There seems to be 3 distinct parts of the pie that when put together become human. 1. Our thoughts, 2. Our bodies, 3. Our spirit. All 3 of these pie pieces are directly related to one another. Thanks to science we are beginning to understand how these components are connected by how are brains interact with the rest of our being through chemical messengers called neurotransmitters.
Neurotransmitters transmit a message from a nerve cell across a synapse to a target cell. This target cell could be another nerve cell, a muscle cell, or a gland cell. Accessing neurotransmitters with intention can instantly bring the 3 pieces of the pie to more of a state of balance and homeostasis.
Below are some common neurotransmitters that when accessed fairly regularly can bring about a balanced healthy lifestyle. By having a better understanding of these chemical messengers we will be able to see how massage therapy and bodywork can directly and naturally activate many of these chemicals to keep us on a balanced path.
This is just a minimal amount of neurotransmitters that are active in us. These few listed are well known and by developing a better understanding of how to access them naturally we can see where we might be lacking or where we might be overloading creating an imbalance. The great thing about massage therapy and body work is that this treatment is not one dimensional and can access some of these neurotransmitters directly and indirectly during a session.
If someone wants to come in for bodywork that is overloaded with adrenaline because of stress massage therapy could activate the GABA neurotransmitter as well as a healthy hit of dopamine to signal to the brain that this massage is pleasurable and rewarding creating a more relaxed bodily and mental response.
Another person could want bodywork that is lacking human connection and touch in their lives and their oxytocin levels are low. Massage for them could help increase their GABA levels to help them relax more and then get oxytocin flowing in their body to increase feelings of well being and trusting of another human’s touch.
For people that are restless at night and find it hard to fall asleep a great way to aid in the increase of melatonin levels could be by receiving a massage in a dimly lit room at a more night time hour (7pm). This could do wonders for someone with insomnia or just general nighttime restlessness.
Another great example is with endorphins. For someone that has a certain tender spot on their body or sensitive area that they want to be worked on endorphins could potentially be released for that person in order to cope with productive temporary discomfort in order to heal.
This is why massage and body work is so powerful for the human body, mind, and spirit. When our lives are governed by these neurotransmitters learning what activities we can partake in in order to interact with them is so vital to having an awesome and meaningful life. Adding massage therapy to this list of activities could be life changing for many of us.
Breuning, L. (2012). Meet Your Happy Chemicals. Dopamine, Endorphin, Oxytocin, Serotonin. Oakland: System Integrity Press