Taking Care Portland LMT flight plan By Joshua Lohnes, LMT
Set up time is two hours before show time usually 1 PM. There is a TON of behind the scenes work that goes into putting on the event so an early show up allows you the LMT the needed time and space to get set up and settled but also allows the volunteers ample time to match you with a client as well as be able to navigate smoothly any of the bumps in the road that show up last minute.
As soon as you walk into the space you will notice it is very different from the treatment room. Community is the name of the game and working in a room full of other LMT's, Acupuncturists and musicians can be a bit unnerving as to where you should set up. Feel free to set up where ever you want as there isn't a bad seat in the house. Just make sure you leave enough room for you and the other LMT's to work comfortably. There is an undeniable alchemy about us all working together in the same room, moving to the same music in our individual ways. Remember your presence is an integral part of what makes TCP work and your connection with your client and the room provides a bridge for us all to walk. Give yourself the time to set up and the permission to be brave and fill the space up with the energy you bring.
What to bring? Other than your table it's important to remember that even though your client is fully clothed a bottom sheet and blanket along with bolsters, pillows etc will go a long way to making your client's experience even more enjoyable. Our clients run the spectrum regarding health. You may be working on a care provider just needing a time out. Or a survivor who can climb Everest or beat you at arm wrestling. Or maybe your client is fighting the good fight as hard as they can and is weary and downtrodden. Our goal as LMT's is to meet our clients at their present state and hold space with them. Be prepared to jam your best bodywork as well as simply make your client as comfortable as possible with support both emotionally and from a nice warm blanket. We do have a station set up with all the sanitary items you will need to clean your table so don't' worry about that.
At 2PM we hold a meeting where the days flow and any changes are addressed. Any questions not answered during set up can be answered then. Sometimes the meeting can seem a bit chaotic and all the information flying around confusing. As a first time LMT don't worry about it. It's our way of getting everybody together and any changes or concerns ironed out. Some of our most successful ideas have sprung out of the group meetings. Be ready to be flexible and open to change but also know behind the chaos is a group of experienced folks who know how to find flow. Trust the process, it always works out awesome.
Meeting your client. One of the aspects so important to the success of TCP is giving our clients a voice. To be heard. At a past event Dr. Ken Weizer ND said, "The bump and the lump? The tumor? That belongs to the Oncologist. But the rest of the person, the 98%? That's for us." As LMT's were here for the person not the cancer. Allow your client the time to tell their story, the whole story. Most will start off with how they found out they had cancer, their treatment etc. This is all very important information and verbalizing their path allows our clients a special perspective. But do your best to hear as Paul Harvey would say, "The rest of the story." Future dreams, past accomplishments, hopes and fears. Honestly I have been either stupid enough or brave enough not sure which to listen to my client talk about their cancer and then change the direction of the conversation with, "Honestly I'm more interested in you. What's YOUR story." and again quoting Dr. Weizer, "Start with the day you were born, It's OK we have time." And you do have time. This is your time to connect deeply with your client and really begin a relationship of trust and caring that will carry through the session. Be open and present and prepared to be blown away by the stories you will hear.
Another important note is not to feel overwhelmed or out of your comfort zone regarding a client's state of health. If you have any questions regarding specific systematic or local contraindications, precautions or really anything please ask one of us for help. We want you to feel as comfortable with providing treatment as your client does receiving it.
The Talk! This is a time to take out a note book and just drink in the vast knowledge that is shared by our amazing speakers. Don't worry so much about finding a quiet place to ground and center, after the talk we are all lead on a wonderful meditation that really sets the intention and brings the whole group together.
As we head downstairs for the session now is a really good time to ask your client if they need to use the restroom.
The Session. Here's where it gets good! Don't worry about the clock as our musicians keep perfect time. At the end if you don't notice the change in the music and the bells and bowls Hamid always give thanks and about 5 minutes to bring your session to conclusion.
This is your time to really drop into your work and do your thing. Enjoy it. Allow the music to move you, move your cells, move your flow. This isn't your normal "spa music" but very intentional healing vibrations performed by not only amazing musicians but also fellow LMT's and healers who really "get it."
Another great quote I heard from a client was, "I came today because I'm a musician and love music but I've never had a massage. I realized today while lying there that the musicians weren't playing scripted music but were playing from their hearts and vulnerability. Then I realized my Massage Therapist was working from a place of heart and vulnerability as well. In this I realized my fear and vulnerability towards my cancer and that together in this room, with this music and our shared vulnerability we are invincible." And that is really what it's all about.
After the session we have another guided medication that is followed by a shared meal. Feel free to stick around, eat and share story.
Break down your table, clean up and basically relish in the feeling. If you can feel free to ask to help break anything down, carry chairs, dishes...whatever. This is a group effort and whatever you feel like contributing is welcome.
On a personal note Taking Care Portland has been an amazing experience both personally and professionally. I had my first client ever as a licensed LMT at a TCP event and every one since has filled my heart and soul to the brim. So much so it often overflows into my life providing my spirit and practice the needed push to succeed. I hope you can find your own personal "a ha" and WOW moments as well. Thank you for being part of the ride.