Now that we’ve established a contrast between feeling tension and relaxation, it is important to learn when we are tensing our muscles. There are several ways to notice. Pain, discomfort and aches are the three easiest communicators that something is adrift in our body – but they normally arrive when we’ve been tensing for quite some time! Another great indicator is taking a few deep breaths. If we are unable to take a deep breath or we have to try really hard to force it, then we are tensing our body’s muscles somewhere. The great thing about noticing it early is that we now have an opportunity to do something about it before any damage is done.
Body awareness and being mindful affects us both physically and physiologically. Massage and mindfulness are extremely compatible and even have some similar benefits. They are both relaxing and restorative, allowing us to connect with the parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the body’s unconscious actions (as opposed to the adrenaline releasing sympathetic nervous system). Thus slowing down the breath, regulating the heart rate and reducing high blood pressure. And whilst massage has a greater affect physically, neuroscientific studies show that regular ongoing mindfulness and meditation can actually change the function of the brain. If we can relax and breathe whilst having a massage and focus on nothing more than the present moment and the muscles that are being worked on, we can restore both our body and our mind. This powerful combination can leave us feeling clear, relaxed and revitalised.