I feel like I’m always looking for balance: work/life balance, a balanced diet, balance in tree pose on my yoga mat, balance on the heels I probably shouldn’t be wearing, balance in my skin. It’s a place I may never fully get to, but it’s one I’ll keep working towards forever. So when Abby Backlund of Breathing Space Spa told me about her Reiki Facial, which balances skincare with holistic energy work, I was intrigued.
I hadn’t been inside the brick complex at One Richmond Square in years, and I was shocked when I walked inside. The renovations to the whole place are gorgeous, making everything feel open and airy while still preserving the building’s historic character. The view from Breathing Space over the Seekonk River was serene, even on the snowy day when I visited. Abby had me change into a spa towel and cozy up on the treatment table with a heater and some soft blankets. I love a spa day at any time of year, but it feels particularly great to be warm all over in the cold weather.
Then, Abby went to work. She explained that she’d be giving me a facial with exfoliation and masks, and weaving energy work throughout. “In Eastern culture, they start all services by cleansing the feet, as a sign of respect,” Abby said. So first was a coconut foot scrub, with my first touch of reiki. An Eastern healing art, reiki involves the placement of hands over and on a person’s body, to redirect energy and to clear away the bad stuff and make room for the good. It’s a hard concept to explain, but you know it when you feel it. Abby placed her hands on my feet for maybe two or three minutes, and where our skin was touching, I felt heat. Not normal body heat, but a very hot sensation that made it clear an exchange of energy was happening.
It sounds a little… out there. I get it. But let me say this: energy work only works if you want it to. Much like a diet, or a relationship, or anything else important in life, you only get out of it what you put into it. So if you go into a reiki session thinking that it isn’t going to do anything for you, it’s not. But if you go into it with an open mind and the intention to work out what’s been bothering you, you’ll probably get something positive out of it.
Abby started the face part of the facial with a double cleanse, and then an exfoliating mask with papaya and pineapple enzymes to dissolve proteins bonding old skin cells to my face, and lactic acid to help break those cells down. She uses all Dermalogica products, which utilize plant science and are natural and gentle. While the exfoliant did its work, she gave me a scalp massage, with more reiki at my crown chakra, on the top of my head.
Abby owned and ran Facing Thayer, the spa and beauty lounge on Thayer Street, for over a decade, offering everything from facials to waxing to massage and nail services. A few years ago, she decided to go back to basics, opening Breathing Space as a way to connect with clients on a one-on-one level, and focus on the work she’s truly passionate about: holistic healing, and how inner wellness connects to outer wellness. Last month, with a new addition to the family on the way, she decided to shut down Facing Thayer to focus just on Breathing Space, so it’s a new beginning for her in more ways than one.
After the mask were extractions, and a therapeutic face massage using a serum containing phytoactives from camellia and tamanu oils to restore the skin’s barrier, plus orchid flower and chia seed to smooth and moisturize. The massage included lymphatic drainage, lifting and toning maneuvers, relaxation techniques and focused reiki at the throat and third eye chakras. After that, a multivitamin mask with vitamins A, C, E and F to boost the skin’s recovery and give it a defense against harsh winter elements. After, a neck and shoulder massage with reiki at the heart chakra. As Abby concluded the facial, she cleared the negative energy from all of my chakras, and sent me on my way. I’ve had a lot of facials, and they’re all an hour of bliss, but the takeaway from this one was different. I felt lighter, more clear-headed, and ready to take on all of the new beginnings the new year had to offer.
1 Richmond Square