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Thai Massage Art
I grew up in a Thai/French family, where massage was a normal way to relax tired muscles and to give and receive metta; meaning compassion in Thai. Then I got into researching on Thai Massage. These are the things I learned:
The foundation of Thai Massage begins with mindfulness; the seed of beginning and being.
The importance of mindfulness allows one to bring awareness of what they are giving and receiving in the world. Compassion is the ultimate goal in Thai Massage. To give without judgement - in the end we are all human souls who need to heal. Good, bad, guilty, innocent, spontaneous, or addicted; we all need each other to heal.
From this basis, we move into the 5 precepts or “training rules” of the Thai Massage Practitioner, taken from Thai Yoga Massage Lotus Palm, Kam Thye Chow, ppg. 31-36, 2009:
1. “To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings.” This means recognizing all beings have a right to life and respect.
2. “To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given.” The practitioner deals with this through observing their daily actions, whether through interacting with others or what they eat.
3. “To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct.” This not only covers any misconduct of a sexual nature, but any over indulgence to the senses such as gluttony.
4. “To undertake the training to refrain from false speech.” This means honoring our spiritual growth and to always be engaged in actions that promote metta.
5. “To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness.” This means to not indulge in substances that can cause one to the break the other precepts.
A Thai Massage Practitioner not only tries to embody these precepts through daily observations but also through physical training, such as daily yoga, meditation, tai chi and exercise. The physical health is important because the quality of energy comes from the practitioner and if one doesn't uphold their health and intentions, the person receiving bodywork may not get the utmost good energy. The practitioner also has to be aware of the energy they give and take. This is why yoga, meditation and Tai Chi are really important training tools. It helps develop mindfulness.
What one eats is also important because it has a direct effect on how we process life and energy. The precepts and physical activity are the roots to a healthy mind of metta.
“In Buddhism, there is much talk of a skilled mind. A mind that is skilful avoids actions that are likely to cause suffering or remorse.” Kam Thye Chow, founder of Lotus Palm
What’s in the name METAbodyWORKS? What’s does the design of our logo mean?
META is a system of bodywork designed for the modern Westerner. According to Free Dictionary by Farlex,
meta-, prefix meaning
1 "change or exchange": metabasis, metallaxis, metamorphosis.
2 "after or next": metachemical, metapneumonic, metapsychics.
We see the word bodyWORKS in the name, according to Free Online Medical Dictionary, Thesaurus and Encyclopedia:
1. bodywork /body·work/ (-wurk″) a general term for therapeutic methods that center on the body for the promotion of physical health and emotional and spiritual well-being, including massage, various systems of touch and manipulation, relaxation techniques, and practices designed to affect the body's energy flow.
2. bodywork, n 1. a collection of techniques for restoring health and balance to the entire person by working through the body. 2. to apply any number and combination of the therapeutic touch paradigms that have been developed.
Therefore, bodywork refers to the “work” we do to your body in order to speed recovery from injuries, optimize posture, remove energetic blockages, and help you integrate Mind/Body/ Spirit.
It is our commitment at METAbodyWORKS to keep evolving and to never be caught using stagnant thinking, while at the same time understanding that our system of bodywork, comes from an ancient tradition.
We also see in the logo: a circle, square, and triangle - homage to Sengai (Japanese Zen Buddhist 1750-1837). He was the first to paint this symbol in the Zen tradition which poetically represents the Universal Principles:
( : the four elements, earthly objective world)
(Δ: Sacred Enclosure / Bodies, Trinity- Mind/body/Spirit)
(○: motion of Planets, timelessness, symmetry)
Together they make up the basic geometry of the body.
Within the three shapes we have Japanese characters of Sui Ko Do: massage ancient people’s - Way. Suikodo is a form of Shiatsu, developed by my teacher, Master Mitsuki Kikkawa through years of teaching and clinical experience. After his passing, Kikkawa Sensei left behind a complete system of bodywork. The “ ancient people’s way” to treat the most stubborn conditions uses a meridian treatment that works on the Kyo / Jitsu (Yin / Yang) with Amate / Karate (Hard and Soft) techniques.
Like Calligraphy, Bodywork is an art form. Awareness, breath control and therapeutic touch can only be developed through years of experience. Similarly, seeking balance/harmony with colours and brushstrokes, it also requires a strong sense of concentration and focus. Creativity is the integration of spiritual understanding with the appropriate use of knowledge.
Emerge in the body, Balance with the Mind, Thrive in Spirit.
Why is it we seek for help when problems become out of control? When we have a financial crisis we seek an accountant or financial adviser; when we are having relationship trouble we seek a counselor/therapist. When it comes to our cars, we see our mechanics for major breakdowns.
What happens when we experience pain in our bodies? We go to a Western medical professional.... and most of the time, we are prescribed medication. But what if we are looking for a different solution, something drug-free? One can have tests done to rule out any insidious conditions, and experience many side-effects from these tests. Or they will recommend exercise and a healthy eating habit or seek guidance from a physiotherapist/chiropractor. Approaching a Western medical professional for an alternative solution is like asking an accountant to fix a tire.
If we want to live a pill-free life and save money on future health costs, we need to acknowledge our life habits. From my experience in massage therapy, I’ve witnessed how good habits prevent muscular-skeletal pain and crisis. The first major lifestyle changes my clients make are diet and exercise. They’ve cultivated a new sense of awareness; no longer do they ignore the effects of bad habits - everything that affects the body is accounted for.
Stretching is undervalued in our self-care. It is simple - a daily routine of stretching can prevent numerous incidents of body pain and trauma (such as: herniated vertebras, dislocated joints, ruptured tendons, etc.). Stretching for 1.5 minutes or more for each posture begins to work the connective tissue that interconnects the entire body, allowing muscles, nerves, and blood vessels room to breathe.
Through my 8+ years of experience I know that massage/bodywork is more effective to prevent trauma and improve performance. I’ve helped many people who suffer from chronic pain experience a new sense of freedom. A health care routine without massage may be enough to stop pain, but, a regimen including bodywork can actually reverse the disease process by eliminating their causes and potential effects.
The old saying still remains true "an ounce of prevention, is worth a pound of cure". In other words, a small daily dose of effort (stretching, self massage, deep breathing, not eating another pastry) is better than getting plantar fasciitis (lasts more than 6 mo.), Sciatica (cyclical nerve pain), and Diabetes.
One of the unique features of Thai Massage is the principle of Metta (compassion). When we do bodywork, it always comes from the heart. Good intentions always rest in this space. Practice in the art of healing lies in the compassionate intent of the healer. In Thai massage, this state of mind is called Metta, translated as “loving kindness”.
Anyone can cultivate this state of mind. It begins by developing a deeper level of awareness in oneself. Through acts of piety and prayer, these methods transcend into humility, awareness and concentration.
As a Thai massage Practitioner, Metta is the most important element. Unconditional love and compassion is the universal principle that is applicable to everyone, regardless of tradition or belief. Without this form of spiritual awareness, the power of healing cannot occur.
“Being in the present moment is integral to establishing a sacred healing space and being in harmony with the massage.” Kam Thye Chow, Thai Yoga Massage