Massage and Touch



On the Sensual Massage retreat last weekend someone asked a fascinating question, ‘What’s the difference between massage and touch?’

As I spoke about it I realised how much there was to say.

The first thing I said was that touch is a conversation, massage is a monologue.

When touch is from the heart, with awareness, with connection, in intimacy, in love, regardless of the context, with a lover, in a healing space, a pleasure experience, anywhere it happens, with that intention, it’s a conversation. There’s sharing, there’s listening, there’s acknowledging, there’s giving and receiving.

The intention creates that. In that space I’m sharing myself with you. It’s an experience of energy. Most of our communication is without words. Touching from the heart opens a channel of deep conversation.

I have to connect with myself first. I have to understand that my touch communicates what’s inside of me, so there needs to be clarity within me.

Most massage has a goal, there’s a sequence and a technique. If I’m unaware of the conversation, all that I’m doing is following the routine. To listen I have to be aware that the technique, whatever it may be, is but a vehicle, a space for the conversation to happen in.

So massage can be a conversation, however the way most, many, practitioners do this, is the method is the key.

Gabor Mate says that as healers all we can bring is our presence. This come from within. It comes from our own journey, our own healing, growth and learning. It comes from our own heart. That’s the conversation. And most of it is listening. A listening with my hands, with my energy, however I perceive that.

The next thing is that our sensual vocabulary is often limited. We use words such as touch, massage, healing, and our minds put them in boxes with labels and conditions and definitions. When we touch from the heart, when it’s a conversation, it’s experiential, in the moment. The words become a limitation. If I hold a point on your body am I touching, massaging, holding? If I’m present and connected, we’re ‘talking’. We need to use the words we do, as that creates a space of commonality. It might not be all that an experience is, it gives us some idea of what we do. It opens the door.

And then there’s the journey. Howe practice whatever healing we do comes from our journey. We start with a framework, with information. If we question, explore and grow, firstly within ourselves, then in the wider world of possibility, we’ll expand ourselves. Tom Chi talks about how knowing is the enemy of learning. From information, technique, we go to a desire to share, to connect. Then we begin to understand more. We see that it is a conversation. In that I’ll be able to offer you something. It has to come from the space that you know what you’ll heal yourself, you’ll understand yourself. I’ll be a guide, a mirror, a partner on the journey. All I can offer you is myself.

And in love, from my heart, we’ll touch, we’ll massage, we’ll connect, and we’ll create possibilities of what could be.

The conversation is that in listening, in hearing, in talking, in touching, there’s healing and expansion for both of us.