"How are you?"
It’s a question that most of us hear at least once if not multiple times a day, and probably ask it just as many times as well. We might give a quick canned response or even flip the question back with a “fine, thanks. How are you?” We all have our reasons for the fast answers - maybe we don’t want to overshare or we might not appreciate being put on the spot, but in the end, it doesn’t have that much consequence because more often than not, the person asking the question hasn’t left that much time to listen, much less hear, our response.
I don’t necessarily like this fact of life, but I think it is somewhat unavoidable. We have so many pressures influencing how we act and respond in terms of what is ‘acceptable’ for the given situation that it is usually easier for the person being asked to just keep it short. Many times, the folks that are asking the question are doing it solely to comply with societal norms and don’t really care about the response. Like I said, not ideal but very understandable in many instances that the classic “how are you?” is not a check-in on your wellness, but just a formality.
One place where I do think that the question of “how are you?” matters is in the context of massage therapy. It’s been very interesting to see how different people approach receiving massage overall. One thing to expect when coming in for massage if you might not be familiar with the process is to have an informational interview prior to the therapy session. It’s during this discussion that the massage therapist is able to gauge the goals and expectations of the client as well as better understand why they are looking for work.
I believe this initial aspect of the massage therapy session is critical to having an overall positive experience. It might even be the most important thing to the success of massage therapy overall. Studies are showing that therapies administered in a positive therapeutic encounter that include active listening, extra time spent with the patient, more attention and encouragement result in larger amounts of pain reduction compared to the same therapies offered in a neutral setting. Pain research is also proving that someone’s thoughts about whether they are experiencing pain are just as important, if not more so, than whether they are actually experiencing painful stimulus. It’s a bit long, but this Ted Talk by Lorimer Mosely does a great job conveying that concept.
This type of attention to the client’s needs and level of self awareness rolls up to a broad term of “client centered therapy” which is what most healthcare practitioners are striving for. It is a pretty simple goal, but not always that simple to deliver on given how quick we are to answer “I’m fine” when someone asks “How are you?” I’ve learned that ‘listening’ doesn’t stop at the initial interview either. As a therapist, I’m constantly observing the client for nonverbal communication that might need to be conveyed. Even a client who answers “I’m fine” will communicate a lot more with their body during a session through depth and frequency of breath, muscular tone, and body temperature. Being tuned in to the changes in the body can improve a session immensely, and I do my best to bring any significant changes to my client’s attention after the session to promote their own body awareness.
I believe that these types of discussions model behavior clients can then take and implement in their day to day lives by listening to their bodies and taking an active part in their wellness. That added awareness of your body will continue to give you purpose in your wellness activities which I think is pretty important as we continue throughout our lives. One thing that I do want to be very clear about is that body awareness is always a work in progress and there is no “right way” of doing it. Listening to our bodies doesn’t mean that we will find all the answers, but it does mean that we’ll know where to start when dealing with our health.
So if it is a work in progress and there is no “right way of doing it” why should we care about body awareness at all? The simple answer is that for us to invest in our wellness, we are moving past “what is wrong” and to work on “what would be ideal." More importantly, ‘Wrong’ is usually defined by pain signals dictated by our body while ’ideal’ is best defined by us by setting a purpose.
As a massage therapist, I am very much looking forward to partnering with clients in their wellness work. Partnering is the optimal term here because while I will bring the service of body work and knowledge of human anatomy and physiology, the client is always going to be the expert on their body since they live in it every second of each day. With this in mind, I’m excited to meet them where they are at by hearing their words, listening to their bodies, and ultimately helping to establish a purpose.
Now, I know it is a busy day and that you have a lot going on but I’ve got a question for you:
"How are you?"
I’ve got time for a full answer.
I am in the final stages of obtaining my massage license. I plan on being fully certified and ready to work with clients by October of 2019, and will be putting more information on the website soon about massage offerings and pricing.
In the meantime, BraveNewLove will be offering the following discounts while the business is getting started:
1st massage (post certification) is half off as a gift from BraveNewLove
Half off next massage per each successful referral
Half off gift certificates can be claimed up to the date of attaining my license (expected by Oct 1st 2019). The certificates can be redeemed for a year after my licensing date for half off of your massage services. Simply let me know how many half off gift certificates you would like to reserve before October 1st 2019.*
If you’d be interested in any of these offers, reach out to me directly at Lance@bravenewlove.com.