It's not often that I enjoy complete relaxation. At night I usually try to read a bit before bed, but am watching the clock, overly aware that I will need to be bright eyed and bushy tailed at dawn. Often I lay awake at night with my mind racing about all the things I need to do, only to get up too tired to accomplish any of them. Before the time change, I would briskly walk around the block to get a few minutes of exercise by myself, knowing that I would shortly be returning to the chaos of home. Work isn't terribly stressful, but they wouldn't exactly appreciate me sitting around here in my sweats, watching The Food Network. I have a great life, but with marriage, kids and full-time job, it isn't easy to relieve all the stress. On Tuesday, I took a stand. Several months ago I had been given a gift certificate to a local spa. It was high time I used that. It's not that I had forgotten. Oh, no.. I would periodically take it out and look at it, reviewing the "menu of services" and fantasizing about that perfect day when I would finally get there. After traveling for a few days I just took that extra day off. Working in a financial market that is dying a slow death, it's not like my presence is so critical at the office right now.
When I first arrived for my afternoon of pampering, I was actually a bit stressed. I wanted everything to be just perfect, but there was a crowd at the front desk, delaying my entry. For appearances sake I looked patient, but when it was my turn I did nicely mention that there was very little time left until my appointment, leaving no time to enjoy the extra spa features. No problem! They simply moved my appointment 30 minutes later. Oh, I love being catered to! I was given a brief tour, shown to my locker and entrusted with my giant spa robe and sandals. Let the disrobing commence. Into a robe. Hmm.... Anyway, I did make a bit of a disturbing self discovery. Although rationally I understand that I am fairly lucky, I was so self conscious about my body that I had to wear a bathing suit. On the beach, I feel like this bikini is too revealing relevant to the shape I am in, yet at the spa I may as well have been dressed from neck to ankle. Almost all the other women seemed perfectly comfortable using the jacuzzi, steam room, etc.. completely nude, yet I just couldn't do it. I have never considered myself a prude, wasn't disturbed by the other women being undressed. They were simply average, all different body types, perfectly comfortable in their own skin. Here I was, unable to let go of my insecurities with my own body- a petite body at a healthy weight. Really, no room for complaint. I find that a bit sad, yet also compelling because only I can tone up the problem areas. Despite knowing it was ridiculous, I was glad to be in my bathing suit, preferring to be comfortable for my own sake, rather than self-conscious in the name of solidarity with strangers.
My first stop was the jacuzzi. I went in completely prepared with my little cup of cucumber water and an iced washcloth. It. Felt. So. Good. The only other times I have been there were when I was pregnant. The spa kindly prepares a warm milkbath to accompany the pregnancy massage, but I had never had the opportunity to use the steaming hot jacuzzi. It took a few minutes to find my perfect spot. First, I was on the far end so I could see all that was going on, but the bench is too deep causing me to sink to my eyes. This short girl needed a shallower seat! I moved over to the third step and leaned back, only to realize that the sensation of roaring and something trying to suck the hair off my head was the drain pulling at me. Finally, I laid on the third step on the other side, where little Goldilocks found it to be Just Right. Despite using the iced washcloth, I did get overheated after awhile, so I decided to try out the cool mist room. I've never seen this before, but let me tell you how great that is!! I hate saunas and steam rooms, feeling like I am suffocating from that heat. However, after getting all warmed up in the jacuzzi, the cool mist room was like a fresh breeze. The fogginess provides a muted hushed feeling with the only sound that of the mist being gently pumped out. The light is dim, and everything is a soft haze. Although I wasn't being directly sprayed, the moisture would collect on my skin, then gently roll down in little streams. It was like being massaged by tiny ladybugs. The pleasure of all these sensations was such a wonderful surprise. I waited until I got really chilled, then hopped right back into the jacuzzi, sinking into the water like I would a warm blanket. Now, it may not be so great for my immune system to go from hot to cold to hot- again and again- but that is exactly what I did.
Despite my immersement in all these temperate sensual pleasures, I still needed to watch the clock. Even having that extra time, it passed quickly. I dried off, ditched the bathing suit, donned the giant robe and sandals then headed out to the Meditation Room to wait for my Massage Therapist. She actually met me right outside the door, and we headed down endless hushed halls, passed a hundred closed doors to the place where I would spend nearly an hour letting a stranger rub me in all the right ways. For once, I was actually brave enough to request more pressure. I usually feel completely mute, as if it would be rude to criticize the technique, when the reality is that I am paying good money to this person who likely just wants to do her best to make it a good experience. Throughout the entire massage I had the opportunity to let go of all the things that normally crowd my mind, and just concentrate on feeling. I can't easily accompish this, and found myself with an inner dialogue that was actively clearing out all the mental noise. By the time the Massage Therapist finished, I had dozed off. Although most people think this is a good thing, indicating complete relaxation, I always feel like I missed out on those last few minutes. However, I was in a happy, sleepy state and feeling like a lump of wet cotton. I re-robed, accepted the proffered cup of cucumber water, and headed back to the locker room. Despite already being later than anticipated, I took my time showering in the spa shower that has 3 shower heads spraying me, used all their fancy shower products, then took the time to blow dry my hair into complete submission. I arrived home a new, relaxed woman.
I can't tell you how much I needed that.