In the jungle of all hair products out there, we occasionally find some favorites. I started using only organic hair products without harmful chemicals, such as sulfates, mineral oils and silicons about 3 years ago and I constantly try new ones. I have truly benefited from using natural hair care and my days of flaky scalp and thin, flat hair are gone! But, it very much depends very on what I use, here are some new favorites – Enjoy!
There are hundreds of spa managers around the world who has deepened their knowledge and business-know-how through our Spa Management Education. Years ago our Spa Management Course was a class-room course, but a couple of years ago we launched it on-line and what a success! We could immediately notice the need for this type of education, based on the many applications. Many of the spa managers who join our course are located in remote places and have difficulties finding time and possibilities to leave work for courses in other parts of the world, so distance-studies are a great solution. One, who has recently participated in the on-line course is Candra Pertiwi, Assistant Spa Manager at the Six Senses Spa in Oman. Candra and I met many years ago in the Maldives, both of us working at Soneva Fushi at that time. Candra was one of the top therapists, always with a big smile and a lot of energy. It has been great to see her taking the next steps in her carrier. Recently I took the chance to have a chat with her about how she found the On-line Spa Management Course. If you are curious about a student’s thoughts about the course, continue to read the interview with her.
What was the most important thing you learnt in the course? I found all the subjects very important and all of them were connected and related to each other. For me the knowledge of marketing was essential and I apply it in to our daily routine in the spa operation. Among all the things I have learnt in the course I would say the most important thing is the actual business plan, as it summarizes the whole course and is a clear road map for a spa.
In what way have you applied the course into your daily business in the spa? I started with writing down all the things that I can improve in my role. For example after studying the part; Human Capital Management I now have a better understanding how to communicate with different people. To have successful communication it is necessary to approach different people in different ways, so today I really try to approach my colleagues and staff in different ways and by this we work more smoothly and in a more efficient way. Things get done!
Any advice you can give to our new students, when it comes to the on-line course? Ensure you study one subject at a time, and complete the task for each theme before moving on to the next subject, follow the study plan and stay focused.
Why would you recommend the course, what is the main advantage, as you see it? I found the online training very useful and it is very informative. It was easy to understand, both the written material and the lectures. It was also great that I could watch the videos and lectures again and again. The management team of the course is also very supportive I could ask many questions throughout the course. I recommend the course to anyone who wants to become a great leader and a great spa manager. It is definitely worth it!
Did you work as a spa manager while participating in the course? Was it difficult for you to find time for the studies? I’m working as an Assistant Spa Manager and the course is important for my future so I can take the next step and become a spa manager. Of course it was sometimes a bit challenging to find enough time for studies, as I am a mother with a full time job, but I like to work early in the mornings, when my head and my thoughts still are clear and the surroundings are silent and peaceful. It’s possible; you just have to plan it!
Thank you so much Candra and good luck with your future career!
Are you already a Spa Manager? We are curious to get to know you and your thoughts about training! What do you find essential and most important for a spa manager education? Or do you have any questions regarding our on-line course, please send us a comment below or send us an email directly. email@example.com
We look forward hearing from you!
For more information regarding applications and course dates:
Many years ago, on a remote island in the Indian Ocean, I was sitting in my tiny office, confused and stressed. I had a great number of documents to fill out; reports, marketing plans, sales plan for spa packages, manning guides, budgets…all essential tools and working documents. I knew the importance of them and I was extremely worried how I would find the time to actually complete all of them and present them to the management. At the end I managed to do it, I somehow tied it all together but it took many hours of late night shifts and valuable hours of sleep. It was my first spa manager position, on a beautiful spa resort in the Maldives. I had been in leadership positions before, but this was my first job as a spa manager. I quickly realized the complexity of a spa manager’s role. Today I realize that the many late hours in the office would have been less if I would have had a clear road map and a clear structure on how to use the documents and why they would all help me to achieve my objectives. Well, it’s all about learning by doing…and we all go through different challenges in our first manager roles, but there are ways to simplify life and ways to be prepared. Preparation and structure will certainly release more time for other things in life!
Raison d’Etre’s Online Spa Management Programme would have been the perfect solution for me at that time. I was far away from home, with no possibility to leave my job for studying, but still in need of knowledge and inspiration. If I would have had the opportunity to attend an Online Course I could have watched the lectures and completed the assignments whenever I wanted and had the possibility. But mostly it would actually have saved me time. The Raison d’Etre On line Spa Management Programme is created the way that throughout the course you actually produce a complete business plan for you own spa, with budgets, marketing plans, plans for staff development (HCM plan) etc. As I would have worked with all these tools, I would have got feedback on my work from senior spa industry experts. So even if it would of course have taken me time to study, in one way it would also have saved time, as I would have been working on my “real” documents that I needed for my job. A hands-on, reality based education!
