Gwynn applies gentle tension to my neck, lifting my skull up and away from my shoulders. Little ripples of bliss roll down to the soles of my feet. All the chat drains out of me – the questions, the comments, the idle thoughts – they evaporate like mist. I fall silent.

Then she curls those clever fingers into faint hooks and digs into the suboccipital muscles, right where the skull meets the spine, and if I was in any position other than flat on my back, I would be drooling.

This is what people in opium dens were chasing, I’m sure of it. This blissful, floaty feeling – this endorphin rush – this fragile moment exactly before you slip into a deep, restful sleep. This is how you make a Manchurian candidate. This is why a therapeutic masseuse must be entirely trustworthy, because at that point if Gwynn leaned down and whispered into my defenseless ear, “You need to go out and kill my mailman,” I’d be asking for details and schedules.

I know lots of people who say they don’t like massages. My husband used to say “I don’t like people touching me,” like a massage was just someone wandering by patting you in passing.

But if that’s you, you should maybe give it another thought – because a massage from a trained expert like Gwynn (as opposed to a spa massage from someone who thinks they know what they’re doing) isn’t what you expect. Gwynn’s ministrations are PART of my workout routine; she identifies things that might limit or impede my fitness progress and then she fixes them. Sometimes her work is uncomfortably forceful; she’s not there to put me to sleep – she’s there to work. And STILL she leaves me feeling stoned and blissed.

It’s worth noting that she couldn’t make me drool in my first two or three visits because – she told me later – my suboccipitals were frozen into place and it took her weeks to loosen them enough to be able to actually relax them. So if you gave therapeutic massage one try and then discounted it, you sold yourself short.

There’s an amazing natural high available to you. It’s not illegal, it’s not fattening, it isn’t chemically addictive (although – I’d like more, please!). Why deny yourself the feeling of your muscles sliding easily against each other? Why turn away from a hand-applied narcotic?

It’s tough to get on Gwynn’s schedule; her patrons are pretty quick to grab her available appointments, but if you’re in or near Falls Church, VA, you could try. Body Dynamics – (703) 527-9557. My friend Steve says Catherine (Gwynn’s coworker) is every bit as insightful and drool-inducing. If you’re out of range, ask around. Find someone who has studied. You’re looking for a certified massage therapist. Accept no substitutes!

This photo is of one of my very favorite views in the world – the ceiling in Gwynn’s treatment room. Another favorite is the small square of rug on the floor when I’m on my stomach with my face on the padded ring, but with the occasional exception of a glimpse of Gwynn’s feet, that image is even more boring.


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