That feeling just after you peel yourself away from the massage bed. Your feet feel like they are barely touching the floor, your shoulders are floating as if not attached to your body and your head is flying high in the sky surrounded by the clouds. Ahhh what a delight you think, if only I could have a massage everyday! Well yes, we all wish we had someone to rub our feet, our shoulders and all those tense spots every single day, but the reality for most of us, even those that have a massage therapist for a girlfriend (sorry babe) don’t get this!
So what are we to do to keep that post massage glow long after the massage is over?
- Don’t make plans for after your massage appointment! This one is worth repeating again… DON’T make plans after your massage appointment! Ok so I know you have your To Do list a mile long. You probably have to clean your house, do the washing that’s piling up in your basket and go grocery shopping. Well, as your massage therapist I am telling you, just for today set the list aside and give yourself permission to do nothing! Or better yet give yourself the permission to relax and enjoy your post massage glow! Feel into the newly made space in your body, breathe in to those spots where the tightness once was, get to know how your body feels without so much unnecessary tension. The more you get to know this feeling the easier it will be to come back to it on your own. (Keep reading to find out how!)
- Make some time for random non specific movement (or dancing). What does that look like you ask? Well it looks a lot like jumping around being silly and shaking every bone and muscle in your body. Still don’t know what I mean? Let me explain…we live our day to day lives in routine. We wake up, probably rolling over to the same side, using the same leg to step out the bed, we brush our teeth with the same hand, carry our bag on the same shoulder, and then sit at a desk with our arms and wrists in the same position for almost 8 hours! Now the body is more than capable in supporting you in these movements, but the problem comes when these are the ONLY movements that your body experiences, day in and day out. What happens is that we strengthen the patterns of movement that we tell the body are the most important, all the time becoming weaker in the under used parts. This makes for a lot of tension and weak under used muscles that are not doing their job in supporting us. This applies EVEN if you go to the gym, or practice yoga, or run, or any other modality where there is a set pattern of movement. The body LOVES variation, it loves to shake and twist and jump and stretch and spin. Our joints have a range of movement possibilities that love no NEED to be explored to keep them healthy. So find five minutes every other day to move in every way that feels good to you, and don’t judge yourself if you think it looks silly or you aren’t sure what you are doing, just go with the flow and listen to whatever feels good while you do it. If that looks a little bit like you are doing some kind of crazy dance then all the better. This is guaranteed to leave you with a smile on your face, especially if you watch yourself in the mirror!
- MEDITATE. Ok so this one I know is a challenge for many of us (read everyone!) but the fact of the matter is that meditation is so powerful! Through it you have the ability to be so aware of yourself it is possible to actively release built up tension in your own body. Don’t believe me? As a child and through early adulthood I grew up with chronic sinusitis and the inability to breathe through my nose. I truly believed that there was something wrong with it’s design! I struggled for years with this until one day in meditation I felt my face relax. Two very unknown muscles around my nose relaxed and I was instantly able to breathe with ease. I was so shocked and felt so different I ran to the mirror convinced that my face must look different (it didn’t of course) but those deep muscles, that were being unconsciously held onto, were for the first time relaxed! This really changed my life, but I will leave that for another story! From this experience and through my work as a massage therapist it is very apparent to me that a lot of our tension comes from unconsciously holding onto muscles. I often see that a simple touch of a hand in the right place is enough to soften tension and bring relief. That is because the tension is not something that we need to fix in our muscles, but something that we can release with our consciousness. By being present with ourselves and exploring the tension with awareness it becomes possible to actively release your own tension. Now this is not the easiest of tasks, but the good news is that after your massage you can already feel how your body is with less tension. By paying attention to that feeling and remembering it in your body it becomes much easier to come back to this place through your meditation practice.
- Don’t wait until your next massage to take time for yourself! I realise that we live in a world that does not in anyway celebrate ‘Me Time’ at best it is seen as a luxury or a rare treat you give yourself, something that ordinary people cannot ‘afford’ to ‘indulge’ in. Apparently being busy = success and the busier you are the more amazing your life. Well I am going to come right out and say that I think that is NONSENSE. If we want to live happy lives we also need to be healthy and health, regardless of what instagram, facebook or magazines might tell you, starts on the inside. And yes I mean BODY, MIND, and SOUL!! That means taking a nap on your sofa if you are tired, it means not feeling guilty when you want to stay at home instead of going out partying, it means saying YES to the things that make you happy regardless of what anyone else might think of them, it means putting your health and happiness above and beyond anyone else’s needs or desires. It actually means WHATEVER YOU WANT IT TO, as long as it is truly what you desire for yourself.
Living in the world we do, we are always going to encounter challenges and things that cause tension in our bodies and minds. What we need to remember is that we don’t have to deal with that alone, and we also don’t have to push through with a brave face, ignoring the bodies signals until it is too late. There are ways that we can support ourselves in every moment of our lives by slowing down, listening to the signals of the body, going for a massage, dancing all night, or asking a trusted friend for a hug. All of these things, and the the things that bring you joy in life are what helps to keep that post massage glow for long after the massage is over!