Soothe your little sweetie with a gentle massage
Empirical research suggests our appreciation of massage starts early—as tastes go, it’s one that needs little acquiring. That’s certainly the message behind the growing trend of infant massage, where mothers and fathers (and sometimes caretakers) bond with their wee ones through loving touch and improve their overall health. Parents, nurses, and doctors say that massage helps babies grow better, improves digestion, and eases colic. Studies conducted at the Touch Research Institutes at the University of Miami School of Medicine show that infant massage facilitates weight gain in preterm infants, decreases babies’ level of stress hormones, and balances out their sleep/wake cycle. “Nurturing touch is important for children’s physical, social, behavioral, mental, and cognitive development,” says Linda Garofallou, an infant and pediatric massage therapist at Children’s Hospital in Newark, New Jersey. She gives infant massage to patients and also trains others in the technique.
To do an infant massage, choose a time when your baby is well fed and rested. Set your Zen Timer for twenty minutes. Put a towel in a quiet room for the baby to lie on, choose a natural oil such as coconut, almond, or avocado, and play relaxing music. Assess the baby’s receptivity by observing her response to your touch. If she is stiff or tense, then use your intuition: either hold her closely in your arms until she relaxes—or wait for another time. A gazing, quiet, yet alert state means she is ready to begin.
Mom and baby
A common stroke, called Indian Milking, entails holding one foot with your hand and then “milking” the leg from the ankle to thigh. Follow this by holding the thigh with both hands and gently twisting and squeezing your hands as you move from thigh to foot. (For more strokes, see Vimala Schneider’s classic book, Infant Massage: A Handbook for Loving Parents [Bantam, 1989] or visit the International Association of Infant Massage, www.iaim.ws/home.html, to find a certified infant massage instructor near you.)
Babes aren’t the only ones who benefit from infant massage. Experts like Andrea Kelly, ceo of the International Association of Infant Massage in Ventura, California say that giving a massage releases nurturing hormones for both the mother (oxytocin) and the father (prolactin).
In addition to bonding, infant massage helps kids born with addictions or serious health problems, says Joanne Starr, MD, director of pediatric cardiothoracic surgery at Children’s Hospital. She’s seen the positive effects of Garofallou’s infant massage on the tiny heart patients she’s operated on. “I think it’s a very important part of their healing,” says Starr, who adds that many of these infants can’t be held because they are hooked up to ventilators. “It’s such a helpless feeling for the parents, but massage empowers them to do something.”
adapted from Natural Solutions Magazine, October 2007
Although meditation can be done in almost any context, practitioners usually employ a quiet, tranquil space, a meditation cushion or bench, and some kind of timing device to time the meditation session. Ideally, the more these accoutrements can be integrated the better. Thus, it is conducive to a satisfying meditation practice to have a timer or clock that is tranquil and beautiful. Using a kitchen timer or beeper watch is less than ideal.
And it was with these considerations in mind that we designed our digital Zen Alarm Clock and practice timer. This unique “Zen Clock” features a long-resonating acoustic chime that brings the meditation session to a gradual close, preserving the environment of stillness while also acting as an effective time signal.
Bamboo Digital Chime Clock, a calming timer and alarm clock made from natural materials like bamboo, walnut, and maple
Now & Zen – The Zen Timer Store
1638 Pearl Street
Boulder, CO 80302
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