Words Get in the Way

I love words. I mean, I blog, right? And when I practiced law, words were both my shield and my sword. Lately I find, however, that with all the ways we have to communicate now, sometimes words just get in the way.

Words Can Be Useless

A couple weeks ago I went to the funeral of my youngest uncle. His death was unexpected. I watched as people filed past my aunt and cousins, murmuring words, hugging, and patting backs. When it was my turn, all I could do was hug each cousin and my aunt, barely whispering, “I’m so sorry for your loss.” It felt so ineffectual and worthless, these words that could not begin to address the profound loss of a husband and father. So, when I said farewell to my aunt after lunch, I just hugged her and looked into her teary eyes with tear-filled eyes of my own. I didn’t bother with words this time. My aunt whispered, “Oh, Rachel,” as she reached for my arm.

Words Aren’t Always Possible

In some cases, words aren’t even possible. I was loading up my car with water, snacks, and extra yoga mats for Yoga on the Trail last month as my dogs Charlotte and Finnigan watched from the backyard. I had taken Char to Ledges State Park for hikes before but today she had to stay home. (Finnigan isn’t up to hiking long distances.) I closed the trunk lid and went to the yard to take the dogs in; Char jumped up with a grin on her face, pawed at me, and laid down in front of me. I knew exactly what she was saying: “Take me with you!” This dog communicates with me every day without words, and somehow I always understand her. A look, a sit, where she positions herself – all ways she lets me know something without a single word. I was sad to disappoint Charlotte by not taking her that day, but I needed to focus on my students for hte inaugural Iowa Seeker Wellness yoga hike. (But you don’t need to be disappointed if you missed the first one because we’re doing Yoga on the Trail again on October 14!)

Even with people words aren’t always possible, yet we communicate effectively nonetheless. A massage therapist friend shared with me that she has a nonverbal client who is still able to communicate his needs with her, and makes very clear what he wants. All without words.

Body Language Says A Lot

Even a facial expression or a gesture can fit the bill better than words at times. As my yoga students were gently moving between Cat Pose and Cow Pose the other day, I told them that I woke up very tired that morning but got my second wind on the way there. “So, today, we’ll be doing Wild Thing,” I explained. A couple students’ heads popped up with eyes rounded and mouths gaping. I couldn’t help it, I burst out laughing. I gave directions on how to get into Wild Thing (in essence, flipping your Downward Facing Dog over) as I demonstrated. But my directions aren’t always clear enough because words just sometimes aren’t enough. I asked my students to back out of the pose and watch me. Because sometimes the human body says plenty without words.

Benefits of Touch

This is why I invite my clients into silence when they receive a massage from me. I always welcome feedback – pressure, temperature, lighting, music – but I don’t want to engage in conversation. I want you to listen to your body, your breath. And I want to give you the best bodywork I can, which I do best in silence, when I can receive any messages your body is giving me. It is such a gift.

I had the pleasure of receiving an hour-long relaxation massage from a friend the other day. She communicated with my body perfectly without words and I got off her table feeling renewed.

Touch is just one of the many ways we can communicate. In the digital age, it can be an overlooked form. But sometimes it serves us best, especially when words get in the way.

Massage therapy is one of the ways we can receive touch. Here are a few ways you benefit from regular massage therapy:

  • Relieve stress
  • Reduce pain & anxiety
  • Increase range of motion
  • Improve sleep
  • Promote relaxation
  • Lower blood pressure

Would you like to begin receiving these benefits? Schedule a massage with me today.

With gratitude,


Question for Reflection: How could you communicate with someone today without words?

© 2017 Rachel Regenold

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