Many people associate getting a massage with emptying your mind to enjoy a total state of relaxation. Emptying one’s mind is not always as easy as it sounds, though, even when experiencing a relaxing massage.
Why is that?
Your mind simply isn’t designed to be empty. If you try to think about absolutely nothing, you are likely to experience all sorts of random thoughts that aren’t conducive to relaxation at all.
However if you practice mindfulness during your massage, you are likely to enjoy a much more therapeutic experience.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a type of meditation that keeps you in the moment. Instead of letting your mind wander to that never-ending to-do list in your head, you focus on what you are feeling and sensing in every moment. Focus as intensely as you can, and all unwanted thoughts are crowded out.
Think about the term the mind-body experience. It’s a well-documented fact that your state of mind can have a direct effect on the state of your physical health. Mindfulness meditation is a state of mind that helps you fully engage with your massage and reap more of its therapeutic benefits.
How do I achieve mindfulness?
When your massage begins, you begin using your senses. In addition to what you are physically feeling, take in what you are hearing, seeing, and smelling. Then focus on how those four senses are making you feel in your mind.
Sound like a lot of work? It’s actually as simple as breathing. If you find your focus slipping, try to concentrate on your breathing, each breath in and each breath out, and you’ll find your way back to focusing on your senses in no time.
Are there other ways to do this?
Yes. There are several different structured exercises you can do. Not all of them can be used while getting a massage, but one of them can be incorporated quite nicely.
Body Scan Meditation involves focusing on one part of your body at a time, starting with your head and working your way down to your toes, and immersing yourself in feeling every sensation, emotion, or thoughts associated with it.
This can be easily modified during your massage by simply following along with your massage therapist as he or she works on each area of your body.
How do I stay in the mindfulness zone?
Those random thoughts are going to find their way in, especially if you’re practicing this type of meditation for the first time or if you are new to the practice of meditation altogether.
No worries! There are tools you can use to help you successfully navigate and stay in the zone:
- Remember Your Breathing – In addition to focusing on each breath, you can also use deep breathing. This is particularly helpful if your therapist touches on a tender spot. Go with it, by taking a deep breath in, and when you exhale, envision the pain leaving your body at the same time.
- Like a River – Think of each random thought as a little paper sailboat. You hold it in your hand for just a moment, then place it in the water and watch it float away. Soon it’s out of sight and out of mind.
Incorporating meditation into other areas of your life is very helpful. Take a few minutes each day to sit in a quiet place, close your eyes, and focus on your breathing. You can also take a walk and practice using your senses outdoors. When you’re ready to try practicing mindfulness during massage, contact us to set up an appointment!