Blind Massage

The idea of elevating certain senses by suppressing others, willingly or not, is nothing new. Iconically, in Japanese Samurai serials the popular character Zatoichi, the “Blind Masseur,” learns superhuman swordsmanship in part by virtue of his seeming disability. An example perhaps more familiar to Western audiences is the superhero “Daredevil” who accomplishes superhuman stunts without the aid of his sight. But the phenomenon is more than a literary device; there is some real science and data behind it. Anecdotally, I can vividly recall one exercise from my time in massage therapy school, in which students were required to give a massage blindfolded, merely feeling our way. I was astonished to find my sensitivity was not dulled, but heightened. Moreover, that day I had been assigned to administer massage to an individual with more-than-average body mass, and more epithelial tissue. Navigating this body type via visual landmarks can often be a hit-or-miss process, with less dependable results, but by feeling certain aspects of their anatomy that could not as readily be seen, I was able to give the best possible treatment I had to offer. I regularly remind myself of this lesson often as I always strive to give the best care I can to people of all body types, histories, and sensitivities.

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