Don’t be surprised if during a massage one day you suddenly, for no reason at all, feel like crying your eyes out, or laughing hysterically. Massage sometimes has that effect on people. Some of the reasons for this emotional response include:
- Certain emotional memories — usually the result of powerful experiences — can resurface when your body is massaged.
- No one has touched you with care, compassion, and gentleness for a very long time. In that case, the experience suddenly overwhelms you with gratitude, bringing forth tears.
- You’re a very ticklish person.
As esoteric as the first two explanations may sound, they’re entirely plausible. In fact, certain types of massage are famous for stirring up emotions. Rolfing, for instance, often triggers this type of experience. The explanation for this emotional component of massage is straightforward — your body and mind have faithfully recorded your every experience, but some of these experiences were so unpleasant that you filed them away in your unconscious and shut down certain feelings in the corresponding part of your body. Massaging the affected areas can bring your awareness back to your body, thus unlocking the memories.
If you encounter one of these emotional peaks yourself during a massage, relax, breathe, and allow it to happen. Remembering that you are safe in your present environment, let your mind drift to whatever images or memories seem to be surfacing. You may find yourself remembering all sorts of things that you hadn’t thought of for years, and you can benefit from letting the attendant emotions flow freely through your body, without trying to stifle them. Professional massage therapists are accustomed to this type of emotional release and know how to make you feel comfortable while it’s happening. There’s no need to feel embarrassed by the experience.
If, as occasionally happens, one of these resurfacing memories is particularly traumatic, as in the case of abuse, do whatever is necessary to comfort yourself. Communicate with the person massaging you, letting her know that you need to sit up again, or get wrapped in a blanket for a feeling of safety. Have some tissues nearby to dry away tears. Later you can decide whether you want to pursue these memories further with the guidance of a psychologist or other counsellor.