Jun 22 2011
One incredible perk about working with a fabulous group of RMTs is an occasional complimentary massage. You can imagine my delight a few weeks ago when, during a lull in the action at Soma, Kaely leaned over my stooped shoulders and asked:
“You busy right now?”
Never too busy for some professional TLC. As a writer, I spend an inordinate amount of time hunched over my computer—not to mention the nights spent slouching oh-so-nonchalantly at coffee shops, and poetry readings on The Drive.
Kaely asked me where I’d like to focus on. I mentioned the pain in between my shoulder blades and some trouble I had breathing deeply. My chest felt a little concave.
On the table in Soma’s bright, airy treatment room, I already felt more relaxed. I caught a glimpse of Japanese maples and a small stone Buddha statue out the window before laying my head down. Kaely breezed into the room, with an air of kindness and professionalism that really is Soma’s trademark. She asked me a few questions, and seemed to spend some time getting a feel for my body before she launched in. I really appreciated this. It’s always a bit strange letting someone take care of you isn’t it?
That strangeness didn’t last long. After about 40 minutes of deep massage, with an emphasis on re-aligning my bent posture, I felt incredible. I was breathing deeply, and my voice had dropped an octave. Kaely gave me a few tips on correcting my posture at work, and then we were done. Though relaxed, I had no trouble going back to work for the rest of the afternoon. If anything, I was probably more productive. Thanks Kaely!
Jun 11 2011
Hi all, I’m Carleigh, and I’m thrilled to be here at Soma Studio. In addition to my reception duties, I’ll be editing Soma’s Blog and monthly newsletter. I’ve already met a few of you at the front desk, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you all in the months to come. One of the things I’ve noticed about Soma is the compassionate, personal feel to the place. So many of our clients have been coming here for years: through pregnancies, recovery from an injury, or simply to nurture their body and spirit. Massage is an integral part of a preventative, holistic approach to wellbeing. So yes, I’m a writer, but I’ve also had a longtime interest in holistic health, so I thought I’d tell you a little about one of my interests: Vipassana meditation.
You don’t have to go to a retreat to meditate, but for those who appreciate the baptism-by-fire approach to spirituality, this is it. The Vipassana course schedule is intense. For ten days, I meditate for eleven out of the sixteen hours I am awake, mostly in 1-2 hour intervals. For the duration of the course, speaking is only allowed if I need to communicate with a course instructor.
I’ve been going for a few years now, but here’s a story from my first time.
Two days after New Year’s Eve, I pack up the bare essentials and head to Chilliwack, to the Po Lam Buddhist centre. I haven’t given this much forethought. It seems like a great way to start the new year, I suppose. Some people go to Thailand to find themselves. I’m going inward.
I arrive at the Po Lam around 4 pm, and tearfully kiss my boyfriend goodbye. I’ve been told not to bring any books or journals, and no cell phone. Nothing to distract me from the practice. All our food—simple vegetarian meals—is provided. There is no charge, though you’re encouraged to donate at the end of your stay if you feel you benefitted from the course. After a meal and a brief introduction, myself and 19 other women are sent to our rooms and told to prepare for our first meditation. This makes some of the new students laugh. How on earth do you prepare for this?
It’s hard to be quiet for 10 days. It’s hard to sit still for an hour at a time. It’s hard to keep my eyes closed for the better part of the day. For three days, we breathe and focus on the feel of breath as it moves in and out of our nostrils. As I slowly quiet my mind and become more aware of my body, I become exponentially more conscious of how uncomfortable I am.
My back is on fire. My legs are numb. There is frustration, and a feeling of being out of control. If I were at home, I could stand up, stretch, scream at the top of my lungs. Anything to relieve the tension. Here, I feel trapped inside my body. Pain from old injuries re-surfaces to taunt me. A torn ligament in my ankle from volleyball. The time I slipped and fractured my tailbone in third grade. I start to feel doubt; what If I can’t do this? It’s only day three! I know I’m not alone, many students have caught colds, and I can hear their sniffles and wheezing all around me. Most Vipassana courses lose a few new students. I want to see this through to the end.
The instruction we’re receiving in between our meditation sittings is all about compassion. Compassion for others, but also, compassion for yourself. Around midday on day four, I realize that maybe I’ve been doing this wrong. I’ve been trying to power through the course. Forcing my back to stay as straight as the nuns, and begrudging my knees their creaky complaints. Mentally punishing myself for not being some kind of meditation superhero from day one. So I try, for the first time ever, being compassionate with my body.
We have a little dialogue. Might as well, since I’m not speaking to anyone else. I tell my back that it must be difficult to support this posture for so many hours a day. I respect the work that it does. I thank it. I tell my legs that I’m truly sorry about their situation. Tell them if they’re willing to work with me on this, I’ll be sure to take extra time to stretch on my lunch break. At first, they’re not speaking to me, and I can’t say I blame them. But I keep at it. By the end of day five, I have a breakthrough. I’m not sure if the pain recedes, or my acceptance of its presence grows, lessening its power over me. I suspect the latter.
