‘Mind-body’ massage relieves the pain

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    Feeling down, burnt out, angry, anxious or in physical pain? If so, Maddalena Fanti could be just who you are looking for.

    She offers massage to help cure one’s ills – but not as you may know it.

    To help you find your centre and recover lost harmony, Maddalena Fanti works with gentleness and respect, combining classic verbal therapy with body-oriented work that “considers body and mind alike”. Don’t be put off by the jargon. Even if you have tried classic massage therapy to help recharge the batteries, you should give Maddalena´s version a go because it really is different.

    I speak from experience because, having recently been diagnosed with a very painful cervical herniated disc, I underwent one of her sessions and was pleasantly surprised at how much it helped.

    I had already tried some traditional massage and even undergone a series of sessions where cortisone is injected into the spine to relieve the discomfort. But after a couple of hours or so under the gentle, relaxing care of this Italian-born therapist, I can honestly say her ‘mind-body’ therapy can compare favourably with any of the above.

    “The objective of my work,” she explains, “is to activate the energy flow and harmonize the energy centres.”

    With gentle touches on the body’s energy points, she releases tensions and ‘blockages’ that can reduce vitality and lead to negative thinking or emotions. Sound familiar? In my case, it certainly helped take my mind off the shooting aches and pains caused by the hernia at the top of my spine.

    Each session starts with a conversation. Maddalena listens attentively, noting her client’s symptoms and feelings and the ‘elements’ that will guide her. The client is then invited to lie on the massage table in the most comfortable position – face down, on the back or on the side.

    Before she starts a session, Maddalena carefully chooses essential oils according to the clients’ needs and what they hope to attain. The massage movements are long and gentle; they also go deep.

    “The aim is to increase awareness of body, tensions and emotions. This process may bring up painful memories. These can then be allowed to rise to the surface, and, if desired, be shared,” she says.

    Arguably, the big point of departure from more traditional types of massage is the importance she attaches to psychological support, an approach using techniques drawn from several traditions. Through systemic therapy, for example, she tries to determine whether family history and relationships can provide an insight into a client’s symptoms.

    “Similarly, using the Jungian approach to dream analysis, I can help my clients gain greater awareness of their inner world.”

    Maddalena started the business four years ago after a four-year training course in ‘Energy work, massage and eidetic therapy’ (EMET) at the Atmaram School in Brussels. She now has two Brussels practices in Woluwe-Saint-Lambert and Uccle, and she also teaches young parents simple massage techniques for their babies.

    “These,” she says, “are not only a precious resource when children need to be soothed or calmed but also provide the tactile inputs that are essential for their psychological development and wellbeing.”

    Most of her clients are women, aged 40 to 70, including people who seek help for a range of problems.

    “Some feel under great stress because they are being harassed at work, while others may have undergone a family crisis,” she says. “All emotions are within our bodies and the therapy can allow these to come to the surface.”

    The essential oils she uses are invaluable because of their therapeutic powers: for example, the power to reduce tension in the muscles. Having used them on me, I can vouch for their effectiveness.

    Maddalena has lived and worked in Benelux for 35 years and spent 20 years working in the European Investment Bank, most recently in the human resources department. It was that particular experience that she says now helps her to deal with her “people problem” approach to therapy.

    While this approach is not a substitute for medical treatment, it can be an invaluable complement to it. What I can say is that, while I am not banking on any great improvement soon, the aches and pains have subsided a little since my personal encounter with Maddalena’s very holistic approach to wellbeing.