One of the other observations from doing bodywork on people is the recurring complaint of pain in one area of the body. We will work out a large area in a specific spot and the client will continually come back with the same complaint. The shoulder or upper back are usual suspects here. Talking through the years with other bodyworkers what we find is that people are large emotional filing cabinets. We tend to store what we can’t immediately deal with in our tissues and usually in the place that can least take the stress. Emotional pain is just as real as muscular pain. The term is somatization. Taking an emotional thing and making it physical. There are many factors that cause us to hold on to these issues but it seems that getting the client to recognize that there may be an emotional issue causing pain can actually lead to some recovery. Anecdotally we see people who cry when we touch certain points or experience great sadness. Helping them to try to associate an experience or a memory with the pain sometimes is enough to clear the point. I have had clients tell me that when I work on their neck or chest area that they have a sensation of restriction and sadness, one of my clients used to laugh whenever I got near a point on her back and it wasn’t because it tickled, it brought on a pleasant memory of her childhood.
Grieving clients often come in with generalized complaints of pain, soreness or stiffness. Occasionally they are curious why they are experiencing this and I try to explain that it’s like your body is a messy desk, and all the papers are spread out everywhere. You can’t see the issue until you start to clear out the clutter. Fear, guilt, loneliness, sadness, loss; without a context you need to store some of the feelings until you can face them and get to acceptance. Massage treatments can turn into counselling sessions in these cases as we work though why some of the discomforts come on. There should never be fear that what happens during a treatment is in anyway abnormal or unusual. We are emotional things and sometimes we need to express them in order to heal the experiences.