Feelization. It’s the word everyone is talking about. Except not really. Because I just made it up. But think about it for a second. Have you ever had one of those moments when you felt something so deeply that it made you realize an eye opening truth about life? Like, the first time you worked out really hard and understood what a love hate relationship meant? Feelization! When a feeling leads to a realization. Otherwise knows as an Emothought. But with a much better ring to it.
As a massage therapist, you have probably been informed at one point or another that if you are really present when you work, if you are really there in the moment, you will notice things that are happening under the skin and your work will be worlds better. This isn’t the easiest thing to do, though. It sounds simple enough. Be present. Two words. It can’t be that hard, right? Turns out it is about as easy as riding a unicycle on a tight rope while juggling, texting, hula hooping and playing the harmonica. It makes tapping your head while rubbing your belly look like child’s play.
There are some amazing tricks out there about how to let go of all the thought clutter and truly be in a session. Meditation and grounding exercises are probably two of the most popular. Some of us are lucky enough to have even learned that as a part of our curriculum in school. But, then again, most of us struggle with implementing a lot what we learned. I mean, I have meditated probably thousands of times in my life and yet I still find myself questioning where all of that deep peace resides in my brain when it feels like the cacophony of irritation and frustration drowns everything else out.
So how do we get more of those feelization moments with our clients? How do we put the chaos of the chatter aside and stay truly present with a muscle? Sure, peaceful walks and more moments with some tea and a good book are helpful. But I suspect there’s another approach.
What if we come at this from a different perspective? If we can imagine that a muscle might have the same quandary, the insights we gain start to sink a little deeper into our own selves. Let’s take, for example, the Piriformis. Flanked by a tight pier group (the Deep Six Lateral Rotators), buried by a blanket of brawn (the Gluteus Maximus) and triggered by the largest live wire in the body (the Sciatic Nerve), the Pirifomis is constantly sitting in high stress conditions. And this tends to be when the big “ah-ha” moments show up. Because it is only when we are pushed that we see beyond our immediate experience.
After years of playing an important role among the team, this powerful little hip mover all of the sudden finds itself being pushed beyond its normal limits. Maybe this Pirifomis’s human decided to try a new sport, or don a new pair of running shoes, or started a new job with a significant commute. Or maybe the human is just getting up there in years and played one too many games of tennis in a day. Whatever the case may be, it stops and realizes - “hey, wait a minute. If I keep working this hard I am going to snap!” The Prirformis has had a feelization.
With your client on the table, instead of envisioning where this muscle is and what dysfunction it might hold, try to put yourself in its shoes. You are the Piriformis. You are grasping tightly onto the sacrum with one hand and the greater trochanter with the other. You are being asked to pull at that greater trochanter in all sorts of directions and working really hard to make that happen, all the while doing your best to avoid slamming into the sciatic nerve. Then, after a good couple of hours of your myosin grabbing on to your actin and working up a good sweat, you get smashed into a car seat and can’t get a good breath in for the 30 minute commute home. And, after all that, the only thing you want is to stretch out and loosen your grip on those bones but you don’t even get that luxury. You still have to keep things stable, hold everything in place, and try to not lose your temper. I would spasm, too, if I were you Mr. Piriformis. I would spasm too…
The ability to be present with a muscle and “feel” what they feel isn’t easy. Sometimes, though, that just means it’s time to try something different. If we push ourselves out of our natural element - for just a bit - we might find ourselves with new thoughts, reflections, and - perhaps - a feelization. Doing a physical activity that your client does, adapting a different food plan for a day, or possibly wearing a different pair of shoes or even the proverbial different hat may enlighten you with new context for what your client is experiencing. Tune out the usual noise and drop a little deeper into the present moment. Your clients’ soft tissue has a lot to say.
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