There, in that modest meditation hall in Chilliwack, the experience of being kind and generous to myself makes me weep. I cry for the thirty years I’ve never once considered my body an ally. It had seemed more like an enemy: menstrual cramps, chubby thighs I’d abhorred, bad knees that made exercise difficult. So we kiss and make up. I promise to love and nurture it, as I would any dear friend. And through Yoga, massage, healthy eating and regular meditation, I’ve kept that promise. There’s compromise, like coffee. And wine. But compromise is okay. It’s a necessary part of any loving relationship.
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I would love to hear your stories, testimonials and personal experiences with massage, meditation, or anything you would like to share with us here at Soma.
Jun 11 2011
This spring I did a crazy thing. I participated in a 3 week cleanse from Arise and Shine. These cleanses are often recommended to help the body get rid of toxins, kick-start a sluggish digestive system and give the body a rest from foods that are difficult to metabolize.
The Arise and Shine cleanse involved cutting out all the things I love: coffee, wine, baked goods, cheese, meat and dairy. The first week prepares the body for the cleanse by eating only raw, fresh fruits and veggies. The second week involved eating that same way and adding “detox drinks” and nutritional supplements. By week three, I was only taking the “detox drinks” and supplements. What that was done, I began the process of easing myself back into eating solid food.
If it sounds intense, I am here to tell you that it was! But it was one of the best things I could have done for myself this year.
The first week was the most difficult: I had a headache from no coffee, I was grumpy and frequently asked myself why I willingly agreed to this insanity. I have to say I was glad my husband was doing it with me–he understood my mood swings.
By the second week, my body was adjusting to all the wholesome food I was eating and I no longer wanted a glass of wine with my salad. The detox drinks were beginning to work wonders on my elimination system and I was feeling great. Because I had no stimulants in my body, I felt in touch with what it needed. I had alot of energy throughout the day, but often had to put myself to bed early and respect my fatigue. It was a little difficult to socialize, but I kept reminding myself, “Lori, it is only 3 weeks of the year. You’ve got this”.
The last week was very interesting. I was really beginning to feel the effects of the cleanse. The detox drinks filled me up and for the first few days I wasn’t hungry. I was feeling light and clean. We got a few colonics, which seemed to speed up the cleansing. My skin was radiant, I slept so deeply at night and woke feeling rested. My eyes were bright. I did see my Naturopathic Doctor (Keith at www.awenhealth.ca) at this point, and he gave me a few supplements to support my body as it cleansed. I have to say that I was starting to dream of food. Not just any food. Beautiful, well made, healthy, and wholesome food. I also looked forward to a piece of chocolate. I love chocolate!
It was an amazing 3 weeks, and I realized that it’s good to occasionally go without the foods that you think you need. I have a deep appreciation for healthy food, and feel so lucky that I have enough, which is not true for many people in our world. I feel more in touch with my body since the cleanse. I’m not a tempted to overeat, or to eat foods that irritate my system. The cleanse will become a yearly practice…and in the meantime, I will enjoy eating, socializing over food, and celebrating my healthy body.”
Jun 11 2011
After ten years in business, we’ve decided to update our look, but our clients will enjoy the same comfortable, nurturing, and professional atmosphere you’ve come to expect from Soma. We’d like to thank Christina Lazeski at Paperclip Collective for her work on the website. Christina is a talented and perceptive designer, and was wonderful to work with. She just seemed to intuitively know what we’re all about here at Soma. Just as our Registered Massage Therapists will help you find ease in your body, Soma’s website is user-friendly and easy to navigate. Check us out on Twitter and Facebook too.
We’d also like to thank our clients for their support over the last ten years. We’ve helped so many women find comfort and ease in their bodies during pregnancy. Many have stayed with us after their pregnancy, to continue nurturing their body and spirit.
But Soma offers more than just pregnancy massage. With weekly or bi-weekly treatments, our RMTs can help you recover from injury or periods of high stress. This time of year, many clients come see us for sports-related injuries. Softball. Golf. Even gardening can feel like a contact sport after a long winter. After a massage, we can suggest stretches and postural correction that will help you avoid injury in the future.
Finally, Soma welcomes Carleigh Baker our team. Carleigh will be working part-time as a receptionist, and handling the newsletter, blog, and social media tools for Soma. Carleigh has a Bachelor’s degree in creative writing from UVIC, and won the 2011 Maurice Hodgson award for writing. Say hello to Carleigh at the front desk, and share your testimonials and massage experiences with her. We will feature client testimonials in the newsletter, monthly.
Jun 01 2011
Welcome to our new website! Stay tuned for our first blog post coming soon…