The Spa Management Course is created by us; working today at Raison d’Etre. We have all been working as spa managers in day spas, resort spas, salons and wellness centres. We have a lot of operational experiences and truly understand the challenges that occur in this job and we know that time is essential and often limited. Therefore we created a tailor made course for the spa manager of today, a course that is possible to do parallel with your job. A course that will help you right away in your job and involve you. You will work with real-life cases, meaning your own spa. We believe very much in what Benjamin Franklin once said: “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn”.
Are you curious to find out more, browse to our website where you will get more information how it works! Please do not hesitate to contact us for any questions regarding the education.
An emotionally intelligent approach to service that begins with empathy. The concept of emotional hospitality is today widely spread and applied in the tourism, spa and wellness industry. Many companies agree upon that the emotional approach is what is required to perform and succeed. But was does this really mean?
Emotions are energy and all energy have touch points. We have an opportunity to find touch points with our guests, spark positive emotions and spread emphatic energy. This requires other skills and personal traits when working with people, very different from what was needed 30 years ago. Great service is not what the service provider give, but what the guest perceives. The ability to ask the right questions, actively listen and pro-act upon opportunities takes engagement from us as service providers. It also requires us to stay out of judgement, disregard our own personal likes and dislikes and us being able to connect with our own feelings.
At this moment we are stepping into a new age of hospitality and the demand and expectation from our guests are increasing. Sometimes they are not aware of it themselves but they wish not only to be served upon what they ask for, they are longing to be seen, surprised and cared for. As service providers today, we are not just supposed to make our guest feel something, we are also being measured on exactly how we made them feel. The quality management systems has started to measure our service performance by their ‘primary emotions’ felt during their experience. How it made them feel. In order to spark someone else’s feelings in a powerful way, we need to be know who we are serving and being able to step into the guest shoes. The only way for us to understand someone else is to reflect through ourselves and our own experiences.
The spa and wellness center is a very special place. We have many more touch points with our guests than other departments and we are already invited by the guest for close connection. And the opportunities we have to connect are many. If we sensibly sustain this invitation and treat our opportunity with care, we are on the right track already. Emotional service is about people touching people, and this describes very well what already happen in our spas. The high touch mentality is our key to emotional connection.
Delivering emotional service is simple, but not necessarily easy. Many service providers are today so focused on doing things the “right” way so they actually forget to do it “well.” And as guests, we want to be treated “well” but also “with care.” Unfortunately there will never be a specific SOP that shows step by step exactly what to do within emotional service. How to care for someone else in a specific situation may not and cannot be scripted. Emotions are energy, and energy is subtle and individual.
The good news is that even though there is no precise map in how to give Emotional Service, we have several tools to guide you in how to connect closer. It takes engagement and you need to make an effort, but as long as you do, the conveyance will be very easy. Remember that a higher level of service does not have to be complicated, it can sometimes be easier than the standard service you are used to deliver, since you may always reflect back to yourself (instead of a manual) and listen to your inner voice. While listen through your heart.
If you are interested in reading more about emotional hospitality applied to the spa and wellness industry, we are glad to announce that we later this year we will launch another online course on our website with this topic. The course will guide you through Emotional Service and we will give you tools in how to engage yourself, and your team.
Remember, a simple act of kindness and care takes you longer than you can ever imagine.
We live in a world that never stops talking, with information that never stops flowing and new projects for future development and improvements that never seem to end. We usually find new challenges at the floor as well as at our desk every morning; not to mention in our inbox – it is easy to get stuck. Are you having a hard time to be one step ahead, proactively plan for your operations to move smoothly as well as for your people to develop? What about living your values and inspiring other with your passion?
We often already know what we want or need to do as managers, but we seem to never have enough time to act before we really have to, which often is too late and we have already doubled our workload. Like the Pareto principle say, 80% of your outcome come from 20% of your input which means that there are certain activities you do (your 20%) that account for the majority (your 80%) of your happiness and success. Remember, you are accountable for the success (within your business) but also for your happiness (your own health and balance.) If you not find time for what really will make a difference, you will not succeed.
You are not alone. But we are glad to tell you that there is also a solution or actually there are several. You can go from over-time to time over and be successful at the same time. You can slow down, and instead make a difference. It is called Strategy. Self- and Energy Management. Strategic Planning. Conscious Leadership. Balance. Sustainable Lifestyle. Vision.
With our Spa Management Online Program we would like to help you and all spa industry professionals the best we can to put the right priorities in place and strategically plan the next coming 12 months together. If you let us, we will lift you up to the next level through the online studies; flexible enough to fit an already busy schedule.
You have your chance to start June 2nd and October 6th this year and you will reach us directly at: firstname.lastname@example.org
And have a peek:
About a week ago I had the pleasure to attend the Spa Tec Europe event in Rhodes, Greece. This events brings buyers and supplier together for short one-to one meetings to discuss new opportunities, share ideas and spot trends in the spa, wellness and beauty market. Below a picture from Sheraton Rhodes that hosted the event (from my balcony.)
