Summer Spa

Column for July

Go to a Summer Spa

The life that I took for granted, when I lived as a young person in Toronto, is long gone.    

It's just something that I noticed about Ottawa Valley people as soon as I moved to this area, way back thirty years ago. In Toronto, all of my friends had taken massage therapy courses. Not all of us chose to take the full version of the healing courses, but, in our religious group, we were offered free mini-studies (day -long courses) in types of massage.

We learned about the complexities of Shiatsu, and we were all given studies from a blackboard, in the open air, about the areas of the foot, which correspond to the organs and other important areas of the body.

Some Comfort

So, we learned how to deliver some level of comfort through Reflexology (massage meant only for the areas of the feet) and also, what the difference in pressure was between fingertip (or knuckle) pressure used in Shiatsu, and the use of the side of the fist or open hand, in Swedish massage.
 I believe that Swedish massage is used for athletes, since the repeated bouncing of gentle fists or the whole side of the hand serves to refresh deep musculature.
Shiatsu, on the other hand, is an Oriental technique, which relies on a good memory and a lot of study. Refined pressure, starting upon the base of the spine serves every nerve and each chakra (nerve centre) in turn. One must know about every nerve, each of their names and functions, before becoming a qualified Shiatsu therapist.


I have even taken a type of massage called "Rolfing". Rolfing is possibly one of the most sadistic forms of treatment for the body.
Perhaps some people have the type of metabolism or extremely relaxed musculature,where Rolfing could be called pleasurable, but, when I had it, I was in such pain that I screamed (for every minute of the session).

My Rolfing was given by a qualified therapist in Toronto, and this technique was said to relieve lymphatic crystallization which was deeply inhibiting the muscle, and so imbalancing the body.

It Was Pain for a Person in Good Health

Bearing in mind that, not only was I 25 or 26 years old, but that I did disciplined yoga excercise (of three kinds) every day. I was used to walking ten miles in a day more than once a week, and kept a regimen of vegan diet, meditation, good sex, and other excercise like swimming, or dance courses.

Rolfing consisted of stabbing, with enormous male strength, directly into the centre of calf muscles, and into the tough muscle and ligaments , mid-thigh. It was agonizing, and I do not recommend the shock to very many people.

Deep Bliss

As I said, most of we Toronto young people had taken some form of massage course. Not only were we interested in healing and purifying, we gave each other very kind massage, very, very regularly.
As a young person so involved in a spiritual way of life, with a very regular health regimen, I was very often in a truly deep bliss. I studied bliss meditation with an Eastern religious group. In a way, it was almost overwhelming for a young parent whose life consisted of doing housework at 4:30 in the AM, then yoga, then making the kid lunch,and making sure the little one was in safe hands before going to work in the noisy, monoxide- thick conditions of a big city. I had a lot of energy, and I was always able to work at even three jobs to keep our little family going.

When I moved to the Ottawa valley, I noticed how starchy, standoffish and old-fashioned the men were (more than the women) about holistic self-therapy. No-one would give me massage except for an occasional friend (usually a woman). So, I was restricted to having a massage about once a year, instead of three times per week.
More than one man of my acquaintance had said "no-oh (brrr-ugh!) - massage is for lackeys".

I have never quite understood them, except that in the Valley we are subject to more pollutants in our systems, from the Silicon Valley North experience. It is with great pleasure (thirty years later) that I am witnessing, in our Valley, an awakening of the senses through the establishment of a number of health spas and courses, meant to enliven the health of our stuffy Ottawa Valley crowd.
 I was able to obtain a promotional discount from a beauty spa, recently, which offered so much that I was flabberghasted. Ordinarily, I cannot afford professional massage (the only kind I can get!).

Is It Safe, Yet?

With some trepidation, I made an appointment for one of the two relaxation massages offered on the promotional flyer for a beauty spa on Earl Grey Drive in Kanata. (update 2008:This spa has moved)

I thought that I knew what to expect. 'Sure, massage for next to nothing', I thought- 'inevitably, there will be a catty, bored person who makes overly sarcastic references toward my middle aged physique, who tries to sell me fourty dollar compounds, and who will skim my muscles peripherally, even to ruffle my nerves backwards, as some people do".

I was so surprised and pleased with the kindness and extent of the elegant service that was offered, that I am writing about this spa, to stimulate interest in holistic self-healing!

At the Spa

When my turn arrived, I was ushered politely into a waiting room and I was offered coffee, tea, or a snack.

Generous Ambience!

I waited about fifteen minutes, but the atmosphere had ambience. A glass dish of fresh, green apples sat on the coffee table, and the spa had large, very new and subtly scented aromatherapy candles lit.

When my massage therapist arrived, I walked into a darkened room, and I was more than pleasurably surprised to find that the massage lotion was made with aromatherapy. On the flyer, aromatherapy was offered at an extra cost.

There was no skimping, peripheral or unskilled treatment for my back and legs. Not only was I treated to kind and conscientious treatment by the masseuse, but I had every reason to say that the treatment was way more than a relaxation massage treatment. This woman had done her homework, and managed to work on specifics, through her healing nature and very strong hands,( even though I talked a mile a minute).

 I realized that I should have let her concentrate, but I often feel that the friendship in sharing the laying on of hands is a kindly and spiritual experience.


Guys, though - they would try for something sexual, or they would be inhibited in the thought that they might get illicitly turned on! Why, Millicent back home would kill him, if she knew!

I asked about guys, and I found that strict health conditions were maintained. ('Thanks', I thought, I need to know!!)

Shorts are always kept on, and you have to turn off your cell phone. There must be no interruptions.

My massage was excellent, and hot, refreshing towels with fresh lemon were offered, to soak up any residual lotion. I am writing, in gratitude, to say that my session, which was to be half an hour, was extended to over three quarters of an hour. I had mentioned pain around my waist, and the therapist said: "I'll place you into a Shiatsu chair for the last ten minutes of your session"....I have never been in one of these chairs, but they are comfy, large, soft chairs, which deeply massage areas they have been programmed to knead, albeit mechanically. I was further massaged on my mid back and waist areas.

I recommend that anyone, with any type of health problem that is not immediately contagious, should try a relaxation massage at least once.

    You can, in some spas, also seek the attention of a qualified health therapist, who is a registered nurse. The cost for an hour (for either relaxation, or therapy) is surprisingly less than the cost used to be in Metro Toronto, over thirty years ago. These people mean to celebrate good health! To your good health!

Bye for now!   Sue


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