"You should really start meditating," said a massage therapist to me a couple months ago after I'd re-robed and grabbed my requisite water from her in the dim hallway.
Her prescription felt like a slight. Throughout the entire massage, I could tell that she was frustrated with me. "Relax!" she kept saying as she shook my arm back and forth in an attempt to loosen me up. "Just melt into the table!" (What does that even mean?!?)
But with every "gentle" demand--even with the ambient music and aromatherapeutic oils migrating their way toward my nostrils--I felt myself stiffening even more. At the time, I found a bit of humor in it. I must be really, really, super-duper tense, I thought to myself. The more I thought about it afterward, though, the more frustrated I became. Massages should not be like that!
Instead, they should help you become more calm as every minute goes by. That takes time, and I honestly believe it takes real work. It's possible, though, as I learned from my most recent massage.
For anyone who hasn't been to Sedona, it's one of the most beautiful places in the world. I go several times a year to hike and explore the art galleries. It's considered a very "spiritual" place and is prone to, well, for lack of a better term, "hippie" mentality. I say that in an endearing way.
To give you a better picture of the type of people who frequent Sedona (outside of adventurous outdoorsy types), and of those who live there, you'll find myriad shops where you can get your fortune told, or even have a photograph taken of your aura. Once I had a man insist upon telling me what my spirit animal was as I chowed down on an enchilada in the restaurant booth next to his.
Many people also believe that Sedona is a home to numerous energy vortexes (some believe that's why the juniper trees are so twisted) and anyone can sign up for a guided tour that points out particularly spiritual places. Not really my thing, but I'm all about doing whatever it takes to find your own inner peace.
Knowing all this, I went into Spa at L'Auberge with an open mind. It's a gorgeous, sprawling facility that also offers lodging and dining, and the people are so kind and welcoming. I immediately felt calmer after walking inside, which was a good sign. The spa offers various types of treatments, including a "Feet in the Creek" guided, meditational walk through Oak Creek Canyon that concludes with a reflexology massage. I contemplated indulging in that one, but ultimately decided on a treatment called, "A Quiet Mind."
Quiet Mind is inspired by the Quiet Mind flower essence blend from Lotus Wei. This treatment is designed to assist guests in learning to turn off their mind and fully experience their massage. The flower essences include Geranium, Bird of Paradise and Passion Flower, to support the guest in letting go of distraction and dissolving muscle tension. Guests will learn simple guided breathing techniques while the therapist attunes facial acupressure points. As the mind calms the guest will experience a deeply relaxing massage, without their mind interrupting.
The concept of "A Quiet Mind," is actually pretty ingenious. It begins with a misting of the Quiet Mind essence (so good), and then your therapist begins a 30-minute massage that focuses on pressure points all over your body. The goal is to massage and meditate before your actual 60-minute massage begins. So. Meta. And it works.
Seriously, I don't know about you, but as my opening story conveys, it takes time for me to work through the days and weeks of stress in my muscles, and to let go of all the thoughts in head. Simply lying on a comfortable massage table isn't going to make it all disappear.
I was admittedly a little skeptical, but by the end of my 90 minutes I was the most relaxed I've ever been after a massage. Being made aware of my breath and my body during those first 30 minutes, and having the therapist focus on particular pressure points to calm me, was pretty darn effective. I was so relaxed, in fact, that I ended up heading to the steam room and lounging around for an additional 30 minutes. As someone who likes to go-go-go, giving into my body's desire to just... sit... was an incredible treat.
I know not every facility offers something akin to the "Quiet Mind" at Spa at L'Auberge. However, if you're going into a massage at your local place, perhaps you may find value in setting aside 20 or 30 minutes to just calm yourself beforehand. The effects were kind of mind-blowing (or would that be mind-quieting?) for me, and it's something I plan to do moving forward. Focus on your breathing, massage your own pressure points, put on some calming music, and get in the mood for the awaited bliss of a full body massage. It'll make it that much better.
- What's the best massage you've ever had?
- What's the worst massage you've ever had?
- Are you digging the idea of a massage before your massage?