Massage Your Mind

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?

meditation 2Meditation

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.

Having fun

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 2Music 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.

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About Alice Chan, Ph.D.

Dr. Alice Chan is passionate about developing conscious leaders and organizations. Her path to serve her life purpose has included being an award-winning Cornell professor and a leader in the corporate world for nearly 15 years. She’s the author of the book, REACH Your Dreams: Five Steps to be a Conscious Creator in Your Life, and creator of the program, 30 Days to Living Your Best Life. All content on this blog and website is her own, not the opinions of her employer.

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10 comments
Hiten Vyas
Hiten Vyas

Hi Alice,

You shared some wonderful ways to massage our minds.

For me, meditation has to be the best form of massage. My regular meditation sittings really do help me to clear my mind of thinking and wanting to do. It also helps me to re-balance and become centred again. I'm then able to go back to work in a more creative way.

Thank you.

Lori
Lori

Hi Alice,

I really enjoyed this - your description of why it feels so good to be in nature! I learned years ago that when we're around electrical gadgets or battery-powered ones our frequency is affected negatively. This is because it is a chaotic frequency. Nature has a harmonic frequency. It brings us back into our natural rhythms but I'd never thought of the non-striving, calmness of nature as having that affect on us as well.

I adore your Saturday morning hour of silence! I don't think I could do it :o but I adore the idea! Who knows; maybe some day. Just the idea of it makes me feel good LOL

By the way, Livefyre is working on a bug in their system so if you want to appear to be following the conversation you have to click "+Follow" for now, as I've done.

Lori

Latest blog post: How Much Control Do We Have?

ThinDifference
ThinDifference

Massaging your mind is a great visual, Alice. When I run, I try to do this, especially when I am on a trail in the hills. I notice what is around the path and on the path -- the roots extending across, the seasons unfolding, the rhythm of my steps with nature.... It clears my mind and refreshes me for what is ahead. Great ideas here. Thank you! Jon

scott_elumn8
scott_elumn8

I'm a big fan of the having fun option. :)  Whenever I catch myself having spontaneous fun I wonder why I don't do it more often. The silence and inaction is good to...well, and the music. Ok I like them all. The key for me is to be intentional and open to allowing more of this in my days...in the moments. Thanks for sharing these great reminders.

AlliPolin
AlliPolin

Ahhh.  A mind massage!  I found myself nodding along with so many of your suggestions.  This past week I did just that when I made bread from scratch and by hand.  Things were a little crazy at my house and instead of sinking into the stress or craziness, I turned two kilos of flour into six large loaves of beautiful bread that I kneaded, rolled and braided - I was kneading and rolling a lot of stress out of my mind and body at the same time.  

Thanks, Alice! 

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Hiten Vyas Thanks for sharing your experience with meditation, Hiten. Completely agree with you! Thank you for joining in the conversation.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@Lori Many thanks for your great comment, Lori. Love your description of electrical stuff being chaotic frequency. We're surrounded by technology these days. It's extra important to be in the harmonic frequency of nature. Thanks again for joining in the conversation and adding your feedback!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

John, what you described is a perfect example of mind massage and being in the moment. Thank you for sharing your great example!

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@scott_elumn8 Thanks, Scott. Yes, being intentional and open is key. We often don't realize how we subconsciously try to control everything to keep ourselves self. In the process, we block out so much. If only we remember to massage our mind often...using any tactic, really.

DrAliceChan
DrAliceChan moderator

@AlliPolin What a great example of mind massage, Alli! And you get bread to enjoy as well. Brilliant! Thank you for sharing this great example.

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