One of the great joys of Thai Massage is the growth in spiritual freedom, understanding and love it develops within us as we continue practicing it.
This facet of Thai Massage is known as Metta, or Loving Kindness and is one of the four sublime states within Buddhist philosophy.
It is a term much used by western Thai Massage therapists in their advertising and can be very often seen described as an intricate part of their massage philosophy and offering.
To a client in search of love and/or reassurance which may be missing in life, this is a very attractive proposition: to receive Loving Kindness in a massage treatment.
To the potential student of Thai Massage it is also a very attractive proposition: to be able to advertise yourself as someone offering Loving Kindness in massage.
There is, however, a huge difference between the Loving Kindness expressed by the Thai-based masters of Thai massage and the Loving Kindness expressed by many western-based Thai massage practitioners.
Of the greatest importance is that all Thai-based Thai Massage masters love their Lord Buddha deeply.
The connection they have with their Buddha brings them great joy and it is this love for Buddha and the joy it brings which is shared with you, as a client, during massage treatment.
Before each treatment starts, the master connects himself to Buddha through prayer and then shares this connection with you. The master treats your humble human body in no different way to the way he would treat the body of his beloved Buddha.
And this happens because, as far as the master is concerned, it is not he himself who is treating you, but it is Lord Buddha who is treating you, through the empty vessel-body of the master.
What an honour and what a healing is bestowed upon you. The sharing of Loving Kindness in the massage is a sharing with you, the client, of the love the master shares with Buddha.
It is not an expression of love he has especially for you. This is something completely different. It is a love he has for all beings; it is the Buddha’s love for all beings, channelled through the master.
It is a ‘love without clinging’. This is why there is no emotional aspect in the massage whatsoever. No lovey-dovey feeling of love. No embracing of the client by the master, or vise-versa, nothing clingy, just the acknowledgement that a love far beyond emotional love has been present.
The other great aspect of this love is that it is shared equally among all the master’s massage clients. This is known as Equanimity and is also one of the four sublime states of Buddhist philosophy.
The sharing of Loving Kindness, or Metta, or Compassion is unlimited for everyone, whether the most favoured or least favoured client.
If you find in your massage practice that you treat your favourite client differently than your most difficult client, then what you are practising is a mixture of Judgement and Reward. It is not Loving Kindness.
If you do not judge your clients, then by nature all your clients are equal and if all are equal, then all are equally treated. Loving Kindness is not dependent on judgement. It is beyond.
So tread carefully when you seek out or advertise Loving Kindness in Thai massage. What you seek or offer may be something different.
In their most basic forms, Loving Kindness means: ‘the wish that all sentient beings be happy’ and Compassion: ‘the hope that a person’s suffering will diminish’.
Wishes and Hopes are non-emotional and can be bestowed to all equally. Let this be the basis of Loving Kindness in your Thai massage practice.
This article is a guest post written by Robert Henderson, a long time practitioner and teacher of Thai Massage. He can be reached through his website at http://roberthendersonmassage.blogspot.com/
1 thought on “Loving Kindness, or Metta, in Thai Massage”
Thank you Robert for your heartfelt article. I really enjoy reading about this aspect of Thai massage. Often Thai massage is seen as a series of stretches and physical manipulations, but you point out an essential element of this healing art that is generally not recognized as much in western countries. The fact that Thai Massage is integrated with Buddhist spirituality highlights a major difference between the eastern and western way of looking at massage therapy.