I received my first massage many years ago. I was living in the UK at the time. I believe it was sometime in the sixties and I discovered a small massage and facial salon had opened above a shop near my parents home. I very tentatively booked an appointment and remember how my heart sang and I knew that I was hooked from the very first touch. There is nothing quite like a massage for relaxation, de-stressing, pleasure, and coming home to yourself. Massage does for the body what a deep relationship with God does for the soul.
I probably received one or two more massages during the next few years because I really couldn’t afford more than that. Then, about five years later, I moved to Sardinia, Italy with my first husband and our two boys. In 1970, we helped to open a large holiday village called Forte Village in the southern part of the island not far from the capital, Cagliari.
There were many holiday agency reps working in the village and the two girls from the Swedish company, Vingresor, were extremely grateful for the “extra mile” that I went in order to help smooth difficulties for their customers. They came to me one day and said they would like to show their appreciation in some tangible way and asked me what I would most like. I knew they had their own massage therapist on call in the village, so I requested a massage. They were gracious enough to gift me with a series of four massages, and my love affair with receiving massage was rekindled. Since then I have received many massages and eventually, when I was fifty three years young, I trained to become a massage therapist myself. I feel as much joy giving massage as I do in receiving them.
Fast forward to April 2011. As I mentioned in my previous posting Traveling- Las Vegas & Sedona Rich and I enjoyed a wonderful visit to Sedona, AZ. I knew that I wanted to receive a massage in Sedona because it is a place of natural healing and there are many alternative therapy healers in the town. As Rich and I were settling into our condo, he checked out a file of information about various activities and points of interest in the area, and called my attention to an advertisement. The wording in the ad from Sue really spoke to my heart and soul, and I knew that this was who I would book my massage with.
A few days later found me in Sue’s studio. Little did I know that I was about to have a very significant and life-changing experience. For the next two hours Sue worked intuitively with my body. I have never received a massage quite like it. She used many different modalities during the course of the massage and I knew that something very special was going on, especially when she started chanting as she worked my heart chakra. I remember thinking, “I hope she is going to tell me what that was about”, as I felt a kind of a “whooshing out” feeling from my chest. Then shortly afterwards, as Sue worked on my lower abdomen, I could feel “something” going on and a great deal of heat.
At the end of the massage, when Sue gave me some water to drink, she asked me if I wanted to hear her perceptions. My heart lifted and I said I wanted to hear everything. She checked first of all if I believed in past lives and also asked me if I was familiar with any of the ancient civilizations such as the Mayans or the people of Atlantis. When I assented, she shared that while she had been working on my heart chakra she was drawn into a vision where she saw me as a tall, regal person, dripping with golden jewelry, and knew that I was one of the ancient wise ones. She felt that I was royalty of some sort and told me that whenever I walked into a room people were enveloped in a sense of tranquility and felt healed. I told her that many people told me this today also.
She then went on to tell me that it was no longer enough to just “walk into the room”, that I was “being called to more”. She said that I needed to be ready for more work and not to be afraid. I remembered Kevin’s words just a few weeks earlier at the Lenten Healing Mission. Sue then explained that while she had worked on my lower abdomen she had felt “something birthing”, and she encouraged me to be ready, to prepare myself for some new work that I was going to be called to undertake.
As I left Sue’s studio, I felt very blessed. I was filled with a sense of peace and yet was also aware of a very heightened sense of energy. I felt like I could have run for ten miles. I was very grateful for this because later that afternoon Rich and I went to experience the energy vortex at Bell Rock and I was able to climb about three quarters of the way up the rock formation without feeling tired.
I will always remember my massage experience with Sue with much gratitude. My main personal work since that time has been to quietly prepare myself for whatever work Spirit wants me to do. Just two weeks after this experience, I attended a Qigong event in Orlando and a complete stranger there repeated the message: “Margo, you are being called to more. Do not hold back.” I will share more about this experience in another posting.
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.