Welcome to our second installment of mini-retreats from Torri Shafer’s “Romancing the Soul”. This blog post centers on being grateful for the myriad of things our body does for us (without conscious thought) and connecting to our body via massage. We encourage you to take some time this weekend to focus on your body and take care of yourself. Enjoy!
Gratitude For Your Body Walk
The mind can go in a thousand different directions but on this beautiful path I walk in peace. With each step the wind blows. With each step a flower blooms. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
In this moment – you are alive, you are safe, and have the privilege of walking towards no particular destination aside from where your foot falls next.
So, set aside worries and daydreaming; choose somewhere beautiful to walk and then be there fully.
Anchor yourself in your body starting from the top of your head. Can you feel the sensation of your hair? Are small fingers of air running through it? How lovely the sensation of touch is through your hair! Think about how it protects your head from sun and cold. Offer gratitude for it, then move down your body and repeat this exercise for every part, spending a moment or two appreciating the wonder of what it does and focus on the experience that it brings you at this moment.
- Your brain and how it miraculously allows you to experience and process life;
- Your eyes and the beauty they lay before you every moment;
- Your ears and all the wonders that you can hear both close up and far way;
- Your nose and the pleasurable—and sometimes pungent—aromas it allow you to experience;
- Your mouth – the joys of tasting, communicating and kissing;
- Your neck – look up, from side to side and down;
- Your beautiful heart and your lungs that give you life moment by moment;
- Your internal organs that make you strong and vital;
- Your shoulders and back that keep you upright;
- Your arms, elbows, hands and fingers that allow you to do so much;
- Your hips and pelvis which give you movement and keep your gait smooth and fluid;
- Your upper legs, knees and lower legs propelling your forward;
- Your ankles, feet and toes that move lightly and effortlessly under the weight of your body;
- Your muscles—over 200 of them are involved in a single step;
- Your bones, your foundation, and finally;
- Your skin, tingling with life and the sun, encasing the miraculous wonder that is you!
Gentle Body Massage
Beauty is simply reality seen with the eyes of love. ~Evelyn Underhill
There is an exquisite delicacy with which we touch a fragile life—a kitten, a flower, a butterfly. Why do we not touch the fragility of ourselves the same? When we look at beauty there is a certain amount of awe in our gaze. Why can we not look at this miracle we are housed in with the same regard?
For this massage, the focus will be on both. First, prepare your body oil. Oils are amazing moisturizers because they mimic the natural lipids found in our skin so that the top layers will treat the oils as their own, resulting in a reparative, hydrating effect. Add your favorite essential oil and you have a very inexpensive but highly effective moisturizer. The best oils to use are plant based (but not vegetable oil) such as grapeseed, coconut, avocado, apricot seed or sweet almond. Add 5 to 15 drops of essential oil and you are ready to go.
Now prepare your bathing space. Light some incense and turn on some soothing music. If you are going to luxuriate in a bath (highly recommended), draw the bath water and add some Epsom salts or a rose petal or two. If it is a shower, turn it on to the perfect temperature. Then, move your awareness to the sensation of your skin as you undress. Feel the sensuous flow of fabric as you undress, the cool air hitting your skin.
When you are ready, enter the water but be present as you do. If you are in the shower, experience the sumptuous stream of water cascading down your body. What does it feel like as it winds sinuously down your legs? How does it feel caressing your face? If you are taking a bath, lower yourself slowly, feeling each part as it becomes immersed in the steaming water.
Wash yourself slowly, eyes closed if possible, experiencing the feel of your muscles, the smoothness of your skin. How transformative it could be if we always touched ourselves with such gentleness and care!
Take your time bathing; luxuriate in peace and water. When you are ready and still damp, start applying the oil. Starting at your ankles, rub it into the skin in a slow circular motion. Focus on a loving touch; appreciate each body part as you massage it.
Using as much oil as you need, circle softly around the knee and behind the knee. Move up your legs, kneading the muscles on the sides then the tops. When you reach your abdomen, slowly circle around it in a clockwise fashion. This will help your digestion.
Apply the oil and knead your upper arms, circle your elbows and rub your forearms. Move up to shoulders and, hooking into the muscle, drag your fingers forward. Continue to move up your neck in this fashion and finish off by running your fingers over your face, gently as if they were fine trickles of water. When you are done, towel off. Breathe deeply and savor your amazing life.
Torri’s book is available for purchase here.