An interesting discussions on future challenges in the industry was brought up; does a spa really need to cater the guest for everything nowadays? In UK we see an increasing habit in doing nails, waxing and other quick result oriented treatments only in a local salon or at the high street, and many customers actually schedule to do it before their spa visit. Increasing beauty competition in department stores, ‘real value for money’ treatments around the corner and specialized technicians are making it harder for spas to keep up their quality in comparison to price. And unfortunately, the less treatments your therapists do of a specific kind (ex. waxing) the less they perform and they might end up lacking professional skills. To offer lower quality to a higher price is not a winner. As the trend of niched concepts is continuing to grow, which encourage us not to be everything to everyone, maybe we need to listen more carefully and pay attention to this. It is hard to keep the quality if you need all your staff to be able to perform everything on your menu. Especially if it is long.
But, in the meantime there is a huge growing demand for hair treatments, both for scalp, hair, lashes and brows. Not to mention everything that has to do with nails, quick fixes like spray tan and shorter express facial treatments. We are also starting to talk about something called “Pre-tox” were we make ourselves beautiful before we go on vacation, and only enjoy the relaxing treatments at the destination. Product brands are launching beauty machines as never before, or they make specialized protocols in how to use their products with other suppliers machines so they are ready to be implemented (like Hydro Peptide for Hydra Facial, a brilliant idea.) Here we have a great opportunity to fill the slots in the appointment schedule, with express treatments which may not be our favorite thing to sell in spas. As Annika (our MD) use to say; “I do not undress for less than 90 min on the table” which I believe many of us would agree on. But here you have the chance to sell a result oriented facial that works specifically on a target area, your puffy eyes for instance. You actually get a result in 20 min, and you can charge for it, with pride. That is interesting.
I met a lot of inspiring people in Rhodes and want to share some of the innovative suppliers and that I met:
Icelab – Whole Body Cryotherapy at minus -110 degrees
You enter a chamber on 3 different rooms were the temperature drops from Celsius -10, -60 to -110 degrees. It is described to be the perfect start of the spa journey, to clear your mind and “chock” your body into relaxation and healing. Cannot be compared to the effects of scold plunges/ that often are at least around +8-12 degrees. Developed for sportsmen from the beginning, to increase circulation, enhance speed, strength and power performance as well as treating injuries.
Coola Organic Suncare founded by eco-entrepreneur Chris Birchby is well known in the US and now entering the European market. Together with Living Earth Crafts they have designed a smart retail trolley called “Coola Cart” which helps you sell the right product to the right client, at the right time. They describe it as an opportunity to connect retail across properties, bringing together spa, pool, gift, sport facilities and even make them available in the in-room mini bar. Cool(a) concept!
Local heritage is still a winning concept represented by Scottish skincare brand Ishga, which offers pure organic seaweed products as well as LI’TYA, that origins from Australia using old aboriginal recipes. Overall, we feel the combination of an organic product range with an active scientifically range is probably what spas are heading towards. Good combination? Probably, yes.
Of course also have to mention Sammy Gharieni with his anti-gravity quartz massage table (now with a specific massage protocol) and his custom made trolleys that easily can be fitted into the room decor, inbuilt hot cabby and diffuser. Always new innovations and always something interesting to offer! Also very excited about Resort Suites (software) new launch of health assessment Ipad app, where the customer can update previous assessments and ‘copy their own answers’ from last visit to save time. This is a company that offers all essentials but also follows the
technologies and uses them in the best way, check out their membership app as well as all other online features.
Notably, suppliers nowadays need to be able to meet the specific requirements of the client and buyers and everyone is ready to customize, what differs is the quality when leaving the standard, the support and of course, the price tag.
Thank you SpaTec team for this time!
We would of course also want to share the top ten fitness trends in the world, reported for this year by the authoritative American College of Sports Medicine! Some below is included in the ‘Ferocious Fitness’ trend reported by Spa Finder mentioned in our last post, but here more detailed:
High-Intensity Interval Training (HIIT): HIIT, which involves short bursts of activity followed by a short period of rest or recovery, jumps to the top of this year’s list. These exercise programs are usually performed in less than 30 minutes.
Body Weight Training: This is the first appearance of this trend in the survey. Body weight training uses minimal equipment making it more affordable. Not limited to just push-ups and pull-ups, this trend allows people to get “back to the basics” with fitness.
Educated and Experienced Fitness Professionals. Given the large number of organizations offering health and fitness certifications, it’s important that consumers choose professionals certified through programs that are accredited by the National Commission for Certifying Agencies (NCCA), such as those offered by ACSM.
Strength Training. Strength training remains a central emphasis for many health clubs. Incorporating strength training is an essential part of a complete physical activity program for all physical activity levels and genders. (The other essential components are aerobic exercise and flexibility.)
Exercise and Weight Loss. In addition to nutrition, exercise is a key component of a proper weight loss program. Health and fitness professionals who provide weight loss programs are increasingly incorporating regular exercise and caloric restriction for better weight control in their clients.
