Hanging Out

The ability to hang out is arguably the most useful skill there is in massage. Find a good spot and hang out there with the right amount of pressure for the right amount of time.

It’s both exquisitely simple and extremely sophisticated…

Let’s delve deeper by asking some questions.
Q1. What is a good spot?
Q2. What is the right amount of pressure?
Q3. What is the right amount of time?
Q4. What does it mean to ‘hang out’?

A good spot is a place where the client feels something significant. It might generate an ‘ooh’ or an ‘ahhh’. It might feel harder, denser or tighter to your touch, it might feel rather full, or somewhat empty, energetically, or interesting to you in some other way. It might even bypass your awareness initially, but your client lets you know it’s a place to explore, a place that feels like it would benefit from some ‘work’.

The right amount of pressure is that which allows the client to stay positively connected with the sensation / changing sensations. You may both need to embrace your inner Goldilocks to find this pressure. Sometimes we swing from offering too much to offering too little before we settle in at the right level. And the right amount of pressure is a movable feast. The tissues of the body will respond to the touch, the sensations experienced by the
client will change, and the pressure required will alter accordingly. Not being mind-readers, we must empower the client to let us know how it feels. Rather than guessing and imagining, we must ask.

The right amount of time is the time it takes for a satisfying change to occur, for the client to feel it’s time to move on. You may find their body signals completion in some way – a palpable shift in the tissue tension combined with a significant tummy gurgle, perhaps. The client might tell you it’s changed. You might get a tangible sense of a shift having occurred some other way. For a ‘hanging out’ beginner, I’d recommend spending longer than you think, working more slowly than you’re used to. But avoid working with doubt and guesswork, it’s draining. Just ask your client – ‘how’s this feeling? It feels like something shifted – do you feel that too? I’m aware I’ve been here a while, should I stay a little longer?’

Hanging out is maintaining connection with what’s there, inviting change though touch and time, and then facilitating and following those changes as they occur. It’s using enough stillness and enough gentle movement to stay engaged with the tissues as they respond – sinking in as they yield, lifting away slightly as they resist, shifting almost imperceptibly to remain comfortably connected. Hanging out is giving the client space and time to get inside their experience, to immerse themselves in it. To experience change from the inside out.

Hanging out is profoundly enhanced by working within a love-field, using breath awareness, letting go of expectation and by embracing the mystery. And these are topics for another day.

Thanks for reading 🙂

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