East Bay Massage: Why Did I Cry During My Massage?

I can say from personal experience both as a recipient and as a practitioner of massage that sometimes, people cry during massage. As a recipient, it was such a powerful experience that it inspired me not only to move into the field of therapeutic bodywork, but to learn more about my self, too. Post miscarriage, I was in the throws of profound hormonal flux, and felt lost in grief. Massage gave me a window into my own pain at a time when I thought it was too overwhelming to navigate.

As a grad student in somatic psychology now, I am gaining in understanding as to how this happens and what can be done to support this process. As a massage therapist, my scope of practice includes craniosacral therapy and massage that allows for and supports people when they are negotiating intense emotions if they are ready to be expressed. Some clients think they are signing up for physical therapy-style deep tissue and are shocked to find how powerful touch is– even the gentlest, mellowest variety.

Because touch outside of very discrete circumstances (like, fighting, doctor’s exams/procedures, and sex) is culturally unusual for us Americans, we are often deeply impacted when we allow ourselves to truly feel what it feels like to feel. The truth is that it is normal and healthy to notice emotions!

Emotional release happens because we are finally in a position to let our guard down– we begin to notice how sensations are paired with emotions. For instance, the sensation of a tight throat is often paired with the emotion of sadness. The sensation of a tight chest is often paired with anger. The sensation of pain across the shoulders is often paired with a heavy sense of responsibility. If we feel safe enough, we might finally allow those emotions to fully manifest. While this might seem impossible or dangerous in our regular lives, sometimes the power of touch can guide those emotions into expression.

Most massage therapists are aware that touch can bring up intense feelings for their clients. Sometimes all you need is to be offered a tissue and the space to shed a few tears. Sometimes, in addition to receiving that massage, you can use your breath to let go of the hiss of anger. Next time you receive a massage, just try noticing if any emotions come up for you before, during, or after the session. Simply notice if there is anything there. If not, allow yourself to fully drop in to the experience of relaxation. If so, see what it’s like to have them with you.

Increasing awareness of the experience of your body from the inside– that is, its sensations and emotions– can go a long way in alleviating stress. Bodywork is a wonderful opportunity to get some therapeutic massage and a great chance to learn more about your self, too.

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage!


East Bay Massage: Massage After Miscarriage

It is estimated that somewhere between 15% and 20% of all pregnancies end in miscarriage. Because a good portion of miscarriages occur before a woman is even aware she is pregnant (so-called “chemical pregnancies”), the actual statistics are likely much higher, with some estimating as much as 50%. Emotional responses to pregnancy can be mixed, especially early in the pregancy, but many women, in particular those who were trying to become pregnant, experience enthusiasm, excitement, and joy as they begin to envision their lives including their new baby. When these women experience miscarriage, the emotional repercussions can be deep and long lasting.

So, it stands to reason that miscarriage can be a devastating loss, and one that can leave the woman feeling isolated in her grief. Even the word “miscarriage” seems to imply a wrong carrying, a failure to carry her baby into the world. Many women experience feelings of guilt, shame, and loneliness. The physical experience of miscarriage is often painful, and depending on the gestation of the baby, sometimes similar to labor, but without the benefit of a child to bring home at the end of the experience. As hormone levels plummet after the miscarriage, it is common for women to experience depression, anxiety, and despair. Women can become frustrated in addition to their grief if miscarriage has become a pattern of infertility. Women may even feel betrayed by their bodies. It is hard to underestimate the somatic implications for women experiencing neonatal loss. Body image issues are sadly not unusual for many women, and miscarriage can add a new dimension to the struggles they face.

Massage can play an important role in helping women after miscarriage. The comfort of touch is healing. A woman healing from miscarriage will need a network of support from her friends, family, therapist, support groups, and wellness practitioners. Massage’s contribution is an important aspect of this caring network. Helping the woman find places of comfort, ease, and safety in her body is an important benefit offered by massage– especially at a time when her body may feel less like an ally and more like something that is broken, insufficient, or inadequate. If you or a loved one is healing after miscarriage, the caring hands of a skillful massage therapist can meet the woman in her grief by providing a safe environment in which to not only experience comforting touch, but to perhaps find a place of compassion within for herself.

Miscarriage can be challenging to talk about. As a culture, we don’t seem to have a ritual surrounding miscarriage. It’s hard for others to know the “right” thing to say, and it may even be challenging for the woman to express her experience to others. Support groups can be helpful to find a community of other women to share their sense of loss. Bay Area listings are provided below for women seeking support.

Thank you for visiting East Bay Massage.

San Francisco SAND (Support After Neonatal Death)
UCSF Women’s Health Building
2356 Sutter Street, San Francisco

HAND (Helping After Neonatal Death) of the Peninsula

HAND of Santa Cruz 831-438-4513

HAND of Alameda County, Contra Costa County, Santa Clara County, Central Valley 888-908-4263

Alta Bates Medical Center
2450 Ashby Ave
Berkeley, CA 94705
They meet on the first and third Wednesday of every month from 7-9.  Twenty-four hour telephone counseling is available.

SAND Mt Diablo
Mt Diablo Medical Center
2540 East Street Concord, CA 94524
A bi weekly support group that also has 24 hour telephone counseling.

Women’s Miscarriage Support Group
Muir OB-GYN Medical Group
112 La Casa Via, Suite 200
Walnut Creek, CA 94598