Sunday, February 12, 2012

Sabbatical Sunday—Golden Feet

As some of you know, I used to be a massage therapist ( a loooooong time ago). And my favorite part of massage, both as a giver and receiver, was the feet. The feet hold a map to the entire body. You can give a full body massage just by paying careful attention to every aspect of the foot: the arch, the heel, each toe, and the teeny connective spaces in between. 

So when my friend Nancy suggested we have a "day of feet" on Saturday, naturally my response was an unqualified YES. Given our schedules, the day o' feet turned into an hour o' feet, but when it comes to feet, that's all you really need.

I went to my Saturday morning yoga class (I came this close to going back to bed instead, but my better self prevailed), then walked over to Brandywine to meet Nancy for lunch. Food, as you may have noticed from previous posts, plays a BIG role in any of my attempts at relaxation.

Then we walked over to Golden Foot Massage for a deluxe foot massage.

Dear reader, I admit it: I was scared. From the outside, the place looked like a shady, run-down massage parlor. Cryptic diagrams printed on newsprint covered the door, so you couldn't see inside. I kept recalling a particularly horrific scene from The Amazing Race (yes, sigh, I'm addicted to The Amazing Race), where contestants had to endure a brutal Chinese reflexology treatment before getting the next clue; they all screamed and writhed in pain.

But at our Golden Foot, a smiling Chinese man greeted us and led us to our chairs. He seemed ecstatic to see us. 

He  placed our feet in wooden buckets of warm water, and reclined the chairs, covered us with blue blankets to let us steep. 

After a while his wife appeared, also smiling, and then the two of them zoomed in on us to start their tandem massage. Nancy's masseuse slapped vigorously at her soles. My torturer flicked every toe, pressed her fingers deep into all the tender places. 

And then I started to laugh. Through the pain, bubbles of laughter. Giggles that turned to guffaws. Laughter that picked me up and set me back down lighter than I was before.

I thought of Buddha's footprint: when the Buddha achieved enlightenment, his feet become embellished with wisdom. When he rose and began to walk, his foot impressed itself in the stone where he stepped.

The footprint became a symbol of both the Buddha's presence and absence in this world. 

Maybe we don't need the whole Buddha; sometimes just the footprint will do. 

As our pummeling came to an end, our benefactors lifted our legs and let them drop, lifted them and dropped, in tandem, until we became limp and giggly. We drank some green rice tea. I wiggled my toes, reluctant to put on my smelly old socks, because my feet—and all of me—now felt so golden.


  1. Glad you had such a good time :) feet are mysterious, incredible things. I don't like them myself, not one bit, but I can't discount them in the slightest.

    1. I know, some people find feet awful. But they work so hard for us!

  2. Sounds like the perfect "sabbatical"--once every seven days would probably be wonderfully healthful. Especially that bouncing laughter that sets you down lighter.

    1. Thanks Ela! I hope you have your own "sabbatical" ways to wind down....

  3. I love how the experience contained such surrender and laughter. As someone who gives foot massages regularly, I agree: the feet are so important and wondrous!

  4. I'm sure you give an AMAZING foot massage, Courtney!

  5. I got a massage in Thailand once and the masseuse rubbed my feet, then washed them with a big sponge in soapy, fragrant water. it was a slice of heaven! Glad I found your blog.

  6. My test for whether a massage therapist is really good is how well she or he works on feet (or even if he/she considers them important). An amazing number don't do feet well. Best foot work I ever had was done by a massage therapist who'd once been a dancer. She was never thrown when I'd say, "Can you just spend 30 minutes of my hour on my feet?" I'd walk out of there ready to conquer the world.

    So enjoying your blog, Brenda.


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