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BENEFITS OF A DEEP TISSUE MASSAGE
Massage is known for its ability to help the mind and body relax—and that alone makes getting massage advantageous. Deep tissue massage may bring your clients other benefits as well. To help you understand these, it first helps to understand what a deep tissue massage is.
Deep tissue massage is a technique that focuses primarily on the deeper layers of muscles and the fascia. Sometimes this technique involves the therapist using firmer pressure in order to reach these key areas and get them to release, which is why this particular massage is oftentimes recommended for people who are comfortable with a slightly more intense touch. However, deep tissue massage can also refer to gentle yet sustained pressure targeting the myofascial layer. The belief that deep pressure equals pain is a myth; however, the benefits of deep tissue massage are beyond question.
Deep tissue massage offers stress relief
When a client feels stressed out due to demands at work, home or both, deep tissue massage can help ease this stress in a healthy manner. This is important, as unresolved stress can do major damage to mental and physical health; an estimated 60 to 80 percent of doctor’s office visits are stress-related, as noted in a 2003 study in the Journal of the National Medical Association.
Deep tissue massage eases pain
Deep tissue massage may be able to lessen pain. For example, research published in an April 2014 issue of Manual Therapy found that deep tissue massage to posterior calf muscles, along with self-stretching exercises, helped reduce participants’ pain associated with plantar fasciitis. Deep tissue massage can be used for other conditions as well, such as fibromyalgia, tennis elbow or low-back pain, potentially providing some much-needed relief.
Deep tissue massage makes movement easier
Scar tissue forms when an area of the body is injured and heals. Although the most common scars are those that result from a visible cut, sometimes they occur deeper in the body, such as when you damage muscles, ligaments or tendons. It is this type of scarring that deep tissue massage can help resolve, making it easier to move and promoting greater range of motion.
Deep tissue massage can lower heart rate and blood pressure
A study published in 2008 in the Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine involved 263 participants who reported muscle spasm or strain. Each individual’s blood pressure and heart rate was assessed prior to a 45 to 60-minute deep tissue massage, as well as after. The result was lower systolic and diastolic pressure, as well as heart rates around 10 beats less per minute.
MEDITATION 101: TECHNIQUES, BENEFITS, AND A BEGINNER’S HOW-TO
Concentration meditation involves focusing on a single point. This could entail following the breath, repeating a single word or mantra, staring at a candle flame, listening to a repetitive gong, or counting beads on a mala. Since focusing the mind is challenging, a beginner might meditate for only a few minutes and then work up to longer durations.
In this form of meditation, you simply refocus your awareness on the chosen object of attention each time you notice your mind wandering. Rather than pursuing random thoughts, you simply let them go. Through this process, your ability to concentrate improves.
Mindfulness meditation encourages the practitioner to observe wandering thoughts as they drift through the mind. The intention is not to get involved with the thoughts or to judge them, but simply to be aware of each mental note as it arises.
Through mindfulness meditation, you can see how your thoughts and feelings tend to move in particular patterns. Over time, you can become more aware of the human tendency to quickly judge an experience as good or bad, pleasant or unpleasant. With practice, an inner balance develops.
In some schools of meditation, students practice a combination of concentration and mindfulness. Many disciplines call for stillness — to a greater or lesser degree, depending on the teacher.
OTHER MEDITATION TECHNIQUES
There are various other meditation techniques. For example, a daily meditation practice among Buddhist monks focuses directly on the cultivation of compassion. This involves envisioning negative events and recasting them in a positive light by transforming them through compassion. There are also moving meditation techniques, such as tai chi, qigong, and walking meditation.
BENEFITS OF MEDITATION
If relaxation is not the goal of meditation, it is often a result. In the 1970s, Herbert Benson, MD, a researcher at Harvard University Medical School, coined the term “relaxation response” after conducting research on people who practiced transcendental meditation. The relaxation response, in Benson’s words, is “an opposite, involuntary response that causes a reduction in the activity of the sympathetic nervous system.”
Since then, studies on the relaxation response have documented the following short-term benefits to the nervous system:
Lower blood pressure
Improved blood circulation
Lower heart rate
Slower respiratory rate
Lower blood cortisol levels
More feelings of well-being
Contemporary researchers are now exploring whether a consistent meditation practice yields long-term benefits, and noting positive effects on brain and immune function among meditators. Yet it’s worth repeating that the purpose of meditation is not to achieve benefits. To put it as an Eastern philosopher may say, the goal of meditation is no goal. It’s simply to be present.
In Buddhist philosophy, the ultimate benefit of meditation is liberation of the mind from attachment to things it cannot control, such as external circumstances or strong internal emotions. The liberated or “enlightened” practitioner no longer needlessly follows desires or clings to experiences, but instead maintains a calm mind and sense of inner harmony.
HOW TO MEDITATE: SIMPLE MEDITATION FOR BEGINNERS
This meditation exercise is an excellent introduction to meditation techniques.
Make no effort to control the breath; simply breathe naturally.
Focus your attention on the breath and on how the body moves with each inhalation and exhalation. Notice the movement of your body as you breathe. Observe your chest, shoulders, rib cage, and belly. Simply focus your attention on your breath without controlling its pace or intensity. If your mind wanders, return your focus back to your breath.
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