I tend to start from a position of scepticism. It stops me spending money on shiny things and new-fangled things that I spot in adverts. Despite desperately trying to avoid the latest fad for this or that I’m often sucked in. So when adverts for Shakti mats kept appearing in my facebook feed I looked and then looked away. But, they kept appearing and I kept being intrigued. So I did a bit of research and decided there was enough of a groundswell of opinion from a range of sources that this was a good thing that I thought, ‘let’s give it a go!’
The Shakti mat is a spikey affair! With some 6000 spikes in the form of little plastic disks attached to a mat. You lie on it! Yes! Lie on it – all 6000 little spikes digging into your back. The mat is about torso length so stretches from the small of the back to the nape of your neck. It works, so the adverts say, by stimulating acupressure points resulting in the release of endorphins and a range of other calming hormones.
Now, you know me, I think about and write about stress and how to overcome it. I’m a big fan of meditation and mindfulness and a big fan of giving things a try! So this seemed right up my street. I’m also not very good at meditation. My mind wanders off at the drop of a hat and I have to refocus. From what I was reading I thought this might be a good opportunity to feel overwhelmed by something to the effect that I cleared my mind.
The advice was to lay it on the floor or bed. I went for bed as I thought it would be a bit more comfortable. You then lie down on it and stay there for anything up to 20 minutes. I’m not going to lie, as reported in some of the blogs I read, when you first lie on it, it bloody hurts! But, then, as the blogs went on to say, after about 3 or 4 minutes the pain subsides and you get a wonderful warm sensation across your back. This is exactly what happened!
The feeling, I find, is quite euphoric. You have to steal yourself for the first few minutes but once through that the feeling is wonderful. I’m not being paid to say this. I bought my own mat. I’d tell you if I thought it was rubbish and not worth enduring those first few painful minutes.
Here’s the other thing! It has really improved my meditation. I stick my mediation music on, light an incense stick, and drift off. What I think is happening and what helps is that the pain takes some bearing, so, when you first lie on it you can’t think of much else other than the fact there are 6000 spikes sticking in your back! By the time this subsides you have removed all other thoughts from your mind. The discomfort distracts you from thinking about anything else, switching off invasive thoughts. It works for me!
It’s reported in various places that the mat can reduce stress and anxiety and help with muscle pain. Here’s what I think is going on. Resilience to stress is multi-faceted. One aspect is physical resilience which I feel is related to mental resilience. There is plenty of research that talks about the mind-body loop. We know that good physical health can lead to good mental health and vice versa. When you lie down on the mat your stress response is activated. You are causing yourself pain. You are physically stressing your body. This will initiate your bodies stress response which is the release of cortisol and adrenaline. The act of lying on the mat and learning how to maintain calm while experiencing the discomfort and waiting for it to subside ‘teaches’ your body and your mind how to manage your stress response. We already know that those who practice mindfulness can ‘train’ themselves to respond less emotionally and in a more balanced way to stressors and this mat I feel helps us learn to control such response.
I can’t recommend the Shatki Mat enough! I was cynical but I am absolutely convinced. Not a little bit convinced! A lot convinced!
Give it a go…. you’ll be surprised …and you might be amazed!
I bought mine from here