I am a professional Thai Massage therapist, and I enjoy receiving massage as much as I like giving it.
Why? Because it makes me feel great!
In the Western world, there is a trend towards establishing the benefits of massage in mostly scientific terms. While this is certainly important and useful knowledge, I want to highlight another aspect.
Thai Massage should not be a scientific experience
The benefits of Thai Massage cannot just be expressed through scientific data and double-blind studies.
They are not just physical reactions that can be measured and proven and tested and put under a microscope.
They cannot just be evaluated in a test tube and approved by scientists who might have never had a massage in their entire life.
The true experience of a good massage cannot be measured scientifically.
Why do people really want to get a Thai Massage?
Thai Massage – and any other massage – is by its very nature a sensory experience. It is perceived and enjoyed through the sense of touch.
How many people go to a massage therapist to get their neuropeptides adjusted or their dopamine levels elevated? Care to take a survey?
People like to get a Thai Massage because:
- They want to feel good
- They want relief from their aches and pains
You don’t need scientific facts to understand that. You can feel it. Granted, it is good to have the scientific facts as a backup.
No-pain-no-gain in Thai Massage? Thanks-but-no-thanks!
There is a branch of therapists who subscribe to the theory of no-pain-no-gain. The harder the therapist presses, the more therapeutic it must be, even if it is very painful. Actually, even some clients believe in this.
If that works for you, fine. But Thai Massage can do a lot more than loosen hard muscles. It works on an emotional, mental, and energetic level too. It releases stress, for example.
Let’s take a look at what kinds of experiences help to release stress in life.
Physical touch experiences release stress
A heartfelt hug releases stress, because it is a wonderful experience that is perceived through our sense of touch. We are naturally inclined to give a totally stressed-out and desperate person a hug.
We intuitively know that it helps!
The trouble is that we often wait until we encounter such a desperate person before we allow ourselves the healing benefits of a genuine hug.
Sex releases stress too, because it is highly sensual. It is very difficult to think about the pressures back at the office while you are in the middle of a wonderful intimate encounter.
Cuddling your purring cat releases stress too because it is a sensual experience.
If you don’t believe that, ask your cat. She knows and makes no attempt to hide it.
Why should Thai Massage be an exception?
Thai Massage releases stress too, because it is a totally sensory experience (not to be confused with sensual as in sexual). We see the common thread here. Experiences that involve healing, nurturing, and loving touch are good for you. They release stress.
If stress is released, energy is freed up in the body and mind which in turn enables your body to do what it knows how to do and is designed to do very well: to heal itself on many levels.
Your body has an absolutely amazing ability to heal and restore itself if you don’t sabotage it by ingesting junk food, drugs, alcohol, and nicotine, and if you don’t deprive it of enough water, sleep, and yes, healing and loving touch.
Healing and blissful touch sensations not only release stress, but they make you feel more balanced, happy, enthusiastic, confident, and on purpose.
Puritans are not fun to be with. They deprive themselves and others of the wonderful sensation of touch that every baby, every cat, and every dog instinctively knows is great for them.
Our pets might have more common sense than we do
We have some confusing standards. If you rub your dog’s belly and he rolls over and stretches all four legs, we all think that this is cute.
If a human appreciates sensual touch, it is immoral and indicative of a questionable character.
If you hug and kiss a baby, it is adorable, if you hug and kiss an adult, you are promiscuous.
If you stroke your purring cat, it is lovely, but if massage therapists dare to admit that massage is a sensual experience (perceived through your senses), they run the risk of being accused of unprofessional conduct and their clients might become highly suspicious of their motives.
Before we give in to the fear of touch abuse, let’s admit that there are child molesters and perverts out there who abuse the concept of healing and loving touch.
But the vast majority of people don’t fall into this category. Most people are reasonable and normal.
Still, although very rare, things can go wrong between a massage therapist and a client. But if you want a guarantee that you will never be mistreated by any human being, you have to go and live in a cave in the Himalayas. But then the tigers and snakes might get you.
Sensory or sensual is not the same as sleazy
There are some people who erroneously associate Thai Massage with sensual, erotic experiences. While this does exist in non-professional massage environments, the vast majority of Thai Massage therapists are professionals and have high ethical standards.
Clearly, we all want to enjoy a massage experience. It’s very different from, let’s say, going to a dentist. This might be necessary, but nobody expects it to be an enjoyable experience. But Thai Massage is supposed to be enjoyable along with being therapeutic.
Let’s get one thing straight: sensual and sexual are not identical. They can go together very well, of course, but they can also be easily separated, like in the case of a professional massage session.
Massage is obviously perceived and enjoyed through your senses. It is a sensory experience and for the receiver often a very sensual, blissful experience that has nothing to do with sexuality at all.
There is no reason to be afraid of the word ‘sensual’. It is not a four-letter word, and it is not indicative of sleazy establishments.
You could replace the word ‘sensual’ with ‘sensory’, but it sounds more clinical and scientific which really does not describe the wonderful feeling of an excellent Thai Massage.
It is a natural, essential, and necessary feeling that contributes enormously to your physical, emotional, and mental health, and your professional Thai Massage therapist can help you experience it.
The problem is that in our Western culture, sensuality is often associated with sexuality. But in the context of Thai Massage, it just means that you have a pleasurable experience through your senses.
In fact, if you try to bypass your senses in a massage session and try to analyze it with your mind, or if you think too much about what is going on, you will lose the blissful experience of it.
Even the dictionaries can’t agree
I did a test and checked on dictionary definitions of sensuality. The result shows the cause of the confusion. Here is what Encarta World English Dictionary has to say:
- being sensual: the capacity for enjoying the pleasures of the senses
- being pleasing to senses: the quality of being pleasing to the senses
And here is what Webster’s has to say about sensuality:
The first definition sticks to the natural meaning of the word, whereas Webster’s attaches a strong negative slant.
Touch spies on duty – a revealing experiment
This reminds me of a study where researchers went around the world to observe touching habits in different cultures.
They just sat down in cafes and counted how many times people touched each other. In Italy and Brazil it was dozens of times per hour, in America two times, and in England zero.
In Italy sensuality won’t have that negative charge attached to it that it sometimes has in North America. The meaning of words depends on the cultural context.
Let your pet teach you the meaning of massage
Those of us in the professional Thai Massage business who are honest enough and have enough common sense, understand that Thai Massage is a wonderful sensual experience (which has nothing to do with ‘sexual’ in this context).
We know that this is what feels good, and in the final analysis, this is what most clients are coming for. They want a wonderful, relaxing, blissful, healing experience.
They want to feel better after the treatment than before it, and they want to enjoy their session. If you are not sure what enjoyable means, watch your cat or puppy and they will gladly show you.
To learn or improve your Thai Massage skills with refined elements like good body mechanics, good communication skills, a developed intuition, and a great touch, check out our convenient online training:
The author, Shama Kern, has been practicing and teaching Thai Massage for over two decades. He is the founder of Thai Healing Massage Academy and the creator of 20 Thai Massage online training courses.