Discover Eindhoven, The Netherlands in this catalogue of creative happenings

The powerful natural force of massage

April 14th, 2011

Filed under: LIFESTYLE

Emma with one of her artworks in her massage room

When Emma Smith – artist and masseuse – opens the door this afternoon, she is wearing pale green trackpants and a turquoise velour zip jacket with puffed sleeves. Her long hair is twisted into a loose bun and her fringe is pinned away from her face. In the kitchen, where I take a cup of herbal vanilla tea, the mug itself is peppermint coloured, which pairs nicely with the veneer of the spearmint-hued cabinetry of the kitchen. I sense that nature and the forces of it are significant to Emma.

The power of massage was revealed to Emma back in the early noughties, back home in the UK. She had caught pneumonia. It was a serious case, and Emma was bedridden. “In three months, when all you can do is try to breathe, you start to focus yourself on simple things.” This process made Emma realise that through some holistic exercises she could heal herself. Having been the happy giver and recipient of massages from friends most of her life, this seed of realisation grew into a desire to take on formal training – to learn more about holistic and sports massage. “What these disciplines do is teach us how to be in control of our bodies, of ourselves, of what we put into our bodies and how we rest them. So, instead of waiting for things to go wrong, and having to visit the osteopath or whatever, you can do your exercises and take care of yourself – yourself.” Emma’s philosophy is reflexive. She wishes to free others from pain, or make them simply feel good, through her massage treatments – and on top of that, she wants to give people the tools to look after themselves after they leave her. And in the doing of all this, she feels energized.

I’ve now received a massage or two from Emma. With the combination of her nimble fingers firm as pencils and her non-chatty approach, I appreciate her gentle questions beforehand and her thorough email follow-up with my custom-prescribed exercises. I certainly do feel empowered to change my posture and improve my core strength thanks to her advice. I wonder why she didn’t start her massage practice earlier than 2005. “I’d spent 10 years printing my drawings onto children’s clothing. I was selling something completely different to what I do now. I probably didn’t think I could sell something I do with my hands, even though it’s part of me the way my art is a part of me. I suppose I gained more confidence as I got older. Getting ill, the training and everything I learnt helped me reassess what’s possible.”

I want to know more about why an artist should pursue a massage career. She tells me that both are creative processes, and that both art and massage are journeys – journeys with unknown destinations. “You might start with a problem or pain, and I can relieve the immediate symptoms. But over time we get to the root cause of the problem, and that can be any number of things,” she explains. “Similarly with art, I start with an idea and I don’t know how it’s going to turn out.” However, she saves the greatest revelation of all for last: “Massage empowers my customers, while art empowers me.” Six years ago Emma made the logical swap from empowering herself, to empowering others … because her art and her experiences had made her confident enough to take that step.

The view into Emma's massage room

We go upstairs to her massage room, and I admire the curtains which Emma’s great-aunt gave her. “They’re venetian silk. I do love this color.” I touch the fabric, pale olive and pearly gold with delicate embroidered swirls and florals stitched in. We both look around the room and see highlights of the same green everywhere. “The kitchen downstairs has the same green – it’s actually why we chose this house!” Emma’s intuitive connection to nature and the power of things happening when they should, have been her beacon. And right now, the thing Emma does best and should be doing right now is administering healing and empowerment through massage.

For more information on Emma’s qualifications, experience and the range of her services (including individual massage therapy, baby and children’s massage courses), visit her website.

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