Sigmund Freud is quoted as saying that, “only two things heal, love and work.” I’ve spent ten years pondering healing and what it means to us as a species. It comes in many forms and one thing I’m certain of is that much like life itself it continues to shift and change. What was once healing, isn’t as beneficial as it once was. Attachment to particular outcomes leads to much suffering.

Over time as business grows I feel marketing, networking, logistics, schedules and adult responsibility creeping in and I try to remember why I became interested in my work to begin with. I wanted to help others as I’d been helping myself. That continues but it’s good to sit, breathe and remember our core as we venture off into the sunset on another adventure. What is the goal?

At my core I want to be whole. I want time with my loved ones. I want to be able to eat homemade pesto with some salami on a warm summer night and relish the small gifts life has allowed. I never want to be so lost in marketing and money that I lose sight of why I started doing what I do to begin with. Finances never even factored. I had to heal. I’ve come a long way, helped many people and long after I’m gone people will remember me as a healing force in their lives. Flawed but always with good intentions.

You heal as quickly as you allow yourself to let go of disease, discomfort and old beliefs. Why grasp? Let go.

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.

What use is money?

Over time I continue to explore my issues and concerns with money. Running a business and working the logistics has its ups and downs. People think massage is glamorous, yoga teaching as well but mainly I wash lots of sheets and spend time saying, “lift your kneecap.”

One strong theme running through my concerns with money runs contrary to what I hear other bodyworkers engage in. I do not operate a revolving door.

If you come to me and get Thai massage and based on my experience I think you’ll do better long term by practicing Bikram yoga, I’ll tell you so. When you come in for bodywork I will give you 110%. Always, every time within my own limitations. I set myself out a long time ago to do anything within my power to help people heal. If yoga will help you be well longer so that my sessions are unecessary then so be it.

Many when hearing this from me wonder, “how will you make money if the clients leave?” I laugh when I hear this as I think it runs completely contrary to how healing services should operate. I don’t put a bandaid on a tumor and expect you to come back every week. I like having return clients but even my regular clients I try to lift up enough so they can work on themselves. There’s More than I can do out there. You can feel Better than what I provide. That’s called yoga. It’s you, harnessing you to make a better you.

Here’s the point: I will Never put money above your health and well being. Never.

So, if I work with someone who has carpal tunnel syndrome and they get better, they may stop getting sessions with me. Good. How will I get clients? I will have clients because that person refers their friends and family. When they meet someone at the grocery store with carpal tunnel problems where will they send them? That’s how businesses are made and grow.

Nothing I do is a trade secret. I’m giving it away. Youtube videos, blog posts, public demonstrations and teaching sessions in the Austin Thai massage and therapeutics (you can find them on facebook) group are free. They cost nothing to clients or students. Why do I give it away?

I believe health is your birthright. It’s yours though often you may have to work for it. That information should be freely available. I had to work to find it but I offer it for free. Why? My world is not made a better place by holding knowledge at bay for another dollar. My world improves when people with good posture, healthy spines and good breathing wander the landscape. They’re happy, they’re healthy and they live better lives that enrich mine.

Hopefully I’ve worked hard so you don’t have to. You don’t have to search. You have questions, you ask. Money will come, money will go but I never set out on my healing path for money. If I have ill health, what use is money? If I have ill health, nothing else matters.

Quit focusing on money and focus on what inspires you. Money has to be considered to pay the bills but I will never operate my business and healing practice to squeeze a nickel out of someone. People first. Healing first. Money? You must consider it but I don’t let it control all of my actions. I will never treat you as a commodity.

You cannot purchase integrity. That’s what I have. I’ve earned it. You deserve a bodyworker as good as I am. That’s what I’m trying to create in Austin, Tx. We’ve come here to heal.

Incremental money

Money is a sticky spot for most people. I know few who don’t have some stress about it in some form and as a full time massage therapist I’ve spent many nights wondering where the rent would come from.

I accrued 5k in credit card debt over the years and it came and went several times. Payed down, built up again and though my practice would grow, bills always seemed a little larger than my income. I’ve never been one to spend extravagantly but when you need groceries and you don’t have that paycheck for two weeks, credit card debt can build up easily when you stack car repairs on top.

Today I payed off my credit cards in full. That 5k in debt has taken me a year to work on incrementally and with good luck it’ll never come back. Compound interest I’ve heard it said is the strongest force in the universe and I believe it. Like gravity it can weigh you down.

Altering and changing ones life in a way that fits your values is important. I’ve resisted the stress of the holidays and instead of buying gifts, I payed off what I owed in the hopes of a year where I can afford gifts without interest payments. Want to help me avoid more debt? Schedule a Thai massage with me or come to my yoga classes, every little bit helps.

Just as your yoga practice will grow as you lengthen your spine, that incremental buildup leads to great things. Your breath expands as your diaphragam strengthens and your focus is more sharp. I’ve always been impressed at how the physical integrates into the emotional and energetic body and in the past week my oldest back pain dissipated to the point where I realized it no longer seemed to be there.

I’ve been working on that since the accident that led me into my current work. Twelve years it’s been a lingering annoyance and pain. It came and went, sometimes better sometimes worse but this is the longest it’s been gone. Lengthen your spine and breath indeed. Incremental is the only way things work.