It’s one of those mornings. Your alarm didn’t go off and you have a massage appointment in an hour. You quickly shower, get dressed, grab a protein bar, and dash to your car, only to realize your gas tank is nearly empty. Even so, you think you can make it to your appointment. On the way, you hit every red light and someone cuts you off just as you’re trying to change lanes. Finally, you pull into a parking spot, tense and frustrated—clearly not in the right mind-set for your bodywork session.
Whether it is an aching back, recovery from an injury, a case of carpal tunnel syndrome, or a host of other debilitating physiological conditions, there’s no doubt massage and bodywork works to relieve pain. But once your therapist has helped you tackle your pain, do you quit calling? When the pain is gone, are you gone, too?
Do you have tension headaches or chronic tension in your upper body? How about neck and shoulder stiffness? Maybe you experience strain in the temples, forehead, neck, shoulders, or back, especially after a long period of working at a computer or reading a book? If so, your tension could be related to how you look at the world.
Do you ever find yourself unconsciously holding your breath when you’re tense? This can cause tension to build in your body and may let the chest collapse, leading to misalignment.
Proper breathing provides oxygen to the muscles and body, helps you stay relaxed and centered, and even helps you maintain correct body alignment throughout your day.
You can also use breathwork as part of a stress-reduction program by following this progressive relaxation exercise.
Meditation feels like a warm, gentle current spreading from the middle of my chest up into my smile and flowing down my hips and the backs of my legs. When I give myself the time and space to be completely still, turn off my thoughts, and focus on nothing but my breath, my day always improves.
We constantly receive a bombardment of information in day-to-day life. When we sit, close our eyes, and disengage from activity in the world, we are afforded a chance to catch up on physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual processes.
We live in a culture that likes to go, go, go. It’s often difficult to find a place to step off and pause for a while, allowing your world to slow down just a little. One of the best antidotes to this constant, frenetic lifestyle is a good, old-fashioned massage.
Stillness During Massage
If you want to take the concept of completely stopping even further, try totally unplugging from the noise of everyday life in a flotation tank.
Developed in 1954 to test the effects of sensory deprivation, the flotation tank is now used in a range of restorative and healing practices, including recovery from exercise or injury. It is also an effective tool for visualization techniques.
It’s no secret that pregnant women love massage—feet, neck, hips, legs. And did I mention feet? Toward the end of my first pregnancy, I had become a regular at my neighborhood nail salon just to take advantage of the leg rubs that came free with all pedicures.
I also indulged in my fair share of prenatal massages, which were both gifted to me and by me (we all deserve a treat now and then).
I am guessing you have probably heard this before: gratitude is a splendid way to nourish your spirit. Do you know why? It’s because the ability to find gratitude means you have something great going on in your life.
Sometimes it is easy to forget what is great when we are fixated on what is bothering us. As soon as we look for something to be grateful for, we find that it’s right under our nose.