by Kristen Cervenak
As finals time approaches me, I feel a bit more flustered than usual. The stress monster finally captured me and dug its sharp talons into my inner peace. Neither yoga or meditation throughout the week had freed me because there seemed to be a lack of time and ability to escape. That’s when my double session experience provided me with a brand-new journey to self-discovery.
As a student, I spend so much time hunched over my notebooks and laptop. With an occasional crack of my back and roll of my shoulders, I assumed that was the way to relax my muscles. I can honestly say I have never experienced a massage. I had previously learned that Metta’s masseuses customized each session to the needs of the visitor. I can’t begin to describe how nervous I was about it. I mean – how can you know what you need when you have never known anything different?
However, Jess quickly banished all of my nerves. Her voice was as gentle as the classical music playing in the room. She asked if I wanted peppermint in my oil and after my expressed excitement, the refreshing scent filled the air.
I never realized how tense I keep my body until I tried to relax it. Particularly, my shoulders. Her hands danced up my spine like my body was a piano, gracefully, but with purpose. Every move she had was soft, yet targeting. That’s when I noticed how sore my shoulder blades were all of the time. I actually never knew what relaxed muscles felt like.
The time flew by. I felt like a thousand pounds was lifted off my shoulders. I can’t forget to mention how much more gentle my steps felt, how relaxed my breathing was, and how fantastic the faint smell of peppermint on my skin was.
I felt an entirely new feeling to my mind and body. It was almost as if I was sent into a trance. Every word that came out of my mouth came out slow and soft. My eyes drifted around the room. So, this is what a massage feels like? I never wanted that feeling to disappear.
After an amazing massage, I felt all of my positive energies restoring. The stress monster loosened its clutch, but there was still more relaxation to be had. I prepared for flotation.
“I wonder if there will be a difference in my experience, now that my mind is calmed,” I thought to myself.
I walked into what feels like my toasty other home with a new goal. Jess managed to deplete my stress, but with flotation, I would face the remaining head-on.
As I felt the rest of my body’s tension leave, I prepared for concentration.
I focused all of my energy into perfectly centering myself. My body settled and it was if I was on a bed of air. My fingers locked into place, with my fingertips above the water. After one deep breath, I felt my body lose its place. I regained my focus and found myself still again.
I began to replay the conversations I had earlier in the day in my head. I went through the pages of my memory, searching for all of the information I have learned lately. It seemed easier to drift out of a fully-conscious state, but there was something so satisfying about being in touch with myself.
With dead silence and not a single thing to visually distract me, I was free to listen to my own thoughts and fixate on being entirely motionless. This 90-minute session provided me with solutions to my stress needs, including what my next step after work would be.
My attention was shifted from my stress to my relief. I knew that massage pairs well with flotation due to muscle soreness, but I never expected the healing effects on my mental state. During and after my massage, I felt my daily troubles melt out of my skin. I had not a single care in the world. Without that experience, I am not sure if I had the energy to practice my concentration and strengthening of my memory.
After my day of work, I was brimming with ambition. I was finally freed of my frustration shackles and had one of the best study sessions of my life. It’s amazing how we can become so used to the same perspective on what we expect our bodies and minds to feel like. Sometimes, it just takes some magic hands and silent reflection to turn off the stress response and discover that everything is going to be just fine.