Breathless, I spun through the spa entrance, headed straight for the front desk and declared, “I’m late.”
Then everything changed. The smiling attendant looked at me and said, “No. You’re perfect.” It was like someone hit the pause button in a video of my life. I took a deep breath, looked around, smiled and let myself settle into the rhythm of real time.
Founded by a team of veteran health and wellness professionals, Exhale is not your average spa. While relaxation and pampering are par for the course, the Exhale philosophy goes beyond the obvious with a holistic approach designed to optimize well-being and enhance the mind-body connection.
Consider the proverb: “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day; teach a man to fish and he will eat for life.”
A relaxing massage would have soothed my frenetic energy, giving me temporary comfort, but the disquiet that seems always ready to bubble over when I take on too many things at once probably would have amped up all over again as soon as I hit traffic on the drive home.
Instead, I spent an hour with an acupuncture therapist who devoted significant time to getting to know me and my state of mind on that particular day before she even considered inserting the first needle. (No, the needles don’t hurt. Occasionally, they sting a bit or you’ll feel a jolt of energy, but it’s not painful.) By the end of our chat, she had completely changed her planned course of treatment to better address the ailments and energy blocks she determined were hindering my quest for tranquility and clarity.
Reclined on a table in a treatment room with a beautiful view of Boston Harbor, I relaxed and let the needles do their work. As with previous acupuncture sessions and other energy-related treatments I’ve sampled, I felt some rolling emotion: One moment I would feel myself on the verge of tears and the next I was almost giggling. I felt pops and gurgles my therapist explained were related to energy breaking through long-established blocks, and throughout it all, she continuously monitored my progress.
At the end of the treatment, I felt relaxed and more “in” my body than I had in a long time, but my spa day was just beginning. I changed into yoga shorts and a T-shirt before moving on to my next treatment: shiatsu. The Japanese-style massage is an acupressure therapy in which the therapist applies deep pressure to key points to release energy blocks and enhance the flow of Qi throughout the body. For me, it was the perfect follow-up to the acupuncture treatment, allowing me to work deeper into blocks I hoped to clear away once and for all.
My shiatsu therapist, also a Reiki master, made some spot-on observations about my well-being and state of mind almost before we got started. He picked up on emotional hot spots the acupuncturist had tapped and identified points of disharmony I thought were well-kept secrets. It was an enlightening and liberating experience.
It’s no coincidence that the treatments I selected were both energy-based therapies. Exhale builds its programs based on the understanding that breath — our life force — connects mind to body: “As the principal life force of the human body, the breath is the center of our thoughts, our emotions and our physical prowess. Breathing shapes and molds our existence and helps to bring about the positive changes we see in ourselves. We use the breath to mindfully live in the present moment and to journey through discomfort.”
In no hurry to leave the oasis of tranquility I had discovered at Exhale, I changed into a robe and slippers and headed for the hammam. Modeled after a traditional Turkish bath, the hammam at Exhale is a spacious retreat that enveloped me with warm ambient heat and a gentle mist of light steam. I grabbed a rolled towel to use as a pillow and stretched out on a heated hammam-stone lounge. Other guests came and went without disturbing the hushed ambience; I believe I may have dozed for a few minutes.
By the time I was ready to change back into my street clothes and head home, I had fully embraced the Exhale philosophy: “We believe that for the whole person to not only survive but also thrive, there needs to be a harmonious balance of the three treasures of mind, body and spirit.”
EXHALE BATTERY WHARF
Fairmont Battery Wharf
2 Battery Wharf
Boston, MA 02109
tel 617 603 3100
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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