Poetics of Touch Concept Number 4


It is the evenness that I remember most now that the day has passed.
Everything even like a clear morning song,
the base note balancing the subtext. -- Jenny D'Angelo

In the craft of writing, creating a smooth beginning, middle, and ending is emphasized. When a story flows seamlessly, we are free to focus on meaning, emotion, and characters.

In massage there is a beginning, middle, and end to each stroke, each section of the body, and the entire massage. If something feels abrupt, inconclusive, or unsatisfying while you give or receive massage, carefully track the movements from start to finish as they form the life of the stroke.

When massage strokes begin in the air, think of an airplane descending to land on a predetermined glide path. A glide path for your hands includes your destination and range of reach. Think to yourself, I am arriving, I am here. I am leaving, as you initiate and complete your strokes.

Beginning, Middle, and Ending also includes external factors such as how long a session lasts and internal ones such as intuitively knowing when, where, and how to focus.

When I was new to massage, I often worked beyond the agreed upon time. I was either off-pace, or overly eager. Clients wondered if they owed more money, and one night, a client said, "Oh dear, I wanted to get cat food on the way home, but the store has closed." Do respect a sessions duration, its timely start and finish.

Learn some grounding techniques to prepare yourself before the massage begins. At the end be sure clients are alert and ready to drive safely before they leave.

Beginning, The Introduction:

Mindful practices begin slowly with intention and grace. Be ready, willing, and able to work before you touch gently and assertively. Strive for clarity and strong presence.

Middle, The Development:

The middle offers sustenance. It has the most comprehensive evolutions of composition, pressure, and feeling.

Ending, The Conclusion:

A smooth ending blends in and disappears. An unexpected, abrupt, or ambiguous ending can easily become a negative focal point.

Choices of endings for massage strokes:

  • Gentle pull or stretch: elongating, reaching
  • Pat or almost a pat, a tap: gentle, kind, and reassuring
  • Pause or hold in stillness: deep connection and energy work
  • Springiness: a slight press down and rebound up like jumping
  • Slight squeeze: like signaling to let go when holding hands
  • Sweep, brush, or fluff: light and expressive, expansive
  • Unannounced: like a song that ends boldly instead of gradually

Encore Ending

An encore ending is the ideal addition for people who wish the massage didn't have to end. Pause as if the massage or a section of it has ended. Then, like an encore, return to do more. Use sparingly so each encore is special.

Also practice smooth, quick exits:

This is so you can spontaneously and gracefully get more oil, a tissue, or blanket as needed. No matter how long or short each stroke turns out to be, if it has a coherent beginning, middle, and ending within the client's range of comfort, his or her receptivity will be enhanced.

At the end, verbally announce that the session has ended:

That's the end. Rest for a few minutes if you want to. We need to be all done in fifteen minutes.

Copyright Cinda Mefferd