Give a person a massage and they can reach a state of well-being. Teach a person how to massage and they can reach their potential. For Sharon Strang, instructor and owner of Focus Bodywork, life is about seeing possibilities and literally using your hands to fulfill your dreams.
Sharon is a 25-year veteran masseuse and gifted instructor who helps her students to learn the art of massage while inspiring them to embrace the art of living well. As the former owner of The Wellness Spa, former massage teacher at Okanagan College, Kelowna, and a lifelong student of spirituality and wellness, she now offers fun, easy-to-learn private courses in healing massage. She also offers workshops in hot stone work, and guides practitioners in launching or expanding their massage businesses.
She has expertise and stories born of experience, and she is here to help you on your journey, both personally and professionally.
We were thrilled to learn more about Sharon and her work.
Recently I heard someone describe the feeling of being a “walking head”, oblivious to the needs of the body. We often talk about thoughts and emotions manifesting physically. How can addressing the body’s stresses improve our well-being in the other direction?
Stress has been proven to be the main cause of poor health. It is held in our bodies as suppressed emotions. I believe emotions are the glue that holds thoughts in place. Stress manifests physically as tight muscles or what I call energy blocks.
We actually hold emotions in common places throughout the body, which you can read about in You Can Heal Your Life by Louise Hay or in Debbie Shapiro’s Your Body Speaks Your Mind. For example, one place we hold fear is in our stomachs, thus the expression “butterflies in our stomach.” Fear is also held in our legs. We hold frustration and anger around our shoulder blades, along our trapezius muscles at the top of our shoulders, and in our arms as well.
So when we receive a massage, or bodywork, or when we exercise, it helps to relax the muscles, improve body circulation, and release suppressed emotions or pain. In my massage, I also make sure that I support my clients in breathing “into the sore spots.” The breath is a very powerful tool to release stress. And when we exercise, we naturally breathe more, making it great contributor to maintaining well-being.
Your work is about restoring balance, creating harmony, and supporting others in meeting their potential. Why were you first drawn to teaching in addition to offering healing massage?
That is a good question! I just have a passion for helping others to succeed. And I have always wanted to be a teacher, since I was a little girl. So when I learned how life can be easier by becoming more conscious of my Self, I just wanted to help other people be happier too. During my life of personal growth training, I have learned that there is always a solution to every problem — or challenge, as most people like to call it.
I was a single mom, trying to make ends meet, and was able to successfully become a business owner. I am basically a self-taught entrepreneur with my massage business, through my training as a Master Breath Integration Practitioner. It taught me that we all have the power inside us to create our dreams and to be successful, whatever that may look or feel like. My main goal is to teach this and inspire others through my massage courses.
You offer a variety of courses and workshops. Your eight-month certificate program sounds comprehensive and full of resources, including small business tips. What challenges do you address when you work to empower your clients and prepare them to run a massage business?
The main challenge most people face, in my opinion, is the fear of becoming successful, not the fear of failure, as Marianne Williamson says. Discipline and commitment are the key to success, and I find that most people only stay committed some of the time. In our minds, we can make discipline and commitment very difficult by procrastination, which is simply fear. I point out that this is the block, and we have to “feel our fear and do it anyway,” to borrow from the title of another great book. Fear is not always real! Make a plan — intention and specific goals — and then follow it through, no matter what! It is also very important to be disciplined in staying balanced and taking care of all parts of you — mind, body, spirit, and emotions. It helps you to stay strong in all ways, so that you can maintain your commitment to your goal. It’s all connected.
Your couple’s workshop sounds like fun! Considering that wellness can vary from person to person, is it important for couples to improvise or custom-fit the massage techniques to suit their relationship?
Yes! When it comes to massage, everyone does it a little differently, and the quality of the experience comes mostly from the energy of the person who is massaging. It is just an inherent thing, since we use our intuition as well as our knowledge when we massage properly. So everyone custom-fits the massage for each person they work on, even though they use the same basic techniques. And when it involves your partner, with whom there is a closer bond, I am sure there is custom-fitting to suit the relationship!
Describe what balance and well-being mean to you.
For me, balance and well-being mean:
- I am taking responsibility for my part in whatever happens in my life. For me this means first being aware of my thoughts and feelings, because this leads to my circumstances. If I do not like my reality, then I need to change something, starting with my thoughts!
- I am asking for support! When the going gets tough, I feel that it is important to ask for support. We are not alone on this planet. This can include receiving bodywork such as massages, physiotherapy, or energy work such as Reiki or Healing Touch, or just simply talking with friends. There are many more ways to receive support.
- Having a regular exercise routine, three days a week, while eating healthy and drinking lots of water.
- Having compassion for myself in that I am not perfect, and forgiving myself when I do fall from my path.
- Having a close relationship with my spirit. Meditating daily or at least five days a week. Also praying, doing yoga, going to spiritual gatherings, and reading spiritual books.
- Keeping an open mind. Continually learning through courses, but always being aware of my intuition as well — and then balancing those two together in my life.
The fun finale! Share something quirky or interesting about yourself — something many would not know.
When I was 25, I made an amazing, life-altering trip to Europe, Morocco, and Asia for sixteen months. I spent at least a month in each country that I visited. Travelling by bus from Turkey, I went through Iran, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, and then into India and Sri Lanka, where I spent four months.
Tom Kernaghan, owner of Oak Writer
I write stories about people, businesses, and communities so that people will remember what makes them uniquely powerful.
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