” The way I’ve now evolved for me, massage is not a luxury . . . it’s actually where I am nourished. All of the sights, the smells, the sounds, the touch of your practitioner, when I melt into that table, that’s where my body is reenergized. But secondly, and more importantly for me, that sanctuary is where my artistic spirit soars. That’s where I come alive. That’s where I create my best ideas. That’s where I connect the dots. That’s where I’m able to relax and become a better husband, a better father, a better entrepreneur, and certainly a much better artist.
–Artist, Erik Wahl, at the ISPA Annual Conference 2014
I have a confession to make. In spite of spending most of my adult life working in spas; in spite of serving several years on the board of directors of the International Spa Association; and in spite of being a staunch advocate of the benefits of spa in my writing and speaking, I actually prefer shorter spa treatments.
To be fair, this is not so unusual. A quick poll of friends and acquaintances shows that the world can be easily divided into two camps: those who subscribe to the “more is better” approach to spa, and those who enjoy a quick break in the spa, but don’t want it to last too long.
But the reason for my lack of spa endurance might surprise you. It is not that my body can’t take the pampering . . . quite the contrary. The problem is with my mind. I get so many good ideas while I’m lying on the massage table that I can’t wait to run back to the locker room and write them all down. When a spa treatment lingers past the hour mark, and new ideas keep percolating, I start to worry that I will not be able to remember all the great insights I am having.
For me, the spa is not so much the “fountain of youth.” It is the fountain of innovation. The spa is a place where creativity springs forth, where the foundations of good decisions are laid, and where we are connected to our highest purpose and our deepest values. Contrary to popular belief, innovation does not come from brainstorming. It comes from a singular, still and rested mind.
The ironic thing about my proclivity for shorter spa treatments (followed by copious writing sessions) pertains to my new role as the Group Director of Spa for Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. The Spas at Mandarin Oriental specialize in longer spa journeys. One of the most popular treatments, for example, is a two or three hour “Time Ritual” in which the guest simply commits to the time and shows up. The spa provides a luxurious spa suite appointed with all of the amenities one could hope for. Everything else is customized from there.
The reality is, I can get used to that. Spending more time with my muse is not necessarily a bad thing. I only need to figure out where to put my note pad while I’m on the massage table.
P.S. Earlier this year, our spas launched a new, shorter treatment (45 minutes) appropriately entitled “Calm Mind,” which is now one of my favorite ways to clear my head or get my creative juices flowing. If 45 minutes seems too short to you, then ask yourself these questions:
- When is the last time you spent 45 minutes on personal wellbeing?
- When is the last time you spent 45 minutes away from technology?
- When is the last time you spent 45 minutes in silence?
Just like our bodies, our brains work better when they have time to rest and recover. Some people go to a spa to feel better. Some people go to a spa to look better. Me, I go to a spa to think better”…
Blog originally published on Linkedin Pulse 30th October 2014