Personal Training. More and more students are majoring in kinesiology, which indicates that they are preparing themselves for careers in allied health fields such as personal training. Education, training and proper credentialing for personal trainers have become increasingly important to the health and fitness facilities that employ them.
Fitness Programs for Older Adults. As the baby boom generation ages into retirement, some of these people have more discretionary money than their younger counterparts. Therefore, many health and fitness professionals are taking the time to create age-appropriate fitness programs to keep older adults healthy and active.
Functional Fitness. This is a trend toward using strength training to improve balance and ease of daily living. Functional fitness and special fitness programs for older adults are closely related.
Group Personal Training. In challenging economic times, many personal trainers are offering more group training options. Training two or three people at a time makes economic sense for the trainer and the clients.
Yoga. Based on ancient tradition, yoga utilizes a series of specific bodily postures practiced for health and relaxation. Includes Power Yoga, Yogalates, Bikram, Ashtanga, Vinyasa, Kripalu, Anurara, Kundalini, Sivananda and others.The survey was conducted by interviewing more than three thousand certified fitness professionals all over the world to discover the top ten industry trends expected for 2014.
So, lets keep up and make 2014 the fittest year ever!
Today’s world is constantly in motion. There are new concepts that emerge from all sort of creative ideas all the time; every year comes with its own surprises. Nowadays clients have access to various means of communication and therefore are more educated about what is going on than ever. In any industry, to keep a customer satisfied, it is important to know what it is that they want and expect, and staying informed becomes crucial. In the spa industry, every year brings new technologies, methods, improvements and experiences. Since the customer is up to date, it is important to be on the same level with them, not just to meet their expectations, but more importantly to exceed them and make them want to come back for more.
So where, how and why will consumers spa, exercise and get ‘their wellness on’ in 2014? Spa Finder Wellness 365 has the answer in their trend forecast report for top 11 trends in 2014:
Mindful Living: “A healthy mind is the key to true happiness”- Dalai Lama
Today’s world is supercharged, and that naturally affects one’s physical, but more important spiritual health. The key to remain in balance and at peace is ”mindful living”-staying attentive to the present moment. This philosophy is one of the driving forces today in the wellness world, From now on clients are seeking to reboot their brains, and the spas will have to offer treatments & tools to their guests, which will help them reach a whole new place of serenity and calm.
Healthy Hotels 2.0
As predicted by Raison d’Etre in 2013, the Healthy Hotels are here to stay. Just in one year this movement has become a mega trend, with many hospitality industry leaders implementing wellness in their accommodation offer or even dedicating entire concepts to it. A great example are EVEN Hotels and upcoming Element hotels. These healthy hotels will not only be good for their guests, but also for the environment. An additional development within this mega trend is hotels moving away from stuffy, eat too much restaurants towards garb-and-go healthy food markets. Hot branded inside & outside fitness classes, in-room virtual training, free workout-in-a-bag…hotels are doing everything to become the local wellness hangout.
Our society is entirely absorbed by the digital world, and wellness is not an exception. Latest applications provide us with daily opportunities to stay fit & well. Clients can not only measure their work out results, but also participate in online yoga classes, easily book spots in the hottest fitness sessions and so on. The Wired Wellness has already spread into the corporate world, by engaging employees with various apps. For spas this trend is crucial to follow. It is very likely that in the future many clients will seek for smart clothing that will measure their performance during the work out and will want to receive professional advice on what wellness & fitness apps they should use in their daily life.
Hot Springs Heat Up
Bathing in hot springs may be the oldest “spa” experience in the world–dating further back than Roman times–but they are also incredibly on trend in 2014. In fact, there’s never been a hotter moment for thermal springs with more and more people seeking out this affordable, social and beneficial spa experience. And, with hot springs existing in virtually every corner of the world, governments and developers alike have taken notice and are funding hundreds of new, exciting developments.
Gravity is associated with something heavy and restricting, and it is no surprise that people want to escape that feeling towards a sensation of freedom. This deep psychological and physical desire is fuelling the new “suspending gravity” trend, as a result of which creative solutions are coming up. You will be seeing more weightless, stress- and mind-melting flotation tanks, chambers and pools at spas. A unique novelty is the world’s first “zero-gravity” spa in Space Resort, Barcelona. Meanwhile on the fitness front: a global craze for aerial and anti-gravity classes and yoga, and new equipment like anti-gravity treadmills. And more spas are incorporating new technologies like anti-gravity massage beds and futuristic pods that simulate the experience of floating on a cloud.
A new “ferocious fitness” trend is on the rise, led by people who take fitness seriously and who compete to establish their own “personal bests,” frequently at semi-professional levels. A key aspect of this trend is making fitness fun and much more exciting than lonely 45 minutes on a treadmill. Working out with joy is more motivating and helps people keep at it longer and actually achieve better results. For instance High Intensity Interval Training Programs became incredibly popular, and you can expect to see even more “ferocious fitness” programs in the year ahead. It is more than just a work out, it is a new fitness culture.
