When we want to go for a retreat to relax, many visit a spa. Spas are designed to relax the body and mind. One account reports that there are over ten thousand spas in the United States and many more around the world. The word “spa” comes from Latin, which means “health through water.” For centuries, people felt that soaking in mineral-rich warm, thermal waters cures many illnesses. In ancient times, it was called “taking the waters.” This was meant to provide rejuvenation for the body and mind.
While we may often travel to a spa, whether locally or in a distant destination, we may not be aware that we have a spa within us for which we do not need to travel anywhere. You have your own peaceful retreat within you.
Most spas deal with relaxation of the body. Exercise equipment keeps us in top condition. Swimming pools, hot tubs, or Jacuzzis with their warm swirling waters relax our muscles. There are massage treatments of all varieties, some with gentle and some with strong pressure. All these help take the stress out of our body.
Medical researchers have found that stress reduction aids the health of our body. Doctors have learned much about the release of stress hormones in the body such as adrenaline and cortisol. These are important to help activate the body for the flight or fight response. They are meant to circulate through the body for a short period of time to help us avoid danger. But when we are not in physical danger and these hormones are released, and they continue circulating through the body all day long, they can damage our body.
Prolonged exposure to these hormones can cause deterioration and malfunctioning of various parts of our body. Over time, this wear and tear causes stress-related ailments of the heart, breathing, circulation, digestive, and other systems of the body. Dozens of ailments have been linked to a stress overload. Thus, relaxation of the body is important for the maintenance of our health.
Physical stress reduction improves health
Spa experiences with physical treatments provide an experience where the body can learn to relax. Yet, there is another technique that we can use while at a spa or in our homes that can produce the same results. Meditation provides an instant spa for us, no matter where we are. It can be used at home, at work, while traveling, or in any stressful situation. Meditation can help us relax physically. It can be done anytime, anywhere. Through meditation we can find our inner spa.
How does meditation provide physical relief from stress? When we sit in meditation, our body is calm and still. There is no movement of the body.
Also, in meditation, the brain waves function at lower cycles per second. For example, in meditation, our brain waves function at 5-8 Hz. This is the theta state. In creative thought, we function at 9-12 Hz. When we go about our daily work life, we function at 13-20 Hz, which is more stressful. When we sit in meditation, we are slowing down our brain waves, which automatically puts the body in a more relaxed state. Thus, the stress hormones are not being released. It gives the body a chance to rejuvenate as we spend time in a calm, stress-free state. This is something we can do no matter where we are. We can spend time in meditation to see the positive effect it has on reducing physical stress.
People visit spas for mental relaxation. Our mind is continually running as if on a treadmill. It hardly gets any chance to take a break from the stress and worries of everyday life.
We are continually thinking about our jobs, our finances, our health, our family, our relationships, and the complex situations that arise in life. It is hard enough to deal with thoughts about what we have to do, but we often accompany these thoughts with worry and anxiety.
Also added to the thoughts required to function in the world are the unnecessary additions of regret, guilt, fear, and anxiety. These are not simple thoughts. If we take an algebraic formula we can understand this. If we have a job to do, it requires “x” amount of thinking. But then when we worry about it, we add “x” plus “n,” in which “n” can be thoughts that take minutes, hours, and days.
Thus, for every thought that requires us to speak or take an action, we complicate it by adding additional thoughts in which we worry about that action. Then, after we say something to take an action, we may worry over what happened with another array of thoughts that take more minutes, hours, or days. Thus, a constant sea of thoughts, some necessary and some unnecessary, continually bombard our mind.
Let us take the “n” out of the equation, and stick with just the “x” thoughts that are essential to get our tasks in life done. “N” stands for needless nonsense, so let us eliminate the needless nonsense of worry from life to still our mind.
A spa is designed to help calm our minds. The physical activities are designed to give the body a chance to slow down so our mind will be calm. Spas also offer various activities to reduce the stress in our minds. Unfortunately, some people go into a pool, or take a massage but instead of relaxing the mind, they are still thinking and worrying.
An outer spa may or may not calm our mind if you keep worrying and focusing on your problems. There is a way to calm the mind whether at an outer spa or at home. You do not even need to go to an outer spa to calm your mind.
