23 June 2011

Beyond Unconsciousness

For twenty years I have at regular intervals experienced full body, deep tissue massage given by a very skilled practitioner. The efficacy of massage remains without doubt, though the exact rewards of the practice are yet uncertain. Once, after finishing a marathon I went immediately into massage; the muscle relief I experienced and the quickened recovery from the punishing run were soothing and immediate. For several months I experienced shiatsu massage, and outside the pain I experienced, the benefits I reaped from it seemed to result in some immediate increase in my sense of well-being, though I could not define how that directly related to the massage. I suppose that pathways of energy were opened by the practice of shiatsu opens up pathways of energy in the body that may have become blocked, but really, the explanation for the benefits was never so much a concern to me as was the benefit I received from the experience. 
But there occurs an interesting phenomena in full body massage about which I would like to think right now because I have begun to realize its possibility at other moments in my days. Sometimes, lying face down on the table, my head held naturally face down in a cut-out open space and my arms resting in a swing under my face, while the massage proceeds I enter a space when I am neither asleep or awake, neither unconscious nor conscious. I enter a space of complete rest and peace: no thoughts pass through my mind but my mind is not inactive. Images appear and fade, but they are not part of any narrative and they do not possess emotional charge. They appear because I am wholly at peace and are not the cause of my peace; they are the mind that becomes free. Perhaps this state approaches the goal sought in transcendental meditation: the place of absolute peaceful equanimity and serenity. I think that perhaps it is this space in which prophecy might have once occurred. 
There are times when such visions occur outside the massage room. They happen always in moments of absolute quiet and peace, but again, they are not dreams and they have no meaning. I do not feel compelled to interpret them. When I experience such visions, I am at peace, and when they pass I come back into the world not changed, but conscious that I have been forever so brief a moment somewhere else where there was no conflict or tension and I am grateful for the experience. I do not know the long-term benefits of such journeys, but I am glad to take them and to have recognized that they can occur in places other than on the massage table. 


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