3 Massage Tips

As someone who has interviewed and hired many, many therapists over the years, as well as received thousands of massages at other establishments, I can tell you with authority that there are a lot of massage therapists practicing their craft who could use a reality check.

Most of the massage-loving public, I think, will agree with me: When you find a great therapist, hold onto them! They are difficult to come by.

If you’re a therapist and you can take these three suggestions to heart, I think the advice might help you keep your clients satisfied and happy.

1. Listen to your clients. Being on auto-pilot and relying on your regular routine to satisfy each client isn’t the best way to go. People will tell you what they expect from their session. If you don’t pay attention to what they’re saying, how can you hope to meet their expectations? Here is a real life example that happened to me years ago during a job interview:

I explained to a prospective therapist that I wanted “an oil massage” so I could feel their touch. When they told me they usually did Trager (which is done without oil and involves a lot of rocking techniques), I explained that I wanted more of a medium pressure Swedish-style oil massage because we do oil massage at the Chopra Center, and this is what I needed to experience in order to make a hiring decision. When this person continued to try to convince me to have a Trager session, I finally said, “I don’t want that. I want an oil massage.” So I got undressed, got on the table, and this person gave me a Trager session anyway. I understand that this person was more comfortable doing Trager. But do you think I hired this person? I didn’t get what I wanted.

Every time you do a professional massage, it is like a job interview because you want them to call you back for more work (don’t you?). If you listen and attempt to meet their expectations, you have a better chance of getting the job. If someone tells me their neck and shoulders are really bothering them, and they ask me to help with that if I can, then that’s where I start the massage. I figure if I start on their feet, they will just be wondering when I’m going to get to their neck and shoulders.

2. Get rid of the junk. This is one of the first things I do with our newbies. I go through their basic massage routine with them and tell them which strokes or techniques are fabulous, and which are not. If the “not so great” techniques are salvageable, we work on them to make them fabulous, too. If not, I ask them to throw them out. Don’t waste your time doing things that don’t feel fantastic. Make every stroke count. Even when you’re applying oil to the body, it should be an event in and of itself. Do it consciously.

Don’t think that you have to dazzle your clients with impressive advanced techniques all the time. Most people just want a good massage. They don’t care if you just do the same three techniques over and over again, as long as it feels delicious. Many times when we’re first getting started in this profession, we feel as though we need to entertain the people on our tables, and we worry that if we keep doing the same thing they’ll get bored, so we try to switch it up. I’m here to tell you that’s not the case.

In many instances, a stroke that is mediocre (because you only did it two or three times) can become fabulous if you do it ten or twenty times in a row. The repetition of a stroke over the same muscles can make a huge difference in its effectiveness. Take your best techniques and experiment with repetition!

It’s important to get honest feedback. If you don’t have a trainer or mentor to work with, find another therapist to help you. You can trade massages with the intention that you will tell each other honestly what you think is good, and what is not. It’s important to be in touch with the strokes and techniques you are using on other people. And don’t take it personally or beat yourself up if you find you’ve been doing things that people don’t like. Wouldn’t you rather know? Learning and growing is what’s important.

3. Don’t tell me what’s wrong with me. Well, there are exceptions, but for the most part, my doctor or other licensed health care practitioners will give me the bad news. Please consider offering positive feedback to your clients versus the usual bombardment of the negative.

Many, many times after a massage session, a therapist has said something to me like “You should check your liver.” What? Why are you saying that? Who are you? That doesn’t even make sense, coming from a massage therapist. (Has anyone else had these experiences?) Or how about, “You have a big hole in your heart chakra.” Are you kidding me?

Imagine you’re working on a client’s upper back, and you find some knots or trigger points in between the shoulder blades. Instead of saying, “Wow, you’ve really got some knots!” or “Your back is really tight,” why not take the opportunity to inject a positive affirmation into your client’s consciousness by saying, “Wow! Your body really relaxes easily.”

Aurora mentioned in her comments last week how vulnerable we are when we’re lying naked on a massage table. It’s so true. We therapists are in positions of authority. People believe what we say. If you tell your client she relaxes easily, then she will. She will believe it, and she will become it. The positive comments you make will do much more good for your client than pointing out his or her bodily flaws.

Everything Is Okay

I’ve been thinking about what’s happening in our world right now and I feel that it’s time to speak up.

For better or worse, media has been the vehicle that educates us about what’s happening. If (right now) you turn on the TV, check the internet, or listen to the radio, chances are you would feel very anxious and worried. Why? Because the media is PUMPING us full of fear.

The perpetual messaging that "we’re not okay" fuels the thoughts we think, the conversations we have, and the actions we take. As a result, people get (even more) wound up, causing stress levels to rise, bad decisions to be made, and chaos to ensue.

"Inhale. Exhale. Repeat."

