The practice of awareness – What I learned from a day at the spa
“The only job you have is to focus on your breathing,” said my massage therapist. His accent was so mixed with Australian, Mid-Western and English, I wasn’t sure if it was real or fake. “Observe if one lung takes in more air than the other and then see if you can make them evenly destitute the breath.” “Breathe deeply and slowly.”
As I lie there on the feather covered massage table, my reaction was mixed with angst and curiosity. First, I thought, this was a spa, why did I have a “job” or the responsibility to “focus” on anything? But of course, because I am a learner and a good student, I took the instructors advice, breathing in and out as slow as possible. As I focused on the breathing exercise, I realized that I couldn’t remember the last time I breathed. Maybe I had just been holding my breath the last year.
As I contemplated this phenomenon, the student in me could not resist asking this question: “Is it true that we breathe more air into one lung then into another?” My massage therapist replied with this answer, “Yes, because we are completely unaware of how we are breathing. If we want to change the patterns of our breathing, we must because aware of how we breath.”
Awareness, isn’t that the key to unlock the door to any type of transformation? We begin with becoming aware. In this case, I became aware that I couldn’t remember actually breathing slowly (or breathing at all for that matter), which would lead to taking action towards the outcome of health and relaxation.
The word awareness would not leave me that day. As I sat in the spa sanctuary with my friend, Mary, we had a conversation about communication. She told me a story about her Mother. Mary said that her Mother had a habit of asking her a question on the phone and before Mary could answer, she would ask another question. There would be no time for Mary to actually talk or to say what she would like because her Mother was always talking.
In my new state of awareness, I realize that I do this very thing. Why? Mostly because I am afraid I will forget whatever it is I just thought of. But no excuses, it is rude and thoughtless. When Mary brought it up, I was made aware of the bad habit I had developed over the years. It was something I would like to change, something I would like to take action on. In this case, I realized I needed to surrender the questions and information in my mind to allow the person the entire stage to talk and have me be the audience, listening intently so that I could be a better communicator and show I care about the person.
Although that day at the spa led me down memory lane of how many things in my 44 years I had become painfully awaken to that catapulted change in my life, I knew that I could do just what the massage therapist suggested: Take a deep breath, be aware and present in the moment and as I practice awareness, I will improve along my journey.