Staying Present During Your Massage
When being busy becomes a habit, it can be challenging to stay present while you relax. The habit of busy-ness can take a number of forms, from constantly thinking about work and home responsibilities, to fidgeting and scrolling through social media.
While being constantly busy can feel like a required aspect of adulthood, and fidgeting can feel good, mindfulness is important to our mental and physical health. As our minds can wander even during a massage, let’s look at ways we can stay present during a time reserved just for us.
1. Focus On Breathing
One of the best methods of returning to the present moment is to focus on your breath. This actually increases activity in your parasympathetic nervous system, the “rest and digest” set of automatic processes that promote regeneration and relieve stress.
During your massage, you may want to breath deeply into any trigger point releases or other techniques your therapist uses on problem areas. Breathing into the releasing techniques could allow them to work more effectively, and you get to truly experience the feeling of your treatment working. In everyday life, a useful method of returning focus to your breath is inhaling for four counts, holding your breath for the same period of time, and exhaling for another four counts.
2. Focus On Your Body
A “scan” or “sweep” of your body is another helpful way of returning your mind back to the present moment. Take note of all sensations throughout your body if you start to notice your mind wandering. “Look” from head to toe, and see if there are any areas you may be holding unnecessary tension.
This helps your massage therapist too, because you can let go of tension that could get in the way of treatment. If you are guarding because of unwanted pain (not the “good pain” of releasing a knot, but the “bad pain” of a potential injury or overuse), or perhaps you are hypermobile and cannot be bent or stretched passively, let your therapist know.
3. Consider A Mantra
Mantras or affirmations can be a powerful way to reset your mind after it wanders to negative or otherwise unwanted thoughts. The mantra you use is entirely up to you! For example, a Sanskrit word or phrase may fit if you love yoga, which also engages the brain in other ways as you’re using an unfamiliar language.
On the other hand, you may prefer a Louise Hay-style affirmation. This can be related to how you’d like to feel during and after your massage, such as “I am safe” or “I accept my power” if you often feel anxious. You may want to have several mantras or affirmations for different occasions, too.
4. Habits Before And After A Massage
What you do before and after a massage can promote mindfulness during the session. Building the habit of mentally slowing down can go a long way in staying present. For example, you could turn your phone off or avoid social media use for an hour beforehand. If you’re having regular treatment, taking it slowly afterwards – e.g. no phone use, or activities that require you to focus on the one task at hand – can build up the habit of mindfulness for future treatments.
Practicing mindfulness can have great benefits for your health and everyday life. Why not start on the massage table? With these tips to bring your attention back to your body and treatment, you may find that it’s easier than you thought.