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The Vision: A Spiritual Gift

Today I received an incredible gift.  Actually I received two gifts:  I treated myself to a wonderful facial and during the facial I was gifted with an amazing vision.

I believe that visions come through in very spiritual moments in our life.  Moments of grace that open the heart and the mind in a very unique way that allows a connection on another level.  I have experienced a few of these as I have grown on my spiritual path.  Today’s was very special.

I have mentioned my wonderful massage therapist, Michael, in previous postings.  He and his wife, Elisha own a studio together.  She is presently about seven months pregnant (and glows with it too!!), and has chosen to take a break from giving full body massage until after the baby is born. 

However, she has started offering thirty minute cleansing facials which do not tax her so physically because for the most part she is seated.  For me, receiving a facial is the next best piece of heaven after massage, so I lost no time in making an appointment.

Elisha has a soft, gentle, calming spirit and it was very easy to feel comfortable with her.  As soon as she placed her hands on my face I knew the session was going to be very special: I felt a golden thread connecting us.  My breathing deepened immediately and I was aware of being restored on every level.

Although I was deeply relaxed under Elisha’s touch, I was also very alert. I registered the different aromas diffused in each product that she used at the various stages of the facial process.  I was very aware of the changing directions of the strokes she used on my face without interrupting the flow of touch and movement, as well as the slightly different pressure she applied from time to time.  And how I reveled in the warmth of the hot towels between each stage of the facial.

Then suddenly, somewhere in the middle of the treatment, I became aware of a soft golden glow that appeared in front of me.  It slowly brightened until it shimmered in an incredible brilliant sea of light.  And there in the middle, floating contentedly was a baby, and I knew I was seeing Elisha’s son. 

The whole vision was simply magnificent and I felt almost breathless.  Then in the same way that it had slowly manifested, so it faded away.  I wanted to cry out, “No, don’t go yet.”  But the gift was complete and I felt so privileged to have received it.

As well as feeling greatly restored and full of peace after my treatment, I was also full of gratitude.  Visions do not come along very often and I truly appreciate their God-given presence in my life.  And how much more of a blessing this gift was as I was able, with great joy, to share it with Elisha.              

Self Nurturing: Massage

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.              

Italy: Experienced Through The Senses

Italy is probably the most sensual of all places to live, and I don’t just mean because Sophia Loren lives there!  If you are looking for a feast for the senses then Italy is the place to go.  North or south, east coast or west coast, “mare o monti” – the sea or the mountains – each area or region offers its own delights.

The Italian people are very unique.  They are true examples of how to live in the moment, how to savor each and every moment of each day.  If they are happy they express it – loudly and richly.  If they are angry they express it – loudly and richly.  They mourn openly – loudly and richly.  They celebrate exuberantly – loudly and richly. Laughter and tears are the mainstay of everyday.  It is impossible not to feel alive in Italy.

When you arrive in Italy there is an immediate awareness of color.  Houses are painted rich ochre, pale yellow, dusty pinks, and olive greens.  If a house is painted white you can be sure the “persiane” (the window shutters) will be a rich blue or red or green. And balconies and gardens are full of geraniums and other brightly colored flowers.

Food is prepared fresh from the market to the table.  It is cooked in the simplest and quickest way possible to seal in flavor and retain natural colors.  Natural herbs and spices are used sparingly, except for garlic, and rarely are more than two or three herbs used in the same dish.  That would confuse the palate.  The aromas are saliva-inducing. The sight of a plate of fresh pasta or fresh vegetables can bring tears of joy to the eyes, and the tastes are mouth-wateringly exquisite.  The smell of espresso cafe permeates everything, and the bread – oh the bread!! No Italian restaurant in America in my experience (with the exception of one that I will mention at the end) comes anywhere near “authentic Italian cuisine”.

Fashion is high on everyone’s agenda in Italy and here again color is the order of the day. Everyone dresses well whether they frequent the top end fashion boutiques or the local market.  The latest styles and the latest colors are available at all prices.  Each street, piazza (square), coffee shop and restaurant is a catwalk, and everyone’s a model.

Italians do not live quietly.  Conversations in cafes or restaurants, in the market or on the beach are loud. Traffic is loud.  Televisions and radios are loud.  Music is loud.  Life is lived to the fullest. And all this lends itself to the undeniable fact that you are alive.

And the final sense – touch.  Oh yes, Italians are very tactile.  When they talk with each other they touch each other.  Hands are placed on arms, on shoulders, around shoulders, on cheeks.   As they walk along the street they are arm in arm, hand in hand.  Lovers stop and kiss as the most natural thing in the world. There is a sense of intimacy, of caring about each other in all the little everyday affairs of life.

My heart and my soul miss Italy on an every day basis.  I miss the colors, and the sounds, and the smells.  I miss the joy of everyday living that Italians infuse into their lives.  I miss feeling so completely alive on every level.

P.S. The restaurant that I referred to above is called Fratelli La Bufala and is located in the Beaches area of Miami.  When you open the door your senses are assaulted (in the most wonderful way imaginable!) by the sights, sounds and aromas of Naples, Italy.  They specialize in fresh mozzarella (I mean FRESH, as in flown in twice a week directly from Naples, Italy!!) and bufala meat dishes, as well as wonderful pizza cooked in a brick pizza oven.  Buon appetito!