Meditation provides you an inner spa without going anywhere, which you can visit at any time or place, whether at work, at home, or in a stressful environment. When you sit in meditation, as the brain waves slow to 5-8 Hz it not only calms your body but it calms your mind. The slower brain waves bring relaxation to your mind as well.
Research into the body-mind connection shows that they mutually assist each other. Calming the body can calm the mind, while calming the mind can calm the body. If we reduce the mental stress, the number of stress hormones in the body is reduced. We thereby save our body from the damaging effect of these hormones. Our body has a chance to heal and recover from stressful situations. This can help improve our health. Meditation can help the body and the mind.
Even though, in theory, meditation should help still the mind, one of the most frequent questions I receive as I travel around the world is: “How can I stop my mind from wandering and thinking during meditation?” This is a universal problem. No matter how we meditate, our mind still has a chance to think and worry. Is there a form of meditation that can help us still the mind?
The good news is that there is an easy meditation technique that can help calm our mind. Yet, this meditation does more than calm the body and the mind. It is a meditation to rejuvenate our inner self. Many spas focus on the body and mind. Few actually put us in touch with our inner being. Meditation provides an opportunity to enjoy a spiritual spa within that helps us connect with the most blissful part of our being—our inner self.
We think of spas as beautiful places. There are beautiful furnishings and decorations designed to be calming. There is a harmonious décor, with soft colors, flowers, and a pleasant environment. They offer soft and calming music. Some add calming fragrances through aromatherapy and scents. They offer food and drink designed to optimize the calming effect on the body and mind. Yet, there is a spa within us far more beautiful, harmonious, relaxing, and blissful than any of the best spas on earth. This inner spa can be accessed through meditation.
Most types of meditation offered at spas deal with relaxing the body and mind. But meditation on our inner spa relaxes our inner self. It provides healing waters for our inner essence. We can enter our inner retreat and bathe in the relaxing and refreshing waters of peace within. We think we are the body and mind, and we never connect with our inner self. If we did, we would awaken to peace and joy.
If we meditate, we would swim in the most nourishing waters that bring us bliss.
In our inner retreat, worldly problems melt away. We find that we are washed in the soothing waters of bliss and peace. We realize that all the problems of this world about which we worry are but trivial and petty bubbles like those a child blows. They are temporary and illusory. When immersed in that inner spa, we are at true peace. We see that we are not the body and mind, but our inner self.
There are many similarities between the outer spa and the inner spa. We have seen how both relax the body and mind. We can bask in the outer sun. In meditation, we can also go within and bask in the rays of the inner sun. There is tremendous Light within us. We can enjoy the outer light of the sun, as well as the inner Light in our inner spa.
In the outer spa, we can dip into many types of refreshing waters. There are pools with cool water. There are hot tubs with warmth to relax our body. If in a spa by the sea, the moisture of the ocean breezes cool our face. The waters of the sea surround us. Just as we can nourish ourselves with the outer water, we can turn within through meditation and experience the soothing waters that nourish us within. The healing waters of an inner current reverberate continually within. These waters fill us with bliss and calm.
One of the great mysteries people seek answers for is, where is the source of this inner retreat that fills us with peace and joy? Scientists search for answers by looking through powerful telescopes, trying to find the outer limits of the universe in hopes of finding whether there is more to this physical universe than what meets the eye. They send spaceships that travel for years in the hope that the telescopes mounted on them will give us a further peep into the universe to answer our unanswered questions.
They look through microscopes at the DNA and building blocks of the human body, searching for answers to who we are. They break matter into the smallest sub-atomic particles to crack the code of the universe.
Meditation helps us find our inner retreat. Just as in a spa we wash away all the stress of life, in meditation we can also wash away layers of dirt and grime to tap into our inner peace, consciousness, and joy. These layers have sullied our crystal-clear waters of calm and happiness within.
When we dip into our inner retreat in meditation, we are rejuvenated with calm, love, and joy.
To access the inner retreat, we need to meditate by focusing within. This means sitting for some time without the distraction of thoughts that pull our attention away from the spa within. These thoughts can be of the past or the future. Many of our thoughts deal with being upset with other people who may not act or do things we want them to do. Much of our stress comes from being angry, upset, or anxious. Meditation helps us weed out these thoughts so we can be calm.
I hope meditation helps everyone tap into their peaceful inner retreat to experience joy and happiness.
To learn more about how to apply relaxation techniques through meditation at work read How to Remain Calm at Work.