When you have found your genuine calling and vocation, life assumes the hue of an endless vacation!
The ironic truism in this was made apparent again only three months ago, when I received a call, close to midnight, from a distinguished icon of Nigeria’s Foreign Service, who had only recently retired from public service.
I was at once struck by the man’s style of speech, which was clearly pure, unadulterated, upper crust British grammar, delivered in flawless diction. That his speech was totally unaffected was scarcely surprising. I was to learn later that he’d attended Eton College, that public school that is the exclusive preserve of the English aristocracy.
He’d then gone up to Oxford to read the classics at Balliol College, finishing off with a doctorate at Magdalene College. After twenty years in Nigeria’s Foreign Service, he got his icing on the cake! He was appointed Nigeria’s High Commissioner to the UK, and of course, if there was any doubt whatsoever as to his very British leanings, his appearance at the Court of St. James’ laid all that to rest. He had only returned home, as it were.
Anyway, he asked me to accompany him on a trip to South Africa for a weekend of coaching on special remedies for stress. Another vacation-on-the-job!
Forty eight hours later, we found ourselves at the Muthukele Gaming Lodge on the outer fringes of South Africa’s Cape Province. After a light lunch on our first day at the serene lodge, we sat by the natural lake and chatted.
I brought out a medium-sized pebble, made of the smoothest alluvial rock, from my pocket, and handed it over to my client, who I shall henceforth refer to as ‘The Ambassador’. He turned it around in his palm with a bemused and quizzical look on his handsome face. He wasn’t a man given to many words, and his raised eyebrows was question enough.
“Well, Sir, I simply want you to hold that rock in your hand and envision all the stress and strain in your body flowing through your fingers and palm into that rock. Do this with feeling. Do it with emotion. This is called TRANSFERENCE.”
I kept quiet for ten minutes. “I find I can actually do what you’ve asked me to do. I certainly feel lighter and less stressed”. The Ambassador said. “That is great. I’d like you to now step over to the lake and wash the rock to symbolically rinse away the ‘stress stuff’. You can then store it away for use again in the future”.
“Wow, Dr. Garnett, I like symbolism, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy doing this quite often”.
Later in the evening, I took him on an excursion into the world of HYDROTHERAPY.
“Ambassador, Hot Baths can do more than keep you clean. Warm baths have for centuries been traditional methods of healing amongst the Greeks, Romans, Chinese, and Japanese. The recuperative and healing properties of hot baths are based on its mechanical and thermal effects. Generally, heat quiets and soothes the body, slowing down the activity of internal organs. Cold, in contrast, stimulates and invigorates, increasing internal activity. If your muscles are tensed, and you are anxious, a hot bath will soothe you. If you are tired and stressed out, you might take a hot bath, followed by a quick, invigorating cold shower, to help stimulate your mind and body”
“In that case” The Ambassador interposed, “one might, perhaps, conclude that it’s all a question of experimenting to determine what water method best suits one?”
“Ah, dear sir, you are right on track! But remember, the goal is to use hydrotherapy to achieve a state of comfort, relaxation and refreshment”.
He nodded comprehendingly, and I continued.
“Water has special powers on stress-relief and body-rejuvenation. It invigorates blood circulation in the skin and muscles. It calms the lungs, heart, stomach and endocrine system by stimulating nerve reflexes of the spinal cord. When you submerge yourself in a bath, you experience a kind of weightlessness, and your body is relieved from the constant pull of gravity. Water also has a hydrostatic effect. It has a massage-like feeling as the water gently kneads your body. Water in motion stimulates touch receptors on the skin, boosting blood circulation and releasing tight muscles. The more the water is in motion, the higher its stress-relieving benefits. That is why a ‘whirpool’ bath is infinitely more effective in relieving stress than a still water bath”.
I then requested that we retire to his suite, where I ran hot water into his bath tub, with a temperature of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. I next sprinkled in some Epsom salt, bath oil and scented bubble bath. I asked him to soak himself in the bath for an hour, and then to step briskly under a cold shower for just ten minutes. I left him alone to go and savor the delights of Zulu cooking at the hotel’s garden bar.
When I returned about an hour and a half later, he was in a silk bathrobe, looking years younger and infinitely more refreshed.
“I say, old boy, this is magic, pure magic! I do believe I can live for another thirty years on this regime alone!” He exclaimed. The next couple of days saw us experimenting with MASSAGE and SAUNA/STEAM BATHS. My client was obviously quite educated on those practices.
“Doctor Garnett, I’m aware that in the Oriental countries of China and Japan, massage and steam baths have for centuries formed an integral part of whole systems of medicine, but what are its real benefits?”
“Well, Ambassador, massage stimulates the circulation of blood, and also aids the draining of waste products through the excretory organs. Additionally, the stimulation of sensory nerve endings in the skin contributes to the pleasantness of the massage, helping to reduce the effects of stress.
The kneading of massage breaks down deposited fat and cellulite which can then be removed by the circulatory and excretory systems. Massage gives a healthy looking skin because of its effect on blood circulation. Without doubt, a relaxing massage reduces stress and other stress-related illnesses like hypertension, constipation and premenstrual tension.
Throughout our three-day stay at the lodge, we indulged ourselves in the massage rooms, sauna, and steam baths.
For me, it was a most illuminating experience, because it, once again, highlighted just what a couple of days of genuine relaxation can do to the psyche of man.
The Ambassador was a new man by the time we arrived Lagos after only four days!