“Natural” Beauty Meets Social Media
Back-to-basics has come to force the faux beauty out. In recent years there’s been resurgence in less-invasive treatments that revive skin, hair, and nails and make humans look human again. This new era of beauty focuses on the nude, the natural, and a high-tech, low-risk beauty, where organic products, science and technology intersect to deliver minimal-downtime results that are seemingly produced by nature. It is now fashionable to post the “no filter selfies” on Instagram, to show that one can look their best 24/7 just as they are. The spas will play their role by offering even more customized treatments and using latest technology for a quick route to lasting, natural loveliness.
Aromatherapy: Scent with Intent
Aromatherapy is moving in bold directions and playing a greater role in the treatment of pain, as a mood enhancer, in sleep therapy, and to improve cognitive function. It has also moved to a new level of customization, spas are reimagining their aromatherapy approach from the more generically pleasant to the personalized and transformative, in order to further enhance experience with the scent power on our memory, emotions and body. In 2014, there will be a growing effort to craft an aromatherapy of intention, working in tandem with botanists and even high-tech digital technology. In addition, inspiring, local, and natural scent will play a bigger role in the business world and in public spaces (restaurants, retail, hotels, hospitals). Call it beyond sachets and cinnamon candles.
Wellness Retreats Rise & Urbanize
In 2014 (and beyond), we will see more all-new destination spa properties, like the just-opened VANA in India’s Himalayan foothills. We’ll see revered brands go on an expansion march, whether Miraval from the U.S. or Lanserhof from Austria. We’ll see more headline-grabbing, hit-all-angles, big wellness “campus-palaces,” but we’ll see even more smaller wellness retreats at more (affordable) price- points, and usually with more targeted angles: whether no-nonsense weight loss boot camps or rustic yoga retreats. Additionally, we’ll see so many more resorts add so much “destination spa” programming, that we may have to expand our idea of the “destination spa” beyond just a noun…to a “verb.”
Death & Spas: Thriving During Life’s Transitions
In 2014, spas are starting to have the “death” conversation and help people cope with terminal illnesses, whether they are patients or caregivers, in the most comfortable and supportive environment imaginable. Nowadays hospitals and long-term care facilities recognized the power of touch and started to break down the boundaries between hospitality and health care by creating a soothing environment for their patients. Cooperation between medical facilities and spas to help patients cope with severely stressful situation is becoming more of a reality. Caring is truly the DNA of the industry, and in 2014 and beyond we will see spas and wellness centers bring comfort and healing to more people…even those who are transitioning to the end of their lives.
Top 10 Surprising Spa & Wellness Destinations
Savvy spa-goers are pushing back against the “been there, done that” travel mentality and demanding more exotic destinations and indigenous experiences to stamp on their spa passports, thereby spawning a significant new industry trend: a map of new spa and wellness settings to explore that extends beyond the normal hot-spots. The magnitude of this trend lies in its ability to prompt a changed perception of each country, instigating a “wellness halo” that can provide a brilliant tourism growth tactic project safety and generate great press.
The full 75-page report, which includes an analysis of factors influencing each trend and examples of early trend adopters, can be downloaded here: http://www.spafinder.com/trends2014.htm
Spa Finders team of editors, along with research analysts and industry experts, have hit the mark with extensive analysis of the latest market findings, interviews with industry leaders, visits to spas and wellness locations worldwide, and continuous surveys with thousands of travel agents, hundreds of thousands of consumers, and the 20,000-plus spa, wellness, and beauty providers in the Spafinder Wellness 365 Network.
More and more studies about manual therapies are being published however not so many scientific studies have been performed on spa treatments. Spa is often considered more luxury and less therapeutic by the mainstream medical community. However spa treatments can also have therapeutic effects, which a study published this year in the renowned paper, Rheumatology International show. Rheumatology International is an independent journal reflecting worldwide progress in the research, diagnosis and treatment of the various rheumatic diseases.
The researchers studied the effect of spa treatments on ankylosing spondylitis, previously known as Bechterew’s disease. Ankylosing spondylitis is a chronic inflammatory disease of the axial skeleton with variable involvement of peripheral joints as well. Ankylosing spondylitis is a form of chronic, inflammatory arthritis and immune mechanisms are probably involved. It mainly affects the spine and the sacroiliac joint in the pelvis. There is no cure for Ankylosing spondylitis as far as the medical establishment know.
Thirty Ankylosing spondylitis patients attending the Rheumatology Unit of the University of Padova in Italy being treated with TNF inhibitors for at least 3 months were randomized: 15 were prescribed 10 sessions of spa therapy (mud packs and thermal baths) and rehabilitation (exercises in a thermal pool) and the other 15 were considered controls so they did not receive any spa therapy or exercise in a thermal pool. The patients in both groups had been receiving anti-TNF agents for at least three months.
