It happens pretty often. I see a new client. We have a thorough conversation, I work with them for an hour or so. Then, they come out of the massage, slightly groggy and say some version of the following:
“That was . . . different.”
Sometimes it’s positive, sometimes it is less so. It is this expression that the way I work is not exactly what they have expected or experienced. I’m okay with that — even when it is not meant positively. Not everyone is my client.
Massage blends science with art and creativity, so all therapists work differently, and our styles are built from our training, our practice and our temperament. I generally stumble when I try to describe how I work. What comes out is some kind of word salad of “myofascial,” “slow movements,” and “gentle.”
This week, however, a new client gave me the perfect phrase. They called my massage “the science of small movements.” this client was trying to describe how it didn’t feel like there was much doing of stuff during the massage, but there was a tiny adjustment that allowed them to breathe in a way they hadn’t felt for a while. I told my client that I was going to steal that phrase (like an artist,) and here we are.
The science of small movements. That phrase brings together a lot of they physical work I have been doing lately, in my profession and in my other creative pursuits. The barest pressure on the exact correct spot in a muscle to allow it to release and let go on its own — allowing the body to do what it wants to do and be well. The smallest shift in position or facial expression to add highlight to a dance. The slightest shift of shoulders that relaxes the whole body and makes running effortless.
I am chafing against the idea of doing big things, having big plans, making big differences. I feel more at home in this science of small movements. To go back to being the small stone that makes the first ripple, the butterfly’s wing that shifts the air. This feels more sustainable to me. I can wake up every morning and think about changing the world, then eventually get overwhelmed and paralyzed by the enormity of what needs to change — Or, I can wake up and think of small movements, something to start a chain reaction or to keep an existing reaction in motion.
These days, I’m thinking small.