by Gloria Coppola, L.M.B.T.

Enchanting the Soul: Taking Care of Self, MASSAGE MagazineTraveling through life in our physical bodies can cause many of us to experience discomfort. When illness and pain confront us, we search for answers to recover ourselves. For some, the road is long, and we often get frustrated when there is no relief.

With so many therapies, doctors and counselors available to help, why is it some of us can’t heal?

Let’s explore the connection of body, mind and soul. We are beginning to understand how the body and mind are connected. Some propose that our thoughts create our reality. If we change the way we think, we can heal ourselves.

Individuals studying the theories of the Power of Now, Laws of Attraction, etc. are still wondering why they have pain or depression. They created positive affirmations, they read all the books and attended the seminars. So why is some of it not working the way they had hoped?

Thomas Moore, author of Care of the Soul, says our soul needs to be enchanted. This can be as simple as honoring ourselves.

My experience in life has shown me that exploring the true essence of my spirit makes me feel wonderful. However, when I compromise myself, especially for another, I notice I may be tired or depressed. I may not take the time I enjoy to write poems, paint or go dancing. It took me more than 30 years to finally take oil painting lessons, and I cannot express in words how my spirit jumps for joy when the brushes and paints come out. A gift I only imagined existed is blossoming.

We should not negotiate our spirit, yet this is what often happens in the dynamics of relationships—especially for those in the care-giving fields. When forces are against each other, when power is the issue, when being right is more important than what is right for the individual, then we are negotiating our spirit. When we don’t take the time because we give and give, when we don’t honor what we feel—that is, giving our bodies the opportunity to store resentment and anger—we eventually manifest emotional or physical pain.

As a bodyworker, I have often witnessed someone release physical pain when they expressed their feelings, perhaps during a session. I have also done the same when receiving healing work. I have encouraged clients to find something they enjoy doing, and when they did, I witnessed how their attitudes become more positive.

So how do we honor self? Get to know who you really are.

Find a source within yourself and begin to trust what is right for you.

Know who you are and stand up for yourself.

Nourish and nurture your soul, whether with prayer, meditation, dancing, fishing, surfing or playing guitar. Remember what you stand for and what you want for yourself.

Set goals. Forgive those around you and surrender that which holds you back, so you can free yourself and just be. When you put too much energy into other people and situations, you leave less for caring about yourself. Decide now, what is the first thing you want to do for you?

Meditate. A couple of years ago, in a meditative session, it was reconfirmed to me that you have to love yourself foremost. When you are sure who you are and what your purpose is, you never have to compromise yourself. You will remain an individual, and there will be understanding, compassion and empathy. There may be a certain amount of pain in life or relationships, but they need not pull you down to a place of depression or physical ailments. Take the time to meditate and listen to the inner voice or your higher wisdom. What is it saying?

Balance is key. When a difficult situation arises, don’t take everything personally. Yes, sometimes a person can hurt us. Decide if it is necessary for you to stay in that situation. Remember what it feels like to be in your heart. I’m not suggesting you leave every situation or relationship and run away, just look at it for what it really is. Step outside of it and play witness. Can you still be yourself and feel accepted? Are you feeling drained, or do you feel solid and balanced?

Honor yourself. This step is essential to maintaining good health and being happy. Finding peace within will make for a brighter day. You will find your perceptions in life change dramatically. When this happens, your heart and soul are enchanted and you can dance through life.

Spend time in nature. Our busy lives take us away from the elements of Earth. Do you spend too much time at the computer, TV or working? Go outside on a nice, sunny day and take a hike. Notice how you feel when you start your journey and when you are done.

You will probably notice many of your concerns and worries are not pounding in your brain, you are breathing easier, you are aware on a different level and you are feeling lighter. Breathe in the fresh air and slow down. Look at the leaves of the trees or the rocks on the ground. Tune into the sounds of the birds or the smells in the air. Sit for a while in silence and just be.

Massage therapists seem to be a group of creative individuals; however, I have listened and seen that many are not taking the amount of time to support their own creativity. Their hands and wrists hurt, and their back and necks ache. Ask yourself, when did you get your last massage? When has someone nurtured you?

In many of my classes, which require us to do some inner soul searching, I find individuals are truly stuck and cannot describe who they are in the terms of their spirit. They can state they are a massage therapist, mother, brother, etc., but the challenge of listening to their soul’s desire of what their purpose is here on this Earth beyond a “title” seems to evade them. Often, sitting still and being silent is like torture for them. The simple exercise of paying attention to how one feels seems to be boring or challenging. Why is it that we struggle with this, or have we just been so far removed from our true spirit’s essence that we have forgotten how to access this space?

I have walked away from trainings and weeks or months later hear back from students who decided to take some of the exercises and lessons experienced and apply them in their lives. They were pleasantly surprised to notice things can change quickly, and they are living a life they only dreamed about previously. They become successful, have easier and happier relationships and find time to enjoy life.

When your clients begin to notice the shift in you and see the vibrancy of your spirit, they will want to know what you are doing. Encourage them and support in finding their soul’s desire. They will thank you and notice they are feeling better.

Remember, you can read all you want and attend all the seminars in the world, but if you don’t apply it in your life and fill your soul’s desire, you will always go back to the place you started and probably get frustrated because things aren’t working they way you expected.

So whatever you have been longing to do or miss in your life, make the time now to do it. Don’t let anyone stop you. Pay attention to your needs, and your soul will thank you.

Gloria Coppola, MASSAGE MagazineGloria Coppola, L.M.B.T., has been in the healing arts profession for more than 22 years. The former owner of a massage school and curriculum writer for schools in the U.S., she is now a nationally approved continuing-education provider. For more information, visit or call (828) 713-3521.