I was determined to be healthier both spiritually and physically, but I didn't really know what I got myself into.
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I'm stripped down to my underwear, with a scented cloth folded over my eyes, and a heavy sheet draped over my body. I know I should feel relaxed, but massages always make me uncomfortable—I worry I'll be gassy, that my feet will be clammy, or that my stubbly legs will gross out the tender masseuse.
Now, in addition to the familiar unease, I'm also confused. She hasn't touched me for at least three minutes, which feels like forever when you're nearly naked with a stranger in a dim room.
I was getting an intuitive massage.
I was celebrating my birthday at a luxury spa in Arizona with the goal of entering a new decade both spiritually and physically healthier, so I was up for anything. But when I peeked out of my eye covering to see if she made a quick exit, and found her standing near the crown of my head, her arms straight up by her ears like she was calling a touchdown, I couldn't help but wonder what I got myself into. (Related: Everything You Need to Know About Energy Work—and Why You Should Try It)
"Is she nuts?" I thought. And wait, "did 'intuitive' mean she could read my mind?"
According to the spa catalog, the intuitive massage is "inspired by Native American spirituality and Peruvian shamanic studies…allowing the therapist to intuitively massage the physical source of pain or discomfort." In other words, "The Long Island Medium" meets Massage Envy, I concluded.
She didn't read my mind, but what did happen was just as curious: The intuitive masseuse chanted in a tongue I didn't recognize, at times laying her entire torso across my body. She also blew really quick strong bursts of air, then wiped one of her hands across the other as if she was forcefully clearing away cookie crumbs.
I broke the silence between chants and asked if she could explain what she was doing. "I'm balancing your chakras," she said. "We all have seven chakras. Each chakra is associated with an emotional energy." She laid her hands on the seven different areas of my body as she spoke. "They are like spinning wheels and when one or more is blocked, it can be the root of mental, emotional, physical and spiritual issues."
"So, how am I doing?" I asked, pretty sure it wasn't so well. The most spiritual I usually get is planning what I'll eat for lunch during yoga class.
"Well, your third eye, heart, and sacral chakra were all closed, but I've opened them now," she said. Hearing this, I felt relief that I was "fixed," but I also wondered how long I had been walking around a spiritually and mentally unbalanced mess. (Related: How to Choose the Best Healing Crystals for Your Needs)
By the end of the 90-minute treatment, she had barely touched me, but I was surprised to find that the lower right side of my back wasn't sore anymore, and my headache cleared up. I also felt a little lighter, happier—and for lack of a better explanation—more open. Was it hocus-pocus or was it for real?
When I get back to my room my friends are waiting for me. "So?" they ask. "She opened my chakras, and I think I feel pretty amazing!" I can't help but giggle as I tell them about it because I know these words don't sound anything like me. "I just feel less intense, and a little more calm and receptive." They stare at me like I have an actual third eye.
But the calm of being balanced didn't come without the stress of trying to stay balanced. As counterproductive as it was, I felt a huge responsibility to keep my chakras as open as they were in the moments after the massage.
I started by reading about the three areas that she mentioned I needed to work on. In doing so, I learned a lot about myself—although, like reading a horoscope, some of the information fit me, and some of it didn't. (Related: Tarot Cards Might Be the Coolest New Way to Meditate)
- Sacral chakra: Apparently, this chakra houses sexuality and relationships, and an under-active sacral chakra can cause a decreased sex drive. Did she just throw that one out there after I told her I was married and had two young kids? Either way, when I got home from my spa weekend, I did actually feel more intimate with my husband. (It's possible that it was because I was so grateful that he stayed home with the kids while I was celebrating with my friends.)
- Heart chakra: When I researched an under-active heart chakra, I learned that it could have caused me to build a wall around myself. To be honest, I felt a little embarrassed and angry that the intuitive masseuse would suggest such a thing. I love my husband and my children with every breath I have, but I'll admit that our hectic lives get in the way of experiencing everything fully, and moving forward I vowed to make an effort to live in the moment. (Related: 10 Mantras Mindfulness Experts Live By)
- Third eye: She told me she unblocked my third eye, which I found out controls intuition, insight, and psychic abilities. I'm not psychic and I probably never will be. But, ever since the intuitive massage, I have been actively listening to my inner voice more often.
Now, life has resumed its usual frenetic pace. When the kids are fighting, I'm running late, dinner needs to be cooked, and the house is a mess, I try to return to that intuitive space when everything felt balanced. TBH, whether my intuitive massage was all spiritual gobbly-gook or actual truth? I don't ever care to know.