Not all cultures view breasts with the same sense of fascination and conflicted sensibilities and childishness as we do in the US in particular. Breasts are simultaneously elevated and shunned. It is an odd duality, again seemingly leftover from the the arrival of the puritans. We are still living with their ghosts. I am certain somewhere out there I will be criticized for even writing this post, however I was asked to create a small post on the importance of breast massage and since it is so difficult to find, some self care suggestions.
The breasts have been used in symbolism since time immemorial. They have represented love and fertility, as well as sex and pleasure. But dream interpretation theories show that in the deep recesses of our minds, for men and women alike, breasts symbolize something even more integral--our primal need for motherly love, support, security, care, and nourishment, because their function as an organ is to give just that.
The breasts serve not only physical needs of sexual intimacy and breastfeeding but also energetic needs. Likewise, the state of breasts and changes in them can be clues as to what emotions are being processed or need processing. In this way, caring for your breasts is caring for your soul. A beautiful statement by Susun Weed in her book Breast Cancer? Breast Health! sums up this idea: “We cannot nurture others fully or well unless we also nurture ourselves.”
In terms of the mind/body connection - never have I seen an area of the body correlate so well with what is manifesting within a person’s heart and mind. Both men and women often go to their doctors with a feeling of discomfort in the chest, without any cause found after numerous tests and scans. But the discomfort is real—the causes are often too subtle for Western instruments to detect. Ayurveda can recognize these subtle sensations as signs of imbalance.
Ayurveda ( a 5000-year-old healing wisdom tradition from India, teaches in order to maintain a state of balance, the whole person must be addressed—no part of the body or energy is excluded) relies on massage as preventative medicine, and traditional ayurvedic massage doesn’t overlook the breasts as in the West.
Jennifer Johnson, spa director of the Chopra Center writes "Over years of work, we found that many women work through complicated issues with their breasts, confusion from oversexualizing, and shame carried through various belief systems, and also that women very rarely touch their breasts," says Johnson. "We also saw women confronting complicated emotions after recovery from breast surgeries—everything from biopsies, lumpectomies mastectomies, reconstruction, and augmentations. I have written on this topic before here and if you are interested please go over and read my prior post. But for now, back to the self care. Here is a basic 10 15 minute ritual that will help you get connected to your body, and can be practiced with frequency.
A Simple Breast Massage Ritual
Practice breast massage frequently, taking special care to notice the health and condition of your breasts and note fluctuations around your monthly cycles. Daily, weekly, whatever you can do. Not only is this ritual good for your physical health, it is grounding and could be a key to your emotional well being..
Ayurvedic medicine favors Sesame as a nourishing and neutralizing base oil. One oil I use daily is cold pressed almond oil. Add essential oils if you are comfortable with them or simply use as is.
Stand or sit in front of a mirror.
That's all there is to it. Pleas let me know your thoughts on this article, if you found it helpful, and feel free to share it.
~ with Aloha
Breast massage therapy, although uncommon in many massage practices, and sometimes controversial on the health front, should be a higher priority for women and their physical, emotional and spiritual wellness.
How Ayurvedic Breast Massages Can Help Promote Lymphatic Flow
Why Your Breasts Need To Be Massaged
I have just returned from certification training in full chest and breast massage on the west coast and the timing was interesting as October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
Although this work is not specific to breast cancer patients or breast cancer survivors, there are a number of physical and psychological benefits to those either facing this disease, going through it and recovering from it. Some of which I have discussed here.
During our training, we were fortunate to have among us cancer patients and survivors, including women who have undergone a partial lumpectomy, a double mastectomy, reconstructive surgery, enhancement and breast reduction.
If anyone needs and deserves the healing, caring touch of massage, it is women living with breast cancer, whether before, during or post-treatment. Massage and touch at any stage of breast cancer will take a woman to another place than her disease. Massage can assist her throughout her entire journey, from diagnosis to recovery. It can be difficult for the patient to deal with family issues, body image, finances, friends and do-gooders.
Massage can help.
When asked what massage does for them, clients have replied with comments such as:
Massage therapy has been shown to offer a number of benefits for breast cancer patients. Performed by a skilled and qualified therapist, the immediate benefits of massage therapy include reduced stress and anxiety. Long-term massage effects include reduced depression and hostility and increased serotonin values, .
Massage can also enhance one's feeling of well-being. It can stimulate the nerve endings in the skin, release endorphins (the feel good hormone) and inhibit the stress hormones, cortisol and adrenaline.
In a study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research, the Touch Research Institute found that massage therapy reduced anxiety and depression. It also improved immune function, including increased NK cell number in breast cancer patients. Additionally, breast cancer patients have improved immune functions following massage therapy.
Another study* found that therapeutic massage reduced cancer pain perception by an average of 60 percent, decreased anxiety by 24 percent and enhanced relaxation by 58 percent. A Touch Research Institute study involving 20 children with leukemia found that daily massages by their parents increased the children's white blood cell and neutrophil counts (neutrophils form a primary defense against bacterial infection).
Why Mastectomy Massage?
The benefits of mastectomy massage are numerous. The therapist's intentions and the quality of touch provided can make a world of difference to a client who has recently experienced a variety of invasive and painful tests and procedures. The intention is not to "fix" the client, but to provide love, nurturing, relaxation and quality of life.
Massage can relieve post-operative pain and edema, and promote the removal of toxins as it assists in the flow of lymph, blood and oxygen. Over time, clients will experience increased range of motion, reduced scar tissue, restored feeling and sensation by stimulating nerve endings, an improved body image and may become more aware and reconnected to themselves. Aside from massage generally promoting better health and overall well-being, it just feels good!
Can Massage Spread Cancer?
The concern that increasing circulation via massage will cause the spread of cancer is unfounded. Cancer can spread with little or no activity, such as sleeping, breathing, eating, walking, etc. Therefore, there is every reason to believe that gentle, light or compassionate touch can be administered safely and effectively, provided that no direct pressure or massage is applied to the traumatized area affected by disease.
Light massage may actually have a protective effect, as it keeps the blood and lymph circulating. Touch may help prevent tumor proliferation, as it reduces the body's levels of glucocorticoids and cortisol & hormonal measurements of the body's stress levels. Conversely, high levels of these substances in the body have been linked to tumor growth.
Massage therapy does not treat cancer. But it can have a profound impact on a patient's well being. If you are facing breast cancer, talk to your doctor about seeking massage therapy and then book an appointment to begin your journey of healing and self care.
- with aloha
A Really Good Massage Blog
I write about things that I myself need to be mindful of. ways in which I would like to improve. It is not from the perspective of preaching - but rather writing helps me work out what I myself need to do - we are all in this together.