Taoist writing ~
When people see things as beautiful,
ugliness is created.
When people see things as good,
evil is created.
Being and non-being produce each other.
Difficult and easy complement each other.
Long and short define each other.
High and low oppose each other.
Fore and aft follow each other.
Body, mind connection. I’m sure by now everyone has heard this concept and maybe even implemented techniques into their lives that serve both. An element I’d like to mention is the idea that the body and mind are circular. In Western culture we tend to think linearly and thus envision concepts more in a line or succession. There is no right or wrong here. Actually, that is the point. Right turns into wrong and wrong turns into right in a fluid, circular motion. Western culture and Eastern culture do not conflict, rather, they are two parts of a whole. And to come full circle (pun intended), the body nourishes the mind and the mind feeds the body.
Every aspect of this world has two opposites that create existence for either. The body cannot function without the mind to govern it. Nerves, muscles, blood flow, organ function, speech – all possible because of the mind. The mind is equally as connected to the body – when there is pain in the body, the mind changes course. When the body has pressing issues, the mind must use some of its resources to attend to it. When pleasure occurs, the mind is flooded with chemicals that then gush throughout the body.
Circular and opposite. Yin/Yang – black/white, night/day, feminine/masculine, cold/hot. Can you imagine what the concept of cold would be to someone who has never experienced hot? There is an invigoration anytime we are presented with extremes, especially when they are enveloped by each other. For example, on a hot and sunny summer day, sitting under a cool, shady tree feels incredible. The body aims to find homeostasis (a stable physiological state) and the mind searches for an equilibrium.
Ice and heat are great examples of yin/yang. Ice has a lot of yin – cold, slow and heat is comprised of yang – warm and fast. When we bring them together in a fashion that celebrates both, we are part of facilitating that whole circular existence. When we intentionally apply this type of wholeness to the body, it is allowed to relax into the homeostatic equilibrium that it wants.
This is where “ice & fire” massage therapy is introduced. By applying cold ice in circular motions all across the muscles, we are waking up and revitalizing the soft tissue. The body may react with an initial tightness, holding, and shiver and will soon come to get comfortable with the cold and release into it. The metabolic breakdown of the muscle tissue will slow and this helps to preserve energy. After a full body coating of the icy glaze, the body will have adjusted – for the most part – to the cold and slowed to a steady, conservative pace. Slowly introducing heat to the muscles from head to toe, will result in a sluice of blood flow. The tissue will re-awaken and the molecules will speed up. The heat in contrast to the ice produces a flushing of blood and lymph as the body acclimates. The brain will also produce endorphins that are carried by arterial blood and as the heart speeds up, this blood is pumped faster and more frequently to the extremities and the core.
Utilizing external yin/yang tools to create a balance of yin/yang in the body is not a new concept; Traditional Chinese Medicine and Ayurvedic Medicine have their roots in this. Centuries of wisdom is stored in these modalities and we are more complete when we integrate science with ancient intuitive and empirical wisdom. Equal and opposite produces balance. “Ice and fire” can help facilitate this balance in the body and mind and a massage therapy session with this technique can encourage wholeness.
The upper body corresponds to the Yang, while the lower body roots into the Yin. The body’s center is where the Yin and Yang meet. We begin with a full body coating of ice followed by cold towels placed on the upper body and hot towels placed on the lower body to encourage opposites and balance. We end with a full body hot towel placed from head to toe. This is all performed face down and when you turn over, face up, a warm towel is placed at the core (the body’s center) while ice is applied to the back of the skull and bottom of the feet. The massage is finished with warm coconut oil therapeutically applied to the body – neck, shoulders, arms, legs, and feet.