The Brain, Massage and Happiness

(training the brain via massage to be happy)

By Beau Miakinkoff LMT, LMP, CA, IAC

I have been contemplating writing an article about this topic ever since I read BUDDHA’S BRAIN. The examples of scientific information in that book is very easily adapted to the benefits of massage therapy.  It all makes perfectly clear sense and anyone who has ever received a massage for any purpose can attest to what I am about to correlate to you here.  And after reading this post, I am hopeful that it will inspire those that are not yet familiar with massage therapy to give it a try and for those that are familiar to book another appointment to keep that happiness on!

I’m going to try to keep this on an easy read level and not get too technical or “scientifical” about it.  Explaining the brain can get “geeky” if yanowatimean! Besides, all the stuff I’m going to say here can be verified elsewhere in all the medical volumes for anatomy and physiology as well as the psychological texts. And I’d like to try to put this in some kind of format so that everyone can connect the dots and experience an “Ah-ha!” revelation.

First I want to address Happiness.  It is a term that describes a mental state, the feeling and the attitude of our humanity.  And this is kinda weird, but at this moment, I have to jump to The Brain right now to explain some of the mechanics before Happiness can finish being defined.

How the brain works is rather complicated.  It is possible to simplify or use brevity in mapping out the parts.  Our brains are roughly 2% of our body weight. Yet, it uses up to 25% of the body’s oxygen. The brain constantly works, even in our sleep, communicating with and directing other systems in our body.  It multi-tasks all the time.  Most of the time we are not even aware of it.  It is where Happiness comes from.  If the brain is not soothed, relaxed, stimulated and nourished in balance, Happiness will never be achieved.  It’s all about the brain….

The brain acknowledges discomfort and pain more readily than it does bliss. Doesn’t matter if it is physical or mental.  The brain knows it and the body therefore will feel it.  We feel it in aches and soreness in our muscles and bones.  Continued emotional imbalances cause the organs and body systems to break down which in turn triggers an illness. I’m only going to list the key parts of the brain here and you can go through and research what each section is responsible for what action in our being.  Prefrontal cortex, Anterior cingulated cortex, Insula, Thalamus, Brain Stem, Corpus callosum, Cerebellum, Limbic system, Basal ganglia, Hippocampus, Amygdala, Hypothalamus and Pituitary gland.


Ok, now here I’m going to divert again and talk about the feeling of discomfort and pain.  Our bodies tell us all the time that it is out of balance, misaligned, “unhappy”!  By stimulating the body into healing itself actually triggers the brain to regulate the healing. I know, I know…. Just think of it as one giant circle and if one part of the circle is broken, happiness is not within, it escapes us.  We need the circle closed and in balance.

Imagine at 12:00 O’clock is The Brain, at 5 O’clock is feelings, and at 8 O’clock is Happiness.   Right now the majority of everyone and I mean EVERYONE! The path of communication is going from 12 to 5 and back again and again and again.  Oh, maybe once in a while it will go from 12 to about 6 or 7, but never quite makes it to 8 or 9 or 10. What we want is the brain to be registering is at 9,10,11 range constantly.  This kind of happiness is health inducing, disease conquering, true-blue bliss.

To stimulate the process of achieving Happiness, massage therapy is the ideal venue. Works like meditation, except the recipient does not have to practice.  Massage therapy stops the aches and pains, stimulates circulation and engages the nervous system sending “good vibrations” and signals to the brain that triggers it to make endorphins.  As long as the discomfort is kept at bay with the natural healing chemicals within our own bodies, the less the brain is having to stress ergo, the Happier our spirits are.  Happy equals healthy on all levels.

And even if I say so myself, a body can never have too many massages!  I like feeling Happy! :)

Beau is a licensed massage therapist in Myrtle Creek, Oregon.  She is also certified in Integrated Aromatherapy for health and well-being use of essential oils.

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