There is no such thing as a “massage wimp.”

May 27, 2015  |  no comments yet
Photo by Flavio Takemoto (downloaded from

Photo by Flavio Takemoto (downloaded from

When I asked a client how the pressure felt for her, she said, “It could be a little lighter.” I thanked her for telling me and lightened up.

She said, “I don’t know why I’m such a wimp. Some people can take so much pressure.”

To paraphrase Emily Dickinson, the nervous system wants what it wants. Having a nervous system that enjoys super-hot peppers or deep-tissue massage implies nothing about one’s character. Nor does having nerves that prefer a gentler touch or a subtler taste.

The nervous system’s signals of comfort and discomfort are how our body tells our minds to continue what we’re doing or to STOP. If a smoke alarm goes off, you have a choice: Ignore the alarm or put out the fire. Which makes more sense?

If you are sailing a ship in stormy seas, you would be smart to ignore the discomfort of blisters and soggy shoes. If you are lying on a massage table, offering your nervous system welcome input is exactly what you are doing there.

Today my acupuncturist handed me a call button and said, “Press the button even if it’s just a small discomfort. A tiny adjustment can make all the difference in a treatment’s effectiveness.

The other night, I offered a client a bolster for under her legs, a pillow for under her head, and a small bag of buckwheat for over her eyes. She started to decline (“I don’t want to be a bother”).

Then she said: “Who else will ask me these questions? Yes, please.”