there is really nothing in the world quite like receiving a 2-3 hour thai massage. the only other activity that comes close requires that you be naked, and in thai massage no one is naked. well, when I do thai massage, no one is naked, and I can only speak from my experience…
a longer in depth session is so utterly transformative, so why don’t I do this more often? this was what was running through my mind as I lay there with my eyes rolled into the back of my head, my cheek in a pool of my own drool, one leg lifted at an impossible angle behind me that somehow made me feel that I had been de-boned. in a really good way.
I had received the phone call on Friday night. a fellow thai practitioner from the sun valley area was in town taking clients. he had some openings and did I finally want to make the trade happen that we had been trying to orchestrate for the last 5 years. yes. the answer would be “yes”. as luck would have it, I got to go first.
thai massage is an ancient healing art form that combines traditional massage, energy work, acupressure, focused breathing, deep twisting and stretching. the recipient wears loose comfortable clothing and the session is conducted on a mat on the floor, as opposed to a table.
a standard thai session is 90 minutes in length, and generally just seen as a starting point. 2-2 ½, 3 hour or even longer sessions are encouraged and there is no such thing as a one hour thai massage. that would just be, well, stupid. profoundly teasing and utterly unsatisfying.
I was assuming we had 90 minutess, but it ended up being 2 and 1/2. as always happens with body work, time becomes rather slippery. first off, it is always a challenge to move out of practitioner mode and stay in receiver mode. the first 20 minutes, you want to keep popping up and opening your eyes and saying, “ok, wait a minute! that is so fantastic, how are you doing that? is that your knee or your elbow? can you walk me through how to do that? “ you just have to let that go to the side and purely open up to receiving the work and not try and figure it out.
i think that it is crucial for body workers to receive body work on a regular basis, but it feels especially important for thai body workers. the work is such a dance with the recipient, when you receive it makes you more aware of the power of the movement on your partner. sometimes we forget how intense a particular move is if we have not had it done to us in a long time.
also, there are so many different lineages and teachers of thai work, every time I get worked on, I learn something I did not know, experience a move I had never known about, and get to experience the free flowing jazz aspect of how that practitioner works their craft.
I know people who say, “ I could never be still for that long. wouldn’t that be boring?” short answer, “NO!!!” it takes a person awhile to drop into an open space to receive. so often a massage consists of serious damage control. the client has not had body work in a long time. so the entire session is spent trying to put things back together. that base line has to be in place before you can begin to go deeper, down another layer or two or three and start some deep shifting and healing. a longer session allows that space to open up and that’s when it gets interesting.
my session with gregory was really amazing. ranks up there as one of the best sessions I have ever received. at one point after he had finished working the whole right side of my body and it felt as it it were made of feathers, while the left felt like lead. soon I was completely light as a feather and utterly grounded. that is a beautiful combination.
the next day I worked on him, and again I marveled at how much I love this work. that it is as satisfying to give as it is to receive. (o.k. maybe it is a bit more fun to receive it, but pretty close) to watch someone let go and feel the tension leave their being. watch their face completely shift. see the light come back into their eyes.
receiving body work of any kind, at the very least puts us back in touch with our bodies. ideally, it does that and connects our hearts, minds and spirits as well. and if we are willing to open up to it, heal old traumas and allow us to start fresh. imagine the world if everyone experienced massage as a constant regular diet in their lives? food, water, shelter, massage, love. check. so do your part to make this a wonderful world and have some body work done. I know someone you can call…
“move without effort, without pain
feel your cocoon crack open wide as
the spaces between your bones
become windows instead of dead bolts
your soul opens to a sense of awe and gratitude
breathe with your own lungs
feel with your own heart
shake out the sheets of memories and darkness
take one step closer to healing
one step closer to feeling at peace
and at home in your own body.
-a description of receiving a thai massage session with me from heather bauer-
all photos of jodeen and eric wallace courtesy of anne cirillo