Hear my message loud and clear: Everything is okay! You know how I know? Because we’re always okay….always! Ground that knowing deep into your awareness and help others to do the same. Now is the time for everyone to relax and be easy, not get more riled up and stressed out.

To make this happen, I believe two things are absolutely necessary:

Meditation and Community

Understand that you can’t change the world if you’re in a state of turbulence. YES, there is much work to be done. YES, we need to take action. But NO, we can’t waste any energy on things that don’t serve us. That includes stress, fear, frustration, anger, worry, guilt, and judgment.

This is why meditation is ESSENTIAL right now. Meditate for you because it will make these challenging times smoother, but also meditate for the world because the last thing we need is more angry peace activists running around screaming that we need peace.


Community is where you support each other in moving forward and love each other like there’s nothing else to do. Surround yourself with people who know that "this too shall pass," just like everything else ever has. Change the dialogue from fear to inspiration, from desperation to liberation. Don’t ignore what’s happening, but don’t
waste any energy getting caught up in the drama. It’s time to take action but in a selfcentered way.

Financial Chaos: The Invisible One Quadrillion Dollar Equation

According to various distinguished sources including the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, Switzerland — the central bankers’ bank — the amount of outstanding derivatives worldwide as of December 2007 crossed $1.144 Quadrillion, ie, $1,144 Trillion.

The main categories of the USD 1.144 Quadrillion derivatives market were the following:

1. Listed credit derivatives stood at USD 548 trillion;
2. The Over-The-Counter (OTC) derivatives stood in notional or face value at USD 596 trillion and included:

a. Interest Rate Derivatives at about USD 393+ trillion;
b. Credit Default Swaps at about USD 58+ trillion;
c. Foreign Exchange Derivatives at about USD 56+ trillion;
d. Commodity Derivatives at about USD 9 trillion;
e. Equity Linked Derivatives at about USD 8.5 trillion; and
f. Unallocated Derivatives at about USD 71+ trillion.

Quadrillion? That is a number only super computing engineers and astronomers used to use, not economists and bankers! For example, the North star is "just" a couple of quadrillion miles away, ie, a few thousand trillion miles. The new "Roadrunner" supercomputer built by IBM for the U.S. Department of Energy’s Los Alamos National Laboratory has achieved a peak performance of 1.026 Peta Flop per second — becoming the first supercomputer ever to reach this milestone. One Quadrillion Floating Point Operations (Flops) per second is 1 Peta Flop/s, ie, 1,000 Trillion Flops per second. It is estimated that all the data found on all the websites and stored on computers across the world totals more than One Exa byte of memory, ie, 1,000 Quadrillion bytes of data.

Whilst outstanding derivatives are notional amounts until they are crystallised, actual exposure is measured by the net credit equivalent. This is normally a lower figure unless many variables plot a locus in the wrong direction simultaneously. This could be because of catastrophic unpredictable events, ie, "Black Swans", such as cascades of bankruptcies and nationalisations, when the net exposure can balloon and become considerably larger or indeed because some extremely dislocating geo-political or geo-physical events take place simultaneously. Also, the notional value becomes real value when either counterparty to the OTC derivative goes bankrupt. This means that no large OTC derivative house can be allowed to go broke without falling into the arms of another. Whatever funds within reason are required to rescue failing international investment banks, deposit banks and financial entities ought to be provided on a case by case basis. This is the asymmetric nature of derivatives and here lies the potential for systemic risk to the global economic system and financial markets if nothing is done.

Read the full article here.


In the context of the USD 700 billion rescue plan — still being finalized in Washington, DC — the following is worth considering step by step. Decision makers are rightly concerned about alleviating immediate pressure points in the global financial system, such as, the mortgage crisis, decline in consumer spending and the looming loss of confidence in financial institutions.

However, whilst these problems are grave, they are acting as a catalyst to another more massive challenge which may have to be tackled across many nation states simultaneously. As money flows slow down sharply, confidence levels would decline across the globe, and trust would be broken asymmetrically, ie, the time taken to repair it would be much longer. Unless there is government action in concert, this could ignite a chain-reaction which would swiftly purge trillions and trillions of dollars in over-leveraged risky bets. Within the context of over-leverage, the biggest problem of all is to do with derivatives, of which CDSs are a minor subset. Warren Buffett has said the derivatives neutron bomb has the potential to destroy the entire world economy, and is a "disaster waiting to happen." He has also referred to derivatives as Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

Counting one dollar per second, it would take 32 million years to count to one Quadrillion. The numbers we are dealing with are absolutely astronomical, and from the realms of super computing we have stepped into global economics. There is a sense of no sustainability and lack of longevity in the "Invisible One Quadrillion Dollar Equation" of the derivatives market especially with attendant Black Swan variables causing multiple implosions amongst financial institutions and counterparties! The only way out, albeit painful, is via discretionary case-by-case government intervention on an unprecedented scale. Securing the savings and assets of ordinary citizens ought to be the number one concern in directing such policy.

