I remember when I first turned to self massage: it was early in my career when I was attending massage school and working full time. I often arrived at class exhausted and frequently was bored having already studied the course material for my U.S. massage license. So how did I keep myself awake? I would find a sore spot where I could reach---often on arms, shoulders, ribs---and with my fingers, press, rotate and listen. Was the spot releasing? Did I get a warm feeling? I would guess which organ the trigger point might be connected to--I knew the acupuncture meridians by then. Time would fly by. I would feel better and know my body better. This self massage practice continued for many years. It gave me comfort but also power, sometimes the power to heal and sometimes the information needed to give a doctor or other practitioner so they could help me.
Fastforward to 2020 and the pandemic. None of the practitioners I normally go to are working. Stress levels are high, in the world and in my body. I know I need to help my body stay healthy but there is so much to do and so much new technology to learn! First I was in ‘ignore mode’, until my back called loudly in the language of pain. I began to release my Psoas muscle (see Techniques for keeping the body in mind at the end of chapter 9). I did active release using a ball on my back and buttock muscles. I congratulated my body in its letting go process. Gradually the pain and stiffness receded and I realized that I had been sitting in a twisted position at the computer while feeling tense. No more of that!
Next I began to get the symptoms of an ear infection---a familiar event due to my unusual anatomy because of the Microtia in my left ear. I began to massage the reflex points, meridians, and immune system points. But the infection had gotten ahead of me. I realized I had to use the antibiotic drops-- they worked. With my hands on my chest I forgave my body for not being able to let go of the infection with just the help of my hands. My mind calmed, as it registered the love inherent in self forgiveness and the understanding that comes with it. I realized that the pollen in the air plus the stress of isolation had been too much. I needed external help this time.
Knowing when we can heal ourselves and when we need help comes with self knowledge. Doing massage on oneself is a great way to gain self knowledge of our body. Give your body a hand up. Start simple and progress. Do what feels good. In the technique sections of Note by Note you will find some detailed instructions on how to begin touching your body in a healing way.
Kristi Magraw is known for having developed a unique synthesis of Eastern healing (Five Element theory) and Western ways of working with the mind, called the Magraw Method, which she established in 1979. This method uses metaphoric language and release techniques to help people heal physical and emotional pain.