Sometimes, treating yourself from the outside heals the problem. — Rosemary Gladstone
Deep, delicious and delightful touch is essential to our wellbeing as women. To have a sense of physical connection with ourselves and other beings is part of our access to higher consciousness and is imperative to showing up as our best selves in service to the world. And so, in an increasingly disconnected society, it is of utmost importance that we re-introduce loving sensual touch back into our own personal repertoire of healing...for the sake of ourselves, our communities, and the planet.
Massage is a wonderful way to drop in to your body and heart, whether it is providing yourself with healing touch or receiving it from a trusted friend or skilled therapist. Soothing touch, accompanied by herb-infused oils well suited to your unique constitution and current state, can bring about miraculous healing, a sense of grounded wellbeing, and profound connection with the divine. And the truth is, you deserve it.
So give yourself permission to indulge. Set aside some time for yourself. Devote your attention to re-set and re-charge through healing touch.
By dropping in with your own touch, self-massage, you have the opportunity to elevate yourself on the physical level as well as the spiritual and emotional level. All of these aspects of you are unique yet intrinsically connected. Indeed, memories are stored in the body, and it is so often that massage, while working with the physical, can bring about the remembering and releasing of old stories and trauma. This alone will leave you feeling lighter and more at ease.
Massage also calms the mind, improves circulation and relieves excess vata conditions expressed as anxiety, insomnia, fear, and worry. Vata excess can manifest as constipation, joint and arthritic conditions such as sciatica, and dry, cracked skin. Furthermore, excess vata can bring about pain and cramps in the low abdomen, back, and calf muscles. If you notice any of these conditions around your cycle or throughout the month on any given day, massage is an effective way to bring yourself back in to balance.
Indulge yourself in healing touch: The how-to
Step one: Make your own herb infused massage oil
From an Ayurvedic perspective, medicated (herb infused) oils (Siddha Taila) and oil massage (Snehana) increase the plasma, blood, and muscle tissue of the body. They lead to an increase of fire (agni) and the ability of the aforementioned systems digestive capacity. I recommend starting out with this delightful recipe for a Love-My-Breasts Massage Oil, which comes from Rosemary Gladstar's excellent book Herbal Recipes for Vibrant Health:
½ ounce dried/fresh calendula flowers
½ ounce dried/fresh comfrey leaf
2 cups carrier oil*
12 drops lavender essential oil
6 drops pine essential oil
6 drops rosemary essential oil
*Note: The best oil for vata conditions is sesame. For pitta, inflamed, or hot conditions, use coconut or sunflower oil. For kaphic imbalances use corn oil.
You can make your oil at home using either the sun-infused or double broiler method below:
Sunny infusion method
For the sun-infused oils take herbs (sourced skillfully or harvested yourself!) and place them in a jar. Cover the herbs in oil and cap it. Place the jar in a sunny spot around the house or outside and let it macerate (sit) for at least two weeks. As often as you can remember, shake the jar to confirm that the herbs remain saturated evenly. If your plant material rises above the oil, add more oil. When the two weeks or so are up, separate the herbs from the oil using cheesecloth. Utilize your strength to squeeze out all the medicine. You can then add more oil to the same herbs and extract again for another two weeks. Repeat and get creative!
The double broiler method
The double broiler method is quick and effective, although, you don’t get the added benefit of the energy from the sun! For this method, place the herbs and oil of choice in a double broiler and heat slowly for 30 minutes to an hour (you can use a pot filled with water and then a jar filled with the oil inside the pot). Ensure not to get water into the oil. If you have the time, exceed the hour – the longer and more slowly cooked the herb in oil, the stronger the infusion.
When your oil feels complete, decant (separate) the herbs from the oil using cheesecloth.
Add the essential oils at the very end.
If you'd like to vary this recipe according to your unique dosha (constitution), consider these ideas...
For vata types, the oil can be infused with vata calming herbs such as Licorice, Chamomile, Cinnamon, Rose, and Ginger. This oil would work wonders during the vata time of year as well (Autumn) as well as in the change of seasons.
For pitta folks, sunflower oil mixed with Rose, Fennel, Peppermint and Jasmine is deliciously cooling! It is wonderful in the heat of summer for all types.
For kaphas, infuse corn oil (or sunflower) with Sage, Rosemary, Ginger, Cinnamon and Clove. This is a nice winter ally to improve circulation, warming and ridding the body of cold damp conditions.
Step two: Indulge in loving self-care through healing massage
Warm the oil to a temperature that feels good when you test it on your wrist, not so hot that it is uncomfortable during application. Take the heated oil, or medicated infused oil, and rub it on your skin before bathing. You can do this first thing in the morning as part of your morning routine. Alternatively, if you have difficulty falling asleep you can do it in the evening to help sink in to relaxation. (Take some skullcap tincture at night, too – 15 drops under your tongue a half hour before bed, 15 more drops upon resting your head on the pillow!)
Apply your oil starting at the top of your head and work your way down to the tips of your toes. Ensure that no part of your precious body goes by unnoticed. Rub up and down on your muscles and in a circular motion around your joints. Then, bath in a warm shower (or bath if you really want to treat yourself). This opens the pores and allows the oil to really sink in and do its work.
May you delight in the exquisite pleasure of offering yourself healing touch. Now is the time to begin... you deserve every last delicious drop.
Finally, check out this excellent information on ancient healing touch:
The Gift of Healing Herbs: Plant Medicines and Home Remedies for a Vibrantly Healthy Life, by Robin Rose Bennett
The ancient technique of uterine massage eases many challenges to the uterus and hormones by way of stimulating and simultaneously relaxing the pelvic floor and uterine muscles. If you want to learn more about this ancient Mayan technique, check out The Arvigo Techniques of Maya Abdominal Therapy.
Looking for more ancient ways to relax, connect and heal?
Try a yoni steam! Also known as vaginal steaming or v-steaming, yoni steaming is a holistic health practice in which a woman allows the warmth of herbal steam to gently permeate her vagina. Yoni steaming is a powerful ancient remedy that has been used for centuries by women worldwide. This gentle treatment provides effective support for the female reproductive system, and invites reconnection with the powerful, creative energy of a woman's center.
Julie MacAdam is a creative artist, yoga teacher, body worker, and lover of the earth. She is founder of Medicinal Changes, through which she offers herbal medicine and consultations as well as bodymind practices.