The Divine Massage

divine massage

While I was in India in January 2015, I took the opportunity to get a one-hour, full body Ayurvedic massage. I am so glad that I took the time to get a massage in India. I spent two weeks in India learning about Ayurvedic medicine. I received a Ayurvedic massage in Rishikesh. This experience created a whole new level of understanding. I will never forget it.

I paid one thousand Rupees which equals to about $16.00 U.S. dollars. After I paid the money, I followed the therapist to a therapy room. The spacious room had a massage table, chair, stool, and a cabinet against a wall. The room was lit by two high windows and a floor space heater keep it warm. (It was cold in northern India!) The cream-colored room was spacious with no pictures on the walls or decorations. The massage table was a heavy, dark brown wooden table. It had deep, open grooves along the sides to collect the oil. A Shirodhara oil container hung at the end of the table. Shirodhara is a therapy that involves pouring hot medicinal oil over the forehead.

The Indian massage therapist looked to be in her late forties. She was short and sturdy with a medium build. She had brown beady eyes and a crooked smile. She wore her long black hair in a pony tail and she wore loose pants and a kurta (long shirt) with an apron. She spoke little English.

I undressed in front of the therapist. I undressed and folded my clothes and put them on the wooden chair. I felt vulnerable as a stood there naked from head to toe. The therapist wrapped a thin towel around my trunk and pointed to the wooden stool. The space heater was near the back of the stool. I sat on the stool while the therapist rubbed my scalp with warm oil. The oil was pungent and smelled like burnt cooking oil. The therapist continued to rub my head, neck, and shoulders.

In the U.S. we do not undress in front of the massage therapist. Americans are modest; especially Minnesotans. In India and in many other Asian countries, there is no modesty when you get a massage. Furthermore, there is no medical history intake form or waiver to sign.

After the upper body massage, the therapist helped me lay face up on the hard, wooden table. The heater near the end of the table was making my feet feel like they were marshmallows roasting on a fire. I moved my feet to the sides of the table indicating to the therapist to move the heater – which she did. A thin, hand-towel-size cloth draped over my trunk. The sides of my breasts peeked out from towel. I readjusted the towel but it was no use! I gave in exposure! The therapist massaged my whole body with lotion and warm oil. She started with a gentle face massage with lotion. Then she massaged my legs, inner legs, arms, stomach, and then my breasts with warm oil. This was the first time I ever had a breast massage. It felt awkward at first but then I just relaxed. I know it’s healthy to massage the breasts. Massaging the breasts moves the lymph and create healthy circulation.

When I turned onto my stomach, hot oil poured on my back. It felt wonderful! This was divine! The massage therapist climbed onto the table to use her weight to massage my back. I could feel and hear my back crack as she went from my neck to my hips and back up from my hips to my neck. She also poured hot oil in my butt crack!

After the massage, the therapist sat me on the table and used the towel to wipe off the extra oil. The massage was over. The therapist cleaned the table as I got dressed.

body

This Ayurvedic massage was different from Western massage. I felt like it was an oil bath! I felt good and oily afterwards. According to Vasant Lad (popular Indian author and Ayurvedic doctor), during an Ayurvedic massage, “oil is applied to the entire body with a particular kind of massage that helps the toxins move toward the gastrointestinal tract. The massage also softens both the superficial and deep tissues, helping to relieve stress and to nourish the nervous system.”

Oiling is important in Ayurveda to calm the mind and nourish the body. It also improves circulation, prevents dehydration, strengthens the nerves, and creates an electrochemical balance in the body. Ayurveda massage uses large amounts of oil. According to Swami Sada Shiva Tirtha (American Swami and author), “As with all Ayurvedic abhyanga, the main emphasis is on feeding the skin rather than on massage techniques. Oil penetrates the skin, all the tissues are fed, and the toxins contained within the tissues are released.”

As a massage therapist, I took special mental notes during my Ayurvedic massage. The therapist used long strokes and compression – like a Swedish massage. After the massage, I realized that it’s the oil that made the Ayurvedic massage so special. The hot oil electrified my skin. There is an electrochemical connection with the hot oil and the skin. It’s divine!

Namaste, world.

massage

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Journey II

cosmic egg

Lately, in my life, I’ve taken more time for meditation, yoga, and day dreaming. I’ve found that my life is much more richer. I enjoy contemplating life. I just want to ponder about life and the universe. I remember being in India and observing the sadhu. The sadhu is a religious ascetic or holy person. According to Wikipedia, an ascetic describes a lifestyle characterized by abstinence from worldly pleasures. A sadhu can be male or female. Females are, “sadhvi.”

