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A Spiritually Enlightening Online Magazine.     March Theme: "In Touch"     Volume 1 Issue 3     ISSN# 1708-3265

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Staying In Touch (through Massage)
by Jyotsna Tummalapalli

My first experience with professional massage was in 1990 when my loving sister gave me a gift of massage at our local massage school (Massage Institute of Memphis). I was very nervous as I undressed and slipped between the sheets onto the massage table. Once the music started, and the massage therapist placed her hands on my back in a resting touch, I knew I was safe, and I began to relax into the massage. The first thing I realized was someone could make my sore back feel better! Then I realized massage is much more than therapeutic. I allowed the massage therapist to work magic in my muscles, and to connect with me on a deeper level - through my body energy.

After my session was over, I noticed the massage therapy class in session. I inquired because I felt this was something very worthwhile, however, I couldn't afford the fee so I put the thought of massage therapy school to the back of my mind.

When I adopted my 2 month old daughter, Lakshmi, in 2000, I carried her to my hotel room in Calcutta, India, laid her on the bed and removed her clothing. I checked every little part of her body, touching and caressing her. I noticed she recoiled from my touch. She had been laying in a bassinet in her orphanage, face down. She was rarely held, she couldn't make visual contact in that position. Her hearing was poor and in essence, she was cut off from the world. She was literally starving for touch.

Realizing she needed special "hands on" help, I hired a young woman in Calcutta to come and help me care for her, and specifically to give Lakshmi massage. Although this young women didn't have a license in massage therapy, she was taught by her mother, and her mother was taught by her mother. This is how infant massage is passed down in India. Renu came each morning and applied oil to Lakshmi, set her in the sun to warm up and then gave her a massage. Lakshmi was transformed from a helpless, untouched infant to a beautiful and socially engaging baby girl. The transformation was miraculous to me. I didn't know much about massage therapy, and at best, I assumed it was for relaxation only. Renu helped Lakshmi blossom. Lakshmi began bonding to me and I continued massaging Lakshmi the way Renu taught me until she was over two years old.

When we think about touch, in relation to ourselves, we think about how good our skin feels to be touched, how nurturing it is. It reminds us how our mothers touched us as infants. People often feel very embarrassed to receive massage for the first time. We sometimes feel selfish, or feel our body isn't as toned as we would like it to be, and unfortunately postpone massage until we are hurting. Once we get on the massage table and experience massage, most people don't know why it took so long to make an appointment! Touch makes us more aware of ourselves, and when we frequently receive massage, we also begin to develop a better body image. In my opinion, this is the greatest benefit of massage for women.

As a mother, I have found myself pushed to the limit, "touched-out" and physically and emotionally used up by my children. It is a gift, to myself, to let go of everything and allow my body to be cared for by someone else. When I receive massage regularly, my body remembers how to relax, and it becomes easier to reach the same relaxed state at any time or place.

Within the bodywork field, there are other modalities which include touch. Reiki (a means of becoming attuned to and directing universal life energy), Tui Na (Chinese medicinal massage), Therapeutic Touch (energy work), Amma Therapy (massage therapy which restores life energy in the body) and many more touch and energy therapies.

Massage and energy work can increase our vitality and since it increases our positive body image, can impact our entire lives. It has changed my life dramatically and for that, I am so thankful.

Jyotsna Tummalapalli, is an attached, primal, still-breastfeeding, home-schooling, 'family bed' mama to three beautiful children.

Living in Memphis, Tennessee, she is currently a student massage therapist, and is planning a career in Swedish, Prenatal and Labour Massage Therapy

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