Should taxpayers bail out the financial system?

We’ve been hearing about the $700 billion Wall Street bailout plan — funded by taxpayers — for what feels like some time now.

As of moments ago, the bailout plan has been blocked. The House of Representatives didn’t pass it. The Dow Jones industrials has since fallen by more than 200 points on the news.

What are the implications to the U.S., and global, economy if there is no bailout? Should taxpayers invest $700 billion+ to stave off a potential financial crisis? Would it even work?


McCain: A PTSD Victim?

In the first presidential debate, Senator John McCain exhibited an emotionally flat "shutdown" response — that is, when he did not appear irritable and cross. He wounld not make eye contact with Obama, favored grandstanding over dialogue, and stated that he would refuse to come to the table with world leaders who don’t agree with him. If, in place of the Paris Peace Talks, Henry Kissinger, McCain’s hero, had displayed similar attitudes back in the 1970s, we might still be in Vietnam.

McCain’s posturing has a mothball whiff, like the contents of a time capsule from the 1950s. But before we renew our subscription to that particular brand of leadership and heroism, let’s take a closer look.

Back in the 1950s, many post-war kids experienced their Great Generation fathers as cold, angry, and unknowable. What we didn’t know then, but do know now, is that many brave men who saw intense action in WWII came back suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) — a then-misunderstood illness that will last life-long if left untreated. The hair-trigger temper, impulsive behavior, numbed emotions, disassociated responses and flat expression are all hallmarks of this real disease.

The person’s original traumatic experience (and their neurological response to it) become hardwired into the body, causing ongoing deterioration in key areas of the brain. In PTSD, to protect itself from the external dangers, the body will neurologically freeze or over-activate (or both), releasing a cascade of neurochemicals and hormones that shut down normal responses and functions for the sake of survival. Once the dangers pass, the responses still continue permanently.

Sadly, earlier generations of veterans (from the World Wars through Korea and Vietnam, in which McCain served) received no treatment whatsoever. It was mistakenly believed that the wide range of physiological, cognitive and behavioral aftermaths of PTSD were "all in their heads." Instead the veterans had to tough it out — by containing silently within themselves the wartime horrors, or by medicating themselves with drink.

All who incur PTSD in the line of duty deserve our respect. My own grandfather and father were brave men who fought and survived with these kinds of scars. While we can and should feel compassion for them, there’s no reason to adopt their PTSD behaviors as the leadership style now and for future generations.

Times have changed. Now soldiers returning from Iraq are encouraged by the U.S. military and the Veterans Administration to receive the new and definitive PTSD treatment methods that were developed following research that emerged after 9/11. Soldiers are helped to heal rather than suffer "heroically."

As part of that healing, it’s vital to identify classic signs of PTSD,and distinguish those symptoms from the true skills of leadership.

According to psychotherapist Belleruth Naparstek, "impulsivity, crankiness, and sudden rages are all standard PTSD symptoms, " punctuating more episodes of being "numbed out, emotionally flat and isolated. Some keep themselves ‘on alert’ and focused on the ‘enemy’ to override their flatness… but you can hear it when they are not spring-loaded in their favorite, ‘pissed off’ position."

In addition to affecting emotional ballast, PTSD also impacts cognition and decision-making. Though frequently misconstrued as age-related deficits, "cognitive ups and downs, memory lapses, poor concentration and jumping from one focus of attention to another are common PTSD symptoms," Naparstek says.

In her book, Invisible Heroes (Bantam 2004), Naparstek cites studies showing that PTSD sufferers may exhibit "impairment of higher level information processing and decision-making." As a result, they overlook "critical details in making a choice or solving a problem. They might reach conclusions based on narrow, impulsive, or stereotypical initial impressions."

In other words, making brash decisions may (or may not) be the sign of a maverick, but it sure is symptomatic of a PTSD sufferer.

Over the last weeks, many have noted McCain’s tendency to impulse buy mismatched stances and strategies, which when put together look like the ensemble from hell. His selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate, like many an overnight infatuation with a stranger, seems different in the morning. The flexibility needed for true leadership would dictate admitting that mistake. In our complex world we need leaders who tolerate ambiguities without rushing to judgment driven by neurological and brain chemical imbalances that are etched deeply within by traumatic experiences. It’s also well established that PTSD sufferers can feel triggered or endangered by slight occurrences which they perceive as a threat.

Even when a person with PTSD came by their wounds honestly — as most do, is such a person the steadiest hand on the red button during a nuclear age?

Readers wanting to know more can sign up for my ezine.

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