I like to massage my mind with quiet moments spent reading or writing. While the left side of my brain is digesting the vocabulary, the right side is creating wonderful pictures. These images in turn cross my midline and activate a basketful of homonyms, synonyms and antonyms. Crossword puzzles tease my cerebral cortex with clues that reveal facts and help me recall information that I thought was long gone.
A body massage can work in a similar way. When I get a massage I feel my cells communicate with each other. I think of the body as a whole world unto itself with transportation systems, electrical systems, support systems, security systems, waste management systems and communication systems. Your body, like the world, needs these systems to function effectively. The instant my massage therapist lays hands on me my cells become aware of each other and start processing shared knowledge. My toes are appreciated by my pelvic muscles and my ears are aware of vibrations in my intestinal tract. I see humour in this admission but the sense of oneness I feel is nonetheless profound.
I like the spelling of the word massage: It’s one letter away from message. Whether my brain or body is getting massaged, I am experiencing a state of inner communication. I am sending and receiving messages. Advertisers know this connection well and use it to sell products and/or ideas. “The medium is the message” is a phrase coined by Marshall McLuhan. I say the medium can also be a massage. We become vulnerable to suggestion and manipulation. We can be massaged into believing we need a product. We are sometimes manipulated to see a candidate in a certain way, to feel soothed by voting for someone based less on fact and more on promises.
Massage is often made fun of in the way that North Americans tend to be uncomfortable with any notion of touching. Massage is often associated with sexual experience rather than therapeutic practice. We live in a time when touch arouses suspicion. Boundaries are being declared. Consent is being redefined. Privacy issues are becoming more important as we acknowledge that almost everything in our life is being recorded. We are being massaged into believing that everything is going to be all right. Yet we have doubts. We wonder if we can trust others when we are not quiet sure if we can trust ourselves.
We need to be touched. Baby massage has been promoted for some time now as a way to help the infant relax and to strengthen the bond between parent and child. I remember how my dying mother responded to someone who massaged her head while cutting her hair. Humans respond instinctively to the warm message that a touch can provide. When I am being massaged by my trusted practitioner I can relax for a spell. In quiet contemplation I can focus on a few singular things and not run headlong into a future that is uncertain. My mind and body can feel in harmony.