Sunday, September 21, 2014

The Cultural Component to Wellness

I'm on yet another wellness kick.  This time, it's trying to eat more plant-based food, yoga twice a week (offered for free by my employer--yay!), and biweekly massages.  I'm still having pain in my side (it's been going on since last October, so almost a whole year)--ever since I had that weird bacterial infection.  I've had a million medical tests, which have shown nothing, and it doesn't appear to be related to the surgery I had to have in December.  Before I dive into more tests or head back to the U.S. for more follow up, I thought I'd give the basic stuff another go.  I've given up the local coffee (crazy acidic) and red wine (ouff...), and I'm drinking lots of green tea and eating my veggies.  So far, I'm feeling a bit better, and I'm cautiously optimistic that the pain is lifestyle based, rather than disease-based.  Fingers crossed.

So, about those massages. . .

I've tried a few different massage therapists here.  The only spa that I know of is CRAZY expensive, but it's quite reasonable to have someone come to your home.  I was a little weirded out by the idea at first, but they are very professional and generally in uniform.  Some have their own tables; others just use a bed.  I normally just throw a sheet over my bed (to keep the oil from destroying my regular linens), and cover myself with a towel.  I try to schedule the massage for after the kids go to bed, after having learned the hard way the first time that my two year old otherwise spends the entire time knocking on my bedroom door.  It's not as relaxing, in any event, as a spa--no dimmed lighting and relaxing music and pleasant aromas.  Still, it's about the muscles, right?  And that part is the same, no matter where you are.

Only. . .

I've discovered there isn't the same sense of privacy/modesty here that exists in the United States.  Massages in the U.S. are very prim and proper.  It's been my experience that you are under the sheet when the massage therapist arrives in the room, and that sheet discreetly covers most of your body throughout your entire your visit.  But here, the therapist stays in the room with you while you get yourself situated on the bed.  They think nothing of whipping the towel off completely during your massage, or having you flip over, thereby exposing all of your bits to the massage therapist.  It's a tad weird for me.  Granted, I'm using only female massage therapists.  But still. . .eek!  I'm comfortable with my body, but a bit uncomfortable with being quite so exposed.  Yet, after discussing this with my local friends and verifying that this is just how it is, it's also fascinating to me that this seems to be the norm.  I can only assume that local women are much more comfortable with their own nudity that those with my Puritanical roots.

The other that I've been surprised by is that it's common here to massage ALL of you. . .including bum, tummy, boobs.  One of my girlfriends has been joking that she no longer needs her husband.  At first, I was a little freaked out--especially because I was laying face up with my eyes closed the first time, only to have the towel whipped off and my upper torso massaged.  It was a bit. . .unsettling.  But, my current/favorite massage therapist (a tiny older woman with hands like steel vices) also does a bit of Reiki and some spinal adjustment work, and I can't rule out that it's helping.

So, my adventures in wellness continue.  Maybe at the end of this I'll both feel better AND be comfortable with the nudity.

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