This weekend, I spent Saturday in New York celebrating my cousin’s upcoming nuptials. We spent the afternoon at a spa in Staten Island, where I had a 30-minute massage.
Why don’t I get massages every day?
The first time I ever got a massage was about ten years ago, and it wasn’t enjoyable. I wasn’t very good at relaxing back then – I liked to be moving, to be going, to be engaging in something productive. The massage felt more like a nuisance than a treat.
I’ve gotten much better at relaxing since that massage. This weekend, it struck me that a massage can be an excellent tool for slowing down and being mindful. It’s difficult to find ways to slow down; at least, for me it is. Lately, I’ve been feeling scattered and all-over-the-place, looking for little ways to bring myself back to the present moment so that I can feel saner, calmer, and more peaceful.
Sidebar: One of my tricks is slowing my gait. I have a tendency to rush around; I work in a school, and I find myself almost crashing into people when I turn a corner in the hallway. I usually blame this on my innate New Yorker – we walk fast. (When I was in college, you could always tell the East Coasters from the West Coasters; we’d be walking down the street, and the California kids would be at least twenty yards behind the New York/Boston/DC natives.) It’s hard work, but when I am slowing myself down, I work hard to be mindful of each step – to stop at doorways – to pause at corners – to do one thing at a time, which is way harder than it sounds.
It was surprising to me, how effective the massage was as a forced slowdown. When I feel stressed, it can be difficult to do things that help me to calm down – running, yoga, visiting a coffee shop – because they’re active. A massage is as passive as you can get – and an amazing stress reliever and mind re-setter. Who knew?