By Leo Babauta
Many people I know are on a quest to optimize their lives — some of my favorite people in the world will spend days trying to perfect a productivity system, get things automated, or find the perfect software for anything they’re doing. They are on a continual search for the perfect diet, the perfect work routine, the perfect travel setup.
Optimizing can take quite a bit of time and energy.
What would happen if we let go of optimizing? Who would we be without the idea that we should optimize everything?
One idea is that if we decided not to optimize everything, we’d stop caring, stop trying to make things better, and live sub optimal lives. But I know myself pretty well — I will always care, even if I am not trying to optimize. I will always do my best, which is different than optimizing — it’s taking care and giving love, even if things aren’t optimized. I believe most of you are this way, pouring your hearts into something with pure love, without needing to make everything perfect.
So why shouldn’t we optimize? And what would it be like if we didn’t?
Give me a few moments to make the case against optimizing, and present an alternative way.
The Case Against Optimizing
I don’t think people who optimize are idiots (many of the smartest people do it), nor is it a life-ruining thing to try to optimize. I’ve done it many times.
And do it with a smile and joy in your heart. What a life we have been gifted with!
Sooo many clients tell me, "I need to come in more regularly, but I get busy and forget to book. Or " I wish it was a bit more affordable".
I was not certain that a massage membership would be a program suitable for a sole practice, or that my clients would want one - so I sent out a survey. Boy was I surprised. A whopping 88% said they would be "Interested" or "Very Interested" in a discount massage program and a 20% discount seemed to be the sweet spot to entice people to participate.
So that's what I have created. A simple no nonsense membership program designed to provide routine monthly treatments for you at an amazingly affordable price. Membership will help you to create a self care commitment, plus you'll be building a relationship with a thoughtful caring therapist provider.
*When you commit to membership, you are helping change the culture of massage therapy. It is not a luxury, or a gift to oneself but a critical component to an overall wellness regimen.
Memberships provide a discount for every treatment. At only $90 per month, it is a savings of 20% over walk in rates and helps reinforce the idea of routine visits and incorporating massage into a wellness regimen..
Our 6 Month members enjoy these amenities:
Our 1 Year members enjoy all of the above plus:
If you would like more information, or wou dlike to sign up, please go here:
I had the good fortune to do a massage exchange with a local well respected colleague this week. Naturally I was apprehensive because she has a very good following and has been well established for years. So it was with some satisfaction that she had such an appreciation for my work and my approach. And it got me to thinking about how relaxation is really more than just a spa pleasure but really at the foundation of pain relief as well as stress relief. This comes up often in my discussions with clients about pain, and the mind (where pain is located) and the importance of calming the mind through all the senses, and how touch, sound, smell, temperature of the room, all play a role. Anyway I digress. Back to the exchange, here are some words lifted from her description of my work to her clients.....
Is it really all that important to relax and relieve stress?
Yes! Today I am promoting the idea that Gentle + Kind is actually the new Deep Tissue.
Nooooo...I can hear some of you already!
Trust me. I get it, the too-gentle massage. You want to scream and jump off the table. One time a client DID scream at me: "PRESSSUURRRRE!!!!"
Oh my. For sure I had misjudged. I stepped it up (although mostly out of fear :-)
But pressing harder is not necessarily "stepping it up." It is more difficult than you might think to give a super focused, stress-reducing, theta-state inducing Swedish "relaxation" massage.
Luckily we now have Edward for that!
He gave me a massage yesterday and since his website boasts "Elite Relaxation" that's what I ordered. I don't mind sharing that there was a small amount of drool that I needed to manage. I'm picky when it comes to bodywork, and I can say with all confidence that I am happy to leave you with Edward again while I head back to western Mass again next week.
Let me say this about relaxation: it often relates directly to pain relief. If you know me, you know that I now exercise my right to refuse service to certain new clients.
Text from potential client: Hey, are you strong? I need really deep tissue. I can take it.
Me: No. I am not strong. I recommend Mike's Sports Massage. He is strong. Thank you.
Of course I am strong, and I remove trigger points, but the body also has to relax. The ability to relax the body is just as important, if not more important than strength. I was reminded of this after Edward's massage.
Despite the spiel I just gave about relaxation, for my own massage I had thought that I would save "working" on my shoulder for another day because we were doing "Swedish relaxation" massage. Dummy. My whole nervous system relaxed and then guess what happened. My shoulder stopped hurting!
