Questions from Students #1

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I see you keep saying that if we have any questions to contact you so here I am. I don’t know how anyone can be bored. My time off has been filled with educating myself, but that’s just me. I don’t know if I have questions exactly. I guess I just want to know what your response is to these two things or what you think about them, I guess. My first thing is that I tested out some moves that I saw in the membership videos and I did it on the clinic director where I work. She said that she didn’t want to get undressed and I said that was fine. I put my leg up on the table and she asked me if I was going to spoon with her! I was like fuck you! Then a few weeks ago, before my professions were all put on the cease-operations list, I found out she told the owner because they started teasing me about it. I was like, “You told her?!” I was actually pretty pissed about that. Number one, because I’m a professional and I was trying something new that I felt got thrown in my face. Number two, because she went and told the owner and then it got thrown at me again. Thankfully, it was the clinic director, but I don’t want that to happen with a patient or a client. I DEFINITELY don’t want to make anyone uncomfortable. That’s my first thing.

My other thing that I wanted to reach out to you about is that I notice that you talk a lot about the clients groaning. I was in the middle of watching one of the videos on the membership while you were working on someone. I don’t know if it was just this person’s voice or what, but the way she was talking and the sounds that she made sounded very…. inappropriate. I’ve had that before where I had a client that was, full on, the entire time moaning. It was one of the most uncomfortable experiences I’ve had as a massage therapist. I asked another therapist that worked with me at that spa if the woman had done that to her and she laughed and said, “Oh yeah, I forgot about that.” How do you forget about that?! One of my worst fears is having someone hear that going on in my room and thinking something else is going on in the room and then having everything that follows. I don’t want to ruin anyone’s experience, but I also don’t want to be uncomfortable during a session because they can’t contain themselves and I don’t know how to stop it. Or stop that politely. Everything that comes out of my mouth sounds way bitchier than I mean it to sound. On the other hand, being a female therapist I don’t want to have a male client making those sound effects and I think it’s fine and it turns into something else.

I lied, I do have one more thing. I am tiny. I just watched a live class this morning and the instructor told us how much his bulldog weighed and I was like holy shit that dog weighs almost as much as I do. I’m small, but I’m mighty and I know that I can put in a good amount of pressure using my arms. When I’ve tried using my body on a guinea pig, they said exactly what you always say that they will say about how it’s less pointy and they prefer it. My challenge is that I can’t “feel” how much pressure I’m giving. Knowing how small I am, I feel like it’s not enough and I can’t “feel” the response of the person’s body.

I look forward to hearing what you have to say about all of this.

Thank you!–Student

I’ve many thoughts on what you’re saying and have noticed that students experiences parallel the things I’ve dealt with as a therapist. At least in your case you have someone to email and ask questions of.

Years ago I worked at a spa called Salon Londyn. It was at that time the nicest and ritziest spa in Baton Rouge and I’d studied Thai massage with my original teacher. I loved mat based work and was forced to improvise what I could on a table.

The staff did not like me. I was never certain but I suspect the other therapists were very intimidated by me and I’d no notion or kowtowing to public demands for massage mediocrity. I received review cards that rated my sessions as the best the clients had ever received. I’d done stellar work and was only out of school by a year or so at this point.

The spas lead therapist came in to check out what this Thai massage was and got on the table clothed since we’d no mat space in the facility. I worked on her and eventually performed a move where you slide in between the clients legs to access the gluteals. She immediately commented, “oh my god, the clients junk would be hanging on my leg if I did this.”

Part of the issue is that mixing table work and mat work confuses and perpetuates the worst of both cultures.

People who are used to a nice box for western massage are put at odds when you leave clothes on. They’re put at odds with passive body contact like your leg and they don’t really have a cultural context for what’s going on. Part of the reason I’m moving away from Thai massage and moving away from the dominant culture is that it is deeply deeply sick and toxic.

To survive I had to adapt.

My body mechanics are different on a table and I was young and trying things that I’d not full experience performing on a table. I had to make this mat based box I loved fit a western cultural context.

I was fired from that job shortly after. My comment cards with 5 stars were in the break room. I was called into the office and told, “here at Salon Londyn we’re trying to build a team. Sometimes the team works and sometimes it doesn’t so we’re going to have to let you go.” I was asked if I had anything to say. I was prepared to trash the entire infrastructure but what good does that do? It doesn’t allow me to build anything professionally and in the end this business will be gone soon enough. I said, “Business is business and shook the owners hand.”

