Wellness: Couldn't Hurt

Bargain Massages, Therapy Bunnies, and 9 More Ways to Feel Better

Portland serves up a dizzying buffet of options for improving your mind, body, and soul—or at least an hour or two of your day.

By Rebecca Jacobson, Casey Jarman, Amy Martin, Fiona McCann, Marty Patail, and Benjamin Tepler January 29, 2019 Published in the February 2019 issue of Portland Monthly

Golden Milk ice cream at Fifty Licks

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream

Turmeric has long enjoyed It-girl status among the bioactive spice set. Its active ingredient, curcumin, has been credited with fighting cancer, reducing inflammation, boosting immunity, and elevating mood. Combined with black pepper, ginger, cardamom, coconut milk, and cumin, it forms the ayurvedic tonic known as Golden Milk. Even better, it’s available by the sweet, spicy vegan scoop at Fifty Licks, which churns its own Golden Milk ice cream. Will it cure all your ills? YMMV. Is it delicious? Decidedly so. —Amy Martin

Do Some Good

Nothing feels good like doing good, as someone surely once said. (Maybe Jesus?) Here are six ways to volunteer with local nonprofits that could yield major mental health benefits (or just bring a little cheer). 1. Repair a used kids’ book (commitment: two hours, childrensbookbank.org). 2. Help a refugee student with their homework (one year, irco.org). 3. Plant a tree (four hours, friendsoftrees.org). 4. Repack and sort fresh food for families in need (five hours, urbangleaners.org). 5. Shop at Fred Meyer for someone housebound (2.5 hours, storetodooroforegon.org). 6. Clean a musical instrument for a kid to play (varies, ethos.org). —Fiona McCann

Walk in Circles

Once a month at Northeast Portland’s near-century-old Cerimon House, a 33-by-33-foot square of Tyvek panels painted with a series of octagons is carefully arranged on the floor of the central hall. This labyrinth, modeled on a pattern from a medieval French cathedral, is a form of walking meditation—but one with a destination, so perfect for the restless and goal-oriented among us. You follow the circular course, noting the crinkle of the Tyvek against your sock-clad feet and pausing at “harbor points” for reflection. February’s walk will be themed around intuition and imagination. Free; donations welcome. —Rebecca Jacobson

Shake Your Buti

Do you dig downward dog but also want to, y’know, get down? Preferably to a soundtrack of MIA, Cardi B, and sundry jungle beats? Bring your funky self to Buti yoga (check Studio PDX and Firelight Yoga), which bills itself as a blend of traditional yoga, tribal dance, and primal movement. In practice, this means you’ll stretch into plenty of familiar poses, but also pound the floor with your fists, pulse (not twerk!) your hips, and squat. A lot. —RJ

Boost It with Bud

From macramé to brunch, there are few activities Portlanders won’t infuse with cannabis in this still-giddy post-legalization world. Add to the list Nomi Miraj, a 420-friendly nail artist who does house calls, allowing you to light up during your mani-pedi, and Mary Jane Fonda, a pot-powered exercise series. Past sessions have ranged from boot camp–style workouts to chill yoga flows. —RJ

Let’s Talk about Death

The Portland incarnation of a worldwide phenomenon, the roving PDX Death Café gathers strangers at coffee shops, libraries, and community centers and breaks them into small groups to talk about the unavoidable. Attendees may be dealing with fresh grief, facing a terminal disease themselves, or just wondering how to talk to a friend in need—but the direct and open-hearted conversations often reveal the universal dreams and fears that eclipse our differences. It’s a little like dining with strangers on a train, except these strangers always come ready for deep conversation. —Casey Jarman

Massages for the Miserly

First off: a spa this ain’t. Our Massage Clinic is where East West Massage School students practice their training on the public, so things begin with a mildly awkward intake interview in the lobby. You then shuffle to the vast back room, where brown curtains divide the massage booths (and do little to stop murmurs or giggles from interrupting the serene flute music). But consider this: you’re getting a cut-rate deal—$30 for about 45 minutes of massage tailored to your needs—while also helping a therapist-to-be hone their skills. Win-win. —RJ

En Garde!

Do you have an unfulfilled Dread Pirate Roberts fantasy? Are you sick of endlessly pounding your feet into the treadmill? Both are legitimate reasons to try your hand at fencing, a deceptively cerebral sport taught at Beaverton sword craft institution Northwest Fencing Center. Not that you won’t sweat like a stuck pig inside your thick, protective jumpsuit as you learn the basics of agility and form. Major bonus points to Northwest Fencing for its real-deal lightsaber choreography class, taught a few times a year. (Lightsabers provided, in case you left yours at home.) —Benjamin Tepler

Om at Home

Guided meditation apps are all the rage—and Portland has its own entry in the digital Zen space. Unlike its increasingly expensive and bloated competitors, Oak is totally free. The iOS app offers three categories: Meditate (voice-guided exercises focused on mindfulness), Breath (relaxation and deep breathing), and Sleep (for, y’know, sleep). Choose the “Loving Kindness” exercise, for instance, then select the length (5–20 minutes), a female or male voice, and one of a dozen background sounds, from rain on a roof to synthetic white noise. Now, if only you could get your cat to stop pawing at you.... —Marty Patail

Hoppy Days

This town’s cutest cure for your malaise takes the form of therapeutic furballs with elongated ears and super-soft tails. Bunnies in Baskets boasts some 25 certified therapy rabbits (Max, Winnie, etc.) who visit hospitals, senior centers, and other sites across Oregon. “They are very Zen animals,” says managing director Meghan Hakala. “They’re the perfect size. When you hold them they feel like a little baby.” And hold them you shall, these vibrating bunny burritos, at the nonprofit’s N Alberta Street warren during weekly hoppy hours, monthly First Fursdays, and regular afternoon tea parties. —FM

Make a Friend

Feeling overwhelmed? No matter your faith (or lack thereof), turn off your phone and get thee to a Quaker meeting for 75 minutes of powerful yet understated community spirit. In a simple upstairs room at a meeting house near Laurelhurst Park, Quaker services are traditionally held in silence. You might hear only the breath of your neighbors, rain on the skylight, and, occasionally, a profound comment from a congregant who has been moved to speak. This is the anti-Twitter, where callout culture and performative wokeness are replaced with
opportunities for IRL action: a “casserole patrol,” a supply drive for Street Roots vendors, or help navigating health care enrollment. —AM

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