How to receive bodywork

Because massage is not a common part of our contemporary cultural experience, most people do not know how to get the most out of it.

Massage is an ancient and highly effective healing art and its therapeutic effects are cumulative, so the more often a person gets a massage, the better they will feel and the more quickly their body will respond. If you are having massage to address chronic muscular tension or recovery from injury, a course of sessions is usually needed.<

Firstly you are in control – you may not be an expert in body work techniques, but you are the expert in yourself. Therefore it is up to you to express your preferences: depth of pressure, temperature of room, types of oils, music etc.

Our body tells us when there is something wrong with it – usually through discomfort – but most of the time we ignore it and do not listen to it and shockingly, we have never been educated about how to listen to it. Pain is a general name given to a vast spectrum of sensations. A massage creates the perfect space for you to get in touch with listen to these sensations – with your heart not your head. Give yourself permission to really feel, without the need to name, judge or escape from them. Focus your entire attention on the sensation: be captivated and fascinated by it as though you’ve never felt it before. Consciously welcome it and most importantly relax into it, give it space to unwind – only then do you give it the energy it needs to transform.

When you receive your first massage from a therapist, they will ask you about your reasons for having massage and about your current health, lifestyle and stress level. Always give your therapist accurate information (this will be treated as confidential) and don’t be afraid to discuss any apprehensions or concerns. Your massage therapist is a professional dedicated to doing his or her best to help you feel at ease.

Give yourself enough time to arrive just before the beginning of your session. If you arrive in a frenzied, rushed state, it will take you longer to relax.

Do not eat a heavy meal or drink alcoholic beverages just before your massage. It’s best to allow at least an hour after eating before receiving a massage.

Turn off your phone while in the treatment room.

The best way to receive a massage is with the body completely unclothed – there are therapeutically based reasons for this – and clothing gets in the way of the pleasant sensation of total wholeness and connectedness of your body. Clothes also disrupt the head-to-toe flow of massage. Once you have moved through the initial embarrassment of being naked and relaxed, you will feel liberated! Be assured that your therapist is a professional and works to a code of ethics. If you don’t want to remove your clothing, please discuss it with the therapist.

Our culture’s preoccupation with sex, and discomfort with nudity, is the result of confusing nudity and nature with sexuality. Remember you are made in God’s image: ultimate perfection! Honour your body. Gaze upon yourself and feel wonderful – you are awakening to a new level of surrender, comfort and love of yourself.

If feelings of sexual arousal occur, know that this is a natural, common physiological response that happens when the parasympathetic nervous system is activated by touch anywhere on the body. Understand that if this occurs it is simply a phase which will pass, and it need not result in stress or anxiety for client or therapist. Focus on deep relaxation. Please do not be embarrassed.

Close your eyes throughout the treatment – this brings your focus out of the head and into the body and allows your brain to slow down. Your only job is to relax as completely as possible. Breathe deeply and regularly, allowing your body to sink into the treatment couch. As the body releases tension, emotions may surface – allow yourself to feel them fully, do not be afraid to give them expression. Our issues are in our tissues – when you are massaged, memories and emotions may be triggered. The best way to let them go is to let them flow. Your therapist is there to provide a safe and accepting space for healing to take place on all levels.

Talk, for the most part, is distracting and unnecessary. Great massage is a synergistic meditation between therapist and client. So don’t feel obligated to make conversation. Do however speak up if you want the therapist to reduce or increase the pressure, or if you feel pain, ticklish, too hot or cold or uncomfortable in any other way – this is information your therapist needs in order to maximise the therapeutic and relaxing effects of the massage.

Do not try to ‘help’ – be limp like a rag doll and allow your therapist to move your limbs into whatever position they require.

When the massage is over, keep your eyes closed and continue relaxing into your body until your therapist asks you to bring yourself back. Then slowly come to and when you open your eyes, stay deeply in your body with your breath. When you are ready, get up carefully from the table. You may feel lightheaded – if so, focus upon your feet on the floor and feel yourself coming back down to earth! After leaving the session you may want to take a short walk before driving.

Drink plenty of water after your massage – this will flush your system clear of the toxins that have been released from the tissues during the treatment.

I hope that your massage will be the beginning of a lifelong practice to help you enjoy the best possible health, wellness and relaxation.


Most of all, enjoy!