As I understand it, the human body has been built for pleasure. To this end, we have been blessed with three appetites to feed this need for pleasure which is critical to the effective and efficient functioning of our bodies. These appetites are designed so that the pleasure they offer remains temporal. This ensures that we feed them ever so often. The Gods too are in on the pleasure. We are advised they take pleasure in our praises and sacrifices. So, we are perpetually locked into a cycle of receiving pleasure and giving pleasure.
There is the appetite for knowledge. We are posted off to school at an early age. At some point in our lives, the basic compulsory education no longer satisfies, so we choose to engage in studies of one kind or another. This includes our religious practices. Scripture of every kind is a major source of knowledge. We also garner knowledge from simply being in a different environment, putting the pieces of a puzzle together, or carrying out our assignments at work. For example, we may look at a beautiful scenery and say: Wow! Or accomplish a task and say: Yes! These are indications that knowledge is satisfying, and, it is also a form of praise, so the Gods participate in our moment of elation.
There is the appetite for food. Unless one is eating cardboard, food is good. We carefully plan some of our meals so that we get the maximum pleasure out of eating them. Or we may be a regular customer at a particular restaurant because they serve a certain dish that is delectable. And though we know that each high goes with an equivalent low, we sometimes eat ourselves into a frenzy, then we fall…diabetes, obesity, and the likes. I have sat at a dining table and heard someone said, between mouthfuls, Mmmm, this is better than sex! Again, the pleasure runs deep, the appetite is momentarily satisfied, and the comments made are forms of praise. The Gods are having fun.
There is the appetite for sex. Quite possibly, the Gods derive the most praise from the satisfying of this appetite, and we don’t seem to mind knocking ourselves senseless while pleasing them. A few years ago my then landlady felt it was her duty to demonstrate to me how to praise God in this manner. Whenever her lover visited, she would open all her bedroom windows, and from start to finish, she would be at the top of her lungs in praises. Some Churches do not allow for frequent outbursts from their members during the service, which limits the praises to the Gods. In this (then 49 yrs old) woman’s case, I am sure that by the end of each lovemaking session, the Gods were so please, that all her sins were washed away.
When I say we have an obligation as Therapists to keep ourselves centered, these are some of the directions in which my mind goes. If we are balanced in these areas (which is a work in progress), then we can easily detect where the imbalance is in our clients. I have met persons who are so knowledge-bent that their bodies are going into disrepair, persons whose arms cannot fit on the massage table alongside their body because of food-related problems, and persons who lick their lips and gyrate their hips no matter the depth of the massage technique used.
Quite often, the Therapist is tasked with giving high doses of pleasure to make the client forget what is stressing him/her. So we touch, and we touch, and we touch. And while we are knowledgeable of the techniques used and how beneficial they are to the client, the client is busy having those Yes! moments for which we are then credited when they get off the table to tell us: “That massage was really good”.
Impatience and irritation are easy responses to things that jar us the wrong way, but if we can take time to understand the toll that these appetites take on us, then we can understand what drives some of our clients/potential clients, and settle down to the business of facilitating their inner healing.
In calling a spade a spade, massage therapy feeds the sexual appetite. When a Teacher is complimented for having participated in a student’s success, they don’t shy away from it. And when a Chef is complimented, neither does he/she. For that matter, the Teacher invests hours in planning programmes for the success of the student. And the Chef does the same to ensure that the client returns to the restaurant.
So what’s with us? There are schools where a person can learn the Art of War, and those where a person can learn to become a Priest. There are restaurants that are acclaimed for their meats, and there are those that work wonders with vegetarian platters. Sexuality is not sex, hence shying away from our sexuality does not rid us of it. We need to see and respect it for what it is…own it. Only then can we competently channel its creative energies to facilitate our healing, and that of our clients.