When I was 12 or so, my family spent the summer living in the campground at the edge of Lake Elmer Thomas. Even though there is not a lot of stress in a 12 years old’s life, I did enjoy a daily escape from various chores, fishing, and swimming by taking a walk to the other side of the large hill that backed the site and into a secluded inlet that was surrounded by trees. It offered me a bit of space that was curtained away from the rest of the world. I would sit on the rocks at the edge of the water, dip my feet into the cool water, and listen to my radio for an hour or so being by myself and away from any other humans. Pure tranquility. Just me, Mungo Jerry, and the Raspberries.
Places of mental escape like that one are harder to find as you grow older. The places are there, but you are too busy dealing with life to find them. A while ago, I tripped over one - The Woodhouse Spa in Ft. Wayne. By tripping over it, I mean I was initially dragged through the door kicking and screaming against my will but then found I really enjoyed it.
After a stop at the main desk to verify services a guide is called up to lead you down a candlelit hallway to the changing room. For me, usually an 80-minute massage, but they offer everything (hair, nails, facials, etc.) The walk down the hall is meant to be a spiritual change and entry into a different world. After getting undressed, you slip into a comfy robe and slippers that are laid out for you. Leave your phone and the world in the locker provided as you leave the changing room and enter another plane of existence.
They advise you to get there thirty minutes early, fifteen of that is to get checked in and changed, the other fifteen is to finish your transition by having a seat in a comfortably appointed Quiet Room. The whole place is appointed with flowers, candles and other details meant to set a tone of escape -- it works. Once in the Quiet Room, you can enjoy a glass of wine or cup of tea as you let your mind off load and prepare for the next step. Your massage therapist shows up and guides you to the massage room, and after a quick discussion of your needs (aching muscles here or there, sore spots, sensitivities, and pressure level) they depart and you’re given a moment to drop the robe and get under the sheets.
I have had three dynamite therapists (Gabby, Pamela, and Shanna) but the basics of the spa’s massage are about the same. A little aroma therapy, a foot massage to start, and then on to your requests. The level of conversation varies, I prefer to mentally escape during the massage. The massage itself is a release of tensions and then a reawakening of your soul. Shanna is the only one of the three I’ve had that is still on staff, and I recommend her highly.
At the end of the session, you are again left alone to slip out from under the sheet and into your robe. Your therapist meets you at the door with a glass of water and guides you back to the Quiet Room to recover and float away on relaxed feeling and calmness you’ve been given.
No rush from there, but when ready you go back to the changing room and have a nice sauna, then a rain forest shower before getting dressed. When you are willing to re-enter the real world, you guide yourself back to the front of the spa and then leave – facing the world again but carrying a small piece of serenity in the back of your mind.