Bliss. You’ve heard the Joseph Campbell admonition to “follow your bliss.” That’s exactly what I get to do in every PetMassage. Just last week I described my excitement every time I get to massage a dog. I used the term “giddy happy.” The dogs and I share waves of endorphin rushes together. It’s addictive for all of us. Addictive, in the best possible sense.
My goal is for everyone to feel this amazing when they massage dogs. We can all get there. Magic happens when we completely engage. It’s our spirits, having physical experiences.
In our PetMassage training programs we teach all the skills of canine massage that students need to know to practice professionally. As they practice, they learn. As they bring all the elements of massage together they develop cohesive therapeutic experiences for the dogs. How adept they become is very much up to them.
As with any discipline there’s a learning curve. Developing the skill set to massage a dog well takes time. It takes practice and repetition. It takes patience. Then, one day, in spite of the desire to precisely perform all the techniques, your massage is different.
You aren’t thinking about footwork, hand positions, breathing, or the dynamics of the space around you. Everything becomes soft and fluid; natural and comfortable.
Everything flows. Your body mechanics are perfect. The body language you and the dog use to communicate with each other is intuitive.
You know exactly where to put your hands and what to do with them. You know exactly where to move and without thinking about it, realize you’re already there. You’re integrating everything you’ve been practicing.
The session takes on its own character. You neither plan nor control. You and your little canoe are carried along within a gentle current. Movement, already internally initiated, unfolds effortlessly. You are a facilitator. The moment is ethereal. You have slipped into the “massage zone.” You observe. You allow. Moment to moment you are participating in a stunning milieu of grace absolute!
It’s like falling in love. Once you’ve felt it, you know the depth, the intensity, and the liberation (and the commitment) of experiencing the sublime.
This is the zone in which there is complete immersion and commitment in the canine massage process.
Now you know what it feels like to be this aware, this present, this connected. It’s attainable. You have demonstrated the capacity to go there. This is the mountain. It’s now part of your practice of canine massage. You’ve been to the mountain. And, you can go there again and again.
That’s the reason I was thrilled to receive the following letter describing a student’s breakthrough canine massage.
My response was simply “welcome home.”
Today I had the breakthrough I was afraid I would never get.
I was massaging a 14-year-old Australian Cattle Dog with lots of problems.
His right rear leg was flared out at the hip. He had several hot areas on his back and on both thighs. Something was a little off with the left front leg.
When I touched a problem area it was like I was being told: THIS is what I need to do here. This dog, in this particular area, needs this. Sometimes it was just very gentle compressions – the “breathing through your hands” technique. I somehow knew just how much pressure, and what was the right timing. Other places, it was other techniques. I was definitely being guided.
The hot spots disappeared. The owner (present during the whole 30 minutes), was amazed by the temperature normalization.
At one point, the dog was lying on his right side and the left rear leg was abnormally elevated. As I very gently worked on the thigh, his leg gradually relaxed until it was completely at rest. Then he fell asleep!
After the massage was done, the owner was in the reception area chatting with one of our groomers when I interrupted her – her dog’s right rear leg was perfectly aligned and he was standing equally balanced (on all 4 legs!) and obviously comfortable. He looked 5 years younger. She was ecstatic.
So, what an amazing thing it is to experience that “guidance,” to just somehow KNOW the right thing to do. It’s empowering and humbling at the same time.
What a great feeling to know that today I helped a dog feel better.
I know you are one of the few people who can understand and appreciate this experience; so I just had to share!