Editor’s Comment: Patience is an important virtue because it can be a gateway to other virtues. With deep and patient observance and application, one can learn charity. A patient observance of our own actions can bring humility. Additionally, the exercise of patience can lead to deeper life experiences. In this way, it can function as an access point to a more fundamental actualization of ourselves, as it seems to have for our guest blogger, student and friend, Melissa Benson (LA #3406)
Patience requires that one slow down, breathe and simply be in the present moment. This is what I have learned, in small doses, throughout my massage career. Nothing has illuminated this bit of wisdom more to me than my encounters with Magnus Eklund’s Synergetic Myofascial Therapy certification courses.
Despite this eventuality, it was patience that brought me slowly to my massage career, having begun my journey with massage school when I was in my forties. Furthermore, it was patience that helped me to cope with the rigors of massage school while simultaneously raising four children as a single mother. And it was patience with myself, as I continued my education, that allowed me to continue to quietly seek a modality of bodywork that would ring true to myself while truly helping my clients.
Listening to the Tissue
As I progressed in training, I found Thai massage to be my niche, but I also felt that deep tissue massage seemed to help my clients tremendously. Because of this, I was motivated to attend the Level 1 certification course offered by Magnus, which I did in 2011. At that class, I remember feeling the fascial tissue in a different way than I ever had before. Working into the tissue and moving slowly and smoothly through it felt like a new experience. With Magnus’ guidance, I felt the adhesive fascia, and I was reminded of how patience is needed to achieve lasting results. I learned to stay with the tissue, to be present, to listen to the tissue and to let it release and melt.
In that that class, I began to actually see the physical changes that can occur among the participants and in myself. I was more than convinced in the effectiveness of the work, and I began practicing it as soon as possible. During the first year that I began to introduce SMT to my clients, I began to observe its success as a therapy. I started seeing great results, yet I still felt I needed more practice and study to feel completely confident. Consequently, in 2012 I took Level 2, and here is where my passion for SMT ignited. Since taking the Level 2 class, I have had such compelling results with my clients that I am excited to share these with new practitioners and those thinking about learning this method.
Client Experiences of the Myofascial Benefit
Over and over again, my SMT clients tell me that this work has helped them more than any other type of bodywork or massage they have had previously. For more than 20 years, one client had been unable to rotate her head to the right, but after only three sessions she was excited to show me that she could now turn her head again. Her co-workers expressed surprise since she had suffered from that restriction for so many years. Another client who suffered from tennis elbow found relief from SMT; yet another client whose arms were held in a bent position from hypertonicity experienced such relief from SMT that her arms were able to gain release from the bent position into a relaxed state, able to hang freely at her sides. These are just a few incidents of specific results I have experienced with my own clients.
Furthermore, in taking the SMT workshops, I have learned a number of practical tips and tools to support my own care-giving practice. For example, I learned from another student of Magnus’ that a lift table is invaluable. After nine years of using my sturdy, portable table, I invested in an electric lift table, and I wonder how I did without it all those years! It makes a huge difference in performing our SMT practice since we are positioning our clients in all sorts of ways and changing the work from our soft fists to our forearms from one muscle to the next.
I also learned that the lighting in my treatment room is important. Since we want our clients to be active participants in the work, we don’t want them drifting off to sleep in a too-dark room while listening to snooze-inducing music. I play judiciously chosen music in the background, and I installed a diffused-LED light fixture with a dimmer to easily adjust the brightness of the room as needed.
Lastly I have learned that this is highly advanced, deep tissue work that should not be under-valued. I tend to incorporate portions of these techniques into regular deep tissue massage, but I also highly encourage clients whom I feel would be most likely to benefit from SMT to sign up for the proper therapeutic sessions. SMT stands alone as a modality that I offer and is most effective when applied as such.
Practice & Patience Lead to Intuition
I know I have so much more to learn. I have set goals for myself for learning experiences to come. I am patiently achieving them, one at a time, in hopes of becoming an even better therapist. When we are learning a new technique, we often get bogged down in the mechanics of the new work. Questions arise: how do I hold this? What arm do I use? What comes after this part? Where is that muscle? Of course, with patience and practice, our intuition returns to us once again, and we can perform our work with fluidity, feeling the energy and connectedness with the person on our table.
As I patiently wait for this weekend, when I will be attending Level 3* certification with Magnus, I am thrilled to begin the balancing act again of learning new techniques and incorporating them at an intuitive level. It is an exciting challenge and one requiring more than a modicum of patience.
* Note: Since writing this article, Melissa has become certified as a level 3 SMT practitioner; Congratulations Melissa!
Melissa Benson has been studying Myofascial Therapy using the SMT 10 series developed by Magnus Eklund of Mind and Body, Inc. since 2011. She is also the owner of Celestial Moments Massage Therapy, LLC (www.celestialmoments.biz). She is certified in a variety of bodywork modalities including Therapeutic Massage, Thai Massage, Level 3 Synergetic® Myofascial Therapy, Swedish Massage and more. See her website at www.celestialmoments.biz to learn more about her or for contact information.