Loving Yourself: Confessions of a Spa-Aholic
Taking time off for self-care is not just a luxury but a necessity.
Ever since I was a little girl, I loved being nurtured with affection. I grew up in a warm, inviting home where expressing fondness was primarily through touch and hugging. As a young lady, I was introduced to spas by my mother. Ironically, she didn’t like to be touched or massaged, but encouraged me to appreciate the facials and the pampering. It was her way to give me love, learn about self-love, even though she could not do that for herself. Love in my family was shown in tender moments, but emotionally it was more unstable. Unlike most families, warmth and affection was plentiful. Both my parents were generous with expressing that kind of love.
So it seems befitting that I learned about spas and how they were a place to experience love, self-care and the essence of being a woman.
The concept of spas has been around since ancient times. The Roman baths, healing spring waters, the concubines of kings, all gathered in places of beauty to nourish and replenish themselves. It is only in our chaotic modern world that the spa has become more than a healing place, it has become super-luxury for the elite. Of course, there are many natural springs that most can afford and several are free. But our western world, especially the US, does not encourage taking time off for self-care.
We are one of the most overworked cultures in the world where leisurely dining, a leisurely lunch and resting are frowned upon. Fast food, fast cars, fast breaks, high speed internet, everything is a race to get nowhere fast. There are the latest designer drugs to keep us awake, productive, including coffee places on every corner. You don’t need a prescription for speed, there are the new energy drinks that are available to anyone at any time at any store, including 7/11 . Europeans for example have a healthier standard of ease, taking time midday for a siesta or space to relax and then going back to work replenished. Corporations have paid sick days for which the more seasoned workers who are loyal to their company accrue. But the higher up they go on the food chain of employees, the worse they are at taking time off in the corporate world.
In a recent article by Anne Fisher writes about, Why don’t American’s take more time off? Even if their employers offered unlimited vacation days, most people wouldn’t take any more time off than they do now.
“It’s a little odd when you consider that, according to a new survey by staffing firm The Creative Group, about 40% of executives think employees would be more productive if they took more vacations, while only 9% think productivity would “decrease significantly.” Yet among the same senior managers, 72% say that, if their companies offered unlimited vacation days, they wouldn’t use any more than they already do. More than half (56%) of employees say they wouldn’t, either.”
When they polled middle management, most were afraid of taking time off because they didn’t feel they could catch up with the workload upon return. The work still had to get done and their inboxes were overloaded on a typical day. Many just work through their allotted time off. In a 24/7 society, few will turn off their mobile phones for a peaceful day at the beach or mountain retreat. Studies have shown that taking time off for wellness, even a staycation can increase productivity in the work place. A few more humane corporations are realizing this, and providing incentives for taking time off. However most are only interested in the bottom line, making profits and the total output of a worker.
There is another recent article in Inc.Magazine, by Will Yanowicz, Why You Need to Encourage Employees to Use Their Vacation Time.
”New research finds that employees who take all of their vacation are more productive and increase their chances of getting promoted.”
When people do a time out, for only a personal day here and there, it’s because they are usually saving up for a family emergency. It is as if we are still in that puritanical society where pleasure is frowned upon, except for the elite, the celebrity or rockstar. Perhaps this is why we idolize them so much, living vicariously through their extravagant sojourns to exotic locales. Perhaps the Kardashian craze is still front page news because now, more than ever, we are yearning to take time for ourselves, even to get pampered (gasp) for a moment of pleasure.
While my passion with spas has evolved from experiencing it as the substitute for the love of my mother, I now feel it is a nurturing place to escape from the modern world to a place for recharging my batteries.There are pristine places in nature, being around fresh air, a park, natural mineral springs and other places of resplendent beauty. However living in an urban environment does not provide enough time and space, unless you travel away from the hectic city hubs. But we all need a personal ‘souljourn’, an unscheduled time of tranquility. That’s why all the self-help, personal growth, meditation, yoga, and energy healings are great. Yet getting away from it all and traveling to a new environment, such as a tropical resort sounds like a dream right now.
