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Massage Today
April, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 04

The Second Season of Spa: Spring

By Robin Zill, LMT

Author's note: This five-part series is designed to explore the language of nature as it relates to the spa experience.

In this spa series, I am using the language of nature as a metaphor for defining and creating the essence (or ousia) of the spa experience.

The ousia (oo-SEE-ahh) philosophy explores the search for true essence in the context of something greater than self. This search is based on living seasonal patterns of change, evolution and connection. Integral to this concept is the idea that "spa," like "nature," is a not a thing to measure and dissect, but an energy event waiting to happen; an energy event waiting to dance.

The ousia philosophy combines the four quadrants of the seasons (winter, spring, summer and fall) with the four-step process of the spa experience:

  1. Insight
  2. Cleanse
  3. Nourish
  4. Transform

Each of these steps leads to a fifth stage, which is not actually a step, but rather an experience that can only be achieved through integration. It is the individual's unique perspective that unifies all of the stages as one. This is the experience of synethesia, in which your senses blend together to create a transcendant personal experience. This is what the spa experience, and nature, are all about. Personal integration creates a story, an indelible memory that takes the spa journeyer deeper into the process of understanding self.

The spa journeyer is a pioneer on a quest to explore new frontiers in personal wellness. This kind of exploration avails itself through the senses and personal experiences. I am speaking of personal awakening. What we perceive through our senses is what inspires our intellect and spirit to bring forth our unique selves; it is what inspires us to bloom. In the language of nature, spring is the season of new beginnings that enlivens the dormant seed created during the restful, inner season of winter (when vision took root).

From a spa business perspective, the soil has been tilled, and the seeds and seedlings now are being planted. It is time to step out into the world and say, "Here we are." Spring is the season of birthing your spa. You are ordering and receiving the products, equipment, supplies and specialty items you envisioned. Advertising and marketing promotions are in full swing as you finalize employee selection; fine-tune treatment nuances; train staff; and learn new software and specialty equipment. Everything is blooming. Although actualizing your vision may now seem a little like the lone daffodil pushing up through a crack in the sidewalk, there is no turning back.

Have you ever noticed the color of the first spring flower? It almost seems to glow or resonate, so much so that you can almost taste or hear it. The exuberance and energy of finally bringing forth your vision is indescribable. Spring is the time when you are most alive. Just as the color palette of the first flowers of spring change into summer, the greening of the spring world brings monetary and personal success if you have planned wisely. However, it also can be stressful. Spring is the height of the allergy season and unexpected weather changes. Can you have too much blooming at one time? What if there is a late frost? The diversity of challenges you face will be vast, which is why working with experienced consultants and vendors in your weak areas is highly recommended. If you need assistance with plumbing nuances; treatment development; software; specialty services; etc., reach out; a thriving industry is ready to help you.

You are the master landscaper; you know where everything is planted, and why. You know what is expected to bloom next month - and what plant is unexpectedly taking over, killing the opportunity for your precious gladiolas to rise. At this stage of business development, communication is everything. Communication to employees, customers and vendors is of the utmost importance. I suggest you take the time to develop company policies and an employee manual right from the onset. This will give structure and clarity to the staff, and give you a tool to evaluate the success of the business choices you've made thus far. Focus on communication, and pay attention to the nuances of connecting with staff at all levels.

Philosophy TEN graph. - Copyright – Stock Photo / Register Mark For me, all this makes the difference between a successful business, and one that merely survives or is mediocre. Spa business is not only about profit, but also life fulfillment. Do you love your work? I believe in encouraging you to learn the language of nature as you grow within the industry. Attuning yourself to this perspective is what separates the weeds from the flowers in spa business.

My hope is to encourage you to look differently, because if you are able to see the nuances and details in your work and environment, you will be able to create a spa experience that deepens clients on their journeys to wellness. This season, teach yourself to observe your environment; think of plants and even people as patterns of moving energy. Have you ever noticed how a plant grows over a period of days and weeks; how a flower opens; how a leave unfurls on a vine?

As Michael Schneider, author of A Beginner's Guide to Constructing the Universe: The Mathematical Archetypes of Nature, Art, and Science... A Voyage from One to Ten would say, this is life in action. It is only our slow nervous system that fixes surfaces and takes static snapshot of plants (and people) that are, in reality, in continual change. Although it may be a slow process, it is energy in motion.

Simply put, nature is a living system that embraces the interplay between structure and randomness. This elusive quality of the healing dynamic for the therapist and client is the magic that is often difficult to put into words. Easier said than done, the interplay between a consistent organizational system (business or treatment protocol) and the random environment (economy and consumer choice) it is operating in, is what makes the whole greater than the sum of it's parts.

The spa experience is like nature: It is not a thing to measure and dissect, but an energy event waiting to dance.

And might I add ...

"When you get the chance to sit it out or dance
I hope you dance ...
I hope you dance."

- Lee Ann Womack

Journey well,

Robin Zill

Click here for previous articles by Robin Zill, LMT.


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