Secrets to maintaining marital bliss:

A dear friend of mine got married last fall, and she and the groom requested advice from the guests.  Here’s what I wrote.  I like this so much I had to share it with you.

“Communicate.  Show your love.  Give compliments.  Dance together.  Hold hands a lot.  Kiss a lot.  Throw away your TV.  Cuddle.  Spoon.  Be best friends.  Acknowledge your mate for his/her achievements, talents, beauty, etc. on a regular basis.  Share and practice similar spiritual beliefs.  Be responsible for your own physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being so you can show up as the awesome partner your mate deserves.  Don’t take each other for granted.  Be kind always.  Do your fair share of the chores.  When you have kids, share parenting duties fairly.  Let him learn to get baby to sleep without her or nursing.  Go on dates without your baby.  Ask for help when you need it.  Get a sitter.  Go on dates so you remember that you are a couple.  Give gifts and flowers for no reason.  Play footsies.  Adore each other.  Massage each other.  Eat meals together.  Gaze into one another’s eyes.  Choose your words very carefully when upset.  Be yourself—that is who your mate fell in love with.  Grow together.  Admire each other.  Lift each other up.  Always be respectful and loving.  Do nurturing things for yourself too.  Take long walks together.  Be equals.  Listen to each other.  Avoid saying “you always” and “you never.”  Stretch.  Breathe.  Keep intoxicants to a minimum.  Be grateful every day.  Make love.  Make music.  Laugh.  Be vulnerable with one another.  Trust one another.  Have compassion.  Smile at each other.  Be romantic because it is fun.  Stay at a B&B.  See the Divine in one another.  See yourself in your mate.  Observe his/her body language.  Hug spontaneously.  Keep your heart open.  Play.  Be gentle.  Have a couch that is good for snuggling on.  Fall in love with your spouse over and over again.”

Why do I treat the abdomen?

I have been massaging for about fifteen years, the first half of that time in Orlando, the second half in Tallahassee.  I have had my hands on hundreds, maybe thousands of bodies.  My training in Orlando included an advanced program at Florida College of Natural Health, where one of my teachers always emphasized balance in posture.

I work on people’s abdomens.  Many therapists do not.  Most of my clients say, “Nobody has ever worked on my abdomen before.”  I tell them I couldn’t, in good conscience, leave it out.

My best guess as to why therapists don’t treat bellies is that they were not trained adequately.  A lot of schools must not spend much time teaching abdominal massage, so therapists probably feel less confidant in their abilities on that part of the body, and maybe some LMT’s think clients don’t want their bellies treated.  So many therapists skip it.  And really, since our tummies house our vital organs and are such a vulnerable part of the body, who wants an inadequately trained therapist poking around there?

The abdomen is also a place where people may guard themselves because it is a seat of emotion in the body and they guard their emotional selves.  If a therapist who didn’t know what he was doing attempted to treat an abdomen and he was feeling unsure, the client would, on a body level, pick up on the sketchy vibe and most likely, muscles would tighten up instinctively for protection.

That’s why it’s best to leave it up to me.  I approach the belly with confidence and competence.  I have you resting on your back, with your knees bent up and your feet on the table, creating slack in your surface abdominal muscles.  I always tell you what I am doing and why.  First, I gently place both hands on your abdomen and move them in a wavelike circular motion, warming up the area, and letting your body know with slow and gentle movement that I am not a threat.  This clockwise, circular wave motion follows the flow of the large intestine, increasing blood circulation, aiding digestion and elimination. Then I gradually work deeper.  All the work is gradual and methodical.

My clients are glad I do it.  I help them with digestion, postural distortions, and lower back pain. 

Regarding digestion, when blood circulation increases in the internal organs, it brings oxygen and nutrients to the digestive organs.  This makes each organ better able to absorb what the body needs to take in, and/or get rid of what it needs to eliminate.  Not only do you better gain vitality from the food, but you also have more energy left over from efficient digestion to do other things you love.  Pretty cool, huh?

In various schools of Asian medicine, massaging the abdomen is considered a very important part of good health, for that very reason.

But wait, there’s more.  Regarding postural distortions and back pain, I treat the surface and deep abdominal muscles as well.  One leading culprit in lower back pain is the psoas (pronounced like SO AS), a muscle situated deep in the belly, attached to the front of the spine.  I know just where to find it and I can treat it for you.  Just today a woman I’d treated a couple weeks ago told me she had been skeptical when I had told her that something deep in her belly would help her lower back pain, but she let me work on her abdomen anyway, and she was pleased to find that it relieved her pain.

Have you ever heard the superstition that it’s good luck to rub the belly of a Buddha statue?  I am certain it is even better luck for you to rub your own belly or have it rubbed by a professional!