What makes massage one of the best things that's ever happened to me before?
Massage is an amazing part of my life today that I'm very grateful for. At one of the points of critical pain in my life, I got a massage and I have felt absolutely amazing consistently since then.
Let me tell you the story of that.
Read this post or watch the original video of day 153 of Happier People Podcast on YouTube to find out!
Thank you very much to @gmichelbkk for converting the transcription of the YouTube video from GoTranscript into this beautiful post for Steemit, which is much faster to read than the video and has beautiful illustrations! I make the video first and then get help transcribing it into a blog post because this is three times faster for me than doing the post first and then making the video!
Did Massage Envy Save My Life?
It begins with my life being a disaster, on the brink of going over the edge into suicide. I went to Alcoholics Anonymous because I could see that it wouldn't likely happen if I would not drink anymore and yet, I couldn't quit drinking because drinking alcohol was the most consistent reliable stress relief that I had experienced in my life.
I didn't hardly know a way to really calm down, to really get some stress relief sometime without that constant rat race up in my head going, "What are you going to do next? What did he say? Can you believe she said that? What are we going to do tomorrow? Are you going to have enough money for the next day?"
Instant stress relief
I had one thought after another after another, and when I drank alcohol, "Okay, oh! Now…" It knocked me down into a simpler state of being. After three months of not drinking and going to Alcoholics Anonymous I was insane. My whole body was rigid and locked up and all I did was think, all day every day, and that's why I'd never been able to stay sober as an adult because I knew drinking would give me instant stress relief. Without drinking, I had no stress relief.
Sure, there were other things that worked a little bit here and there for a few minutes, but I'm talking about the stress relief on the body level, complete and lasting stress relief. I'm grateful today that I was so insane when I went to get my first massage. I literally was split, there were two of me.
One part of me wanted to just get drunk and circle a drain: "Let's just get drunk and die. That'd be a whole lot of fun on the way out and you can't handle it any other way."
Yet, I was terrified of that because I knew, I had this intuition, whatever you want to call it, that to drink again for me was to die, to commit an act that would set me on a path where I couldn't avoid then taking my own life while ruining lives of others in the process.
As that part of me guided me to this parking lot like, "Hey, there's a public liquor store right there, you can go."
The other part of me was desperate for stress relief. I heard one day in an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, a lady shared that, "I go get a massage and I feel so good afterwards." She must have been like 60 and at that time I didn't process that at all, but then when I got home like all by myself I said, "I need some stress relief, what I'm going to do? That old lady said a massage. All right, it was right next to the liquor store. Either way either I get drunk or go get a massage. I'm going to get some stress relief, one way or another."
I ended up in a parking lot where the liquor store and the Massage Envy literally were next to each other. I was looking at both of them wanting to do both. I wanted to get drunk and I wanted to go in and get a massage. Half of me wanted to do one thing, half of me wanted to do the other, like a good angel and a bad angel sitting there. This time I had a different experience than, "You should do this!" like you might imagine a God pointing down from Heaven, "You better obey me or else!"
I had a different experience than thinking, "You better stay sober or else," I thought I understood why I was afraid to go in that liquor store. I knew because I've paid the price for it: hundreds of hangovers, sick, vomiting, thousands of stupid things, shameful things, stupid posts on Facebook at 5 in the morning, thousands of things I've suffered from alcohol.
I knew why I didn't want to go in the liquor store and as I looked over at the Massage Envy, I realized that I felt the same way about it. That didn't make sense because I knew why I shouldn't go in the liquor store. I knew the predictable result I'd get out of it, more pain and suffering, but why was I equally afraid to go get a massage?
That was unexpected.
I thought, "Why am I afraid to do something that might help me and might not have any other consequences than spending money. That's ridiculous!"
And for once, I just went in and did the right thing, I said, "Well, it's just stupid that I'm afraid of going to get a massage, I'm just going to walk and do it." What I realized as I was walking in is that I was afraid of the unknown, what would my life look like if I quit making the same stupid mistakes over and over again?
What would my life look like if I tried something new?
What if it actually worked?
And it did.
My first massage
As I laid down for my first massage, I started focusing on my body.
Now, Eckhart Tolle talks about going into the body instead of just being stuck in the head, in his book "The Power of Now" and his retreats. He's one of the top spiritual guys, I guess, in the US and has a global following. I learned how to go into the body by getting a massage. I had no idea how to go into the body, and no interest in going into the body.
