Clients often ask me how I can spend 5 hours a day doing bodywork without feeling completely depleted. Some express concern that they may drain my energy based on what they have going on emotionally and energetically. For many of us, being in close contact with another person going through a struggle can be exhausting. Truthfully, when I started my bodywork career I often felt drained after work. I didn’t always protect myself when I was connecting with clients, so I sacrificed my own energy to help my clients. I realized pretty quickly that wasn’t sustainable for the long run.
I’ve developed many self-care habits so that I can fully show up for my clients (and friends and family). But the most important habits that I use in every session allow me to be fully present and connected with each client, while also protecting my own energy. There are 3 key intention phrases I use:
1. Connected but Not Exchanging
At the beginning of each session, before I initiate contact with my client on the table, I envision myself connected both down the earth (for grounding) and up to the sky/sun/source (for replenishment). As I begin to make contact with my client, silently to myself I say, “Connecting to [client’s name], but not exchanging.” This sets up an energetic intention that I am fully connecting to each client, while also protecting each of us from taking on the other’s “stuff.”
2. What is Mine is Mine…
If at any point during the session I feel like an exchange is starting, I say (silently) to myself, “what is mine is mine, what is yours is yours.” This helps to re-establish the energetic boundary and clarify the intention of connected but not exchanging. (This is also helpful when in large crowds if you feel you are taking on energy from other people.)
3. Thank you
At the end of every session I thank my clients before I step out of the room. This is for 3 reasons:
Personally, I think it’s a nice way to let you know that the session is over and help you to gradually start to wake up if you have been in an altered state.
More importantly, saying “Thank you” is a way for me to energetically conclude the hands-on part of the session and intentionally disconnect to keep us both safe from each other’s “stuff.”
The third reason is that I’m very honored you chose to see me for bodywork. There are many therapists available in this city and I always consider it an honor to be chosen to help. I am grateful for you being a client and helping me keep doing what I love for work!
Intentionally opening and closing every session in this way helps me to stay open and connected, while also protecting myself from whatever the client may be processing. Equally important, it allows me to protect my client from my “stuff” (because we are all dealing with things in life).
I’ve learned these core habits I use every session at work are also helpful in non-bodywork situations. And they can protect from more than just feeling depleted by another’s energy. For instance, if an activity you love requires close contact with others such as partner dance, partner yoga or a sport, you can think these phrases to help protect your own energy (and emotions) while fully connecting. I use all 3 when attending social dances because there are a lot of emotions present with a large group of people dancing off their stress!
You can also set the above intentions to help protect yourself while holding space for someone in a tough situation. Perhaps you live with someone who is very stressed and you are feeling drained or stressed by their energy. Or maybe you are feeling raw and want to be protected while being open to interactions with others. If you find yourself feeling anxious, vulnerable or drained from working or connecting with others, try some of the phrases above and adjust the wording so that it resonates for you.