With or without trickling water features, a massage makes the world seem lighter | Hannah Jane Parkinson

In this time of uncertainty, I have missed something that pummels away pressure and works out worries

It sounds indulgent and that’s because it is, especially in the present time of national uncertainty, but I adore a massage, and it is something I have mightily missed. I worry that they have been tainted in popular consciousness by creepy co-workers lurking over interns, or sepia memories of adverts in phone boxes promising “happy endings”, or perhaps villains in films casually issuing directives for genocide while face down wearing a towel.

Really, though, is there anything better than a massage that hits the spot, or multiple spots? That kneads knots and soothes skin, pummels away pressure and works out worries?

One has to learn how to be the subject of a good massage. The most important aspect is matching with a good masseur or masseuse (it is similar to finding a suitable psychotherapist). Do you want a talker and, if not, is this person someone you feel comfortable with in silence? I have a habit of filling silences out of awkwardness, even in situations where it is perfectly acceptable not to speak – and if you are filling a silence out of awkwardness, that is not relaxing.

Also, will your therapist bring up truly out-there alternative medicines that verge on conspiracy theory? Again, not relaxing.

Deciding on the type of massage (Swedish, sports or deep tissue?) and location (home or parlour?) is another consideration. I would never enjoy a massage in my home because I know I’d end up noticing a flaking skirting board or books wearing coats of dust. Plus a folding table would remind me of an ironing board which, again, is not relaxing.

I much prefer the trickling water features and being offered tea on arrival, despite the fact that there is never time to drink it; I like statues of Buddha that seem offended at their environs. My massage place is next door to my hairdresser, so I make a double trip (massage first, otherwise the oil greases up my haircut).

The final thing is becoming comfortable with one’s body. I have learned not to care if I have a blemish where a bra strap has rubbed or my legs aren’t shaved, or the underwear I am wearing is practical.

Massage is thousands of years old, and crosses cultures and continents, so there must be something in it. I’m no fan of its grand medicinal claims; but there is also no peer-reviewed paper on why an almond Magnum makes me feel good, and I don’t question that it does. After a good massage, the world always seems lighter, as do I. I hope to feel that again someday.

Contributor

Hannah Jane Parkinson

The GuardianTramp

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