I am wrapped tightly in foil which makes crinkling sounds every time I breathe. The foil is wrapped in an electric blanket which has been thoughtfully warmed up beforehand. Underneath these layers my skin has been slathered with a cold, green seaweed mask. In spite of my dislike of anything tight-fitting on my body, this cocoon is comforting – safe.
The lights have been dimmed and I am aware of the spa music in the background, but my mind does not focus on it. My breathing relaxes as the esthetician whispers to me to close my eyes. With soft fingers she gently traces the line of my jawbone and makes small circles beside my ears. And then my favourite part – she makes a figure-eight around my eyes over and over again with alternating fingers until I can’t tell which hand is which. Bliss.
As spa therapists, we were often called upon to be volunteers for new staff so they could practice treatments. This is one job where “other duties” in the job description meant pleasant additional tasks.
I can retrieve this memory at will, especially when I am falling asleep at night and want to fast track my body into the parasympathetic state. When we allow our minds to relive an experience good or bad, our cells re-experience the event as if it is happening in real time. It is pleasant to relive these experiences – “Deposits in the memory bank” as my mother-in-law says. However, reliving negative experiences subjects your body to the same stress perhaps subdued from the original experience, but harmful all the same.
This is why it is so important to be aware of your thoughts. We can learn from our experiences, but it is not necessary to force our bodies to relive then over and over again. It is exhausting to do so and detrimental to our health – emotionally and physically. These experiences can be likened to a suitcase that every once in a while we open up to see what is inside with a detached awareness as opposed to a heavy backpack that we carry around all day.
“Keep your mind on what you want and off of what you don’t want.” Simple words for a happy life.