-body massages while blindfolded. It turned out to be one of the most magical days of my education. Our class of 12 gathered in one of the larger rooms where six massage tables were set up. Light filtered in through the Venetian blinds, soft music played, and candles were lit. Along with our two regular teachers, two other instructors quietly meandered around the room. We had split up into pairs, and one person nestled into linens while the other tied a blindfold around her or his own eyes. I remember my heart was thundering. I don't know why. I remember crying into my blindfold. I don't know why. But it passed. I remember apologizing in advance to my "client" for touching anything I shouldn't touch since I couldn't see. Yet, that day, I remember "seeing" more clearly than I had ever seen before. Blindfolded, I saw the tendon valleys in her hands, the rise and dip of each rib, the landmark crest of her hips, the definition in her calf muscles, the texture of her skin, the strength and power in her body, the life in her breathing. And I could "see" with my fingers when I approached those few don't-touch zones. By virtue of a curve, or a dip, or a rise, I knew where I was. I learned to trust my hands. The room that at first seemed silent was actually filled with the sounds of healing. I remember hearing breathing, sighs from givers and receivers, quiet music, slow footsteps. I felt the energy 72 massage & bodywork september/october 2012

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