|What are the benefits from massage?
Apr 1, 1997
I am currently enrolled in a Massage Therapy College and I would like to know more about the benefits that massage treatment may bring to those who have AIDS?
| Response from Rev. Pieters
Physiologically, I'm not at all sure what massage does for persons living with HIV/AIDS. But I do believe that it benefits us, because it relaxes our bodies, and helps us pay attention to our bodies. Touch can be very healing.
Relaxation of the body through meditation is something I tried to do every single day I was sick (and should probably still be doing!), even when I was in great pain from cancer treatments or illness. I found that during my weekly massage, when I was able to focus on relaxing the muscles around the pain through slow, deep breathing, the pain actually lessened. That relief, in turn, gave my body a better chance to heal.
My weekly massages supplemented my daily meditations as a good way to pay attention to my body. What was my body telling me with that pain in my lower back or my forehead? Where did I need to focus my compassion to bring healing? Oftentimes my massage therapist would tell me that she felt a lot of anger in my arms, or anxiety in my back. That began an exploration of the issues which led to the anger or anxiety. I often felt that massage sped up the therapeutic process.
Getting touched and rubbed every week was healing in and of itself. As a single gay man with AIDS in the early and mid-1980's, I felt quite untouchable from time to time. It was always healing to feed my hunger for touch with a good massage. It helped me continue to feel connected and cared for at a time when I was feeling more and more detached and sometimes isolated.
Of course, this is purely anecdotal. I'm sure there are scientific studies which would give you a better understanding of the physical benefits of massage. But spiritually, I truly believe that massage can be healing, through whatever stage of HIV we may be living. Jesus often healed with touch. People of many faiths have used touch and massage to convey caring and compassion. Being lovingly cared for, and lovingly caring for our bodies can be terrifically healing to the spirit, and hence to the body as well. They are connected!.
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