I always receive some cool insight whenever I get a massage, about once every six months.
“Oh, come on,” my inner child says, “Can’t we do it more? Every week? Every month?” I wish. I cope with my crazy life by writing, working out, going out with friends, traveling, and occasionally indulging in a massage.
Once, in Akumal, Mexico, I had a view of the Mayan Riviera from the massage table in this flimsy white tent set up one floor above the cinnamon rolls in the bakery. Imagine — Cinnamon. Massage. Bakery. Ocean. Bliss. The masseur told me, with Spanish accent, after he’d kneaded me into a pulp, “You have a beautiful soul.” Wow.
I’ve gained several meaningful insights from masseuses and messeurs. Right after I’d moved out of my first marriage, in the early 1990s, Britt at the 10th Street Baths, rubbed my belly, realigning my internal organs. I began to cry. I have no idea why.
Britt said, “Look, if you’ve been with someone for eight years, it will take you eight years to get over them. Don’t rush your grief.” Deep.
A couple of Sundays ago when I went to Ten Thousand Waves, I told the masseuse, R., “I had plantar fisciitis in my feet so they were always sore. And I’m a writer so I carry a lot of tension in my head and neck.”
After the message, R. whispered in my ear, “I will leave so you can integrate yourself. Don’t get up until I leave.” So I stretched and yawned. And integrated. And when R. came back she told me to swing my legs to the side and to lean into her and she swung me up like a baby, lifting me from laying to sitting. I was totally integrated.
“Thank you,” I said, “Being a writer, I live in my head. And you have just placed me back in my body.”
“What kind of writing do you do?” R. asked.
“All kinds,” I said. “I write short poems, long novels, news articles, funny essays, blog entries.” I felt my neck tensing. I breathed. I got back to the deep relaxation I’d felt while getting the massage. “I really needed that massage.”
“Well you dropped in really beautifully. I had a good time too,” R. said.
Masseuses have a good time too? It shows that all kinds of work, even the hands-on healing kind, can be pleasurable.
Another time I’d gotten a massage in New Mexico, I think we were at Ten Thousand Waves, the guy whispered in my ear, “You live in New York? You should try Argentinian Tango. Very sensual.” What the heck! Do I look like someone who need to tango? Wow. Well, okay. Someday, yes.
I want to take this moment to thank every masseuse and masseur who’s ever laid their hands on me.
Ten Thousand Waves is a Japanese-style, many-layered spa, nestled in the cool mountains outside of Santa Fe. We soaked before our massages in the women’s tub, skinny dipping, and then after massages, we soaked, wearing bathing suits, in the co-ed tub in the dark.
I jumped in another tiny tub for a cold plunge. The air was probably 50 and the cold dunk was way colder, but I then lay in the co-ed sauna. Hot and cold. In the hot tub and in the cool night air.
Integrating body and mind. And putting them back into soul.