Spa Sensibility: Choosing nakedness rather than nekkidness

I wish there were some way I could include the tonal difference between naked and well…naked in this post. You know what I mean. You are naked before your God and naked in the presence of your significant other. Still don’t get it? If I wrote the words as Naked and Nekkid would that make it easier to comprehend? I thought so. Lewis Grizzard popularized this distinction when discussing the language quirks of the South. If you want to check out his take on Naked and Nekkid you can find the youtube video here. If you don’t want to listen to Grizzard explain it, just trust me when I tell you there is a difference between naked and nekkid and let me explain to you exactly why being naked is preferable to being nekkid at the spa.

When it comes to getting naked at the spa it’s not that much different from being nekkid or is it something different altogether? There is a difference I promise! For most people, the first time they have a massage getting comfortable can sometimes be a big deal but I have found most first time clients are willing to be naked as long as the only thing exposed is the part of their body that I am working on. Not everyone is this way. I have had clients who were so attached to the idea of nekkid, that they wanted to leave on their bra but were willing to let me unhook it in the back as long as they were face down. I’ve had a male client refuse to take his pants off even though I was only working on his upper body while his lower body was completely draped with sheets and a blanket. As a Spa therapist, I don’t read into the reasons people have for modesty as it is none of my business. My only business is to respect said level of modesty and to have them respect mine in turn. But it is part of my job when I am working as a spa therapist to introduce people to the idea of nakedness being preferable to nekkidness and to work with them at their level of comfort with the idea. For some people, but not all, the idea of nekkidness is indicative of  a world view wherein the body is a vehicle for excess and consequently must be tightly controlled. That a body can be something more than a vehicle for physical abandon is beyond their ability to comprehend. Part of any spa therapist job is to introduce thru the process of spa, an alternative view of the body and to provide guidelines of how to care for it, so the body becomes part of a healthy lifestyle that allows one to reach their highest goals and aspirations.

Spa has a marked tendency toward rituals of cleansing. It’s part of the experience we sell on a daily basis. In spa, there is a maxim called body, mind and spirit. We specialize in assisting guests in the process of maintaining a balance between the three. Part of this involves being naked in the sense that we are all naked before our individual understanding of the divine and in the face of our own knowledge of our unique strengths and weaknesses. Such a self inventory is by nature a personal and private one and not every spa goer is interested in this philosophy. Spa therapists and technicians are not interested in invading another’s quiet time, or in shoving mind/body/spirit down your throat or in seeing you nekkid in all your glory. But in our roles of servant and guide, we can and often do aid the would be seeker in a process of revealing one’s nakedness to themselves.

It’s all a part of spa sensibility. Spa is not a religion but rather a philosophy based in processes that some in our industry prefer to call rituals. For the Spa technician, it’s often about a way of being in the world of the client or guest but not of it as some say. Spa sensibility for both the technician and the guest is therefore a manner of engagement and active discretion. At its heart is service. Because of this, being a Spa therapist and even a spa goer, can become a calling for many people that takes on spiritual or religious qualities. There are many examples and puns made of the flaky massage therapist who is so busy trying out all the new treatments on herself that she has almost nothing of value to give to her clients because she is so ungrounded. I dare say this can be true for any spa technician, male or female, be they an esthetician, nail tech or hairstylist. It’s just that massage is one of the best examples of this phenomena. Tales of the totalitarian New Age spa goer also abound! It’s always a good idea to find a technician you like and stick with them every time you visit the spa, even if it’s only once a year. If you have a preference for a non smoker, or someone with particular training in a certain bodywork modality you should always make such inquiries and requests when booking your service so as to ensure your technician is the right one for you. Choosing a technician to stick with gives the therapist time to get to know not only you but your body as well. Do you like heavy hands or a light touch in your massage? Is the water too hot or too cold? Does your skin require a strong exfoliation in the winter or will a gentle scrub suffice? These are physical rituals that prepare us to face the next day or the next moment, ready for anything. The inner work is yours alone but even then, spas can offer you a guide for your travels. Do you need wellness coaching or motivational resources to aid you in losing weight, quitting smoking or encouragement in reaching a new goal? The right kind of spa can offer the right kind of resources if you make your choices wisely and choose nakedness over nekkid-ness when you spa.

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