I have always been an observer, noticing the gestalt of most things as a whole, focused on the intrinsic concepts of life. Three decades ago, I studied with Rev. Richard Bolles, who wrote the best selling book, “What Color is Your Parachute” (the bible for finding work) and other books such as “Work/Life Planning” and the “Three Boxes of Life” to understand, with my sensitive nature, how to fit into the work world. As an artistic soul, I never felt comfortable being part of the ‘matrix’ as a worker bee. So instead, I became a Life-Stylist focused on designing beautiful homes. Later on, a researcher, writer and journalist to better understand the world of mass production and business. I found that personal care has no place in the work world, where we all have to fit in to a system and conform. However, our world is becoming so complex, even the medical institutions are not the havens for healing. And in most instances, conventional medicine is so corrupt that the only way to survive and thrive is to learn to take care of yourself.
In some countries it is actually not encouraged to take your personally allotted vacation time. The environment at some companies discourages it, and many employers do not provide paid vacation time.
The future of Health Care is SELF-CARE and the future is now.
The first step is to educate yourself about what is healthy and what is not. We need to face the daily onslaught of toxins from all aspects of the material world. Especially today, we face the chaos of war and perpetual challenges. We are officially living in the age of terrorism, while climate change, natural disasters and mental illness are a normal occurrence. The necessity for finding healing modalities to sustain wellness are tantamount. Relying on the medical establishment to take care of you because you have not awakened to the real issues of the modern world is no longer an option. By the time you get into the ‘Health Care’ system through chronic illness and dreaded diseases, it may be too late to take the more natural route.
Gerald Celente, a futurist, founder of the Trends Research Institute, wrote that there would be the combination of spas and hospitals of the future in his Trends 2000 book. Today, most hospitals are a place of unrest, constantly operating from emergency modes (but if you break a leg or need a heart valve replacement, it is the best place to go to fix it.) However, modern diseases occur from stressful lifestyles and many of these illnesses can be alleviated with the proper care through personal responsibility.
Pharmaceutical drugs have become the panacea for what ails you, a pill for this or that, dealing with the symptoms but not the cause. Visiting a healing retreat or spa, especially a med-spa where you get your baseline health checked in an environment away from your routine life is an excellent way to take time to learn about your now body/mind/spirit. One leading edge example is the California Health and Longevity Institute at the Four Seasons Hotel and Spa in Westlake Village, California.
The spa of the future will be a combination of healing retreat and medical clinic.
Progressive medical establishments in Thailand and other countries are providing medical tourism as a way of saving money but they are also designed as places of peace and tranquility. Hopefully some day we will all have affordable access to these kinds of places here in the United States so we don’t have to wait until we get sick to take time off! We often put off spending any time or money to rejuvenate ourselves, but when when have to stop the clock because we are sick, then we have no choice.
My motto is: How you live your life is your greatest work of art. Hence, creating a lifestyle that is in harmony, balance and in tune with your body/mind/spirit will lead to the greatest pleasure and happiness in the long run. Visiting a healing retreat, spa or place of natural beauty is the first step to living your best life now!
Although both my parents are long gone, what remains for me is the desire to experience peace, comfort, affection, caring and nurturing. Because of life circumstances, I often feel like I am on shaky ground (especially while living in Los Angeles). I believed in the illusion of American dream, yet what once appeared as a solid foundation feels now broken shards of glass to tiptoe about without getting cut. Many people I know are experiencing unstable lives, fraught with financial uncertainty and the impending doom of negativity abounds. I am not one to watch the histrionic headlines in the news, preferring to connect to a higher source daily for truth updates. I have found that having close friends, and especially pets, are another way to feel connected and share physical affection. For most, a close family and children is at the top.
Since I have not met my soulmate yet, and my fuzzy four-legged one has gone to doggy heaven, I share these special moments through my close friendships, chance encounters with kindhearted souls along the way and especially visiting a healing retreat and spa. My focus now is experiencing beauty for the soul.
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