The initial touch in massage sets the tone for continued relaxation. As with any touch therapy, it is essential to create an atmosphere of harmony that allows for total flow and release. First, give the person receiving the massage a moment to relax as you become aware of the rhythm of his or her breath. Watch for steady, relaxed breathing as you approach the recipient.
Be sure the receiver is arranged comfortably on the table. Certain areas of the recipient's body may need added support, including knees, ankles, head, and neck. Remember, you can use a variety of pillows, towels, wedges, or bolsters to provide comfort and support during the session. Place these props under the knees or the head and neck if the person is lying face up; if the recipient is lying facedown, place a bolster under the ankles.
Draping with sheets or towels is important for warmth and security, whether your receiver prefers to be clothed or not. Some recipients prefer to receive massage wearing underwear or athletic shorts and tops. Whatever a person feels comfortable with is correct for that person. You can use cotton or fleece blankets for additional warmth if needed.
Where to Start
There is no right place to begin a massage. Where to start on the body will become your choice as you grow into the art of applying massage. Some people like to begin on the back because it provides a large surface for the beginning strokes. Others prefer to start with a face or foot massage. Wherever you begin is the best starting point for you.
The following examples deal initially with the back. The back is always a safe area to begin because it is a nonthreatening zone with ample room to apply a variety of strokes, and it provides a broad canvas to create your masterpiece. The following discussion explains how to use the back as your starting point.
Establish a Connection
With your partner lying facedown, stand to the side, letting your body become comfortable with your position. Place both hands gently on the covered body, letting your still, quiet touch flow into the receiver. Let your hands rest in this peaceful position, encouraging deeper relaxation. This announcement of safe touch informs the recipient of the giver's intent. So begins your journey with informed touch.
As your hands gently rest on the recipient, breathe slowly and evenly, silently influencing the breathing of the receiver. Move one hand to the nape of the neck and the other to the small of the back, drawing an invisible energy line. Perhaps you are guided to let both hands rest gently on the upper back, creating an energy connection there. The idea here is to allow yourself to become aware of your intuitive sense. Your hands are the tools that will guide you through this process, signaling areas of stress and discomfort.
Intuition is defined as the act of knowing without rational thought. Our sense of intuition allows us to instinctively know or feel something without thinking, and is an aspect of our senses that we use every day.
The first touch opens the pathway of communication between the body you are working on and your hands. See if you feel tension in the body under your hands. Is the back tight? How does the neck feel? Let the eyes within your hands reveal what the skin is relaying. Once you feel comfortable with your assessment, you are ready to begin.