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Relax Revive Restore - A Concept

In my first article I wanted to display the over riding theme that has been and become a huge part of my life and is the foundation ofthe work that I do. A more serious piece, especially for me, but it will explain a lot of my chosen path in life and how it may help to serve you.

Back in 2010 I decided I wanted a change. I had finished going through a somewhat rough patch and as with some rough patches, transition often develops. My best friend told me to make this my last character building exercise if that is anything to go by on the scale of how particularly rough this patch was.

I had been a Therapist for 11 years by this time and I had been studying Martial Arts for 7 years and Yoga had been like an old friend for about 17 years. As with any physical/holistic discipline you gain a greater sensitivity to yourself and my body, mind and soul wanted a change of tack.

I had always throughout my life done things with meaning. The term “it’s not what you give, it’s the thought that counts” rang deep within me from an early age. I knew through life lessons, that life itself is often short and transient, so if I was going to give something it would be with an intention behind it.

I decided to change from my personal name to a business name, with all new beginnings ahead of me, as a door on my darker past closed behind me. But again to pluck something out of the air was not good enough for someone who in her youth was told “you think too much”…………

I decided I wanted something that displayed a concept that has followed me through in all areas of where the workings of change had happened, through my work on clients and through myself in Martial Arts, Yoga and what I had gained personally through Massage and being a Therapist. This was Relax Revive Restore.

Relaxation, true relaxation, is often overlooked and sadly to some over rated. But it is so fundamental to our being that I often spend most of my working life preaching about it.

I would hear, especially working as a Therapist in London, clients go abroad to “relax”, only to come back and feel just as stressed as they were before they left. “Oh I relaxed” they said. On asking what they done on holiday – “Oh I read a lot, went to see a few movies, jet skied, sight seeing etc etc”. When I asked “Yes but when did you STOP, do nothing, and relaxed? When did you SWITCH OFF?”…. A long silence would often ensue, with a somewhat bemused look from the client.

To relax often involves being still and doing nothing– a concept that was and is rare in big cities full of stimulus and lifestyles that were quality time poor. That stimulus becomes habit to a lot of people, to the point that doing nothing and being still is something to be feared.

Oddly, in Yoga, one of the most difficult poses/asanas forpeople to do is Shavasana or Corpse Pose – just laying on your back and letting go – some people find this so challenging to do, to the point that sometimes their own bodies will force them to do it in the form of burnout and illness at some point in their lifetime.

In Martial Arts relaxation is also key. White belts looked confused while their master tells them after executing a single punch to “relax”. The master would gently tap the back of their wrist or fist to see if their arm was rock solid and tense or buoyant and relaxed. To a beginner slowing down was not an option in their minds, but often it was a lesson they quickly learned from. After many years it dawned on me that in Martial Arts, to be tense meant expending unnecessary energy in the muscles and mind, it meant a slowing down and stiffening of technique –something you do not want in the prospect of being hit! If I relaxed, I am fluid. If I am fluid I am faster. If I relax I am calm. If I am calm I can register an attack more quickly and defend more efficiently. If I am calm when hit, anger has less chance to blind me – I can fight with a calm detached mind. If I am calm, I win. If I lose, I learn.

Relaxation unlocks so much from the body and has some of the greatest health benefits, even down to re shaping our gene expressions and changing brain matter. In studies of the relaxation response spanning 80 years through Harvard University, first though Walter Cannon and through Herbert Benson for the past 40 years, it has shown that it can change the gene expression in genes responsible for immune function, energy metabolism and insulin. It has also shown a wealth of evidence that relaxation counter balances the clinical effects of stress, hypertension, diabetes and aging. They know that the fight or flight response,a state many people live in day to day, promotes inflammation and disease within the body. By using a relaxation response, we halt these chemical changes. I am sure a lot of you reading this have heard that some of the greatest inventors and theorists have had their “light bulb moments” while in a state of relaxation.

Massage promotes these relaxation responses. By working through the body, we work a lot deeper than just the skin, muscles and bones. Like Yoga and Martial Arts, Massage works the whole person from the outside in. Under a Massage Therapist’s fingers, stress tension feels very different to exertion tension. Tension caused by overdoing gardening manifests differently to tension from a recent bout of stress. Oddly tension from stress feels more sensitive, jittery and needs lighter touch to deal with at first – even light touch can feel to a client almost like they are bruised.

