Ever wake up in the morning and say to yourself, “Yuck! Not again!”?
Or perhaps you think something a bit more profane? I sometimes sure do! Even before I actually open my eyes, I know.
You have that first dawn of realization that your body hurts before you even move, that you feel too weak to sit up, that you’re going to have another day of ducking your symptoms and that yet again things won’t get done. The day will not be easy.
So, no wonder we oftentimes linger in bed as we try and muster the strength and courage to face our day. Or to cancel our day perhaps.
Well, it doesn’t have to be that way.
What if if there was one practice you could do to loosen the stiffness, diffuse the pain and lift the heaviness?
There is. And you can. You can befriend your body and heal with self-massage.
With this special self-massage, what I adoringly call a Love Rub™ and adapted for those living with pain, you can ease your own suffering and soothe your body. This week is National Massage Therapy Awareness Week, so there’s no time like the present to learn this special skill of massaging yourself! The benefits are immense and distinct from paying a professional massage therapist. With self-massage you don’t have to go anywhere or spend any money.
Definitions First ::
But first, here are three definitions. These will clarify the meaning and intent of this nurturing Love Rub™ practice, which is based on the ancient Ayurvedic practice of abhyanga.
Abhyanga (pronounced ah-bee-yang-gah)
Abhyanga is a massage with oil. Abhyanga massage can be performed by another on you or performed by yourself on your own body.
Sanskrit roots: abhy means into or toward. ang means movement.
So, abhyanga literally translates as moving into the body. Neat, right? But moving what into the body, you may ask? The answer is energy, love, prana.
Prana (pronounced prah-nah)
Prana is the breath, the breath that provides life, spark of life, fire, sun power, cosmic energy, vital force.
Sanskrit roots: prana literally translates as life force.
So with a practice of massaging ourselves with oil, we move energy, love and life force into our bodies. (And yes, life force makes me think of Stars Wars too! Lucas was onto something though.)
Snehana (pronounced snah-ha-nay)
Snehana is the application of oil or ghee (a special, clarified, Indian butter) to the body either externally or internally. A lubrication or unction. An anointing.
Sanskrit roots: sneha means love, feeling affection.
Snehana literally translates as to love your own body. Abhyanga is a type of snehana.
Intention is Key ::
Understanding these terms, you see why the intention is so fundamental. When you massage yourself with oil, you really need to feel love and affection for your own skin, your own body, as well as for your own heart, soul and spirit.
Granted, that can be very hard at times. I live with a chronic pain condition, so I don’t often feel affection for this body causing all the pain. I can feel alienated from my body. It can be hard just to begin.
But when you do - the act of caring for yourself with a Love Rub™ - will in turn help to create affirming, compassionate thoughts for your body. So don’t worry too much if, at the beginning, you don’t have the “right” intention. The practice can generate them.
These loving thoughts and feelings are just as integral to this practice as what you do with your hands. Self-massage practice is sacred. As a means of anointing, this practice honors the gift of your body. And through it, you can begin to befriend your body and fully embody it with joy.
Love Rub™ Benefits ::
The best part of self-massage is that you can do it yourself. A massage from another is a blessing and a gift, no question. However, self-massage is totally different and offers some very unique benefits, many of which make the experience not only distinctive but, in many essential, ways much better.
A Love Rub™ Can ::
No. 01 Counteract the vulnerability you feel in your body.
No. 02 Unify your mind and consciousness with your body.
No. 03 Apprise yourself of tenderness in your body.
No. 04 Reveal any skin irregularities.
No. 05 Create a sense of intimacy with your body.
No. 06 Help you discover any lumps or bumps.
No. 07 Enable you to feel good knowing you can care for yourself.
No. 08 Change your thoughts about your body and promote body acceptance.
No. 09 Familiarize yourself closely with the shape and characteristics of your body.
No. 10 Foster love and gratitude for your body.
Any practice that helps you inhabit your body, as this does, promotes better enjoyment of your body in all activities and any movement. A Love Rub™ ensures that you value your body and its inherent sacredness. Self-touch promotes healing and wellness.
Find out more about how to give yourself a Love Rub™, what resources you need, what the steps are and when to self-massage. I spell out the 12 gestures. Explore more here. In the meantime, enjoy massaging yourself.
Cassandra Marcella Metzger, JD, MA, RYT is the creator and founder of the newly, launched Wellspring Stones ― the online oasis for those living with illness. After she struggled to find accessible and applicable help on how to live well with illness, she decided to prove that living well while ill wasn’t an oxymoron. She is passionate about creating space for change so that those living with illness can feel alive, dynamic, valued, engaged and connected. She advocates to give voice to the shame and suffering of those who are chronically ill and struggling without help, without resources and without attention. Join the movement to make invisible illness seen and find out more here. To read her other Huffington Post posts click on her profile above.