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     In this lavender-scented atrium at the edge of a modern looking building, the spa ladies relax in soft chairs carefully arranged in alcoves of tropical plants and candles, amidst a massive stone fountain that babbles water over a trail of dark pebbles.  They break for massages and facials at appointed times of day, sipping green tea in the ambient light or group for yoga or meditation in rooms with Zen style altars and golden statues of Buddha and other deities.  Wrapped in fluffy white robes handed out by young, good-looking spa attendants and stripped of makeup and lip gloss, the ladies look as plain and calm as Amish women in church.  There is an overall feeling of contentment among the group with this break from the stress of everyday life and its promise of renewal.  Glancing around, I admire the fact that everyone here has allowed themselves a few hours to explore what the spa has to offer and maybe, under the healing influences of countries like Egypt, China, and India, discover a secret that will help them to recharge and rebalance their lives.  After all, enhancing one’s own well-being is the most important gift we can give not just ourselves, but those we love as well. 

 

     So I’ve come to join them and to reap my own rewards by cashing in my “gift card” that my family so generously bestowed upon me almost two years ago.  Yes, you read it right – two years!  Paying bills, I found the card still in its little box stuffed inside one of the cubbyholes of my desk, and I felt major guilt that I had forgotten about it.  It made me realize that for some people, (like me) taking time for oneself might be harder than it sounds.  It’s not so much that I think I don’t deserve it as that I am still bound by the old “work ethic” I was brought up with.   I’m not naturally drawn to giving myself extra treats like this unless I’m on a real vacation or a friend talks me into it.  The hardest part is allowing myself the time whether it be going to a spa or indulging in some other personal activity – thus my procrastination with the gift card.  The irony of being caught up in this old habit is that I also hate to waste things!  So just in case the card is still good, I pick up the phone and call the spa.  “You’re fine,”  the receptionist tells me.  “There is no expiration date.  When would you like to come in?”

 

     A few days later I’m happy to join the ranks of the spa ladies!  After a rejuvenating yoga class and a short meditation, our teacher says:  “Let’s end by acknowledging the divine spark in each of us.  Bring your hands together at heart level, close your eyes and bow your heads.”  We follow suit and after a minute she says:  “Namaste.”    

 

     “Namaste,” we chime and I can’t remember why I waited so long to get here.

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