As the massage therapist had me lay on the table and just lay there, then she continued to push different things here, pull different things there, and rub knuckles in, I was curious and I stopped thinking, I don't know for how long, I just quit thinking for 10 or 20 minutes, and paid attention to what she was doing.
I didn't comment on it or judge it the whole time, my thoughts just stopped. That's true self-relief to have a blank mind -- I said self-relief as almost a slip, I meant stress relief, but I said self-relief. It's both, it's relief from self. You see, when there's no thoughts, there's no self either. There's no me, there's no Jerry Banfield if I'm not thinking it. I'm just here. I am, I am that I am, I'm here.
I have to think for there to be a me, there has to be, "Okay, what's my name? Jerry Banfield. What am I doing? What am I talking about? Okay, we're doing this podcast."
I have to think for there to be me when there's no me, there's no stress. When there's not all these thoughts, there's no problem.
The amazing thing after 10 or 20 minutes of stress relief, in the form of the massage, I received three original thoughts in my head. At least they felt original at the time. Up until that point, my adult life, I had had almost completely compulsive thoughts.
Therefore, I was extremely defensive about what new things I would let in because I was essentially consenting to think about it for the rest of my life, "I'm going to read this book. Well, I don't want to read any new books because then I'm going to have to think about everything they said the rest of my life. I'll just keep the same old, compulsive thoughts I've got and that's who I am."
I had three thoughts coming to my head about working my Alcoholics Anonymous program. After months of going I hadn't had a sponsor, I wasn't reading the book and I was only going to two meetings a week.
In the middle of the massage, it was as if God spoke to me. I got three extremely clear and peaceful, but very loud thoughts, "Ask this man to be your sponsor, go to five meetings a week instead of two, and read the book." Very simple instructions like you might read in a cookbook, "Put this in the oven at this time after setting the oven and this, and get it out at this time, bam."
What I experienced though, was enough cessation of thinking, enough paying attention to my body where I was able to have everything that I needed come into focus and stop all these useless compulsive thoughts, "What's going to happen to me? What do I want? What am I thinking? What did I do yesterday?" All these thoughts that are just a waste of time.
I just got a massage today!
I'm grateful that some people alongside watching my videos share comments like, "How do you do so much? You upload all these videos every day," and I spend a lot of time with my family and I go to a AA meeting every day.
I spend probably two to three hours a day with my family. I go to a AA meeting, I spend an hour or so a day reading and watching video classes. I take an hour or so to walk with my dogs every day. I do what you might call a lot in a very short period of time and it's because my brain generally is not garbaged up with all these other compulsive thoughts. It's wide open. When I go to do something like this podcast episode, I step up, it rolls through and that's it. Now sure, I've had a few thoughts about it beforehand, but I didn't sit there to think, plan and live the whole thing out beforehand.
I'm grateful today because I just got a massage. That's why you can see there's this round thing on my head from laying face down getting a massage.
A fantastic tool for meditating
Massage has been amazingly powerful for me since that first massage. After I walked out of that first massage, I was just shocked like, "What just happened?"
I felt so much relief.
Now, I didn't consciously notice this because I don't think I was hardly thinking about it. There's a funny thing when you're not thinking about things you can essentially be oblivious to what's going on.
My wife said that I was way more relaxed at dinner that night and she's seen a lot of different sides of me. Then a week or two later when I realized what happened I said, "My God, I'm enlightened. I had a spiritual experience. I heard God," or however you want to put it. I reconnected with the whole.
Massage for me is a fantastic tool for meditating. If you have a hard time meditating, get a massage. There's nothing like a teacher to help. If you have a good massage therapist, they're very much like a meditation teacher. If you have a massage therapist who's a lot like I was most of my adult life, they'll be trying to hurry through your massage. They won't be really paying attention to you, and you may not feel a whole lot better afterwards.
Most of the massage therapist I've been to are present. They're actually paying attention to what they're doing carefully. They're with me, they teach me meditation and by now I've had 20 or 30, or maybe even 40 different massage therapists. I've had 100 of massages in the two and a half years since I got my first one.
They told me that I should probably come back within a month, I came back a month later and it worked again. I thought, "My God, this is great.
Then I started thinking, "Well, why get one once a month? Why not do once every two weeks?" Now, I get a massage every week. I'm thinking about doing it twice a week, but for now it seems once a week is good.
For several days after getting a massage, my body feels way better. After about a week, my body starts noticeably tensing up again and it's ripe for a massage. I just get a relaxation massage normally. Although I've had some deep tissue massages. I've had lots of therapists do lots of different kind of massages.
