Holistic massage: the whole story
The word “holistic” has accumulated a bad reputation from overuse by pop-culture and pseudo-health advertising; it has become a hackneyed phrase, associated with faith-healing and dream-catchers. This article is here to untie the word from its negative connotations and give a truer picture of what “holistic” means.
The mind and the body are closely linked. If the mind is suffering, the body suffers; if the body is suffering, the mind suffers. Physical and mental stress can occur in all sorts of ways in day to day life. Living in London in particular can be hard; in this city more than most, we live our lives by the clock, counting down tube minutes, waiting for the bus, timing our meetings, being late for coffee, picking up the children from school. All of this leaves little time to look after ourselves, and our lives lack one thing: stillness. We are never quiet; we are never alone with ourselves. We are constantly thinking of what’s next on the list. It’s hard to find time to rest in London.
This is exhausting. I know; I live here, too! It affects how we feel: anxiety often builds up as muscular tension, especially (but not only) in the neck and shoulders, frequently resulting in tension headaches. Physical pain makes us even more unhappy, which contributes to our stress… and so the cycle continues.
Full-body holistic massage not only aids physical relaxation of your muscles, but helps to calm anxiety, relieve your mental stress, and allows you to become still – like meditation, except with the added pleasure of touch.
Touch is a very important element of human life. It’s also another part that is often neglected in the rush of day-to-day living. When was the last time someone stroked your hair? When was the last time someone massaged your feet? Research strongly points to the conclusion that we develop to become more well-adjusted adults if we are hugged and touched more as children. Why shouldn’t adults have the same comfort? We would all doubtless be happier if we were cared for in this way all the time, especially in a big city, where sensations of disconnection and alienation are very common.
Holistic massage can be tailored to your needs. You can ask for whatever kind of pressure you like. Sometimes you might have been to the gym, or taken the dog for a long walk, or been sitting at your desk for a long time; you might want a deeper massage then. A lighter, gentler massage might make you feel safe and cared-for at the end of a long and stressful week.
Pleasure has somehow become associated with shame, especially in British culture. Eating a slice of cake is “naughty” – but a slice of cake can fit easily into a healthy, balanced diet. It’s all about balance. As long as it doesn’t fit into an unhealthy pattern, pleasure is good for you. Relaxation is good for you. Stillness is good for you. And holistic massage is good for you, because it combines physical benefits (increased circulation, muscle relaxation, and reduction of aches and pains, among others) with the mental benefits of relaxation.
This is what holistic means. It simply means “looking after the whole of you”.