Was it murder--or something serious?
Philip Marlow in Murder, My Sweet

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Peaceful Easy Feeling

I've been getting weekly massages for several months now. I always promised myself that if I ever managed to write myself to a financially secure position, the two things I would grant myself would be housekeeping service and regular massage.

Of course, it's one thing to say it, it's another thing to do it, and even after I was able to catch up and then surpass what I'd been making in the old day job, I couldn't get up the nerve for a long time to grant myself either of those things. Yet as self-indulgent as they sound, my reasoning was largely practical. I have trouble focusing on work when the house is a mess (and it was ALWAYS a mess), so I knew eliminating the mess was going to be good for my concentration and my general mood. And so it has proven.

The massage was more about the ongoing pain in my hands, wrists and arms. Also my ongoing battle with stress -- which continues even though I've basically hit every single goal I ever set myself growing up. That's because those goals have been immediately replaced with new goals. Such is the way of life. My life, at least.

Anyway, after all those years of reading the health benefits of massage, I knew there could be no downside. So I started booking regular appointments. I've been lucky enough to find a wonderful therapist and while I have been known to cancel a much-needed hair appointment and even put off dental appointments, I NEVER miss a massage appointment.

But something I realized early on was that lying on the table and expecting to instantly and magically relax, just wasn't going to happen. In fact, for the first weeks, I found myself falling into the same routine that troubles me at night sometimes. I finally relax, start to get drowsy...and am hit with a wave of everything I need to do or forgot to do or could be doing...

Ugh.

Despite the warmed, clean sheets and soft lights and soothing music, I was lying there buzzing like a live wire thinking of everything I needed to do the minute I left the studio.

I realized that relaxation was a two-way street and that I couldn't just lie there like a lump and expect the wonderful Erin to do all the work. Which probably sounds counter-intuitive, but relaxation requires work. I really have had to learn to focus on what I'm experiencing on the table and not let my mind wonder out of the room. Just as with yoga, I concentrate on my breathing and my muscles and finding a harmonious lack of thought. 

The last one is the hardest. It is very hard not to think -- or at least not to think in concrete terms of getting this done, getting that done. And the last thing I want is for my massage sessions to turn into silent brainstorming Things To Do.

It's getting easier with each month and I feel like I'm getting more and more out of each session. So now when I leave, I really do feel relaxed and calm. And, okay, maybe a bit pampered.

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