Journalist Loolwa Khazzoom traveled recently to San Diego to speak with David Simon, MD—co-founder, CEO, and medical director of the Chopra Center for Wellbeing—about the concepts in his book, Free to Love, Free to Heal (Chopra Center Press, 2009). In it, Simon addresses the connection between emotions and physical health. In this conversation, Simon shares his thoughts about how individuals can utilize the power of the mind-body connection to empower themselves and transform our health-care system.
My first impression of massage was tinged with both mystery and respect. The seed was planted when I was a kid living in Hollywood. Every Tuesday, I remember watching my mother, Rhea, in her oversized, men’s blue terry cloth robe, disappear into the guest room followed by Hilda, a buxom blonde Swede carrying a large contraption and a bottle of oil.
It may seem obvious, but your massage therapist really looks at your skin. Massage therapists are trained to observe a person’s skin for cuts, bruises, rashes, and anything unusual before touching it. And this observation doesn’t just stop at first glance. Throughout the course of your session, your massage therapist will keep an eye out for anything on your skin that seems out of the norm, and if warranted, may refer you to a dermatologist or other health-care professional for evaluation.
Massage—anything this good must be fattening, right? Wrong! Scientists now confirm what massage therapists have always known: massage can be a powerful and effective weight-loss tool. By improving your body’s resilience, aiding muscle nutrition and flexibility, and supporting your mental and emotional well-being, massage can take your weight-loss plan to a whole new level.
My friend Ellie and I were driving to the beach when she asked me to pull over. She was experiencing sharp pain in her chest. We stayed quiet as she put her hand to her heart and focused on her breathing. The pain eased and then stopped within a few minutes. I suggested going to the emergency room, but Ellie insisted she was OK. Earlier that day, Ellie had shared the details of a daughter in crisis, a relationship that was bringing up unresolved issues, and her mother’s mental illness and steep decline in a nursing facility.
Poor posture can lead to back pain, weakened muscles, and strained joints and ligaments, but it can be avoided. This gentle movement will help you build strength and create flexibility in your spine. Initially it may feel good or it may feel stiff and awkward, but it should not hurt. If a movement causes you pain, stop, back up, and repeat. Stop short of any pain. Try some variations: move less or slower.
Inflammation often causes pain and swelling. If you cut your finger, it usually doesn’t hurt very much at first. A day or so later, though, your cut and the somewhat swollen area around it feels worse. That’s because your body’s defense system, otherwise known as your immune system, started an inflammatory process to heal the cut. The chemicals sent to heal your injury are actually irritating the nerves around the cut.
I used to sit at the edge of the ocean to find my rhythm. When planning my annual vacations, it was the water that called me--not so much to be in it, but to be by it. Maternal and soothing, the comings and goings of the tide was my "reset" button--you know, the one that allows you to deal calmly again with the world. Along came twins, and my exotic vacations were replaced with ventures closer to home. Being in a land-locked state, sitting by the ocean was no longer an option. How was I going to hit my reset button now? The answer was right in front of me--massage.
Dear Kenn, I’m a young, healthy guy and I have never received a massage. I think it would be very beneficial, but I’m nervous. (I can’t believe I’m even writing this letter.) I’m nervous because I think I might get turned on. What would my massage therapist think? I think that would really be embarrassing. —Name Withheld