They consistently provide the stress relief. They consistently help me focus on my inner body, focus on my breathing, focus on practicing all these spiritual principles, focus on giving up my thoughts, letting go of who I am, what I'm thinking about, and just lay there and pay attention.
Massages also helped me to appreciate my body
Many of the massage therapists actually do a massage on the butt or the "glute," as it's called, without even having a towel over it. I have noticed in massages that I started learning to love my body again with the massage therapists who were very good at what they do, and the massage therapist I had today was amazing. You can tell that she's paying attention, she's there and she's doing what she's doing out of love. She's not doing it just to make money or just to have a job, she's there because she loves what she does.
Massage is one of those things that I would imagine is quite unpleasant if you just want to work it as a job because it might be quite unpleasant to give lots of different people a massage and to essentially not get to do anything with your head. It seems massage attracts good massage therapists. I've had a lot of great massage therapists that have helped me love my body again.
One of the things that stinks is to be up here in the neck up and to be looking down at your body as some disgusting thing that basically has to carry your head around. Like the whole body's purpose is to provide some occasional pleasure and carry your head around. That was my experience with my body most of my life. Something that was annoying, fat and slow, caused all these problems and hurt, that occasionally gave me a little bit of pleasure and was mostly there to carry my head around.
Going to massages helped me to love the whole body again and that gives me literally the difference in just having this part of the body versus getting to experience the whole thing. For relaxing, it's much easier to take a cue from the body.
There's this positive feedback loop between the body and the mind. If the mind looks in the body and sees a bunch of tension, a bunch of stress and a bunch of pain, the mind comes back up and says, "Oh my God, we're stressed out. Everything's all messed up."
The more the mind says that, the body feels like, "Oh my God, we're stressed out. We need to prepare for the end of the world. There may be a tiger or a bear coming, prepare. Continue staying stressed out."
What's nice about the massage is that when you get a massage it helps the body relax and when the body relaxes, the mind checks in and says, "Damn, the body is nice and relaxed now. Good, we will relax up here. All the voices in the head will take a little while off. Clearly there's no big problem, the body is relaxed therefore we will take a little vacation, will see you tomorrow morning first thing when you get up and start thinking about your day. But for now, you have the rest of the day off of compulsive thinking, of worrying about your finances, of ringing your hands over what your mother or your children, your siblings or your friends, are going to do."
Life is suddenly good and you don't need any alcohol and drugs to induce that effect. I've had lots of people ask me, "Are you on drugs? Have you been drinking again?"
Massage provides many of those same benefits completely naturally. The feeling I used to get from having those first two drinks is the feeling I simply wanted to sustain all the time I was awake, and it's the same feeling I get of relaxing, letting go, where life is good. I get that same feeling from a massage.
I'm extremely grateful for that, which is why I've taken the time instead of doing some video that might make money, help me sell and buy a bigger house, and pay off my debt, I decided here to tell you about massage.
Questions and fears about massage
A few questions you might have about massage or a few hesitations. You made it this far in, and I'm thinking that you might be serious. Either you've never got it before or you'd like to learn more. A few likely questions and fears you have if you are similar to me.
One of my fears was that they were going to do something to me sexually in there. It's Massage Envy, it's a franchise, but I still had this idea in my head and was afraid they were going to do something to me.
I've had hundreds of massages, all with women, many different women of all different cultures, sizes, ages, et cetera. I've had no issues with that. Now, I encourage you, if you want to get a massage, to look for the kind of massage you're expecting. If you're expecting to have a sexual massage, then you would want to look for that in a different way.
I think it's nice, a massage is purely an asexual experience. It's nice just to be touched and to be loved. Most of us don't have enough of that in our lives.
I go to MassageLuXe now because I moved and Massage Envy is five minutes farther away and that was 10 minutes of extra driving. I'm trying to cut down on driving as much as possible and MassageLuXe is like three to five minutes away from where I live.
You can get a great massage at MassageLuXe and Massage Envy, and at any similar type of franchise massage place, and at plenty of independently owned massage places. There's no worry about any of the sexual stuff going on unless you specifically ask for it, in which case there may be an issue. I'm grateful today that it was one of my biggest fears, I'd go in and somehow get shamed, but there is no problem with that.
I used to hate spending money. The massage you might think is expensive. It is $49 or so for me to get a massage plus a tip of anywhere from $10 to $40 is standard because someone just literally felt and massaged your whole body for an hour.
