Use these mindfulness tips to enhance and prolong the benefits of your massage - written by Ali Binns, a CBT Therapist in Bath.
There are many reasons you may have come for a massage. Perhaps you were looking for relaxation, calm, a relief from anxiety or pain, some nurturing and soothing me-time – maybe all of them? All of these benefits can be improved if you can apply some mindfulness to your massage. Why not give it a try?
The definition of Mindfulness as proposed by Jon Kabat-Zinn (the founder of MBSR, Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction) is, “paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgementally, to the unfolding of experience moment by moment”. Of course mindfulness is an art in itself and to experience its many healthy benefits for mind and body, there’s nothing like ongoing practice, but combine some simple mindfulness techniques with your massage and you’ve got a winning formula to extend and boost the benefits of your treatment.
The way to be truly in the moment with your massage is to engage all your senses and focus on the experience. If your mind drifts off to what you’re doing next, or thinking about what happened earlier, then you can’t be said to be truly in the moment and your mind won’t relax into the soothing environment offered by the touch of the massage therapist and the cocooning environment of the therapy room.
Here are six tips to get the most from a mindful massage with Rose Holistic.
On arrival You can focus on the taste and savour your choice of herbal infusion. Allow yourself to start to focus and home in on being here and setting your intention to devote this time to your own wellbeing. Before the massage would also be a great time to check in with your body and notice how it is feeling.
Touch The sense of touch is perhaps what we most associate with massage and its therapeutic touch. Start by noticing the warmth of the room, the softness of the throw/ fluffy towels. As your massage starts, pay attention to the feeling of the touch on your body. How does your skin feel? Does it feel warm to the touch? Cool? Or neutral? How do your muscles feel? Do they feel resistant? Do they start to loosen or soften? Do you notice tingling? Is your attention drawn to aches or pains? It doesn’t matter what you notice, whatever it is, just allow your experience to be as it is... There’s no right or wrong. Just focus on the touch and allow yourself to be immersed in the massage.
Sounds If you have music during your massage, you can focus your mind on the melody and allow yourself to be transported and float away on the gentle sounds around you. Each time your mind drifts to doing and planning, just remind yourself to come back to your experience and go back to the sounds. Or move to another focus point...
Smell If you’ve chosen an aromatherapy massage, then it’s wonderful to be mindful using your sense of smell. Use this often underused sense to uncover the different notes of fragrant oils and bring a greater sense of relaxation, or invigoration if you have chosen one of Rose Holistic’s more energising fragrances.
Sight Most people tend to close their eyes during their massage as this enables them to relax and enjoy the experience. If however, your eyes are open, try a soft gaze on something you can see in the room, perhaps flowers, a candle or a picture you can see. Whatever you focus on during your massage, keep bringing your attention back to the moment, and putting worries and future plans on hold for your appointment.
Post massage At the end of your massage, now’s a good time to check in with your body and mind once more. Can you notice a difference between before and after? How are your body and mind feeling now? Perhaps lightness, relaxed, free, floating, calm? See if you can let your body and mind remember these positive feelings and carry them with you into the rest of your day or week...
Ali Binns is a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist in Bath, and runs mindfulness workshops for small groups.
Find out more at www. alibinns.co.uk