On My Mind - THE BEGINNING
by Julie Register
Beginning: The point in time or space at which something starts. The origin. The source.
In July 2011, I entered into the 15th year of providing information about spas via my web site. As I reflect on the path my life has taken over those years, I gratefully think of three people who I encountered early in my introduction to spas. Had it not been for them, I doubt that I would have fully appreciated or had any interest in learning more about all that spas can offer.
My First Massage
For one of our big anniversaries, my husband surprised me with a trip to Enchantment Resort in Sedona, Arizona. We had a fabulous time riding horses, hot air ballooning, hiking, discovering ancient cliff dwellings and dining outdoors while we watched the sun set on the red rocks. On our last day, we decided to try a massage at the Spa and Fitness Center, the resort's small amenity spa (this was long before Mii Amo was built). It was the first massage for each of us. My massage was so profound that it literally changed the direction of my life. I was fortunate that my first massage therapist instructed me how to receive a massage - to quiet my mind, be in the present moment and to send my breath and energy to the part of my body being massaged. I had never had those thoughts before. It felt a little other-worldly. Even now, after I've had hundreds of treatments to compare it with, that massage was outstanding. How lucky I was to have my first massage with that massage therapist! In all of the massages I've had since then, only a handful of therapists have tried to provide similar information that would enhance the massage experience. We returned to Enchantment in 2000 and again in 2010 (and got to experience Mii Amo!). We had a wonderful spa experience each time. I only wish I could remember the name of that first massage therapist. I would love to tell her about how she opened a new door for me.
My First Day Spa
For the Christmas following our first massages, my husband gave me a gift certificate to a small, women-only gym that offered massage and facials in a nearby town. This was before most salons turned into "day spas." The owner, Lorraine, was a skilled massage therapist who gave great massages. I became a regular. Lorraine loved to learn about different techniques and treatments and liked to discuss them with me. She had special evening events from time to time. From her, I learned about guided meditation and about Dr. McDougall's diet theories (low fat, vegan), which I fully believe in but (regrettably) only sometimes follow. Sadly, Lorraine developed an allergy to massage oils and creams, which affected her ability to give massages. She closed the gym a few years ago. I never hesitated to tell her how valuable I found her massages and events while I was her client.
My First Spa Book
In 1997, I ran across a book that would have another profound effect on me - Steve Capellini's The Royal Treatment. While the information about creating spa treatments at home was great, the part that I have found greatly beneficial over the years was the conscious pleasure principles presented in the first chapter. Fortunately, I've had the pleasure of knowing Steve personally for many years and have been able to tell him how much I value his insights.
"To receive the full benefit from... spa treatments..., you’ll need to develop and nurture THE CONSCIOUS PLEASURE PRINCIPLES. These principles have been tried by spa aficionados and health experts the world over. If you follow them step by step, I guarantee that you will enter a new phase in your life. They apply not only to spa treatments, but to all activities you do for yourself that are healthy, pleasurable, fun, and uplifting.
THE SEVEN STEPS TO CONSCIOUS PLEASURE
"1. Preparation: BEFORE heading to a spa, or creating a spa experience in your own environment, consciously choose to set aside ten to twenty minutes to be with yourself in silence. It is a good idea to do this on a regular basis, but it is especially important when you are about to give yourself some healthy pleasure. You’ll be amazed at how many tricks your subconscious has to keep you from being completely present and aware when you are about to “indulge yourself.” During these minutes, scan your body and your mind in great detail. How do you feel? What would you like to change about the way you feel? What feels already strong and healthy? Calmly, and nonjudgmentally, tune in fully to where you are NOW.
"2. Ambiance: Now that you are attuned to yourself, it is time to absorb your surroundings. When you first arrive at a spa, or first step into the spa sanctum you’ve created for yourself at home, stop for a minute and soak in the surroundings. In every case, you should find an environment that has been carefully constructed. Pay attention to the details. Spas have a natural aroma created by an abundance of essential oils, sea products, and herbs. Let these scents permeate your every cell. Notice the lighting: dapples of sun falling through trees, a well-placed candle. Take a moment to fully admire the flower arrangements, listen for the soothing music, both man-made and natural. Are birds speaking to you close by? Is a CD by Enya playing? Really listen this time. By concentrating on your environment, you can begin to quiet your thoughts.
"3. Greetings: When you are met by your therapist, your partner, or yourself (in the mirror) before your spa treatment, honor them with a friendly handshake, a slight bow, or perhaps exchange the word namasté. Placing your palms together over your heart, utter this simple, sacred word that means, “I honor the light within you.” Look directly into the eyes before you, especially if they are your own in the mirror. Seek out the warmth and the caring that are surely there in this most nurturing of environments.
"4. Letting Go: When the treatment begins, gradually and softly let the past go. Start with the past hour, then move to the day; erase the past week, the past month, letting the stress of your whole life slip quietly away. Look within and let the subtle stresses of guilt, regret, and remorse slip away too. Sages have said it for thousands of years, and they were right: There is only here, only now. Allow this awareness to begin its magical work of healing in your life.
"5. Immersion: When you are right in the middle of your spa experience, use your breath to tune further and further into the Present by closely following each inhalation and each exhalation, progressively relaxing each part of your body. As you do so, keep bringing your wandering mind back from the grocery list of your life.
"6. Surrendering to Pleasure: This is good for you. Honor yourself now for the pleasure you’re receiving. Know that it is completely healthy and nurturing, not only for yourself but also for everyone in your life and even strangers you come into contact with. Sometimes, because of the pressures of our modern lifestyles, we are forced into taking pleasures in ways that hurt other people or ourselves, by overindulging in alcohol, food, or sex, for example. Or by using control or power over others in unhealthy ways. The pleasure we derive from these activities is always the opposite of nurturing, and it can never by fully conscious. We hide part of ourselves away when we indulge in this manner. But with Conscious Pleasure, we can be fully present, and fully enjoying our lives at the same time.
"7. Gratitude: After the treatment is over, take time to be with yourself again. The best option at this point is to sit outside, near water, under the sky. Of course, if you’re at home, in Chicago, and it’s February, perhaps a few minutes bundled up in front of a fireplace or in a cozy bedroom is a better option. Take time to absorb the sensations that your body is now certainly feeling. Let the echoes of pleasure continue to rebound through your inner Self. Notice increased blood flow, heightened skin sensitivity, a looseness of limb, a relaxed diaphragm, a rosy, smiling face. See if, just maybe, even though you didn’t dare to expect it, you’re experiencing something not unlike ECSTASY. You may surprise yourself."
That's the story of my spa beginnings. Thanks for "listening." I am interested in hearing your story of spa discovery. Share
it with me at jar@DiscoverSpas.com.
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Farm to Treatment Table Lavender Experience
This package is available Saturdays only, May 12 – July 14 (excluding June 8), must be booked one week in advance and requires 48 hours notice for cancellation.
Hill Country Lavender Farm tour,
a bottle of organic lavender massage oil made at the farm,
lunch at Replenish Spa Café with items featuring lavender, and a lavender-based spa treatment featuring the organic lavender massage oil from the Hill Country Lavender farm.
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Hearth Health Month at mySpaShop including the best in health and wellness products from companies that give to those in need.