This also surprised me about relaxation: Recently I have been taking Valerian if needed for post-workout soreness. It works! I had tried Turmeric because of its anti-inflammatory properties but I was disappointed because it didn't do much for me. Valerian is said to reduce anxiety and blood pressure, and to help with sleep. In other words, it relaxes and calms the nervous system, just like Edward!
Now of course, everyone's pain will respond to something different. What is it for you?
(courtesy of Lisa B. Massage)
I am looking forward to receiving my exchange session from her next week. In the meantime take what she says and see if it applies to your own situation.
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
How often do you hold hands?
Holding hands is an ordinary activity that we see and can do every day. It can signify love or friendship.. It could be that if you don't have a significant other that you don't feel like there is an opportunity for hand holding. That is simply not true, Its partly cultural. Society today, in particular American culture, increasingly mis-associates almost all touch with sex and thereby discourages touch.
.Yet this tiny, simple behavior triggers chemical reactions in our minds that make us feel loved, happy, cared for, and respected.
Non-verbal communication is important to understanding human behavior. Holding hands is one small fundamental way we can positively impact our lives. When we hold hands, the nerves in our skin communicate with our core nervous system, producing hormones that make us feel pleasant and warm. There’s much more to it, of course, and new studies are emerging which explore the positive psychological effects of human touch today.
Here are seven benefits of holding hands which you may not have realized existed:
1. Holding hands is a stress reliever
Holding hands with your significant other or another decreases the level of a stress hormone cortisol. Even the touch of a friend or a teammate can make us feel more content, connected, or better about ourselves. When we are stressed out, a light touch on our hand can help ease the strain, both physically and mentally. Our skin also gets more sensitive when cortisol is rushing through our bloodstream, so the touch of a helping hand will have a significantly larger impact. The largest concentration of nerve endings is contained inside the hands and fingertips. This is the subject of another blog post.
So, next time you’re having a really tough day, get together with your partner or a friend and ease the stressful day with touch.
2. Holding hands boosts love & bonding
Oxytocin is the hormone behind this benefit. Oxytocin strengthens empathy and communication between partners in a relationship, which is proven to be a contributing factor for long-lasting, happy relationships. Holding hands with your partner will improve your relationship and reinforce a bond that will impact the quality of your relationship significantly.
Couples who have happy relationships hold hands automatically, sometimes without even noticing, because of a habit developed by their nervous systems. Holding hands produces the oxytocin, which makes us feel happier and more loved.
3. Holding hands is good for your heart
Besides relieving stress, holding hands lowers your blood pressure, which is one of the major contributors to heart disease. When we’re clasping fingers we’re not just easing stress and improving our relationships – we are providing a comfortable sensation that helps our heart. The power of a warm touch goes beyond the health benefits to the heart; A study from Behavioral Medicine supports this.
4. Holding hands helps relieve or cope with pain
While enduring pain, humans have the natural reflex to tighten their muscles. Think of childbirth – husbands are typically inside the delivery room holding their wife’s hand while she’s going through labor. The reflex to grasp our partner’s hand comes as second nature: It’s always easier to endure pain while holding hands with your soulmate.
5. Holding hands fights fear
Remember that horrible scene in the last horror movie you saw that made you want to jump out of your chair? Luckily, your darling was with you to hold your hand and make you feel safe. The human brain responds to sudden stimulation using adrenaline; this stimulation gets our blood pumping and releases high levels of cortisol throughout our body.
During these moments, our natural reaction is to hold hands with someone we trust. It varies from person to person, but a large portion of women will instantly grab their partner’s hand. That’s the intuitive way to fight off nerves.
6. Holding hands provides a sense of security
Simple hand holding is a source of safety and comfort for young children. Remember when your parents taught you to how to cross the street or walked you down a crowded sidewalk? Or when you were learning to ride a bicycle? Insecurity disappears when we have a hand to hold and allows us to more easily conquer obstacles. The security that parents provide their children by holding hands shapes their children’s behavior and their way of thinking.
Additionally, the sensation of safety goes both ways; parents also feel safer when their children are within their grasp.
7. Holding hands is just plain comfortable
Everybody loves comfort. The sensation of holding hands often provides a comfy feeling while talking a walk. One example is placing your hands inside a jacket pocket to warm them up on those cold December nights when you decide to take a stroll. Even with gloves, we love to hold hands. It bonds us; it provides lovely sensations and gives us quality time with people we care about.
Holding hands comforts, soothes, is a source of security, and an aid for stress.
Do you enjoy the comforting sensation of holding hands?
How often do you hold hands ? Why or why not?
~ with Aloha
This article was excerpted and created in large measure from an article written for LifeHack by Dejan Kvrgic
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.