Healing the family through touch (massage)

This post was taken from my other blog-gypsychant.com

One afternoon when I was giving my 17 year old son a back massage, he said to me “I bet not many others in my school are being massaged by there mom right now” then he paused and said, “ I am sure no one is being massaged by their parent” then he thought about this for a moment and concluded with, “That’s to bad.”

As a side note: I do have to say this massage thing is not a daily event. He does have to plead and beg a bit. But generally speaking I do massage him about once every two weeks. These are not full body massages. It depends on how generous I am feeling at that moment. Some days it is a foot massage, some days it is a foot massage with lotion, some days it will be a back massage while he is sitting on his chair at his desk and very rarely a full body massage. I have graced all four of my children with this gift; this gift for them and for me. I really feel it brings me closer to them.

Parents don’t touch their children enough; they send them off in the morning and in the evening they are doing dinner and clean up and getting ready for the next day. This disconnect is having a strong effect on the family unit, trust me when I say it is not a positive effect. There are many ways to keep the family unit healthy. Massage is one of them.

I feel the disconnect starts at birth and carries on unintentionally throughout a child’s life. The list is great in the infant category. I could write a whole book on this but don’t need to because many before me have already done just that. I will only speak of one pet peeve. Ever since car seats became mandatory there has been a giant upswing in babies being carried in plastic seat almost everywhere. Have you seen the car seats that turn into seats you can carry with you? I cringe when I see that, I want to pick up the baby and hold it next to my heart. I love car seats, don’t get me wrong, but we have overdone it. The car seat was started to protect the child, the misuse is actually hurting the child. A child needs touch, a lot of touch. Their little bodies are designed to be touched almost constantly until they reach the crawling stage; even then they are meant to be carried often. We use to carry them everywhere we went; now we have strollers and car seats.

There are many books, videos and even classes that teach infant massage. Infant massage is great but I think it should not stop when they reach past the toddler stage. I believe it is important throughout life, especially in the pre-teen and teen years. If you start from a young age, being massaged is natural to them when they are older, but does this mean you cannot start in the teen years because you missed the boat. The answer is a giant no. Start out small, ask your teen if there feet hurt, tell them you would be happy to massage their feet. If they say ‘no, its ok’, then let them know again that you think it would help relax them and you really would like to see how it works for them. You could even say you want a little practice. What you will find is that massage helps the parent bridge the gap to communication. A child will open up when feeling safe in your care.

Parents are tired. I know how tired it can all get. The last thing you think you want to do is put more energy out after a full day. If anything you want someone to put energy into you-someone to massage you. Here’s the thing: once you set up the space (a yoga mat, a few pillows and your set) every one gets a little quieter, a little softer. You talk softer, or not at all. Let the child decide. Parents should start to pay attention to the child’s breath. If you are giving a back massage you should notice the breath moving the back up and down. How tight or loose is the movement? It is an indication of the child letting tension out of their body. So the parent breathes and the child breathes. Everything slows down. Things that are bottled up can gently release. Now hears the catch. You thought you were too tired to massage the child but suddenly you feel calmer yourself and more energized. You are exchanging touch yourself. So not only does it benefit the child but also it benefits you. Loving your child makes you feel better, more satisfied that you did what you set out to do when you first had a child-love them. That’s really all you thought about when you reflected on the child before it was born. You thought about loving them. Not all the other busy things that came along. So go back to that original thought and love your child. Love them in this very moment. See how much better that feels. You had a quiet moment with your child, even if you talked; it had a rhythm to it. It had a release from the breath and a release of emotions for both of you. For your child it was a release of all the muscle strain from having to sit in awkward seats, carrying backpacks, sports, and the list goes on.

So the mother (or father) thought she did not have the energy for this but now she is more energized. You have temporary peace in the home and a happy child, which is our goal for this society. Ahh!! This is the ‘breath releasing’ sort of ahh.

One more thing, your intention is important. Think positive thoughts and if you can’t be positive because your day was just too stressful then think no thoughts. Just think about the breath. This is important. Let the child talk without them being judged. This is not a time to be judgmental, not a time to fix the problem, just a time to listen. Give them that time. Let them know you hear them. Exchange words; just exchange caring words.

Our society needs this. It may not cure everything but it may cure something. That’s just it; it may cure something. A broken heart, a sore body, circulation in the body, loneliness, depression, anxiety, stress. These are big ills in our society. The time to start this is now. We no longer can wait. As harmful as global warming is for the earth, the opposite, body warming, is helpful to our souls.

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