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Massaging the mind
by Asa Butcher
2006-11-29 10:11:39
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"Please take off your clothes," the masseur instructed as he entered the dimly lit room, its walls adorned with warm yellow curtains. Thankfully, I had been warned by my family, also previous customers, that he only meant down to my boxer shorts, so that was an embarrassment narrowly avoided. I climbed on board his table, lay on my back and awaited my first full body massage.

The guy was short and resembled somebody that I knew; somebody whose hands I had never desired on my body. Anyway, my parents and brother had also forewarned of his aggressive approach to his craft, so my nerves were a little on edge. Even though he had hurt all of my close family, they all praised the prowess of his fingers. He began with my right leg, then moved on to my left and then lifted my left arm before suddenly letting go. However, my arm did not drop, it stayed locked in the air.

"What is that?" he asked. I was confused and didn't understand his question. "If you can't relax during a massage, when are you going to relax?" he continued. Oh, err, umm, well he had me. There was no escape this time and there are few places to hide when you are wearing boxer shorts and a towel, plus oiled up like a lavender smelling dipstick.

The massage stopped, he pulled up a chair and began to lecture me on the dangers of stress. He talked to me for about five minutes, explaining that I was on a dangerous path at such a young age. He told me that sixty and seventy-year-olds arrive on his table and expect him to unlock a lifetime of stress from their muscles in only a few sessions.

"When you leave the office, you should shut the door on your problems and on the stress of work. If you don't relax then, when will you relax? When you go to sleep your mind will still be working and you will be tossing and turning all night, dreaming and never letting go." I was speechless and a little bit sheepish; he had described my life exactly.

He continued with the massage, but now I was consciously dropping my arms and clearing my head of the thoughts that follow me around like my shadow. The uncomfortable tingling sensation when he squeezed my skull, kneaded my shoulders and battered my upper back did take my mind off the worries of life in the form of planning my revenge for this pain. Yet, when he seemingly milked the stress out of my fingers I felt post-orgasmic, despite my hands feeling the size of those foam mitts at baseball matches.

Over six weeks have passed since he gave this five-minute chat to me and his words still echo around my head. It can be hard to close the door on your work when you work from home, but I consciously try to keep my shoulders down and have regular breaks thanks to my seventeen-month-old daughter regularly dragging me from the monitor. I try to switch off from work at least half an hour before going to bed and I try stay to calm...well, calmer.

Changing your lifestyle is not easy, but when the words of warning come from a stranger who managed to read the signs of my body in mere minutes, it shocks your system back into life. He didn't hurt me physically like the rest of my family, but he certainly made an impact emotionally that will stay with me far longer than the top-to-toe massage he gave that day.

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