The world can be a violent, scary place. And things happen all the time that take us out of our comfort zones, out of our regular routines. We may feel like staying in bed all day, or running away. We may be affected by tragedy thousands of miles away, so much so that we feel we cannot go to the office and continue with our normal lives. We may never know what turns human beings into murderous monsters, but we do know what kindness and compassion can do for those left behind. During particularly traumatic events, it can be an especially important time for wellness practitioners and touch therapists to share their skillsets with others. But it can be extremely difficult to do so, because practitioners are affected by the traumatic events as well.
There was a time when I didn’t want to touch anyone. I had a life-changing tragedy… I lost a baby. I was in so much emotional pain that I just couldn’t imagine touching another person without transferring some of that pain. Now, for the average person, that may be an acceptable choice, just don’t touch anyone as you work through the grieving process. But if you are a massage therapist, the situation becomes a bit trickier. For me, I was lucky; I didn’t only rely on my private practice for income. I was the Director of Education at a massage school, so I taught and participated in the educational process, while suspending my massage practice until I felt I could therapeutically touch clients again. It took a while.
First, I practiced with family, those closest to me. I started with chair massage, because it was easier to manage my own feelings around shorter treatments. I continued to avoid any possible triggers, like pregnant women and clients with boundary issues. Soon, I was able to give complete treatments, but only to new clients or clients who were not aware of my recent loss, since I was able to manage my own boundaries better that way. Eventually, I was able to practice normally again, focusing on the needs of each client.
Am I the same practitioner I was before my tragedy? Of course I’m not. But for the clients I still work with, I may be even better. When I learned to first take care of my own needs, I was in a better place to connect with and feel compassion for the suffering of others. We all experience pain. Once I was able to accept that fact, using my hands-on skills to provide comfort and relief to others actually helped with my own suffering as well.
I know today’s post is a bit more personal than we usually share here on the Sohnen-Moe Associates blog, but tragedy opens old wounds, as you know.
I just wanted to offer this to all wellness practitioners and touch therapists in Orlando, or anywhere affected by tragedy:
- Take care of yourself.
- Give comfort to those around you.
- And, to the extent that you can, please continue the essential work you do to spread peace in the world, one touch at a time.