Do you enjoy massages? I do, very much in fact. After quite a few hours spent on airplanes lately, I really enjoyed the therapeutic massage I had this past weekend. The knotted up muscles in my back especially appreciated the TLC. We all have vulnerable spots in our bodies that hold the bulk of tension and stress in our lives. For me, everything goes straight to my back. Having the knots and kinks smoothed out made me feel more relaxed and rejuvenated.
That got me thinking: What would be to the mind as massage is to the body? How would we “massage” our mind?
The first thing that came to mind was meditation. After all, meditation is all about quieting the mind. Even if our minds are prone to wander during meditation, the conscious practice of returning our attention to our breath, a mantra or some other chosen focus helps us to relax the mind and untie any knots that may have been created from chronic worrying or being in extended problem-solving mode. In other words, meditation is like massage for the mind.
Being out in nature
Have you ever noticed feeling better when you’re out in nature, whether it’s the beach, a hiking trail or undeveloped open space? Dr. Deepak Chopra says that, when we’re out in nature, we give our bodies a chance to synchronize with the rhythm of mother earth. In nature, there’s no striving. A tree doesn’t worry about getting taller; it just does. The waves don’t stress about when to ebb and when to flow; they simply do. Everything grows and flows according to an unknown, non-striving rhythm. When we commune with nature, we give ourselves a chance to surrender the striving we’ve adopted in modern life. For however long we allow ourselves to enjoy the caress of fine sand underfoot or the fragrance of redwoods infusing our nasal senses, we allow the non-striving ease of nature to massage our minds.
What’s fun for you to do? Turn up the stereo, and sing/dance like nobody’s watching? Hanging out with your kids playing board games? Having a girls’/guys’ night out? It doesn’t matter what the specific activity is; anything that gives our analytical, planning and problem-solving left brain a break is a good thing. It gives us a chance to loosen the knots in our minds that have us all wound up over how people and situations in our lives are failing us—by not behaving the way they should, by not being neat and orderly as they should. When we engage in activities that lighten us up, the load we carry in our mind gets lighter, too. Mental massage.
Listening to inspirational or relaxing music
Music not only has the power to tug at our heartstrings, but also holds the potential to engage our right brain. When we’re in planning, doing and problem-solving mode day in and day out, we over-tax our left brain. Meanwhile, a whole half of our innate power doesn’t get developed or see the light of day, i.e., our right brain that houses creativity, intuition and vision, among other things. Depending on the kind of music chosen, we can be inspired to see—and feel—possibilities that don’t get our attention when our left-brain is in full gear, and we’re too busy trying to control things that we don’t notice these possibilities. Letting music marinate our mind and massage it is a good idea for balanced modern living.
Appreciating pleasant art or visuals
If you’re a visual person, allowing your imagination (right brain function) to be engaged by artwork or other visuals could be a great way to allow your mind to be massaged. Similar to the above point about music, the idea is to get out of problem-solving and doing mode and give your unbounded creativity and imagination some airtime.
Being in silence and inaction
On most Saturday mornings, my routine is to sit in silence and inaction for half an hour to an hour above and beyond meditation time before going out to play tennis. It’s a way for me to unwind and decompress mentally from the work week and to be in non-striving, non-doing mode. This is especially important of late, when I’ve been traveling for work as well. Even though I often need to do a little work on weekends, I don’t let it be at nearly the same intensity as it is during the week. Some other activities have had to go, for instance my social media engagement, but I’ve been intentional about these tradeoffs since months ago when I returned to corporate leadership. It’s really important for me to have space for silence and inaction. To me, it’s another form of mind massage.
What about you? What do you think about the idea of massage for the mind? What are other ways you massage your mind? Would love to hear about your ideas and practices.
Photo credit: http://www.freedigitalphotos.net/
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