Just recently life has thrown a few curve balls into my personal space. Nothing drastic, but enough to throw me off balance. And then, of course, there’s the dratted weather, which has thrown enough curve balls into everyone’s territory to create disruptions galore.
My last posting (yes, I know, it’s been two long weeks!), was on 7 March Musings- Freedom, and I shared how sick I had been and how much I was enjoying the freedom of wellness. We had a short interlude of a few days of good weather as I regained my strength, and the first call of order was the garden. So much needed to be done in the way of general tidying and clearing before beginning on the major project which would completely remodel my front yard.
I have to admit that even as I experienced the joy of gardening, I struggled with a certain level of frustration. As much as I wanted/needed to be out doing the garden, especially as I had lost so much time due to bad weather and we didn’t know how long the warm weather was going to last, I also really wanted to be writing. Having two passions is sometimes difficult to manage and the garden passion and the writing passion each carry about equal weight in my heart.
Well, I chose the garden and managed to get a few days good work in as well as immersing myself into the the general mainstream of my daily life. I was on about day five of this readjustment back to normal when the next curve ball arrived and truly took the wind out of my sails.
I had just arrived in St. Augustine for a Body Talk appointment. I pulled into the parking lot, took my phone out of my bag to put it on silent mode, and it rang in my hand. It was my husband calling to let me know that he was in the ER with chest pains “but please don’t get alarmed”!
In hindsight I have learned that my reaction to crisis/alarming news is to back off, disconnect if you will. In that moment I said to my husband, “I’ve just arrived at my appointment in St. Augustine, do you need me there?” He kind of muttered around for a few moments as I cautiously allowed my mind and my heart to re-approach the reality of the situation, then he said, “Yes, I think I’d like you here.”
As I ran in to cancel my appointment before turning the car around and racing back to Jacksonville, I realized what my comment must have sounded like to my husband as he lay on a gurney in the ER. I called him immediately and left a message (they had made him turn his phone off). I told him that even as I had asked that ridiculous question, there had been no doubt that I would go right to the hospital to be with him. I had just needed a moment to allow my fear to subside so that I could get on and do what I needed to do.
I guess for me it is a defense mechanism. Stepping back so that I can allow my head and my heart to kind of sync up together and work in harmony. It’s the kind of mechanism that has us go to numbness or disbelief in the face of personal tragedy. We need that small space of time so that God can step in and hold our heart and our hand, or even pick us right up into His arms, and walk us through the pain and the difficulty of any given tough situation.
I spent the whole of the drive back to Jacksonville in prayer mode. I asked God to protect my husband and surround him with His healing grace. I made a couple of phone calls: one to my daughter to put her in the picture, and two more to dear friends so that I would have my support group in place no matter what.
By the time I got to the hospital I was calm. They had done a bunch of tests on Richard and were beginning to administer some different medications. His EKG’s, chest X-ray, and blood work were OK, but he was still experiencing tightness and pressure in his chest as well as shortness of breath when speaking. They kept him in for observation for a couple of days before sending him home with more medication and instructions for follow-up, including an appointment with the Cardiologist.
It is amazing how a couple of days and a crisis can affect the human system. It was only after getting Richard home and seeing him slowly return to normal that I realized how exhausted my body was. As I went through the process of letting go of the anxiety all I wanted to do was sleep. I also noted how I felt generally irritable, and irritated toward Richard. (Like how dare he put me through that!!).
Stress is a very hard task-master that produces strong emotions and reactions. I am grateful that I know how to recognize stress fairly quickly and can take positive steps to reduce and eliminate it from my life. I booked a massage in the next few days and also returned to my beloved garden, two of the best therapies for stress that I know work for me.
In my opening blog post back in April this year (Taking Care of Spirit, Body, and Mind), I talked about the importance of taking care of ourselves physically, mentally, spiritually and emotionally. Something that I do with as much frequency as my wallet allows is to receive a massage. Although massage is a very physical mode of therapy, if you find the right massage therapist and if you approach massage with an open heart and mind, then you will also be taking care of yourself on the mental, emotional and spiritual levels.
So let’s take a look at the different benefits of massage. Apart from the most obvious physical relief from having aching muscles and joints massaged and gently moved, there are several other physical benefits to be received. Massage stimulates the circulatory system, helping to bring blood out to the extremities of even the tiniest of the veins in our bodies. This helps us to deal better with any form of pain as well as improving the circulation of the blood in general.
Another bodily system that is stimulated by massage is the lymphatic system. Without getting too scientific or technical the best way I can describe this is as a series of vessels that runs parallel to the veins. They carry a liquid called lymph and the whole system is extremely important to the good functioning of the spleen, thymus, bone marrow, and digestive system. The lymphatic system helps the veins do their job better.
Having mentioned the digestive system I will also point out that massage stimulates this system too. It is not abnormal (and should not therefore be cause for embarrassment!) for the stomach to start grumbling once the massage starts. All toxins in the body are helped to exit the body more readily by the action of a massage.
So to recap, it’s not just a question of “feel good” or a good way to relax, massage is also a vital way to help maintain our bodies healthy. Improved blood circulation, lymphatic drainage, and digestive systems help us to live longer and with a better quality of life. But let’s not downplay the “feel good”; that’s important too!!
However, the physical body is not the only part of us to benefit from massage. The simple act of laying down on the massage table should induce a certain level of relaxation. Today’s frenetic pace of life brings heavy doses of stress and tension into our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. The more we choose to reduce stress the better our health will be in all those areas.
Most massage therapists today, with perhaps the exception of those working in the sports arena, provide calm and peaceful environments in their studios. Music, soft lighting, and the use of aroma therapy via oils or candles all help to set an environment where the client can let go of worries and anxieties at least for the hour or so of their appointment.
The massage table is also a good place to let go of any toxic emotions that we may be clinging on to. Most therapists and psychologists who are helping people deal with hurtful and damaging issues will also recommend that their clients try massage to help them release trapped emotions. This is important because negative emotions that are not dealt with properly will take up physical residence in our bodies, eventually causing illness and disease.
In my opinion, there is no better place to pray than on the massage table. Whatever belief system you may have can only get better by indulging in some form of spiritual connection while receiving a massage. Allow your soul to be massaged by your Creator as the therapist massages your body.
The actual origins of therapeutic massage are in the instinctual response to hold and rub a hurt or pain. Therapeutic massage is found in all cultures and in all historical ages as an integral part of health care and maintenance. Hippocrates, the father of western medicine, considered massage of prime importance in any health regime.
So next time your body, your mind, your heart, or your soul seem to be in need of attention and pampering, book a massage and come home to yourself. If you don’t know of any massage therapists and you are concerned about finding a good one, ask around among your friends. I bet at least one person that you know receives massage on a regular basis and can give you a good referral.