If you have begun to feel like one of those hamsters running endlessly in a wheel, perhaps it’s time to step back and take a look at how your life is going. We’ve all heard how the modern world has provided us with a mountain of labor saving devices, but it seems instead freeing us from work that these ‘advances’ have simply given us more and more to do.
The problems people are having with adjusting to a rat race existence can easily be seen not only in the number of prescriptions written for tranquillizers, but also in the use of alcohol and/or street drugs. However, these escapes from the pressures of life come with a whole laundry list of negative aspects including physical and mental problems and addiction.
Fortunately, it’s quite possible to find a way to cope with daily stresses and frustrations without resorting to chemicals, and that is by using a combination of meditation and massage therapy.
What Meditation Can Do for You
Many people are uninformed about what meditation actually is, and often confuse it with yoga. However, meditation involves no physical exercises and relies only upon the individual taking some time to get more in tune with himself or herself. Meditation is different from self-hypnosis or even prayer as it teaches the practitioner to concentrate exclusively on the present.
Our minds are often whirlpools of anxiety about the future, worry about the present, and regrets about the past. These thoughts cause an emotional reaction that alters our body chemistry, often causing the release of stress hormones such as cortisol, adrenaline, and norepinephrine. Designed to help us handle temporary emergencies, stressful life today means that these hormones are often constantly being discharged into our systems, often with unfortunate effects:
- High blood pressure
- Weight loss or gain
- Heart disease
- Cardiovascular disease
- Anxiety and depression
- Loss of mental acuity
These effects all add up to a diminished quality of life, even if no major medical problems arise. The practice of meditation helps to calm the practitioner, and it is actually one of the best and easiest to learn of mental exercises.
Meditation does not involve blocking out the world or experiencing a feeling of ecstasy – it involves training the mind to focus exclusively on the present moment. By doing this, the mental clutter all of us have is cleared away and we learn how to be calmer and less stressed. Studies have shown that meditation will deal with many of the problems associated with stress and make dealing with life in general much easier.
Massage for Increased Benefits
Using massage along with meditation can further improve your life as well as deal with a number of physical problems. The ability to relax will be greatly enhanced by massage therapy. Under the skilled hands of a masseur, tight, painful muscles will loosen, often relieving the pain caused by pinched nerves.
Massage also acts to release endorphins into the system. Endorphins are hormones manufactured by the hypothalamus or pituitary gland and are considered neurotransmitters. Neurotransmitters are substances that facilitate passing messages between the neurons in the brain. In the case of endorphins, a feeling of pleasure is produced – endorphins are actually quite similar to opiates in their effects, and also serve to deaden pain.
Stress and anxiety often make it difficult to even get a good night’s sleep, but regular massages can help to break your sleepless cycle and get you back into normal pattern of rest. Massages are so relaxing that it’s not uncommon for the client to doze off during the session.
Our hectic lives impact us negatively in another way; stress hormones harm the immune system making it more likely that we will become more susceptible to viruses and bacteria. If you find yourself coming down with one cold or flu after another, your immune system has probably been impaired. White blood cells are among our body’s most effective infection fighters and it has been proven that massage increases the number of white blood cells.
Combine the “Marvelous M’s”
If both massage and meditation are so good for you, why not use both to really help you deal with stress and anxiety? Massage and meditation are not mutually exclusive and work well together to promote both your mental and physical health. Including regular therapeutic massage with meditation can help make you both happier and healthier.