The outcome measures utilized several index for Ankylosing spondylitis and the evaluations were performed in all patients at the entry to the study, at the end of the spa treatment, and after 3 and 6 months. Most of the evaluation indices were significantly improved at the end of the spa treatment, as well as at the 3 and 6 months follow-up assessments. No significant alterations in the evaluation indices were found in the control group, that is, they did not get better scores in the Ankylosing spondylitis index.
The result: “Combined spa therapy and rehabilitation caused a clear, long-term clinical improvement in Ankylosing spondylitis patients being treated with TNF inhibitors. Thermal treatment was found to be well tolerated and none of the patients had disease relapse.”
So next time you go to the spa for a luxury treatment you will probably get some therapeutic medicinal positive side effects as a bonus.
Axial skeleton: the bones along the central axis of an organism: the skull bones, the ossicles of the middle ear, the hyoid bone of the throat, the rib cage, sternum and the vertebral column.)
Sacroiliac joint: Joint between the sacrum and the ileum in the pelvis.
TNF inhibitors: Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) promotes an inflammatory response in the body, associated with autoimmune disorders. TNF inhibitors blocks this response but these drugs have severe side effect.
Talking about trends, we have seen many healthy and sustainable trends during the past years that have gone from “trends” to “lifestyle choices”, and we often refer to the generation called “G”.
Generation G consists of people who are environmentally conscious, love Mother Earth, want to stay “clean” inside and outside, and chose to live more consciously due to the many problems that the materialistic lifestyle has been bringing. Gen G is all about generosity, giving, compassion and sharing. A person who has made a decision in life – to make a difference! A person who makes active choices.
This has influenced many of us to search for ways to contribute and help and we really need to “do something” to compensate for the life we are living, through volunteering work or donating blood etc. A few years ago, the buzzword “Random Act of Kindness” (R.A.K) got a lot of attention and was a huge trend for global marketers and brand consultants. Focusing a lot in digital marketing and social media this act of kindness have been integrated in many organizations and strategies, even if it has not the same attention today as back in 2011. Even though this way of taking action has a kind and great intention, it is also as a business strategy (which means earn more money.)
But as we live in an unsteady world, it often brings forward the true and instinctively good in people. A great example of this is Hannah Brencher (24) from New York that one day just decided to write a letter to a stranger on the train that looked miserable. She continued to leave letters like that on the bus, the library, the café and so on all over New York City. One year and 400 letters later she started the organization “Write more love letters” that today have 20,000 individuals across 49 different countries leaving letters and writing emails to strangers in need.
The interesting part of this trend that starts to bloom again in 2013 is that it is spread in younger ages and at a personal stage in social media, which is in great need in the digital world that often is quite rough, honest and mean. It is again trendy to be kind, both to your friends, but also strangers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
All these ideas, actions and efforts (like R.A.K) are truly lovely but sometimes they make me a bit confused. I believe kindness is a natural possession for all of us, a part of us as human beings. To be exact, when someone does something kind towards another, the brain produces dopamine and endorphins, which make you happy. Face-to-face kindness also produces oxytocin, which may lower the blood pressure ad stimulates the nervous system. This is natural. We live for love and happiness. Our vision at Raison d’Etre is to “Light lights” in everyone we meet or touch, and that is a great daily reminder for me to continue to spread love and kindness.
But, are we really so busy in our lives that we only have enough kindness to share with our chosen people? Either what we answer that question with; if kindness really needs systems and this kind of trendy actions and attention, so be it. If this is what it takes, so be it.
Ps. Have you ever written a love letter? It is absolutely magical.
Silat is a powerful synthesis of martial art movements and graceful ritual dance, widely practiced in Malaysia. It is an extremely elegant and restrained style of atrial art, putting a premium on self-control and discipline before violence. Combining breath, movement and energy techniques with self-awareness and empowerment.
According to Silat culture, the energetic body consists of connecting circles called chakra (in Malay spelled cakra or cakera). The chakra’s energy rotates outwards along diagonal lines. Energy that emits outwards from the center line is defensive while offensive energy moves inwards from the sides of the body. The Silat practioner is aware of this and can harmonize their movements with the chakra, thereby increasing the power and effectiveness of attacks and movements.
I am currently in Malaysia (training therapists) and had the opportunity to visit a Silat master. He had 7 children hat demonstrated the ancient martial art form to us. It was like a clan of children in all sizes and ages standing in front of us. With utter seriousness and pride they demonstrated the “Katas” synchronized with breath. It was a true joy to see.
The Silat master is also a snake master, he had a cobra curled up at the back of the room, we were happy to see that it was encaged and at sleep when visiting. The master showed us three scars where he had been bitten, as when one time, the snake curled up behind his back, probably to get some warmth from the sleeping man. A sudden move in the sleep made the snake bite him and he claimed that he didn’t take any serum to survive the bite; he used Silat breathing techniques, lymphatic kind of massage to get the venom out. I believe him. After that scary story he demonstrated his own snake dance, movements he created after watching how the cobras move before catching their prey.
Eyes focus, spine moving in waves, slowly until reaching out to strike his meal. Very fascinating!
