Can A Massage Change How You Feel About Life?

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lush embedPhoto: Courtesy of Lush.
The new uptown Lush Spa has quickly become a must-visit destination for beauty-obsessed New Yorkers — myself included. I've always really loved Lush, so the thought of receiving a professional spa treatment comprised solely of its products was like catnip for my brain. As it turns out, there are a ton of people having a similar reaction: The spa has been so busy that I had to book a month in advance.

Fast forward to my appointment. The spa is on the second floor of the store, but feels like a different world. The walls are lined with tinctures of all different colors and jars of all different shapes and sizes — without being cluttered. On the contrary, it's so rustic and charming that it feels like being in a fairy godmother's country cottage kitchen.

I was to receive their signature massage: the Synaesthesia Treatment. It's based on synesthesia, a neurological condition where certain senses are experienced as a different sense (e.g. hearing a musical note might have you envision a color). The treatment creates a feeling you choose through the sensory experience of the massage, which incorporates various smells, sounds, textures, and pressure points.

So, not quite sure what to expect, I sat down at the reclaimed wood table in the middle of the room. Michelle, my massage therapist, asked me to choose a "feeling" from a jar on one wall and another feeling from a tincture on another wall. Trying not to think too hard about it, I bypassed sentiments like "enlighten" and "perspective," and went with "relax" and "forgive."

I lay on a heated bed while Michelle filled beakers with the "relax" and "forgive" products. This created billowing clouds of fragrant smoke that she wafted over me. FYI, relaxation and forgiveness smell awesome. New-Agey music mixed with sounds of chirping birds and Simon and Garfunkel were piped in over the sound system. She then proceeded to massage my entire body, from my face to my toes. My face was pretty sore because we'd been filming videos in the afternoon and that always makes my eyes kind of twitchy, so this was rather pleasurable.

It's difficult to be "in the moment" when you know you eventually have to write about it for work. I had to fight the urge to narrate the massage in my head, writing out sentences about each new oil she worked into my skin. But, once I managed to stop brainstorming headlines for this story, I felt myself begin to breath deeply, almost in rhythm with her hands. Somewhere between the hand massage and the leg massage, I felt that I had become part of the bed I was laying on. I told this to Michelle, who responded by saying I have an interesting way of expressing things, because what else could she say?

There were parts of the treatment so surprisingly wonderful that I almost wanted to cry. (When was the last time someone spent 10 minutes massaging my stomach? Never.) But, I was too relaxed to do anything, let alone emote. Afterwards, I floated home on the subway to Queens on a cloud of essential oils.

So, did the treatment make me feel more relaxed and forgiving? I was obviously much more relaxed. And, I suppose I did feel more forgiving, though not in the way I expected — as I chilled out, I found myself forgiving myself for various things I'd been ruminating about that day. I'd say that made it an 80 minutes well-spent.



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