Monday, July 13, 2015

Masseuse on the Lose

In Happy Hour, I spoke about how time in the shower can transport one to a far off land of cleanliness and relaxation. Setting aside time to let your mind decompress during a forty-five minute ritual can have great effects on the psyche. According to the Huffington Post, relaxation is a process which can reduce our chances of getting a cold (this is somewhat tied to inflammation, a condition referenced in Humor Me) or cancer and can increase the strength of our memory. Ariana Huffington herself referenced the fact that today, showers are one of the only places we can't bring a phone, which makes it the perfect place to decompress.

"Touch is love." ~John Lennon

While taking about the procedure I follow before, during and after I shower, I forgot to include the one element which is ubiquitous throughout all these processes: massage. The act of massaging has been shown to have a myriad of benefits for quite some time. According to the Mayo Clinic, the act of massage can be helpful in the relief of, "anxiety, digestive disorders, fibromyalgia, headaches, insomnia and sports injuries," among other things.  So numerous are the benefits of massage that my dad once joked they could likely improve one's SAT scores. But I don't think massage is simply an aid in the biological sense. Studies conducted on monkeys in the 20th century found that when given an option between a (surrogate) mother made of wire which offered food and one made of soft cloth which offered no food, infant monkeys preferred spending time and contact with the "warm mother" made of cloth and only went to the "wire mother" for sustenance. At the end of the experiment, researcher Harry Harlow, "concluded that there was much more to the mother/infant relationship than milk and that this 'contact comfort' was essential to the psychological development and health of infant monkeys and children," according to Wikipedia. Unknowingly providing a paraphrase of the experiment, John Lennon once stated that, "touch is love."

It's no wonder then that I read (a few years back) a good activity for new mothers was to massage their baby. The article explained that, in such a circumstance, massage was an intuitive action that needed no training. For mothers, "[a]ffectionate touch and rhythmic movement are among the most powerful forms of communication between [you]... and your babies," according to Parents Magazine. I believe that the same goes for ourselves and our loved ones. Prefiguring one is in good health, a massage can serve as an act of love towards oneself and others. With loved one's, adding essential oils such as lavender and/or peppermint to enhance one's relaxation or energy respectively. For oneself, the shower is a great time to simulate your circulation through massage in the following ways:

Dry Brush: While a dry brush isn't exactly akin to a massage, it does simulate your circulation as you move it's bristles across your body and towards your heart. It can also exfoliate your skin making it easier to massage oneself in the shower.

Shampoo: While shampooing your hair, simply rubbing your fingers in circular motions around your scalp is a great way to stimulate circulation due to the large presence of blood vessels in the area. Since I have dandruff, massaging shampoo into my scalp is a pretty imperative ritual but according to wikihow, massaging the scalp offers the added benefit of, "stimulat[ing] mental function." Again, when essential oils are added to this process via one's shampoo, the experience becomes all the more better and effective.

Body Wash: Recently, I came across a sampling of body washes from Aromatherapy Associates. Labels such as support, de-stress and relax came into view as did the product's hefty price tag. However, as I learn more about the fusion of beauty and health, I find that it's the process, not the product, which carries the farthest reaching results. To this extent, even if one uses Ivory Soap, one can still provide his or herself with a shower massage that is sure to enhance circulation and, according to the Livestrong website, when blood circulation is increased, it, "promotes cell growth and organ function," it also allows your skin to more effectively combat bacteria and your muscles to relax. To give yourself a massage in or out of the shower, you can read up on the process here.

So, with that in mind, you have even more to look forward to regarding your shower. And to enhance the experience, here's some "Buddhist meditation music for positive energy". My friend listens to such chants when she has a cold citing that the vibrations help de-congest her sinuses. I can't help but believe her and if anything, it's certainly relaxing. Enjoy!

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