Later they went out of business. Mine is still growing 18 years later.

Trying to make my work fit into spa culture is like trying to make a square peg fit in a round hole.

If you really want to do what I teach. If you really want to help people that’s not available in massage facilities. Quit and work for yourself.

It’s ok if you can make it fit somewhere but no one will believe me until licensed massage therapists do my work at a scale that essentially renders the spas and clinics obsolete by not creating a superior service. I don’t offer relaxation as a standalone. I offer pain relief that’s also deeply relaxing.

Groaning in session is to me a good sign. Usually it just means we’ve hit a sweet spot in the client’s nervous system and people express that vocally. If you remove that vocal track it could likely be mistaken for pornhub. 🙂

Part of the issue is working on naked people who are moaning is different than working on clothed people with my feet digging into their shoulder blade who are groaning as something releases. Context including cultural context is everything.

When you put your leg up and the person asked if you were going to spoon them is a normal response for someone with very limited touch contact from other people. Who do we touch in America? At most we give handshakes and at it’s max someone gives someone a hug and it’s considered an edge. Imagine hugging someone who doesn’t want a hug?

See the response and pullback? My work and what I’m teaching you is more intimate and more connected than other forms of bodywork but it’s far less sexual. That’s hard for America coming from a puritanical culture and you can check pornhub statistics to see what Americans do in their free time. They’re obsessed with sex! We use it to sell everything and advertise but we don’t want to openly discuss it because it’s a taboo.

When I interact with clients having done what I do for 18 years I operate from a very odd vantage point. I’m Deeply intimate with clients and often touch them in ways that no one has ever experienced.

Think about that for a second. I’m a married white male touching people in my home in ways that they’ve never had before. If you think the public doesn’t get it, don’t stop there. Massage therapists don’t get it either. I was banned from two different WA state massage groups for posting the following:

Helping clients? Great.
Connecting deeply to help people in pain? Awesome.
Pissing off massage therapist by working in ways they don’t understand by massage people with your butt? Priceless.

My own community banned me. 🙂 It’s ok. I know it’s hard to accept when you when through schools and businesses that accepted mediocrity. I know that the oxycontin epidemic and the Sackler family are ok by how you behave and how you vote.

I chose a different path. It’s not for everyone. It’s for the rebels. We don’t break the law but we break all the rules.

You can’t film here! Why? Why can’t I record my sessions and teach people in sub Saharan Africa from their cell phone so they can work on people in their village?

Most people are average. That’s the definition of average. My students are not. My students question authority. They think for themselves. They speak and communicate with clients to help ease their pain and we do a really solid good job of it to the point where we’re being questioned as to what we do Is In Fact Massage.

If it’s not I’m going to teach it globally online and no one can stop me. That’s what happens when you resist and push back against an anarchist until he discovers the internet and global distribution.

Here’s a conversation I had with a student the other night:

Nathalie Gregory is dealing with the same pre pandemic struggles other students are. She’s trying to save her body and help clients. Does the facility care?

Usually no. People resist fight and rebuke change on every front. The clients want what we do and the facilities that refuse to allow it will not exist 10 years from now. We get to choose what we do. I will always always recommend that therapists study with me, quit their jobs and start private practice where we only answer to happy pain free customers.

Lastly each client will want a different amount of pressure. Talk with them. Ask them for feedback. Do they want more? Do they want less? Do they want you to shear? It’s their body and their session. Honor that and don’t compromise your body as you work.

Everyone’s tools are shaped differently. Your elbow main be pointier. My client might allow more pressure cause my elbow is broad so there’s no definitive way to determine pressure except to break a long standing rule and stop being silent for the whole session. Stop giving massage and start helping people with pain by Talking to them. 🙂

It will be even more complex once you start using your knees and feet to feel with. You’ll develop touch sensitivity but it takes time and much practice. Practice I might add that is not allowed in any major massage facility in America. #renegade

I hope this helped and shed some light. I’ve zero faith than any massage facility in America will listen but that’s ok. In the middle of global pandemic we have a yoga community and stretch facilities to teach online.

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