Most sadhus engage in some form of religious practice: devotional worship, practice hatha yoga, bestow religious instruction and blessings to lay people, counsel families or intervene in disputes between individuals.

The sadhus that I observed in India sat and meditated. Some sadhus engaged with people or animals on the street. Most of them were silent. It is common for them to remaining silent for years.

I realize now that, while I was in India, I never took pictures of the sadhus. I respected them and I left them alone. I was curious about them but I didn’t know how to engage with them.

I will never be a sadhvi in my present life. My lifestyle is different. I live in a country that doesn’t support holy people on the streets. This country lives in a different reality.

I can live my own spiritual life. I practice meditation and yoga. I can help others through teaching yoga and doing massage therapy. I can create space for contemplation and imagination. One way that I foster my imagination is through a type of meditation using the repetitive beat of the drum. This is a shamanic journey.

I decided to do another shamanic journey. The purpose of this journey is to get in touch with my imagination. I had set out to explore a fairy tale but the journey took on a different direction.

I laid down on the floor and listened to a recording of drumming for about 30 minutes. My entry port was Lake Waconia. I started out seeing the wooden dock that extended out into the lake. As I looked out, I saw sail boats and fishing boats in a circle leaving a spot in the middle open. The fishermen and people looked at me and pointed to the open spot in the lake. It was a cloudy day with billowing clouds in the sky.

I saw the spot that I should jump into. I ran on the dock towards the spot in the lake. I jumped off the dock and did a somersault before I landed in the water. As I sank I immediately turned into a mermaid. This time I had long orange hair and a green tail. I swam in circles until I noticed sharks making a wide circle around me. They paused as they watched me sink deeper and deeper. I saw the door on the bottom of the murky lake. I tugged on the latch but it would not open. The sharks started to get closer so I tugged again and I finally opened the door.

The door opened to cosmic space. I floated in space as I curled up into a ball; creating a spiral with my body. I transformed into embryo-like creature. I floated in space twirling around and around. Then I saw planet earth in the distance. I floated to earth.

As I floated toward earth my body transformed back into a mermaid. I landed on the forest floor and my tail turned into beautiful human legs. I was myself with a long cream-colored dress and pearl-colored cape. I was in the woods at dusk. I was not afraid. A creature floated down from the sky and landed in front of me. This being was cosmic with light and some form. He had a draping cloak with a hood. He was taller than me and I could not see his face. He told me that I was not going to explore the fairy tale. This journey wanted to show me something else. He said his name was “Mufa.” He was the teacher of imagination. I asked him if I could see his face and he told me no.

Mufa was a kind being. I was not afraid of him and I felt like I have known him all my life. He held my hand and told me that he has a gift for me. He led me to tree stump and opened the top half of it like a lid. Inside the tree stump was a box. The box changed shape several times until it became a long rectangular box. I opened the box and again the contents changed until it settled on a glowing cosmic egg. Mufa held the cosmic egg up to my eyes. I could see the swirling energy glow inside it. He told me this is the gift of imagination. He drew three lines on my palms and then he placed the cosmic egg in my mind.

Mufa took my hand and we floated up to the sky. We held hands and danced in the sky. Mufa said the key to exploring life is the imagination. Our ancestors knew the secret of imagination. Mufa asked me, “What do you want?”

I told Mufa I would like to explore my imagination and then write about it. I also told him that I would like to travel to spiritual places and then write about my experiences. Mufa took my hand and we floated back down to the forest.

Mufa said that we need to use our imagination to see things in a different way. He asked, “Why do we always have to look up to see the sky?” He used his magic and imagination to open up a window on the forest floor. As I peered down I could see the blue sky with puffy clouds. We took hands and jumped into the sky and fell down fast…like sky diving. Mufa asked me where I wanted to go. I told him let’s visit the pyramids. Soon the pyramids were in the distance and we floated to them. We landed on the ground and I reached out to touch the stones of the largest pyramid.

The journey ended with the called back of the drum. I traveled back into space, up through the door, and back to the surface of the lake.

———-

I believe that sadhus have imagination; they see the world with different eyes. They are very brave souls. They are not afraid.

Namaste, world.

tree

“To get beyond the wall of mirrors, the final challenge is to pass through a tiny door. To do this, we must make ourselves very, very small. To be humble. Then we must burrow down into the Earth, where indigeneity lives. On the other side is a clear pond. There, for the first time, we’ll be able to see our true reflection.” — Kenny Ausubel