I have received my share of sub-standard Thai Massage sessions over the years. They were neither fun, nor relaxing nor therapeutic, but they taught me some valuable lessons.
Those experiences have helped me in my Thai Massage teaching and in my writing about it
My usual fail-safe routine for getting good massages
Normally I only go to therapists whom I know and who are consistently good. I rarely ever just walk into any old massage shop to get a massage. Why not? Because I have been disappointed one too many times with mechanical one-size-fits-all massages that just don’t do it for me.
I have to admit that as a 16 year veteran of practicing and teaching Thai Massage I set my standards higher than many others.
What can happen when you throw caution to the wind
Where I live, in Chiang Mai, Thailand, there is a massage shop on almost every corner. So today I totally disregarded my rules of caution. I just walked into one shop and got a back, head, and arm massage. Cost: $5, so I could afford the risk.
What I received for my money was exactly why I normally don’t get massages from people I don’t know. It was a soul-less, mechanical, painful session. It did not relax me at all and I couldn’t wait for it to be over.
It was the kind of session that you sometimes read about on forums and blogs. Someone visited Thailand, got a massage and complained that it was sooo painful. The truth is that it is pretty easy to cause pain with Thai Massage if you don’t know what you are doing or if you are just not sensitive.
Bad experiences can teach you good lessons
So why was the experience useful? Because sometimes it is really valuable to experience what does not work, what you should not do, and what you should definitely avoid. I would never, ever want either my clients, or the clients of my Thai Massage students to experience such a session.
Recently someone posted in my forum that throughout my courses I keep repeating certain messages, and that it is like a “positive brainwashing”. I take this as a big compliment.
Some of the messages which I keep repeating in all my courses are:
- Use your body weight and don’t muscle people
- Be aware of and work with your breath
- Think “softness” in your mind
- Work with your entire body and not an isolated part of it
- Move energy and not just body parts
- Be a healing artist and not a massage mechanic
There are more, but these are some essential ones. What do they all have to do with massage?
- They separate the”massage mechanics” from the healing artists
- They are what makes the massage feel heavenly
- They give the massage its soul, its magic touch
- They are what can produce healing on many levels
The essence of good Thai Massage
Just pressing and rubbing and yanking and pulling is not a healing art. There is a lot more to it. In really good Thai Massage there are elements of beauty, of grace, of energetic connection, of profound well being.
Without those there is something missing in massage therapy. After a really good session you should feel like you are walking on clouds, your mind should be free and clear, and there should be a feeling of peace, joy and contentment in your mind.
This is what all my training program are about. I never wanted to produce just another mechanical Thai Massage course, but something that introduces people to the amazing and truly transformative effects of good Thai Massage.
A valuable lesson which I don’t care to repeat too often
Now you know why I didn’t mind having received a truly low-grade Thai Massage today. It provided a dramatic contrast and reminded me of the value of excellent Thai Massage.
It helped to reinforce my perspective and my appreciation of Thai Massage as an amazing healing art. And it reinforced my commitment to teach the highest standards, the best practices, and the best methods through my courses to my students all over the world.
Sometimes when you only get good massages, you take it for granted that it is all good. However the really good therapists are not so easy to find, and when you do find one, count your blessings.
For my part, I will go back to my favorite massage shop tomorrow and get the excellent massage which I am accustomed to.
The author, Shama Kern, is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses. He has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 18 years