In case you have no patience to read through this, this post will eventually get to the point of touting the benefits of self-massage. Go ahead and skip to the bottom if you want.
So, I went to my family doc yesterday, for a long-overdue check-up as well as for some other questions I had.
First, you must know about our doctor. He's based in an anthroposophic community. He is an MD but also a homeopath, and we've been going to him for about 15 years. One thing I've been grateful for is his sane, relaxed viewpoint concerning vaccinations, antibiotics and overuse of medical treatment in general... so much so, that we were actually joking recently that we'd appreciate maybe a little more intervention once in a while. His most common response to what ails ya is, "Are you eating enough vegetables?"
His practice is located in a restored barn, if that gives you a better picture.
But I called anyway, even though I expected I might have to ask, beg, plead for a round of tests to be done. (Note: yes, I will tell you that I do feel a need, at times, for some degree of western-style qualifying of symptoms. It's a fine line... one that even I'm not sure where it's drawn, but I feel more secure with both an Eastern and Western perspective. Integrative, I believe it's called.)
I was told on the phone that our doc had a new partner, a woman, and would I prefer to see her. Sure! I said, hoping that I clicked with her better than the last woman doc, the details of which I won't discuss here.
So, imagine my delight upon learning that even though she is a western-trained family physician, who worked on an Air Force base for eight years, she is currently studying Ayurveda, practices yoga and meditation and sees the wisdom in the ancient Eastern perspective of body/mind/spirit medicine.
Can I get a whoo hoo?
After a blessedly long and thorough intake process and an agreement to do some blood tests, she diagnosed my dosha imbalance - the one that predictably involves lack of groundedness and my head being in the clouds - and gave me some recommendations, such as an almond drink recipe, a breathing exercise and instructions for self-abhy.
Abhyanga is a self-massage routine that involves rubbing the entire body (gently or vigorously, depending on the imbalance) with oil... in my case, vigorous and using warmed sesame oil, as I have a tendency toward being cold.
I've talked before about the benefits of self-massage, as we have a similar practice in shiatsu, called Do-In.
As stated on the Chopra Center website:
"When stimulated through therapeutic touch or massage, the skin releases a pharmacy of healing chemicals that have health-promoting effects on the physiology. In addition to feeling good, regular massage and loving touch detoxifies the body’s tissues, increases circulation, calms the mind, and enhances immune function."
I tried it this morning, and I was indeed amazed at how warm and vibrant my body felt afterwards, even after my shower. Not to mention how thrilled I am to have a doctor that I think I can work with.