Over the weekend I had my first Thai massage. WTF, that shit is magical. And horrible. And magical and ow and yay and arghhh all in the same second.
As I lay there, it struck me that the waves of anger and pleasure I was experiencing were a metaphor for life. But I didn’t get too far with my lightbulb moment because boom, elbow to the neck.
And then I felt magical again. And then agony.
Forrest Gump was mistaken, life is like a Thai massage, you never know what you’re going to get. Sometimes you you feel happy, relaxed and free. Then you get a knee to the lower back. Sometimes you’re on top of the world, and sometimes you’re getting walked all over by a person half your size.
The sensations can change in just a moment. Your joy, pain and anger can flick to the opposite in just a second.
Nothing is fixed, it’s ever changing, up and down, amazing and terrible and sometimes amazing and terrible all at the same time.
For a control freak perfectionist like me, I used to struggle like buggery with this unacceptably unstable concept, both in life and in massage.
Which created struggle in my mind and suffering in my body far greater than anything life could throw at me. My resistance was all self inflicted.
I couldn’t accept the lows, and I clung to the highs so tightly they wrenched themselves away.
I felt like I was running backwards up a sand dune that was avalanching down on me.
I used to hate strong massages.
My outbursts of anger at the pain would take me over, I’d seeth and struggle and resist until I hated the masseuse so much I might punch her.
But yesterday, as I lay, in simultaneous pain and ecstasy, I realised that I can now handle pain much deeper than I ever thought possible.
I handle it with my undivided attention.
Not by struggling and trying to hide in a corner of my mind, hoping that the pain will stop, but by taking my attention fully into the pain, observing it as a sensation and not as a concept in my pissed off mind.
Inside the pain is a feeling of surrender, of release, of pleasure even, the sensation deafens you and takes over your senses in a moment of terribly overwhelmingly blissful terribleness. A bit like the brink of orgasm really, except with a Thai woman’s elbow in your shoulder blade.
This is what mindfulness allows – a full surrender into anything and everything – whatever comes, pain, emotions, highs and lows.
It gives you the ability to withstand events and emotions you never thought possible. It can even enable you to enjoy the roller coaster, the ups with the downs.
You know, that no matter how turbulent, there’s always a calm deep beneath.
I’m not just talking about massage.