This leads to the body holding unnecessary tension and in turn, expending more energy than it needs to via stiff muscles and holding the body tight. This often leads a person to be TATT – Tired All The Time. “I think therefore I am” applies within this remit. Like a fighter who frantically over thinks the fight before a fight, only to go into that fight tired, a person spends their life worrying and anticipating, leading to more adrenaline being pumped around the body and not being expended. This adrenaline begins to sit within the body and converted into a toxin, leaving a person stiff and tired, the adrenal dump.

I massaged people days after the 7/7 bombings in London. People who had been nearby the events came in and were rock solid in their muscles and this was all over the body. After very few light strokes their bodies melted under my fingers and I realised this was shock or how shock manifested in the body. Their bodies initially felt almost frozen through fight or flight, or in this case fear and shock. My fingers thought this would take time to reduce but surprisingly it took very little. Realising its recent shock sitting on the surface, it dawned on me that what happens if this is left untreated? It can only go inward to the body where it sets, then who knows what this would cause to body and mind?

All in all, I have seen more detrimental conditions on my couch caused by stress than caused by exertion. To that end I continue to advise rest, be still, RELAX.

Relaxation has a domino effect, a consequence. Like in Martial Arts and Yoga you gain more through relaxation- if we relax something happens to us within. We revive. We revive something deep within us that we often lose track of -ourselves. With so much distraction,especially in the West, we are constantly switched on to the external world. We are all like cats with multiple pieces of string, with our attention to what is moving and stimulating us from the outside. To relax and be still, we go inward to ourselves, we revive things that were lost. In the West to go inward and make this contact is usually termed “get a grip”.

In the East the outward display of thought is often referred to as a Monkey Mind. The mind, like a monkey leaps about through trees from one to another, from one thought to the next. Buddha with the Dhammapadda, states “the compulsive urges of the thoughtless grow like a creeper. They jump like a monkey from one life to another, looking for fruit in the forest”. The remedy for this is quiet meditation, so the monkey mind loses it's grip. In Yoga through means on asana (posture) and pranayama (cultivation of prana through breath), leads to pratayhara, withdrawal of then senses. This involution leads to a self questioning and renunciation, the dropping of the unnecessary, to come toward your self.

By reviving ourselves or “our self” we get to look at what we need and don’t need, who we are, where we want to be. In Meditation, Martial Arts and Yoga, use of breath connects us to our selves, it roots us firmly back within us, away from external form and thought, like taking the helm of our ship again and “getting a grip”. Massage draws away external tension, to shine a light on what is underneath in all it’s forms.

With this new revival, it leads to a restoration. Sometimes, finding ourselves is referred to as“coming home”. It is common to see in Massage, Meditation, Yoga and even Martial Arts, tears from the student or clients. Something deep within comes through – a realisation, like a light being shone onto ourselves. A sense of acceptance or freedom of self can feel like such a blissful release compared to the distraction of hurried thought or frantic lifestyles and an auto pilot state of mind. We finally stop and come back to us. Once we revive ourselves into our bodies, we start to restore us, our connection to self. With this in mind, we never want to let the helm of our ship go so easily.

In Yoga texts or Sutras, this is realisation of the self or atman. It is said we will catch glimpses of this connection to self and can lose it, but once seen you cannot go back. This is true starting of restoration. In Tae Kwon Do, one of the higher black belt patterns in WTF is Ilyo or “oneness” in Buddhist teaching. The black belt forms in Martial Arts are a symbol of crossing a line, similar to the line crossed in Meditation and Yoga. It is merely the beginning. By simply restoring ourselves to our self puts you back on track, yourself again, a sattvic or blissful state of being in Yoga, the Middle Path in Buddhism, the deep states of stillness and wholeness in Meditation and Massage.

After practicing Yoga, Meditation, Martial Arts and Massage, I realised that all 4 stated the same purpose for me and others. Through Massage and Meditation, it was through me facilitated to others – whether it be through calming the mind from the effects of stress, or helping restore the body from injury and tension. With this in mind in 2010 and closing the door on the lessons of the past, it was only fitting that my business name should display this. Relax, Revive, Restore. From a girl who thinks too much.

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