There is an array of external remedies that exist to ease the challenges, limitations and pain of the mind and body.
As a massage therapist, you’re recommending and practicing these techniques on your clients regularly. But what about you? Do you take care of you as well as you take care of them?
What’s in your self-care toolkit? Do you even have one? If self-care isn’t one of your daily to-dos, it’s time to acknowledge that and make a conscious shift.
There are two daily self-care techniques you should start implementing: breathing & (you’ve guessed it) massage. These methods can help you make small steps towards monumental change.
Self-care begins and ends with focus, flexibility and fluidity. These three small f’s will lead you to the big one—freedom.
Create a Self-Care Toolkit
The focus is on your breath, the flexibility is in your diaphragm and the fluidity is in your mind and body. You can then start building and manifesting graceful energy as you begin to make this a lifestyle and a lifelong priority.
Mindset is important. You need to create and foster a growing curiosity and excitement about filling your cup (and lungs) and doing these self-care routines as often as possible.
Continue to get in alignment with this truth. That truth starts with you. These changes happen when your mind and body get comfortable knowing that this is a journey that will unfold in small steps.
While moments can happen instantly, changes in your mind and body unfold in millimeters; they progress over time, as a tribute to your dedication and practice.
It is both light and dark. Keep it simple and just breathe. Actually, take a nice deep breath before you continue reading.
That breath was action. That breath was courage. That breath took focus.
It consisted of present moment awareness that could lead to another and another. It creates continual and mindful awareness.
Your breath is your whole existence, flushing in and out of your lungs, leading your body both voluntarily and involuntarily. When you have a relationship with your breath, you have a relationship with everything and nothing at all. There is a freedom that comes with that connection.
There is movement you create in your tissue that is bound by fears and doubts. When you find flexibility in your diaphragm, you begin to feel fluidity in your whole system.
This can be challenging at first, yet, with this breathing exercise and self-massage technique, you will begin to create freedom by stretching your breath, creating space and feeling your life expand toward new capabilities.
Breath for Expansion
Focus: Eyes closed with the tip of your tongue on the roof of your mouth.
Posture: Sitting, standing or lying down.
Hands: Place one hand on your stomach and one on your heart
Breath: Inhale for five seconds through the nose and expand your stomach, diaphragm and chest. Make sure your shoulders, face and neck stay relaxed. Then exhale out of your mouth, to a count of five, pulling your stomach, diaphragm and chest into your heart center. Repeat.
Affirmation: Chose one word to focus on during this exercise. Some examples are: victory, prosperity, love and peace, but finds what suits you the best for this moment. Now, repeat that word parallel to the breath throughout the exercise.
Time: 30 seconds to 3 minutes
The joy of this breath work is that it shifts fear into acceptance. Your breath is intelligent. Breath work helps guide the mind away from limiting beliefs and energies and towards fearlessness, personal accountability and self-love.
Breath work will help move your energy towards a more conscious awareness of the looped behaviors, anxieties and fears that limit your growth. This exercise will begin to re-shape your perceptions and enhance your focus, flexibility and fluidity, and thus leading towards greater freedom.
Self-massage is one of the most underutilized forms of self-care.
You may think that you don’t have the energy for it after spending all day on your clients, but I promise you that you do. Remember, it’s in the mindset. You are actually giving yourself more life force by self-massage.
Add that beautiful breath work you just did to it and you will feel a new sense of existence building.
You’re a massage therapist, so you know what to do here. But I urge you—get into your body and feel it. Feel the knots, the pain, the “oh so good” spots and those neglected spots too, such as the little pads between your toes.
Clasp your hands and squeeze your forearms. How does every muscle and joint feel in your body? Feel what needs to go and what needs to stay. Feel and feel for five to 10 minutes a day. This does wonders.
Remember, while a particular method may work for one, it may not for the other, for that is the beauty and importance of diversity in all forms of training and life. If at first you don’t feel relief, be flexible and shift gears.
There is a lightness and darkness associated with these self-care methods. Your perception dictates your attitude. So go ahead, adjust the lens. Remember, self-care conquers limited thinking.
When I first started focusing on self-care breath work nearly 10 years ago, my chest would shake during the exercises. I would yawn, unable to catch my breath and feel uncomfortable. I was not fluid at all.
That is the trapped sadness, unacknowledged darkness and growing sense of fear. It exists and you are capable of overcoming it. That is where the practice comes in. Breath work is about perception, compassion, patience, light and expansion. Give yourself time to find the fluidity within your whole, healed heart.
Your connection with you is of the utmost importance, so take the time to care for it.
About the Author
Amanda Bongiorno, is a master therapist out of Delray Beach, Florida, with over a decade of experience. Her background is in athletics, education, massage/alternative modalities, functional anatomy, yoga, organic living and wellness. She is highly proficient in table Thai massage, acupressure and reflexology. She is a team member @TheSagelyWillowMassage; find her @borganic.
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