Updated: Oct 18
"Oh it is so bright!" is a common comment I get from clients. Typically a massage room is dark AF with dim and minimal lighting. This is ideal for most folks. But I don't work with most folks. I work with very particular folks. Folks who have had bad shit go down in dark places. I flood my room with natural light to ensure everything that goes down in this room is done in the light. Allowing my clients to clearly see what I am doing at all times is a important part of the treatment I offer. Transparency.
Put yourself in the shoes of an abuse victim for a moment; Imagine walking into a barely lit room and being told to undress and stick your face in a hole where you can't see shit. I have first hand seen how hypervigilance can take over when this scenario goes down for people with traumatic residue.
So what can you do if you have ptsd/cptsd and find yourself triggered by dark rooms, sticking your head in a hole or having your eyes covered? Tell your therapist. Not all bodywork practitioners are versed in the way trauma effects us and if that is the case it is okay to inform them.
Here are some examples:
"I find the darkness of this room a bit uncomfortable can we turn a lamp on?"
"I get anxious when my eyes are covered."
"Can we start my session face up so I can relax some before I put my face in hole?"
"I don't like my lower body massaged, Can you just work on the top half?"
"This music isn't allowing me to relax, can we try another station or turn it down?"
"I can become jumpy when I am falling asleep."
"Sudden movement and sounds can startled me easily."
Using our words to create safer boundaries in situations is vital in the recovery process. Not everyone is going to understand why some things bother us, but it is our job to practice articulating those things. If you are paying good money to have bodywork done make sure it's fantastic. The amount of people who have told me they freeze when getting massage and bodywork is outstandingly large. So it is so important to communicate your needs upfront before you're naked and frozen.
During sessions with me I watch for cues in the body to guide me. The breath in particular communicates to me how your body is responding to the pressure and technique I'm using. Having light in my space is also important for me as a therapist to see these cues and the alignment of your body. I am constantly assessing your energetics and how it is or is not shifting in treatments.
I know for some women we prefer the darkness to cloak our insecurities and light in a room can make you anxious. But I assure you I am not there to judge your body I am there to celebrate it. Being seen in safety and held in the light is a deeply healing process.
If you have experienced abuse you may disassociated often from the physical body, below is a guided meditation to help you reconnected to the physical body in a safe way.