How to Receive a Chair Massage
By Gary Buzzard
This might sound ridiculous to you if you've never had a chair massage. You just sit down in the chair and let the therapist get on with it, right? Well it's not always that simple. Obviously it takes lots of training and natural talent to be a great massage therapist. And believe it or not it takes some degree of skill receive a massage. There are four main skills as I see it. 1) You need to be willing to try it. 2) You need to relax your body. 3) You need to relax your mind. 4) You need to be able to let go of control and surrender to the massage process.
Are you willing to try it?
Let's say you're at a trade show and an exhibitor offers you a free chair massage. And you say: "Maybe later; I'm not stressed out yet." This is a very common response. "I need to be stressed out to receive a relaxing chair massage." Or "I'm too busy," or "I just had one last week," or "I would fall asleep," or I would get too relaxed and lose my edge." These are all responses I have heard while manning the massage station at a trade show. In addition, some people are fearful of having someone touch them. (This is a quite legitimate reason and I respect it.) Some men don't want to be touched by another man. Some women don't want to mess up their makeup or hair by putting their face in the face cradle. I feel most of these excuses are just a way of avoiding trying something new which involves being touched by another person in public. It's no small thing for many people. But there must be a reason why so many people swear by massage, and there is.
On the most basic level chair massage: reduces stress immediately, relaxes muscles, enhances overall well being and increases concentration. How does it do that? By stimulating circulation; it's really that simple. Increasing the circulation in the neck and shoulders for instance can often relieve a tension headache, or get that crick out of your neck; common complaints on the trade show floor. A chair massage is not some kind of medical treatment or chiropractic manipulation. It's just a basic massage technique that relaxes the muscles and enhances circulation allowing you to feel better immediately. The effects are kind of like an energy drink — only better.
In addition that shot of increased oxygen to your body can enhance concentration. One often feels more alive and alert immediately after having a 10-minute chair massage. If you allow yourself to just let go and, with an open mind, experience it — you'll be surprised. I have given 10 minute chair massages to people who have never has a massage in their life, who afterward got off the chair and gave me a hug it had such a huge positive effect on them.
Relaxing Your Body
Many of us are not really relaxed in our body and we don't realize it. Often when I'm giving a chair massage I lift up a person's arm and I feel them helping me, lifting their arm for me. And sometimes I say "Don't lift your arm. Just relax and let me lift it" — and they can't do it. Sometimes they need to try it three or four times before they can do it. But some people just can't. Carrying bodily tension around like this all day is not good for your overall health physically and psychologically. It's good to be able to relax just by letting go and relaxing — as opposed to having a beer, a glass of wine or a pill. Those can work too but obviously they're not a good everyday solution. Natural ways are better.
When you sit down in the massage chair, let your knees rest 100% on the kneepads with no tension in your ankles, lower legs or thighs. Sink firmly on the seat with your stomach and shoulders completely relaxed and let your arms dangle straight down toward the floor so that if someone pushed them gently they would just gently sway like a strand of cooked noodle. Let you face sink into the face cradle and completely relax your neck, mouth and eyes. Now if you can keep this level of relaxation during the massage you'll have a great experience.
Relaxing Your Mind
Now let's say you accept the offer of a free chair massage, and when you sit down in the chair and the therapist begins to work on you, all you want to do is chat. This can be enjoyable and even fairly relaxing. But maybe the desire to talk comes from a fear of being quiet. We seem to try to fill every moment with some kind of content or activity. But it's often in silence where real creativity and satisfaction can arise. What if instead of talking you remained silent and just concentrated on the sensations in your body as the massage progressed? True relaxation would begin to dawn on you and after a few minutes you might actually stop talking and just let your thoughts drift by like clouds in the sky. You might even find yourself falling asleep for a few seconds. And after the massage, maybe you'd feel more relaxed and refreshed — ready to go on with your day with new vigor. Maybe you'd jump off the chair and hug your massage therapist! That's Okay.
Letting Go of Control and Surrendering to the massage process
This is what you need to do to get the full benefit of chair massage. But maybe when the chair massage begins your mind begins to race and you worry about missing an email or phone call. Maybe you even check your email during the massage. Then you start worrying about the email. Suddenly the massage is over and you've missed it! There is an art to letting go and surrendering. Sometimes we need to feel in complete control; and to relax would require trusting the therapist and giving up control for a while. And you can't learn how to do this by reading a book or an article or a blog post. You simply need to experience it, see how you react and learn from there.
Here's one way to learn to let go of control and surrender to the moment using chair massage. Book a chair massage or an hour long massage. Before the massage tell the therapist you have trouble relaxing and ask him/her to give you some tips on relaxation during the massage. Your therapist will be happy to do that and you'll learn something about yourself. Receiving massage of any kind regularly is a great way to find out just how relaxed or tense you really are. It's like a training course in how to relax.
I hope you'll have a chair massage and try these skills next time you're in an airport or at a trade show or health fair. You'll be glad you did.