Relaxation and Massage
We have briefly discussed muscle awareness and how to recognize release of tension. The act of giving a massage is an instruction in total relaxation. Initial contact wordlessly educates the body to trust another and ourselves and to create an environment of healing. Every position silently focuses the recipient on letting go, reminding the muscles to release, relax, and restore.
Many of us do not use our lungs to their full capacity; rather, we take short, shallow breaths. Inhale deeply through your nose, feeling the breath fill your diaphragm. Hold the breath, then slowly exhale, feeling the abdomen contract, pushing the air out. As we learn to breathe properly, we feel more relaxed, yet energized.
If you try this simple exercise in muscle relaxation yourself, you can begin to experience the process of body awareness that is so important in massage. Sit in a comfortable chair, your feet flat on the floor with your hands resting either on the arms of the chair or at your side. If you prefer, lie flat on a mat, hands by your sides. Close your eyes and become comfortable with your breath:
Breathe in slowly, letting your breath fill deep into your stomach.
Hold your breath in for a count of three and gently exhale, feeling all the air releasing.
Inhale again, becoming aware of your hands; they may begin to tingle or feel heavy.
As you exhale, stay connected to your hands.
Once more, breathe in deeply and hold your breath, feeling your belly push out.
Slowly let the air leave you again, flattening your abdomen.
Gently shake your hands, feeling all tension begin to leave your body.
Relax your feet, letting each bone, muscle, tendon, and ligament relax and sinking down to rest.
Move up to your calf and shin areas and relax them.
Feel your feet and lower legs become heavy, letting go of any hidden pockets of tension.
Bring your awareness to your knees, let them relax, sinking down into the ground. Feel your thighs and hamstrings relax.
Release the last remnants of tension from your hips and buttocks, letting yourself completely rest the lower part of your body.
Feel your back relax; let your spine sink down and relax; imagine every nerve and muscle in your back completely at rest.
Let your shoulders relax now and your arms; begin to feel every part of your hands from your wrist to your fingers; relax.
As you gently breathe in and out, every organ is relaxing, slowing down, as a sense of calmness permeates within; try to feel that calmness.
Now move up to your neck, letting all the muscles here relax.
Feel your face relax, your jaw, mouth, tongue, and teeth; let your cheeks relax as well as your sinuses and your nose; let your eyes and forehead relax.
Imagine a small glowing light appearing behind your eyelids, between your eyebrows in the center of your forehead; this is your third eye, your psychic center.
Imagine this light and let it flow up to the top of your head and down the back of your body, following the spine and then the nerves, down to your soles. Color the light with a soft glow of pink or opal.
Feel yourself completely relaxed, every part of you free from tension and worry. This is the feeling we achieve when we experience massage. It is with this intention that we enter into a relationship with touch therapy.
Compassionate touch through massage heals on all levels. It helps us to relax, which in turn feeds the body, the mind, and the soul. It develops in us a sense of trust so that we can give massage as well as receive it. Giving and receiving massage develops a profound sense of self.