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Why do we spend roughly 10 percent of our waking hours with our eyes closed, blinking far more often than is actually necessary to keep our eyeballs lubricated? Scientists have found that the human brain uses that tiny moment of shut-eye to power down.

The mental break can last anywhere from a split second to a few seconds before attention is fully restored, researchers from Japan’s Osaka University found. And in the brief break in attention, brain regions called the default mode network collectively power up. This network is the brain’s idle setting. In times when our attention is not required by a cognitive task such as reading or speaking, this far-flung cluster of brain regions comes alive, and our thoughts wander freely.

Most of us take between 15 and 20 such moments of downtime per minute. It has been observed that most blinking takes place near the point of an implicit stop. While reading or listening to another person, this generally comes at the end of the sentence.

Another highly intelligent way our nervous system knows how to balance itself!

Rest. Stay smart. Get massage.

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Breathing during massageThe process of breathing, of the fundamental movement of inspiration and expiration, is one of the greatest miracles of existence. It not only unleashes the energies of life, but it also provides a healing pathway into the deepest recesses of our being. To inhale fully is to fill ourselves with the prana of life, to be inspired; to exhale fully is to empty ourselves to the unknown, to be expired. Through a deepening awareness of these ever-changing rhythms of this primal process, we begin to awaken to the possibilities of being truly alive – in a conscious way.

Conscious breathing taps into the healing forces of your organic intelligence.

When receiving bodywork of any kind, you can double the benefits of the work by consciously breathing ‘through your core.’ In other words, no matter which part of you is being moved, touched, stretched, or deeply released, you can wholeheartedly engage in this process by directing your inhalation all the way down your back to your sacrum/tail bone and thus allowing your exhalation to truly empty you.

The resulting deep relaxation of that moment allows the work done by your therapist to join deeply with the healing forces of your organic intelligence. I say ‘organic’ because life expands and contracts at this subtle level flying under the radar of your personality, or your thoughts about ‘body,’ or your ideas of what you think needs to happen. There is an innate intelligence with keeps your heart beating and your nervous system revising itself to deeper levels of coherency that is exactly how life is being expressed in you – in this particular moment. We can join our consciousness to this process! And by so doing multiply the effects of the movement of bodywork that are initiated by your therapist.

© 2009 Lucia Miracchi. Lucia Miracchi is the founder and owner of Massage Therapy Center, Palo Alto. She is an educator, body therapist, counselor, artist, and entrepreneur.

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