A bodywork technique used to stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system, which is based on the belief that much of the body’s tension and disease in general is caused by a prolonged stress (fight-or-flight) response, due to an activated sympathetic nervous system. It is assumed that if the sympathetic nervous system can be downregulated, normal “housekeeping” functions—e.g., digestion, eliminating wastes and rebuilding tissue—can occur more easily, as the circulation would switch from a physiologic “crisis mode” (in which blood is diverted to the brain, muscles and heart) to a baseline mode. Parasympathetic massage is a hybrid between manual lymphatic drainage and Esalen massage, and is intended to artificially downregulate the sympathetic nervous system.
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