The Swedish gymnast Per Henrik Ling is called the “father of Swedish Classic Massage” from when he opened the Royal Gymnasium Institute in Stockholm – 1813, 200 years ago. He developed his own comprehensive system of athleticism and treatments – Swedish gymnastics and massage, to stimulate blood circulation, strengthen the muscles and create a better balance between bones and muscle tissue.
Ling’s system was fast spread over Europe and the popular treatment method was one of the greatest exports from Sweden under the nineteenth century. Students arrived to Sweden from different parts of the world to learn and then started their own practice in their home countries and both the methods and literature was spread early and translated into several languages. Many of the international expressions within manual therapy and massage came from Ling’s followers, such as “medicina gymnastica”, “therapeutic manipulation” and “kinesitherapie”. Note that these were published in the beginning of the nineteenth century, long before the establishment of other western manual therapies (such as osteopathy, chiropractic and orthopedic manual therapy.)
At our LivNordic Spa in Stockholm, this treatment is of course the most popular one and our Swedish Training Director, Isabella dos Santos, has developed the basic techniques further, to create an exceptional massage – unique for Raison d’Etre and LivNordic.
Swedish Classic Massage (or actually just ‘Classic Massage’ as we say in Sweden) has definitely been a source of inspiration for most of the western massage techniques and is still one of the most popular treatments booked in the world. So, why do not do as we do, go ahead and find a place near to enjoy a Swedish Classic Massage and celebrate the 200 years anniversary with us!
We can’t deny that religious and spiritual beliefs are the foundation of, if not all then most cultures on this planet. There is something about religion or spirituality that resonates with us at a level that goes beyond concept, to how we experience this world – consciously or unconsciously.
Why do they have such a hold over us? In times of stress or danger we are inadvertently drawn to seek some higher power to help us out – be it God or Mummy. And when we do feel those moments of spontaneous gratitude, we still need something to focus it on.
Next time you are at a friend’s home, take a look around to see if you can’t find something that smacks of an altar – even if they don’t think it is. A photo frame positioned in a place of honour, a small group of items, lovingly placed in a special space, a funky pink plastic Buddha statue sitting on a window still.
So, what is the one thing that all religions, spiritual and philosophical, even some psychological, theories and beliefs have in common?
All are founded on a trinity. Buddha, Dharma & Sangha; God, Son and Holy Spirit; Mind, Body, Spirit; Osiris, Isis, Horus; Light, Truth, Path…… in fact we would probably find that most things that have some kind of power over us, or the power to influence us, will at their heart, be based on a trinity. Because all true trinities express the formula of creation. Being the created and part of creation, it is this formula that is at the centre of who we are. And this formula, when perceived consciously or unconsciously, has the power to touch us deeply, no matter which culture, religious background or belief system we subscribe to. And no matter whether it is presented to us in the context or religion or spirituality or from a cultural or even materialistic point of view. We are creators in our own right and we know it deep down. We are happiest when we are creative. And I’m not only talking about music, painting, arts, but everything that allows us to express ourselves. Think too, that all true creativity is of benefit to others in some way. We can be creative listeners, creative when creating spread-sheets, in the kitchen, the garden …. Everything.
Buddhists believe that all phenomena are an assembly of three dimensions. The outer, the inner and the hidden. Part of the hidden dimension of humankind is the ability to create. And the formula of creation is simple: You have a source (represented by God, Buddha, Spirit, Soul, Light), you have a dynamic (Truth, Holy Spirit, Mind, Dharma) and you have the manifestation (Christ, Body, Sangha, the Path). Source, Dynamic, Manifestation. Mind, Body, Spirit should really by Spirit, Mind, Body by the way. But then, ego will always put itself first when it can.
So, now we come to mission statements. Aren’t we in effect creating a belief system when we create a mission statement for a spa or a business? We move into the hidden dimension and with that the source of everything that is created or made manifest after. Amanresorts, whom so many have tried to copy, have at its heart a very powerful mission statement based on three simple values. Unfortunately it’s a secret, which makes it all the more powerful. But it works. However, most people attempt to copy the manifestation, rather then understand the source and so any attempt to copy becomes just that, a copy.
But when you truly understand the hidden aspect of a thing, the essence, the source, in that moment you make it your own. And in that moment it becomes unique.
I was recently working on a spa, which had as its root the value: ‘to nourish’. It works on so many different levels. The design should nourish the guest through the spa journey. We will nourish our staff, to ensure they can preform to the best of their abilities. The spa structure should nourish its environment, rather than being in resistance to it. Add the other two values – ‘to sustain’ and ‘to connect’ and you have a beautiful trinity. One that everybody was able to understand and able to connect to. Whether it was the architects or designers, management, staff, shareholders everybody was able to understand – or was guided to understand – what their role was in the fulfilment of this mission statement for this particular spa.
