Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Power of Story

I had a massage scheduled for today and because my back has been really bad lately, I decided to keep the appointment, even though I felt very worn out and frazzled after some long days and short nights. My massage therapist could feel that I wasn't in the usual relaxed space for a massage. Part of that was that she had me flat on my back. When we put a pillow under my hip, I was able to relax more, but not completely. We often talk while she massages me but today she had been very quiet, listening to my body. I asked her whether she would be distracted by talking and she said perhaps. I explained that listening to a narrative has the same effect on me that music does for others -- I can ride the wave of a story. So she started to tell me about her upcoming trip to New Mexico. From there, she went on to Henry Moore sculptures and the Newfoundland coast. Because I'm nothing if not an achiever, I asked her at the end whether I had been able to relax, in her opinion. I had thought I had. "Oh yes," she said. "It was remarkable actually. As soon as I started to tell you stories, you dropped all the tension from your body." It makes me think about other lessons I've learned: that relaxation for me doesn't look like stereotypical R&R. I can't sit on a beach for more than about a half an hour, but I can walk a beach forever. I like to learn on holidays, but learning in an utterly informal way. What it takes for me to relax and be refreshed is really just having my imagination engaged in a stream-of-consciousness kind of way. No tests at the end. No heavy mental lifting. Just curiosity being fed. It's been a gray, snowy, sleety day and I'm weary -- but at the same time, learning all this while having a nice massage has refreshed me altogether. I'm curious what stories do for you, and whether they play a similar role in your life. What helps you relax and be refreshed?

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