It seems indulgent and that’s why it is, especially at the present time of national uncertainty, but I love a massage, and it’s something I could easily have missed. I worry that they have been tainted in popular consciousness by creepy co-workers lurking about interns, or sepia memories of ads in phone boxes promising “happy endings,” or perhaps villains in movies casually issuing guidelines for genocide while face down wearing a towel.
Really, though, is there anything better than a massage that reaches the point, or several points? Does it crush knots and soothes the skin, removes pressure and works with worries?
You have to learn to be the subject of a good massage. The most important aspect is to combine with a good masseuse or masseuse (it is similar to finding a suitable psychotherapist). Do you want a talker and, if not, that person you feel comfortable with in silence? I have a habit of filling silences out of embarrassment, even in situations where it’s perfectly acceptable not to talk – and if you’re filling a silence out of embarrassment, that’s not relaxing.
Also, will your therapist bring up alternative drugs that border on conspiracy theory? Again, not relaxing.
Deciding on the type of massage (Swedish, sporty or deep tissue?) and location (home or salon?) is another consideration. I would never like a massage in my house because I know I would end up noticing a peeling contour board or books using dust coats. Also, a folding table would remind me of an ironing board that, again, is not relaxing.
I very much prefer the characteristics of the water dripping and be offered tea on arrival, despite the fact that there is never time to drink; I like Buddha statues that seem offended in their surroundings. My massage place is next to my hairdresser, so I do a double trip (massage first, otherwise the oil shines up to my haircut).
The last thing is to be comfortable with the body. I learned not to care if I have a stain where a bra strap rubbed or my legs aren’t shaved, or the underwear I’m wearing is practical.
The massage is thousands of years old, and it crosses cultures and continents, so there must be something in it. I’m not a fan of your great medicinal claims; but there’s also no peer-reviewed article on why a Magnum of almonds makes me feel good, and I don’t question what it does. After a good massage, the world always seems lighter, just like me. I hope to feel that again someday.