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Schneider's World: Body work

Have you spent time lately working on the most important machine you own? You!
Thursday, October 25, 2012 - 07:30
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What do you get someone who has finally gotten to the point where he (or she) really does have just about everything they want? What do you do when their birthday rolls around and they have more ties, socks, underwear and T-shirts than they could possibly wear? What do you get someone who is more interested in shedding material things than in collecting more of what George Carlin affectionately referred to as “stuff?”


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If I’m that person, you can’t get them more books. I buy them and read them too quickly for you to get me anything I want to read and haven’t already purchased (and more than likely have already read) myself.

After that, what is there?

Dinners are nice, family dinners, especially. But I’ll probably beat you to the punch there as well. Having everyone together is something I really cherish and, realistically, I don’t often wait for a special occasion to do it!

The one thing everyone would like is more time, but who would you buy it from?

But I have kids who are more creative than their father, and they decided that what their Old Man really needed was relaxation — a time and a place to chill out, to disengage for an hour or two. They decided that what I really needed was to sit cross-legged in a steam room or sauna, or to be immersed — or was that submerged — in a Jacuzzi the size of West Texas. That, and an hour-and-a-half of deep tissue Shiatsu.

My kids are clever as well. They knew that left to my own devices, I’d come up with a plausible reason not to go. They knew that unless they did something sneaky, something extraordinary, I’d find a way to stay home and work. So, they did the only thing that could possibly guarantee I’d cooperate. They paid for the appointment in advance and made sure I understood the money they had invested in my gift was non-refundable. In other words, their investment would be forfeited if I indulged my own compulsive, obsessive need to work.

Realistically, the decision to keep my appointment had been made the minute the credit card was authorized and the gift card issued. So I did the only thing any good father would do under the circumstances: I showed up, albeit reluctantly.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not really a day spa kind of a guy. Never have been! I’ve never really paid a lot of attention to things like aromatherapy, candlelight or meditative music either with the possible exception of “guided meditation.” I find it almost impossible to sit still for any length of time or for just about any reason, regardless of how compelling it might be. That’s just not me.

The closest I’ve ever gotten to seated meditation is watching it. If I’m going to meditate, I have to be moving: doing Kata or Forms.

I like a good massage. But, to me, a “good” massage is being worked over by your physical therapist after you’ve left everything you have on the mat. I just wasn’t sure about a Sunday afternoon spent at a day spa.

Nevertheless, I decided I’d better go, if for any other reason than this just may have been my very first “Use It or Lose It!” birthday present ever. And, for what it’s worth, it turned out to be one of the best birthday presents I’ve ever had.

To say the experience was perfect wouldn’t be fair to the spa. It was better than perfect. Every aspect of this experience was orchestrated to perfection. It was quiet. It was operating theater clean. The lighting was ideal, and the environment as conducive to rest and relaxation as it could be.

The sauna was the perfect temperature as was the Jacuzzi. The steam room, well, I guess you have to like steam to appreciate just how good it really was. But, the massage — an hour-and-a-half of exquisite discomfort was insane. My masseuse managed to find every knot and every strangled nerve.

There’s a lot to be said for R&R, a lot to be said about taking the time to reflect on where you are and where you need to be. There is a lot to be said about meditative music as well as something to be said for taking the time to disengage, detach and indulge yourself. After all, it’s a familiar argument. One you should be comfortable with: one we make across the service counter in one form or another just about every day.

Machines — any machine, all machines — need care, maintenance and attention periodically. They need to be removed from service and restored to the highest level of performance possible. Depending on the year and the model, they may need a fair amount of pampering just to ensure that high level of performance can be maintained over time.

Your body is a machine, and it will fail just as surely and just as completely as some of those “Zero Maintenance” vehicles you and I have been forced to work on have failed. Aggressively maintained vehicles run better, last longer and cost less. Why should the care and maintenance of our psyche and our self be any different?  If nothing else, taking – no, making – that time for yourself is a kind of de facto confirmation that you are worth at least the same consideration you so generously lavish on everything and everyone else.

In the end, Sunday afternoon was everything my kids wanted it to be and more, even though it may have been the only gift I’ve ever received that was mandated and irreversible without being lost. I enjoyed it so much I’m already planning another visit and encourage you to do the same.

Indulge yourself. It may be the only bodywork you will ever enjoy taking advantage of. The only bodywork that does more for your head than it does for your body.


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