Registered Massage Therapist
Member of the Massage Therapists' Association of Nova Scotia
Since 2000

2369 Agricola Street • Suite 202
Halifax, Nova Scotia • B3K 4B7
jessica.marsh.hfx@gmail.com
902 • 580 • 2708

20.7.15

Talking vs. Not Talking During Massage

To talk or not to talk. That is the question. At least that's the question people sometimes wonder about getting a massage. Whether or not you feel like talking while you get a massage is a completely subjective choice. It's your treatment; it's your time. Here are some pros and cons of each.

Talking During Massage
Sometimes your mind won't let you rest, right? It bounces around like a peppy monkey and even when you stop talking, it keeps poking at you. Sometimes talking can help you relax.
  • Talking during a massage treatment can give you single line of thought to follow, like pulling string out from a big, tangled knot and watching it become a simple, single line. 
  • If you're dealing with stressful situations or issues in your life, talking can help you let go of what's bothering you. My boss is driving me crazy - My kids are driving me crazy - My friends came for a visit and won't leave - I hate my job - I hate this weather. You might want to get your troubles off your chest and then settle into silence, or you might want to keep untangling the thoughts through your whole treatment. 
  • Everything you say in a massage treatment is confidential - and sometimes having that private space can be a helpful opportunity for you to talk about your problems and concerns without worrying that you're hurting someone's feelings or talking too much about yourself to your friend or family member. My scope of practice involves the body and physical realm - I am not a counsellor or a psychologist. But I'm a good listener and can give some basic feedback based on my personal life experience. 
  • Some people think memory can be stored in muscle and soft tissue. Massage can trigger surprising thoughts and images and sometimes people want to talk about it. 
Not Talking During Massage
  • We all have what some Buddhists call "monkey minds"; minds that chatter away to us no matter what's going on in our day, perhaps at no greater time than when we are silent. It can be a strange and uncomfortable thing to be in silence and to check out what's going on in your mind. We live in an age of constant influx of information and most of us are not used to being quiet. One good reason to be silent during a massage is that you can get familiar and maybe even comfortable with whatever is going on in the silence. 
  • When I do a massage treatment for you, I'm having a conversation with your body. And it doesn't have very much to do with you. By that I mean - the conversation I'm having with your body has nothing to do with your mind - the words you are speaking or the thoughts and feelings you are having. When I put my hands on you, I'm gathering information and receiving messages about the state of your muscles, joints, ligaments - and your breathing. I'm tuning in to what your body has to communicate. If you and I are talking while that's happening, it's as though I'm trying to have a conversation with two people at the same time. And as I'm sure you have experienced, when you talk to two people at once, your attention can be diluted. 
  • Massage is a great opportunity to check in with your body. Our culture is very mind oriented, encouraging people to identify with their thinking and feeling and speaking. But what about your body? What does it feel like to really be present in your body? During a massage if you draw your attention to the specific areas you're having treated, the overall feeling it brings about in your body, how it changes your breathing - all the sensory experiences you are having in your body, you can gain a greater sense of awareness about your body and open the door to a much deeper sense of relaxation. 
  • If you want to try not talking during a massage but you know you're the kind of person who talks out of habit, when you arrive and you're getting ready for the treatment you could say "I think I won't talk during the treatment today," and then we both know what your plan is. 
So the choice is up to you. I will let you lead - if you want to talk I will listen. If you want to talk with me, I will talk with you. And if you want to be silent, I will be too. Everyone chooses for themselves and sometimes people make different choices on different days. Remember that when you decide to get a massage you are paying a significant amount of money for someone to take care of you. This is your way of taking care of yourself and it should be all about you. Honour that decision and make sure the treatment is exactly as you want it to be - the volume of the music, the temperature of the room, the pressure on your body, the techniques used. And only talk if you feel like talking. It's all about you.





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Starting this week, I have new appointment times. Check the column to the left of this post or click here.



No Comment

A client I hadn't seen for quite a while came in for a treatment. We chatted for a bit and just as I was leaving the room so she could get on the table she blurted out "Aren't you going to say anything? Didn't you notice? I've lost twenty pounds!"

You would think that of all the people in your life, your massage therapist - the person who sees your body in much more detail than most people in your life do - would be the first person to say something if you lost weight. But I've made it a steadfast rule that I never comment on my client's bodies, unless I see something I'm concerned about, like a rash, an abnormal looking mole or a bruise. There are many reasons why a person loses or gains weight; many reasons why a person's body changes during their lifetime. They might be sick or they might be depressed. They might be struggling with an eating disorder. Also, if I say "You look so fit and healthy!" to a client one day, maybe when they come in the next time, if I don't say the same thing, they might wonder if they don't look fit and healthy that day.

I also never comment about body piercings or tattoos. Tattoos are frequently done to commemorate a significant life event - a death or a loss - that might be painful to draw attention to. I know someone who had a tattoo of her husband's name. Her divorce was painful and stressful (as most are), so on her birthday that year she decided to treat herself to a massage. It turns out the massage therapist was an acquaintance. As the treatment was starting, the therapist said "Oh, that must be your husband's name! How romantic. Wait, that is your husband's name, isn't it? Uh... is he still your husband?" Needless to say, her massage was not as relaxing as it could have been.

I want my clients to know they are in a safe space when they come to me for treatments. I want them to know that I am not judging their bodies, whether that judgement be positive or negative. I take care of my clients and I love them and I love their bodies, just as they are.




"I Thc That I Am Byotfol"
by Momiji O'Malley 2012