What a powerful, positive effect you can have on another person just by being with her, listening to her, in that moment all for her.
But this is more than a lesson about how you can make an impact on someone else. It is a practice that can make you feel amazing too. The more Present you are with others, the more rewarding it is personally. Being Present is a true win-win. It is liberating for the giver and nurturing for the getter.
The power of Being Present can be applied to any relationship, but I’ll share with you why I have recently been contemplating the benefits to both me and my massage client in each hour together.
When I walk into the treatment room, I leave all my personal problems and racing thoughts at the door. My client recites her list of sore areas and life stressors, then asks how I am doing.
“I am well.” She waits and wants to hear something a little more salacious from me, but I honestly can’t come up with anything because I am so into what is going on with her and her body in this room right here, right now.
That is when I detect the clarity, an unintentional mindfulness practice, a glorious freedom!
This brings us to Lesson One of Being Present: Boundaries – the art of checking it all at the door.
Being Present, particularly as a healthcare professional, involves a structured discipline of keeping my own drama out of the client encounter. As private and personal as a session can be, this time together is not about me. Appropriate empathetic behavior includes listening, reacting, and showing compassion, but airing personal issues is not Being Present for another.
Boundaries also means that whatever comes at me from a client during that hour does not cross the threshold with me when I exit the room. Without practice and experience, that can feel emotionally draining. Some practitioners perform a quick literal shake-off at the door to enforce that boundary. In such an intimate environment as massage therapy, boundaries become imperative to Being Present.
Lesson Two of Being Present: Intention – choosing the focus of that time together with purpose.
You could set an intention for your time with that person, or you can set no intention at all. However, if at every opportunity you set the intention to Be Present, you are allowing the other person to get the most from you as well as reaping the mental health benefits yourself. When each moment requires your awareness of the needs of another, it quiets your own thoughts, a respite from a busy mind.
I feel great responsibility for the wellness and safety of my clients and their experience. Many of these people are ill or upset, frustrated or angry, tired or grieving. Each moment now becomes about her needs and providing a safe and comfortable space for her to just BE. I create that environment by setting my intention to Be Present.
We know it feels good to make someone else feel good. We women are often great at this and thrive helping others. We are the caregivers. But I have a new great revelation. My selflessness has selfish ties. Being Present for someone else allows a hiatus from self-absorbed or negative thoughts. For your own well-being and that of another, get out of your own head while showing up for someone. Give (and get) the gift of Being Present.
Chelsea French LMT, CLT is a licensed massage therapist and certified lymphedema therapist helping women through their cancer journey. She is a massage educator and mentor with American Massage Therapy Association. You can reach out to Chelsea at ChelseaAnaFrench@gmail.com or 503-348-2512.