Emergent: The Gift of Touch

by | Dec 7, 2021 | Health, Online Exclusives

Take his holidays to a deeper level with the gift of massage and reiki therapy.

Part six in a monthly series about positivity, wellness and reconnection.

The weeks following Thanksgiving are like a frantic, breathless sprint at the end of a long race, and Christmas is the finish line. This is a race where you stand idle for months — knowing that you need to buy presents for loved ones, yet still procrastinate — and you start way behind (again) with precious little inspiration and no will to start moving.

I get tired of having to tell people what presents I want, too — don’t you people know me by now? This year try something different with the men in your life, whether brother, son, father, or lover; get them something they need — even if they don’t know they need it.

We could be talking about new underwear, but we’re actually talking about a massage. He needs it more than new screwdrivers or a Lowe’s gift card or grill brush or even new underwear, but he likely would never think to ask for it.

Wellness Therapy Emergent

This is especially true of a husband. To ask your wife to gift you a massage seems close to asking for an open marriage, but it shouldn’t feel that way. So, ladies, don’t make him ask. Not only would this gift be novel and unexpected, but also it may benefit his health, elevate his mood, and lower his stress.

There are other wellness treatments and therapies to indulge in besides massage, but I decided to go back to the basics, like the yoga and meditation practices I’ve been exploring. Figuring the simplest and most time-honored therapies are the best ones, you can’t get much more timeless than physical touch. Why not go to a professional who can elevate the experience to something deeper and more restorative?

There are a number of local places to go for a massage but visiting the Healing Hippie sounded like just the thing for me.

While entry to such a place sounds like it would require a trek through enchanted woods, the business is actually a suite inside the Wellness Center along with Raise The Bar Therapy Services on Highway 17 in Hampstead. There is a lot of positivity going on in that cluster of businesses. Occupational therapy, a family medical practice, speech therapy, physical therapy and a whole gym full of equipment for patients, a service dog walking around to provide love and companionship to passersby, another therapist painting a delightful wall mural between appointments. The Healing Hippie rooms are quiet and comfortable and have the perfect blend of spiritual sanctuary and functional workspace.

My first session was with Almetris, petite and soft-spoken, and she made me feel very comfortable in what can be an awkward first encounter: a stranger is rubbing your body from head to toe. I was chatty at first and obsessed over dumb insecurities like maybe I should’ve trimmed my neck hair and does she think my feet are too cold? I had to keep reminding myself to chill out, shut up, relax my haywire mind and let her work.

She used a combination of traditional therapeutic massage and Thai table massage, where the therapist stretches and manipulates your limbs into yoga poses, working on flexibility. It’s all a wonderful blur, but at one point my eyes were closed and I stole a peek and Almetris had climbed onto the table with me and was flexing my leg and working my calf muscle like it was the most important thing in her world, and maybe it was in that moment. I was touched by her genuine commitment to helping me and felt a deep connection and respect for what she brings to the job every day.

To be massaged that intensely feels like you’re being tenderized, and she even said a tight section behind my shoulder blades was like “a well-done steak and she was trying to get it back to rare.” In another moment, I recall being on my back and she had oiled up her arms and slipped them both underneath me, kneading away, like she was trying to find the remote under the couch cushions.

Then Almetris went to the cabinet and brought out the cups and singing bowls. The cups were rolled across my back and used as suctions, and it made the massage go even deeper somehow. With the singing bowls, she would strike one with a small mallet and create a tone that would reverberate without end. The tone gets into your body, moves around the room and becomes almost a living thing. Different sized bowls create different sounds that all have a magical way of penetrating your human shell and plucking your energy strings. After she was done, I wandered back to my car in a daze, feeling both spent and spiritually rejuvenated, my body pulsating.

That spiritual connection was only heightened during a separate Reiki session with Healing Hippie owner Kristi Sewing. Reading up on Reiki beforehand made me curious with a tinge of skepticism, with one site saying it “works with the energy fields around the body and involves the transfer of universal energy from the practitioner’s palms to the client.” So the benefits may be less tangible than a skin-on-skin massage and the recipient needs to be open to the possibilities heading into it.

Raise the Bar Massage NC

Sewing is an extremely likable and easy-going person, proud of her business and the therapists that carry the Healing Hippie banner, so it felt quite natural to lie back and let her tell me about the energy fields surrounding me.

The Reiki session involved a guided meditation on a theme or focus point of my choosing, and was meant to promote relaxation, well-being and my body’s natural healing process. I told her I wanted to focus on clarity in my life, so that’s where we concentrated the session. Sewing reinforced the pursuit of clarity by saying things like “may things become clear, may things remain clear” while moving her hands above my body and channeling that energy into and around me.

The energy zones, or chakras, are supposed to have different colors and I could distinctly see the changing color palette on my eyelids as she moved from chakra to chakra.

This was a surreal and psychedelic experience. The more I concentrated on these zones and her words, the more I could feel myself expand, but it was an inner me that was expanding. That sounds kooky, I realize, but it was a sensation that is difficult to describe — not a magician’s trick or psychosomatic reaction, but a tangible thing.

To say I left my sessions at Healing Hippie feeling better is an absurd understatement that only hints at the physical benefit and the immediate aftermath — the spiritual and emotional resonance seems to keep working far beyond your set appointment time.

To be massaged with such depth and intention and to have your energy fields manipulated are profound experiences.

The client has to be okay with being laid out and vulnerable, but those experiences reach places inaccessible with a traditional gift. Book a session for your man. He will physically feel better in the short term and possibly alter his metaphysical essence in the long term. We could all use that.

About the author

Mike Johnson

Mike Johnson

I am a previous winner of the Piccolo Spoleto Fiction Open, two-time winner of the SC Fiction Project and former editorial director of Men, Ink. I was also a Cape Fear Dad columnist for the Wilmington Star-News. I live in Hampstead with my wife and two children.