To nourish, to sustain and to connect become the spa’s mantra, it’s unique aspect as each part of the puzzle fell into place around it. It become a guide and if up-held, will give a simple elegance to the spa as a whole. Everything on some level will be an expression of this trinity and so, everything not only has a place, but harmonizes with everything else, complements it, supports it.
To create a truly an exceptional mission statement is to quite simply find the essence of what is being created. And once you have that, miracles will happen. When you find the essence, you find the flow. The deeper you move into it, the more powerful it becomes. It will influence the kind of people you hire to take care of the spa. It will help you to decide which products to use, which colours to choose, where to place something in the room. And once it is done, people will walk through the spa, feeling that you have created something truly miraculous. Even it if is just a hut on a beach.
Lastly, how do we find our essence, our trinity? It’s actually quite simple. We naturally tend to express it – usually unconsciously. We might pick an image, a logo, to represent the spa, which when contemplated reveals the trinity to us. We might, when reading everything we have written about the spa, keep seeing certain values popping up again and again. Or the name that was chosen, might actually represent the hidden aspect of what we are trying to create. Often it is the most obvious, which suddenly becomes the deepest.
And if it is not obvious because you have been looking at it for too long, then ask. Throw the question out into the universe, sit back, allow yourself to become still and receptive, add a little patience, and I promise you – the answer will come. It always does.
Just visited Thailand and had the good fortune to meet and have several treatments sessions with Mr Jaruun – as it says on his uniform Number 1 Thai Massage therapist.
The 74 year old man have been giving Thai-massage for 40 years and have developed his own style of practice
His session can very well turn into 3 hours sessions, because that is how long it takes to really work in detail on the whole body.
First time meeting him he instructs me proudly that his massages are long and very different from the common Thai massage you can find at the beach or at the massage parlors along then main streets of every tourist city in Thailand.
And….he was very right, he works soft with his palms along the Sen lines, like he is opening the pathways and also preparing my body softly for the soft stretches that will follow.
Mr Jaruun always take 3 clients a day, not more, not less and when I ask him if he gets tired he says: “ it is important to breath out giving a stroke or when giving pressure.
He also very much uses his own body weight, rocking his body from side to side, distributing his weight gradually and gently into my body.
He take his time working up and down my spine using palms, elbows, feet and knees and then with a gentle stretch – like a slow Yoga posture he stretches my back and I can feel all my cervical vertebrae silent, smoothly realigning and the stiffness that had kept my head from turning without hesitation is gone.
Ending the session Mr Jaruun invites me to sit opposite to him and he recites a prayer in Thai and then spontaneously from his heart a translation in English where he simply and lovingly asks for health, balance and that harmony will be present in my life.
Rooted in the Indian Ayurvedic medical practice, Thai Massage is one of many forms of Oriental bodywork based on energy balance theory of health and healing.
The Chinese system of acupressure is an obvious influence. Thai massage focuses on the ten major sen lines by palming and thumbing along these energy pathways.
According to this theory, the human body contains a field of energy within it composed of 72,000 sen lines, ten of which hold top priority.
The Chinese meridian theory calls this energy “Qi” and the Indian Ayurvedic system of nadis refers to it as “prana”. It is believed that blockages in the flow of this energy manifest in discomfort, disease and pain.
Most ailments then are the result of an imbalance in these meridians, whereas free flow along the sen lines leads one to feel energetic, relaxed and free from stiffness and pain. Working pressure points along the sen lines releases blockages of energy and increases energy flow, thereby helping to restore balance, the key to good health. Well-being can be restored and maintained by rhythmically working along the ten sen or vital energy conduits.
This sacred philosophy was taken directly from the teachings of Yoga. Thai Massage is very rhythmic and meditative, enabling both the client and the practitioner to reach a deeper level of consciousness.
Today the market has a wide selection of services and products since and many companies sales strategy is: pick yourself. Your daily routines includes a never ending amount of choices, everything from choosing what kind of coffee to buy; to what kind of milk to what kind of cup.
Even if almost all people find the wide selection as something positive this is becoming a stress factor in the modern society. Instead of freedom of choice it becomes a loss of time. Even if you save 20 Euros when selecting mobile operator you feel the loss of the several hours you spent on making your decision. And when your choice is made, you still compare with your neighbor to find out if you made the right one and often you get disappointed anyway.
Many people find it time-consuming and tiresome to collect all info needed to make a wise decision. What happens is that we just pick something and not really base our choice on anything particular other than our guts. Daniel Kahneman describes this in “Thinking, fast and slow” as your automatic thinking (System 1) that makes you act fast but sometimes foolish. He describes our intelligence as not suited for the modern life full of selection and this unfortunately leads to many mistakes and unwise decisions based on intuition.
But something is happening! The “non-selection” is starting to becom e a trend and since a couple of years ago services have shown up that helps you with your decision. Personal shoppers (not only for fashion, now also for food), all-inclusive hotels, sites such as Price runner is a respond to this phenomena. People want someone else to make their choices. But if the services offering “non-selection” just increases then the questions remains: who do we pick to choose for us? When do we still value the freedom of choice?