The VICE Guide to Self Improvement

Can a 'Psychic Masseuse' Fix My Back AND My Life?

The practice of "body memory" massage is based on the idea your body "stores" bad vibes. I went to find out what it could do for me, my back, and my future.

by Angela Skujins
11 September 2017, 1:28am

Photos by the author

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There are two explanations for my sore back and shoulders. One: I use a cheap Ikea chair when I write. Two: Childhood trauma has lodged itself in my tissues, stopping me from having a somewhat decent life.

The second explanation comes from a practice called "body memory," which is a pseudoscientific theory that suggests the physical form—and its so-called energy field—can store memories. This means your neck remembers when you were neglected, for example, and that your feet are yearning for sunnier pastures.

In short: your body tells you what went wrong in the past, and where you'll go in the future. Translated through a medium, of course. I decided to visit 36-year-old Luke Woodford, a Melbourne-based medium and masseuse who offers body memory. I have a smorgasbord of trauma stored away, plus anxiety, so he would have plenty of material.


We started with affirmations. "It's just to clear out your energy fields and cut all cords from all people," Luke explained. "It'll mean we're only working with your energy. Do want to call on anyone in particular that you like to work with? Like a set of masters? Deities? Gods? Goddesses?"

I told Luke I believe in Lil B, the rapper. He ignored me and asked me to repeat some affirmations after him: "I now isolate and release. I now isolate and release. All energy that is not mine. All energy that is not mine." As I repeated the statements, long choir hymns played off Luke's iPhone 7.

He was then drawn to my knee. "I ride a bike most days," I offered. "I read online that the motion hyperextends the joint, causing it to ache?" No, Luke said, as he massaged around the kneecap. The twinge was caused by something psychological: "The pain here is telling you to slow down in life. It's saying, 'Chill out a little bit. Take time to relax; not everything's a rush.' You don't have to heal it yourself. It will go away once you've followed through with slowing down."

Luke assessing the trauma stored in my knee.

Next, my shoulders. "Whoa, Angie—your shoulders are saying, 'Back off, get away, I don't want anything to do with you.'" I'm 5ft 11 with anxiety, so he's not wrong. "This is going to take a lot longer than one session," he continues, then stops massaging my upper back. "Do you want to get personal right now?" he asks.

"Sure; let's look into that crystal ball," I reply.

"From touching your shoulders I can see your personal relationships—you keep a lot of them at bay," he said. "You practice this fault-finding mechanism which goes both ways. You may think, I'm not good enough, therefore this relationship needs to end. Or the other person in the relationship almost pushes you into something you don't want to go into. Is that a thing?"

Truthfully, it is a thing. Had Luke actually tapped into some weird, buried-guilt complex? "I'm seeing an event from when you were three-years-old," he trailed on. "It was almost like you were missing out." As he pummelled my spine, I groaned in pain. "You were feeling, 'What about me?'" Luke told me.

It wasn't very relaxing.

I told him the only memory I have from that age is my dad drinking and chasing me around the house. He battled with alcoholism, so in a sense I was left behind. Luke kneaded into my muscles. After a while, he uttered, "The body absorbs pain. The body keeps it and owns the trauma. When you take on a painful memory or someone's problems, you're doing yourself, and them, a disservice."

But how did this relate to my future? Luke continued to elbow between my shoulder blades. He told me that if I don't get over it, it'll own me. "You need to come to terms with yourself [and] any pain that you're holding, any judgement, any revenge, any type of a 'fuck you' mentality," he said. "This path is not easy, but it is the most freeing."

And it's accurate. Like Freddie Mercury, I Want To Break Free.

Affirmations. Is there nothing they can't heal?

To end the session we addressed my rage with some more affirmations. "Do you wanna swear?" he said. I obliged with a complementary: "FUCK." Satisfied, he asked me to repeat after him: "All these feelings of fuck, all these feelings of fuck you, all of these feelings of get fucked, all these feelings of fuck off, leave my body!"

How does my future look now? Relaxed.

If you'd Luke Woodford to massage your body and your destiny, he can be found at Qi Crystals .