Photo credit: Maison Ito
Does the concept of mindfulness bring to mind a person sitting on the ground cross-legged and with his/her eyes closed? That’s just only one of the many ways you can put this technique into practice, but certainly not the only one. In fact, one of the things we love most about it is it can be practiced whilst performing almost any activity!
Mindfulness can be put into practice at Maison Ito, and we highly encourage everyone visiting us to give it a try! If this is something you think you could benefit from, then take the below 10 steps as a beginners’ guide to introduce mindfulness in your experience at Maison Ito. Let the journey begin!
#1 Familiarise yourself with mindfulness and its benefits
We believe our facial experiences and mindfulness are complementary. From remediating sleep problems to improving our ability to sustain attention, mindfulness can have numerous benefits. That’s why we love recommending it!
How would we define mindfulness? In one word: mindlessness! Have you ever found yourself in a room and wondered how you got there? Or what you wanted to do there in the first place? We all have experienced it! That’s mindlessness, the lack of attention to your actions or events around you. On the contrary, when we practice mindfulness we focus all our attention on our thoughts, sounds, the sensations of breathing, or parts of our body.
Our how-to: Where to begin with mindfulness? Try the following: stop what you’re doing and pay attention to what’s happening around you right now. Become fully aware of your surroundings and your own body. Concentrate on your head. Then your arms. Your legs. Your toes. How do they feel? What thoughts and emotions come to you? There you go! You’ve put mindfulness into practice!
#2 Make the time to unwind your busy mind with a mindful massage
Photo credit: Maison Ito, Beard Man Massage
Meeting the demands of family and career make it challenging to make some room to practice mindfulness? If you struggle to find the time to meditate, the 60 minutes you spend with us can be the perfect opportunity to give it a go. Plus, the benefits of meditation and massage can be powerful - especially when you combine the two!
Our how-to: You can start by letting go of your thoughts as you approach our wellness salon. Try to avoid thinking about what you have to do later, pending projects or deadlines. Just let thoughts flow and just watch them as they come and go. Paying attention to how you’re breathing can help you put distractions aside.
#3 You’re here. Now, get comfortable
Once on our massage table ready for a relaxing sensorial voyage, the mindfulness journey can begin. Are you completely comfortable? You can ask our facialist for an extra cushion for your lower back or to adjust the massage table for you. Are you feeling a bit cold? Ask her to warm up the room. Is there anything else that can give you extra comfort? Ask for it.
Our how-to: Ready? Now notice how your body feels when laid down and observe how it slowly calms down. Try to ease the tension in your toes, then your legs, and carry on until your whole body is relaxed.
#4 Time to breathe in and breathe out
Photo credit: Unsplash
Breathing is a fundamental part of mindfulness meditation. It can help you open up your airways, help your lungs drain mucus, and prepare your odour receptors to notice —and enjoy— the scents in the room.
Our how-to: Start by breathing deeply at the beginning of the ritual. The abdominal breathing technique, the progressive muscle relaxation method, or the 4-7-8 exercise are some examples of deep breathing you could try. The latter involves the following:
Firstly, let your lips part and exhale completely through your mouth
Close your mouth and quietly inhale through your nose 4 seconds
Then hold your breath for 7 seconds
Finally, exhale slowly so that it takes a total of 8 seconds to return to the bottom of your breath
#5 Set up an intention and share it if you wish
Is there anything you intend to accomplish with this mindful massage? Setting up an intention is a powerful visualisation technique.
Our how-to: the below are some examples that can guide you:
“I want to relieve stress, unwind and relax my mind and body”
“I would like to release facial tension and relieve neck pain”
“I would like this experience to be the first step towards a healthier lifestyle”
'I would like to take control of my self-confidence in feeling good again about myself'
Sharing your thoughts with our facialist will help her understand your expectations for this session and set a direction and focus for your facial experience. Plus, if you share your purpose with our facial therapist, you can create a connection and jointly work towards achieving that purpose.
#6 Concentrate on your emotions - no judgement allowed in the room!
The above questions and thoughts might indeed bring emotions. Let them come to you without judging them or overthinking.
Our how-to: Allow your attention to land softly on them without the need to change or understand them. No matter if you feel excitement and joy or a bit of sadness and sorrow, let yourself feel your emotions. Awareness will come after the experience when you’re ready to reflect on them and accept them. Remember: you’re just creating the space for your experiences to ‘be’. Let them be!
#7 Notice your body sensations
Photo credit: Maison Ito
Now centre your attention primarily on the physical. Keep in mind there is no need to stress about anything at all, even about falling asleep. You’re in a stress-free space where sleeping - and even snoring! - are seen as a sign of deep relaxation. Our facialist won’t take it as anything but a compliment!
Our how-to: Start by paying attention to our facialist's hand movements. You’re now halfway through this mindful, relaxing journey and she’ll be focusing on wave-like motions to stimulate lymph flow. No body sensations are present? Then notice what the absence of them is like. Do your body sensations make you feel a tiny bit anxious? Try to stay present. If this happens, get your attention back to your breathing and concentrate on inhaling and exhaling.
#8 Open your ears: listen carefully to your surroundings!
Your facial experience can be performed under peaceful silence or enhanced with relaxing music. If you think this can help you meditate better, our facialist will be happy to turn the background music off for you. Now it’s time to listen to what’s around you.
Our how-to: Try to keep your mind quiet. If you’ve picked an experience with music, choose one of the instruments you’re hearing and try to focus on when a note begins and ends (the boundaries between sound and silence). If you’re enjoying the experience without music, try to indeed listen to the sound of silence. Since silence is something most of us are not used to, it’s common for many people to experience some resistance to it at first. How does it make you feel: bored, anxious, restless…?
#9 Losing concentration? Pay attention to our facialist’s touch
Photo Credit: Maison Ito, Signature Face Massage
It’s normal for your mind to wander when meditating, so don’t give up on this mindful experience if this happens.
Our how-to: A tip that truly works for mind-wanderers: focus your attention on the rhythm of our facialist’s hands. Visualise how they move and concentrate in the motions. You can also try to gently turn your focus onto your breathing by placing your hands on your belly. This will bring back some warmth to your body and calm you down. Watch an example of belly breathing below. You can put it into practice anytime you need calming down and regaining your focus.
Youtube video: How to Practice Belly Breathing - Nemours Children's Health System
#10 Take a mindful walk when the experience comes to an end
Walking has become so automatic we always tend to do it without thinking. Take this opportunity to bring awareness back to it and ensure you experience walking with a sense of newness and vitality. As Bhuddist monk Thich Nhat Hanh describes it, “walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet”.
When your relaxation journey at Maison Ito concludes, you can carry on fully attending to what's happening and to what you're doing. We would highly recommend you to walk home after our facial experience if possible as this will enhance the benefits of the lymphatic drainage. On your way home by foot, give your full attention to the experience of walking!
Our how-to: Feel the ground beneath you as you walk. Notice the sights, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the world as you move through it. Finally ask yourself: what does it feel like? You can also write your feelings down and read them the next time you feel overwhelmed or before your next mindfulness session.
Ready to unwind your busy mind with a mindful massage? The above tips on how to practice mindfulness at Maison Ito are the perfect guide to follow next time you visit us! Our facial experiences allow some time to leave your negative thoughts out of the room. Pick the best tips and let your mindful journey begin!
BY JULIANA R. & EMILIE CELINE
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