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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.              

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