Due to social distancing, I’ve been forced to put my massage therapy practice on hold.
There’s a sense of loss for both me and my clients, but I’m embracing the change and using this time to develop other skills such as writing.
After five years of writing for my own practice, I’m excited to offer copywriting services to other health and wellness businesses. The overlap between massage therapy and copywriting seems unlikely, but the parallels are striking. The values of my bodywork practice are helping me become a better writer.
While compassion is easily found in bodywork or any therapeutic modality, it’s rarely considered in the writing process. When we create from a place of compassion, our creativity is amplified. We enter into a space of openness and acceptance—the perfect arena for brainstorming.
Editing and critiques can come later. Often, the hardest thing we face is a blank page. Simply getting started can be daunting.
With self-compassion and these five tips, you can feel supported in creating your best work:
1. Slow down
As a licensed massage therapist trained in Upledger CranioSacral Therapy and John F. Barnes Myofascial Release techniques, the speed and pacing of sessions is important. One of our main intentions is to calm the nervous system. A slow pace is needed for this to happen. Throughout a whole session, I am aware of how quickly I’m moving. Slowing down helps me provide the best treatment.
In my work as a writer, it’s become clear that having a plan cuts down on wasted time. When I slow down and think things through, there’s less chance of me creating more work for myself. When I’m reworking a piece over and over, it’s often because I’ve lost sight of the headline or I began without an outline. Taking the time to plan has been important for staying efficient and productive.
2. Don’t force
In my integrative bodywork practice, I’m never forcing tissue to change. The change happens when the client’s body wants it. I create the environment for changes to occur, but there’s no expectation of a specific outcome.
The same can be said of good writing. Many of the best pieces I’ve written have literally flowed out of me. When I try to work an idea that just isn’t clicking, the forced effort is translated into the writing. Sometimes we have to abandon an idea and start with a new one.
3. Be mindful
When establishing a therapeutic relationship, paying attention to social cues is essential for building good rapport. I’m mindful of what I say and how I say it. I correct myself when I misspeak. Mindful communication is part of the foundation of an effective healing collaboration.
In writing, catching typos is crucial. It makes or breaks a piece. I’ve learned this the hard way. Being efficient and effective at proofreading means being mindful of what’s in front of us and seeing it exactly as it is. How many times have you read something, only to miss a typo because you didn’t see it? By being mindful, there’s less room for overlooked errors.
4. Stay present
In my sessions, my number one job is to listen. I’m listening to the client’s body. I’m paying attention to their words—what’s spoken and what’s left unsaid, because that is a message too. How effectively I listen directly impacts treatment. My intuition is part of that process. I think of my intuition as being a sixth sense that I’ve developed through experience and training. It’s not something I was born with. It’s another listening tool.
When I’m not staying present in my writing process, a number of things happen. I don’t complete posts. I get stuck in decision paralysis looking into the future. When I’m present, I stay focused and bring writing assignments to completion. I take action and move forward when the time is right.
5. Observe without judgment
With integrative bodywork, I’m simply a facilitator of the body’s innate capacity to heal. When I observe how a client is responding to treatment, I adjust accordingly to provide support where it’s needed. The client’s body tells me where to go. Judging projects my feelings onto their healing experience and takes me out of alignment with the client. In many cases, simply being a witness to a client’s experience is deeply therapeutic.
While it’s necessary to receive constructive criticism in order to improve your writing, being overly critical of yourself is not conducive to creativity. When we judge ourselves constantly we hinder ideas from coming forth. We stifle our productivity and cloud our creative vision. When we observe, we can look at our work honestly and objectively, and let it exist as it is. If we made mistakes, we can learn from them. If the work receives praise, we can enjoy that experience instead of putting ourselves down.
Mindfulness and compassion are powerful tools in supporting creativity. The concepts of slowing down, letting things flow, being mindful, staying present, and observing objectively, are universal and can be applied to any creative endeavor.
Who knew that skills as a massage therapist would be helpful for writing?