Why become a massage therapist?

As I’ve mentioned- probably ad nauseum- a few times before, I was a public school teacher with a steady income, good benefits, and a solid retirement plan. When I left teaching to become a massage therapist, I had to field this question many times: “why leave teaching to become a massage therapist?”

This question has come from friends, family, and former colleagues. All of whom had good intentions; they were worried about my making a decent living in a new career that was so uncertain. It takes time to build a clientele, and you probably will need a separate stream of income for at least the first few years. While these concerns are valid, the reality is that any of us who are in the business of helping others don’t expect to be rich for having done so. We do this kind of work because we are driven by the intrinsic value of making our fellow man have a better life, in any way we can.

So this post is dedicated to all the naysayers my fellow massage therapy students have to hear such questions from. And I challenge them to answer these questions about their own work.

Have you ever spent an hour with a client who came in with a walker, stumbling along to the best of her ability, and walked away from you with a spring in her step? Because I’ve had that experience. That client got off my table and her face lit up when she could bend her knees while standing, for the first time in months.

Have you ever worked with a client who came in to you in true, visible pain? And then in a brief 60 minutes, that same person lost the look of agony on their face because of a simple myofascial technique that removed their pain and gave them an ability to move normally again. Because if you haven’t had that experience, my friend, you’re missing out.

In a brief hour, have you affected a person so deeply that they call you the next day – and then again the following week – to let you know that your work has changed how they go about their daily life, and made it easier than they’ve experienced in ages?

Have you helped to reset a person’s craniosacral rhythm, bringing about healing on the deepest level? Because I have, and it’s truly humbling to participate in such a process.

How often can you say in the course of a day at work, have you had a person tell you that an hour with you was a life altering experience? When a client said that to me, I was able to feel such amazement and gratitude at this new field that I can carry that with me for a long, long time.

No, most of us in massage therapy will not become wealthy. Our work will not register on the global scale of economies or politics or history. However, we can put in an honest day’s work and know that we made someone else’s life easier.

We participate on a daily basis in work that removes pain, brings about relaxation, and does make the world a better place, because every time someone gets off a massage table, they are in a better state. They are more at ease, they are happier, they are more relaxed; they carry those wonderful traits with them as they go about their lives, and that in turn affects everyone that person interacts with.

Those of us who know, know that each massage will make a person’s world a better place, which will then make their loved ones’ live better, and the ripple effect continues beyond what we can imagine. So no, we won’t make tons of money, but we can leave behind a legacy of making the world a better place, which is the ultimate responsibility of all human beings.

My final question to the naysayers: can you say the same about your work? Because if not, I think it’s about time for you to book a massage.


Photo courtesy of Creative Commons/Jeff Weese