How does this sound? You're settled on a massage table with soothing music playing. The temperature of the room and table is perfect. You begin with some deep breaths in through the nose bringing energy into your body and exhaling through the mouth with a sigh to rid the body of anything it no longer needs. This breathwork creates a mind-body connection that begins the process of relaxation.
Did you take a deeper breath while reading this? Right now, I'd like you to sit with your eyes closed breathing in through your nose and exhaling through your mouth for three deep, slow breaths. What do you notice? Doing something as simple as changing the cadence of your breath to a slower, more deliberate way of breathing informs your body that you are safe and by sighing you activate the vagus nerve.
I like to begin most sessions with a focus on the breath to specifically engage the parasympathetic nervous system. This is the "rest and digest" function of the body. When you feel safe your body processes foods better, heals faster, and rests so you feel more refreshed. Your body is such an amazing organism with the potential to heal itself. Unfortunately, we tend to live in flight or fight mode most of the time not fully allowing our bodies to relax and rejuvenate.
Many people tell me they don't want a "fluff and buff" massage. They want to "know" they've been worked on when they leave a session. For those of you who receive therapeutic or deep tissue massages—I get it. These modalities have been shown to be highly beneficial and may even leave you feeling a sense of accomplishment. However, they tend to be area specific with little or no time addressing the rest of the body, and more to provide a desired effect or outcome. When you're experiencing a specific concern, these are definitely go-to modalities, and they are a part of my practice, but what if you try something a little different every now and then?
We live in such a fast-paced, exhausting, and overwhelming time. We rush from one thing to another. We gobble down our food. We are attached by invisible leashes to devices with reminders, schedules, emails, and social media apps all of which have the option to send notifications any time of the day or night—all this feels stressful. Doesn't it? With that busyness all day every day, how do we reset and recalibrate our minds and bodies to slow down, be mindful, and breathe? To give our bodies the opportunity to heal?
Well, I have an idea about that. A relaxation massage is a wonderful way to decompress, calm the nervous system, and just let go for a set amount of time. I can assure you that from the perspective of both sides of the table, as therapist and client, relaxation goes a long way.
Over the years as a trained oncology massage therapist, I've seen the positive effects a relaxation massage can have on cancer clients, Patient-reported massage benefits include improved sleep, decreased sense of isolation, enhanced body image, and increased feelings of well-being. Additionally, clinical research supports the use of massage therapy in reducing pain and anxiety.
The reason I mention this is that while the presence and/or diagnosis of cancer establishes the massage as a therapeutic session, this modality is offered with relaxation and calming as the guiding focus. Can't we all use and enjoy some improved well-being or better sleep in our lives? One way to do that may be to experience firsthand a massage session specifically for relaxation.
Now let's continue with the massage session I mentioned earlier. You have resumed your normal breathing pattern, and are comfortable on the table with music playing softly in the background. The touch is firm, and slow with a rhythmic quality—almost like a slow dance of movement. As the session continues you may begin to feel yourself melting into the table or feel a trancelike sensation. This deep state of relaxation is a form of meditation. You are aware yet not quite awake. The experience is unique to you, and you may even fall asleep. That's okay. You're still receiving the benefits of massage to the muscles and nervous system whether you remember the session or not. Your body knows.
Let me know when you're ready to book your meditative massage experience.
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