Don't let your mind bully your body into believing it must carry the burden of its worries. ~Astrid Alauda
I have a close personal relationship with tension. There’s always the emotional tension that comes from…you know…life (especially my life it seems) plus I do have a special gift for worrying and I sometimes have a hard time slowing down, giving things up and taking time to do nothing at all. Because of this close personal relationship with tension I seem to have found certain places on my body to just carry it around with me all the time. I get some really tense muscles in my neck and shoulders, but especially my lower back is the place I really pack it in.
As I said, I’ve felt it for years, but as the years pile up, I’ve struggled with this more and more. I have tried to alleviate the tension with Yoga and different stretches and workouts. They work ok, but sometimes I’m cranked up too tight to really be able to participate fully in the Sun-moon-saluting-soldier pose or whatever it is. I’ve done the massage thing a few times here and there over the years and that has helped the most. But the problem there is that massage just not cheap - at least not cheap enough for me. I just haven’t had (and still don’t have) the excess fundage for such an extravagant self-indulgence.
But a couple of weeks ago my body really started rebelling. I had apparently reached the limit of the tension I could stuff into my lower back and had really started doing a pretty good Quasimodo impression (you know –The Hunchback of Notre Dame?) When any walking around was required I actually sort of looked like a cross between Quasimodo and a geriatric duck (The Hunchback of Notre Duck?). My body was basically telling me this is all I can take and I can’t take no more – it was time for a sacrifice.
I’d been saving up for a while for a new coat. Winter and cold doesn’t usually bother me too much and I can usually get by with layers and jackets. But it’s been a pretty darn cold winter around here this year and I’ve been feeling the absence of a good coat. But with my hunchback duck-walk it was pretty clear that if I didn’t start taking care of myself, I wouldn’t be going anywhere that required a coat. So I decided to blow my coat money on a series of massages (like I said, a real sacrifice).
As you might imagine from my self-described tension addiction, I am just repressed enough to have some hang-ups about massage. First of all there’s the whole nudity (or near-nudity) issue. I know you’re mostly all covered up and draped except in the areas they massage therapist is working on. But still, under that I’m naked under a sheet in a room with a stranger. And then there’s being touched in a fairly intimate way (for me anyway) by that stranger. On the other hand I guess I’d rather have it be a stranger than a friend …I guess. Now I know these people are professionals and it’s like going to a doctor or a chiropractor. To them we’re just another body - like an auto mechanic working on a Buick. But to me it’s still someone massaging my butt which is a fairly familiar act (I apparently have a lot of tension in my gluteus maximus – a literal pain in the butt...go figure). But because I had come to the point of walking through Quasi-duckland every day, I was compelled to summon my inner reservoir of maturity and made the first appointment.
The Therapeutic Massage and Wellness Center is a very nice place (University Avenue in Provo). It’s full of just he kind of new-age sights and scents one expects from massage therapy. To be honest though massage tables, anyone’s massage tables always kind of worry me. They look kind of like a piece of plywood across two sawhorses (albeit decoratively carved from polished wood in Sweden or somewhere) and I can’t imagine that they’re going to be strong enough to hold me. Then there’s the little donut looking headrest thing that you get to squish your face into while they’re working on your back. I come out having lips like a blowfish for at least a little while after a massage. The music also cracks me up. It’s always a mix of ocean waves and Native American Pipes or running brook and soothing piano. I’m not complaining. It is soothing. But I can’t help but imagine (while my faced is squished into the donut) who are the musicians that create “massage music?” Then I also wonder does the masseuse just get sick of the “Soothing Sounds of the Pacific” after awhile? Do they crank up the ZZ Top or Mettalica when no one else is around?
Anyway, I’ve had 3 in my series of massages now and I feel so much better that I think I’m going to have to find a way to stick with this – self-indulgent or not. I’m not sure yet exactly what I’m going to have to give up on the other end of the budget to make massage therapy a permanent part of my life…food…haircuts…car payment? Of course if I do give up my car and have to start walking everywhere, at least I’ll be able to stand up straight.