2 hours?

In a Thai massage class I taught recently a student commented that they could never work on someone for 2 hours. I was struck by the statement and opinions and ideas are always interesting as a spring board for reflection. The response was due to my discussing how I work with clients and what I charge for my sessions.

I have no time limit. I currently charge $100/session and a typical session last 1.5-2 hours. A regular client who’s had deep structural issues and the right situation financially, time wise with physical issues has been getting 3 hour sessions from me for some time. Why? To be frank she’s a healer, she’s working on herself and we see in each other our capacity to help others heal. She pays, I have the time and we both don’t know anyone else who can do the work.

It’s about healing, not about money. Money is just stuff to move around and pay bills with. Beyond a certain point attachment to it leads to suffering. I could charge by the hour but why? What’s the benefit? Clients will look at their watch, I’ll be more concerned about booking to the minute. All seems completely anathema to what I’m trying to build. Over the years I’ve struggled to be the best. I want to give clients bodywork they can’t get elsewhere. Who has no time limit? Who does Thai massage this well? Being completely different in its own way is good marketing.

On September 1st, I’m raising my rates to $130/session. I thought about this long and hard. Does it mean I have less clients? Will people leave? I’m unsure. I presume if they do they have their reasons. If I do work on you for 2 hours then that’s less than $70/hour. Still seems reasonable. That income allows me to possibly see fewer clients, reserve my energy for those that are willing to compensate me for my time.

Focusing on another person for 2 hours in a session Is my meditation. Only within the past six months has my back pain receded enough to allow a deeper seated meditation practice. What have I done all these years? Moving meditation. Moving meditation in the form of yoga, moving meditation in the form of bodywork and Thai massage. I’ve spend 10 years working on me, working on you and somewhere in the middle figuring out how to narrow my focus and concentrate on what I Can control. I help you with pain, I don’t hurt. I help me with pain, I don’t hurt. When the hurt subsides enough I sit and meditate and continue a path that’s told to lead to the cessation of suffering. All makes sense to me.

I’m a healer. Healing starts with me. No illusions, no pretending to be something you’re not. If you see me at the office wearing scrubs I’m still a healer, I just disguise myself as a massage therapist. When my student asked about the 2 hours I reminded myself that Thai massage was said to have been created by the Buddha’s doctor. It’s been preserved by Buddhist monks in monasteries. It’s fundamental practice is that of metta or lovingkindness. At it’s core it’s healing work to help those who suffer. When I help you suffer less, I get lost. I embrace the boundary and ego dissolving quality of healing work. You are me. We are no different. If I can ease your suffering, I’ve eased mine. There is no separation.

2 hours may seem like a long time but this is how I meditate. I’ve never done what I’ve done for money. It’s why the money begins to come. A client described a pain down his leg into his foot and I nodded. I told him we would take a look and we did over the 2 hour session he had with me recently. I had time to work with his legs and address other postural issues during our time. When he stood up after the session he looked at me, almost quizzically and said, “there’s no pain down my leg.” I nodded and honestly barely even noticed his comment. He was surprised that I’d somehow helped.

The reason I can help is because I’ve devoted myself to my path as a healer for sessions that often last 2 hours. Healing takes time, tissue change can’t be forced. That built up catalog of observation over the last ten years in meditation is what allows me to help. Thank you to my clients and students who provide space for me to continue that path.