This is some pretty personal service and I try to give a good tip when I go for a massage. So my massage on average costs me between $50 to $80 every single massage, and I go every week. Someone asked, "What do you like to buy yourself?" My answer is, "I spend all my discretionary money or nearly all of my discretionary money on massages."
Because they have a lasting effect.
When I get a massage, I feel good for days afterwards. I've had a lot of people tell me, "Oh, that's too much money."
How much would you pay to avoid going to the doctor, to avoid taking medications, to avoid getting drunk and wrecking your car, blowing up relationships and calling people on the phone all suicidal, and all the other things that happen from being stressed out.
How much would you pay to avoid that?
That's worth $50 to $80 a week. Absolutely, without question.
The money is an outstanding expense and outstanding experience. I've spent probably close to $10,000 on massages.
Meanwhile, I've spent very little money on many other things for myself. I continue to try to give my material possessions away. Massage is well worth the money. If you still aren't sold on the money aspect of it, cut out some other things you're spending money on that don't provide you honest and comprehensive stress relief.
I cancelled the cable. That was $100 a month that I've got very little stress relief out of having cable TV. I've ruthlessly cut out other expenses in my life to make room for massage.
Massage is one of the very last expenses I would cut. I would cut out going out to eat completely before I would cut out getting massage. If the money was extremely tight, massage is one of the very last things I would cut down on. That's how useful it is for me today.
Other things you might be afraid of, "Oh, the therapist won't like my body or it's going to hurt," but it feels really good when you get a great therapist. I consistently found great therapists and they have taught me how to love my body. They've taught me how to feel really good about my body. They have shown me what it feels like to love and accept my body. That is a huge and invaluable service. It's worth it.
You might also think about massage, "Well, I don't have time for that."
What do you have time for?
To blow up and get angry at your friends and family?
To get mad at your pets, "Get out of the way, shut up!"
Do you have time to zone out and watch TV for three or four hours a week?
Do you have time to play video games, put on a headset and scream, "You stupid mother F?"
Do you have time to do that?
Because I had time to do all that other stuff before I went to get massages. I had lots of time to do all that other stuffs: scream, yell, throw fits, get nasty, fight and argue.
Since I've started getting massages, I've had a lot less arguments with my wife. I mean like 10% of what we used to have. If we had ten arguments, since I've started getting massages, we've had about one.
Do you have time to fight and argue with the people in your life?
Do you have time to get pissed off and be all stressed out?
See, that time thing is one of those defense mechanisms that in my experience, my mind puts in place when it really doesn't want to do any better. This is in my opinion the biggest barrier to getting a massage, at least trying it. I find my mind honestly wants to keep things messed up because then it needs to solve problems all the time.
My life is pretty simple today
There's not a lot to think about. Almost every aspect of my life is good. I'm surrounded by people who love me. I have enough money. I have debt, but I have enough money today. I have plenty of food, I have at least three if not six months of food in the house. No matter what happens in terms of the economy. I can eat, so can my family for six months. It only costs a few hundred dollars to buy six months of food. Great food, food that I love the taste of: oatmeal, peanut butter, and canned spinach, which are extremely nutritious, full of vitamins and minerals.
Today I have a wonderful life and massage has been one of the most valuable tools. I'm grateful for that, I'm so grateful that I've dedicated this limited part of my day to share what works for me.
Being stressed out, in a hurry, frustrated, causes unbelievable carnage. It's one of the greatest evils that exists on this planet. People, just like I was most of my adult life, racing around, in a hurry, frustrated, alone, feeling like they hate their bodies, feeling disgusting inside, massage helps with all that.
Shortly after I got my first massage, I started reading The Power Of Now, then book after book. The miracle of these things is that taking one suggestion often breaks the ice. In getting a massage, that was one of the first major suggestions I'd taken in a long time. After that, I started getting more comfortable.
I got a massage like that old lady said. The same lady who recommended the massage also recommended The Power Of Now. After I've verified that her massage tip works, I read The Power Of Now. She recommended more books, I read them, many of them I've shared with you.
I'm so excited to share about massage with you today because I just had another fantastic massage. I'm so grateful for that.
I love you, I want you to have the life of your dreams starting now. Everything, just the way you would craft heaven right now around you.
I'm honored you've summoned me to assist with that, as I've summoned so many others.
My exercise for today was to get a massage. I cleared my schedule and did that.
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