Why are Healing Arts practitioners not allowed to heal?
One thing never ceases to amaze me. Massage is part of the healing arts world, but in quite a few countries, including the USA, massage therapists are not allowed to say that they heal anything.
So if Massage is a healing art, but it does not heal anything, what exactly does it do?
There are major teaching institutions with ‘healing arts’ right in their name who teach massage therapy. I wonder what they tell their students? A healing arts institution teaches a healing art which is not allowed to heal anything. Sounds pretty strange to me!
What does ‘healing’ really mean?
Part of the problem is the definition of the word “healing.” What really is healing anyway? Does it mean that a surgeon cuts out a cancerous tumor and now the patient is healed?
Or does it mean that an agitated businessman whose mind is racing uncontrollably gets a wonderful massage and now feels peaceful and relaxed?
Of does it mean that a judgmental person decides to abandon this negative behavior and instead adopt a kind and loving attitude?
How did ‘healing’ get hijacked by one group of ‘healers’?
Who decides what ‘healing’ means? In the USA, it seems that the AMA (American Medical Association) along with the medical establishment hijacked the meaning of this word.
They certainly succeeded in wrestling the healing out of the healing hands of the massage therapists. If massage does not or is not allowed to heal anything, what does it do? Is it relaxing or therapeutic or stimulating or what? Let’s look into that.
How to define ‘love’ or ‘healing’
Is healing better than relaxing? Is therapeutic massage more effective than relaxing massage? The problem again is that we are dealing with words that can be interpreted in many ways.
Let’s switch for a moment to another word which we all use a lot and which does not have one specific meaning either: ‘Love’. You can love your spouse, your baby, your job, your country, your cup of coffee in the morning, your new hunting rifle, your car, or God.
Obviously these are all very different emotions which are all expressed by one ambiguous word.
When one party’s love can be the other party’s hate
All throughout history people have been fighting wars in the name of their love to their country, their God, or their opinions. For many of us, this does not seem very loving at all.
It is obvious that love in its many shades can be expressed in gentle, sweet ways or in brutal and violent ways. Some cultures have several words for ‘love’ like the Greeks. They can pinpoint a little better what they are talking about when they use the word ‘love’.
What and how do healing artists heal?
‘Healing’ suffers from the same ambiguity. Healing your drug addiction is not the same as healing your cancer. Healing your propensity to get angry is not the same as healing a broken bone.
We in the healing arts profession are not trying to heal broken bones. We are not qualified to do that and happily leave that to the doctors. We also do not claim to heal tumors and cancers, at least not in the conventional medical sense.
However we can do quite a lot of healing. It just depends on how you define the word. That’s the issue. I suggest we create our definition for ‘healing’.
Possible definitions of ‘healing’
I explain to my clients that I move internal energy which is the precursor of all diseases (an Asian concept). Once your internal energy is realigned, your physical body has a better chance to follow suit.
I say that I help to change cell memory in their body which creates a new positive healthy environment where disease is not welcome anymore.
And I say that the relaxation that I create in my sessions is producing the ideal state for healing. After all it is a fact that the body does most of its healing in its most relaxed state – sleep.
Healing experiences in the massage profession
I also make it clear that I do not produce the healing, but I do facilitate a state which makes it much easier for the body to heal itself. As far as I am concerned, I do healing work.
I am clear about my definition of healing, and I do not need to hide behind legal jargon or scientifically proven statements. It does help that I live in Thailand. Here nobody tries to restrict the term ‘healing’ like in the western world.
I had many clients who attributed their healing on many levels to my work. I have seen people recover from immune system diseases which the medical profession had given up on.
I have seen people regain control over their bodies, which they had lost, after a series of sessions. I have seen people change their outlook on life and their state of mind as a result of my work. These are results that we love to see.
That’s why we are in this profession. We like to help people, and we have every reason to be happy when we see healing occur. I have seen many amazing results from simple village healers all over the world. And I know that many of my massage therapist colleagues have seen amazing results in their practices.
Bringing back ‘healing’ into the ‘healing arts’
I have observed an increasing tendency in the healing arts profession to not make any claims, not make any statements about healing, not claim any results.
Massage therapists can get away with talking about ‘healing touch’. But if they say that their healing touch healed anything specific, they are in big trouble. It comes back to the definition of the word ‘healing’.
We in the healing arts professions should not be afraid to talk about healing. One idea is to put up a sign with your definition of healing. Here are some of my definitions:
- I move “Chi” energy which creates an internal state that facilitates healing on many levels
- I help change cell memory from dis-ease to health and well-being
- I help create the state in the body which is ideal for self healing, namely deep relaxation
Is there a final definition of “healing”?
Neither massage therapists nor medical professionals can guarantee results. Some people never recover from seemingly minor health challenges, and other people miraculously experience spontaneous healing from deadly diseases.
Despite all scientific advances and discoveries, the body, its internal energy, our minds and emotions will always remain a mystery to some degree. The problem is that we are talking about words that have no clear meaning.
Absolute, partial, and progressive healing
It is really a question of degrees. If you want to define “healing” as a complete 100 percent restoration to perfect physical, mental, and spiritual health, then you live on the wrong planet. Or you will keep looking for a long, long time.
If you define “healing” as the removal of a particular symptom, such as a tumor, then your perspective falls way short of holistic health.
However, if you define “healing” as a progressive and constant improvement towards a cleaner, healthier, happier, and more aware state of existence, then you have a chance to get there.
The good news is that according to this definition, we can all contribute to healing, massage therapists included.
The author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for 16 years. He is the founder and director of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 online Thai Massage video training courses.