Why Facials & Massages Aren't Just For Pampering Yourself

The memories I have of the first time I ever gave a facial are so vivid in my mind. There I was, cradling someone’s face in my hands. Their eyes were closed and they were trusting me to care for them. I felt an overwhelming sense of responsibility mixed with a strong desire to nurture and care for their precious skin. I can still hear my teacher telling the class, "Giving facials is intimate. Many times, the last person who touched your client's face with such tenderness and care may have been their mother." 

Over the next few years, I learned more and more about emotional release though my work with my clients. I was trained for this in school, so I was prepared for it. But what I didn't know was exactly how much power there was in the emotional release gained from receiving bodywork. 

In the hands of the right practitioner, a facial or massage can heal you on a level far deeper than just the surface through muscle memory. In short, it's believed that when specific trauma occurs, our body attempts to protect itself by unleashing the "fight or flight" response, and in turn, some of the trauma is stored away in our tissue, muscles and major organs. 

It's the only way our brain can handle traumatic or emotional events, and we'll disconnect from the experience as a way to protectively block the incidents. In essence, although we may get over things that happen to us, the pain and trauma can remain buried deep within our tissue, longing to escape. 

One of the most profound experiences I had with emotional release was with a client years ago. She was very quiet and very tense. My intuition told me she needed some extra massage, and I stopped during treatment to do some deep breaths with her, urging her to melt into the table and really let go. About ten minutes later, her entire body changed. The tension melted away and her muscles went from feeling hard as a rock to soft as play dough. 

As soon as that happened, she started to weep. She shared with me that she had suffered major trauma as a little girl and for the first time in her life, the heaviness had lifted off her body, literally leave her body for the first time in 17 years. When she left the room, she looked like a different person. It was then that I realized the power of emotional release from tissue memory. 

It really isn't surprising if you consider how interconnected our mind, body and soul are. 

As an esthetician, the parts of the body we primarily work on are the face, neck, scalp, shoulders and upper back. Our face holds a lot of tension, especially around the jaw and eyebrow area. Through massage techniques, knots in the jaw can be released along with the tension in the brows. This alone can make you feel less tense and more open to communication and expression. 

Massaging and "opening" the clavicle, and working through knots in the shoulders can help to make you feel less guarded and more open. So many skin ailments are emotionally related, and as skin is our largest organ, and emotional imbalances are probably going to show up on your dermis. Manipulating skin tissue with massage techniques while using essential oils will help to get your lymph flowing and your skin glowing. This also helps to detoxify your body and assist your organs with elimination, which in turn will help your skin dramatically. 

If you're ready to experience the emotional release provided through body work for yourself, I'd suggest seeking out a holistic practitioner and make sure to go into each treatment setting the intention for healing. If there's something specific you want to release, set that intention. 

Don't be afraid to allow yourself to release emotionally — therapists are used to this. Taking care of yourself is such an integral part of living a long, healthy life. Receiving facials and massages isn't just a luxury treatment; it’s a way to assist in balancing the mind and body into healing on a deeper level. 

This post originally appeared on mindbodygreen.com. Illustrations by Crystal Leung, mbg creative. Photo Credit: Stocksy

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