On the Mind-Body Connection, Part One

So, I finally took a vacation this week (hence all the free time to get this blog rolling). I rescheduled it 5 times because of work “conflicts” and I am a bit resentful of them and of myself for letting them do this. But at this moment all is fine and good and  I am at a luxury spa. I am not wealthy but I travel so much for work that I have enough points and miles to really indulge myself for a week. Self-indulgence in a superficial sense is not new to me. I will admit, I tend to self-soothe with things like food (dramatic recent weight gain to be addressed in future posts), and shopping. That immediate gratification is comforting but short-lived. It’s like the high I imagine people get when they do drugs. It’s an escape, but an unhealthy one. On the flip side, I am one of those people who doesn’t “vent” very effectively at times. I may complain to my friends but I mean vent in the literal term. I don’t release my stress and anxieties very well. So I get headaches, acid reflux, knotted muscles, etc. I internalize because I don’t know how to ask for what I need.

The recent mass accumulation of these ailments led me to decide to indulge this time around in spa treatments. This on the surface sounds just as superficial as the food and the shopping but I’m telling you, now that I’m 3 days in I know it’s something different. I am physiologically changed. 3 days, 3 treatments.

Day 1. Mud Wrap/exfoliation/massage. 120 minutes. Excellent first step. Not sure what good the mud wrap really did other than the scalp massage I got while I was wrapped like a giant chocolate burrito. The massage was lovely. I may have overcorrected her when I said my muscles were tight and tender and to go easy on me. It felt good though and after I was done I felt more relaxed than when I started.

Day 2. Botanical Bliss Facial. 80 minutes. This one was good for my ego. She said I had “gorgeous skin”. Even though this was labeled a facial, there was still head, shoulder, arm and hand massage. I came out of this one even more refreshed and relaxed. Lovely.

Day 3. Hot Stone Massage 50 minutes. This, my friends, is where my life changed. I don’t know if the first two treatments just loosened the lid for me or if she was just THAT good, but oh my holy god. That 50 minutes I had this afternoon may have changed me forever. Each pass of that heated, oily stone stripped me away like old rotten varnish on an antique dresser. The tightness, the pain, the mental resistance, all gone. I almost cried on the table. It was transformative.

This leaves me wondering about the mind-body connection for real–like medically. Is my mind poisoning my body? Does stress literally kill? Will my mood-management shortcomings cause me to die early? Will a massage a month help me to live a healthier life or is it just a band-aid like that old-fashioned cake doughnut at Starbucks? So many questions arising from some slippery hot rocks. Luckily my feet get to weigh in on the topic on Friday during my 80 minute spa pedicure. I’ll keep you posted.

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