On Poetry and Culture Shock

Massage and boundaries

So, the massage course is over. I came to Cornell to do research and I’ve ended up learning how to give massage (shiatsu, Thai, and your standard kneading-rubbing massage). The instructors were great and the other students were amazing too: I have received professional massage four times in my life, and in two of them I felt worse the morning after. Here at Cornell I’ve been massaged six times by six beginners like me and my back is still in one piece.

The culture-shocking bit about the class was that the instructors seemed easygoing and at the same time very concerned about the possibility of students feeling uncomfortable about being touched by other people. There were many things, too visual or too technical to tell here, that we were supposed to do or not to do (mostly about how to touch or avoid the thighs). One of them said more than once that an advantage of shiatsu over Western massage is that you’re not be uncomfortable about taking off your clothes (Eastern massage is received while fully dressed). Is it really so awkward to be touched? Are people really so prudish?

Maybe. Or maybe it is a question of perspective. We were taught how to massage the face; it was my turn to work on another person. As the teacher dictated the instructions, I massaged my partner’s head. Weird if you want, I’m comfortable about everything else including the partial nudity, but touching a stranger’s face is way too intimate.

0 comentarios