How To Become Skilled In any style of Bodywork
Practice! There are different levels of skill. And whether you want to simply give a good massage or become adept at healing chronic problems, it all requires practice. To feel imbalances in the tissue and structure takes a long time, and to intuitively discern and understand subtle blockages and imbalances usually takes years of feeling normal and abnormal tissue. The reason why some Thai massage practitioners are quite skilled is they work all day, pretty much every day, for many years. Their skill is mirrored by their experience.
My education in Thailand was structured for practice and feedback. It started with learning the basic form, which I repeated many times. After seeing I was sincere, I was allowed to assist my teacher with newer students. That helped hammer in the basics even deeper.
Later I was encouraged to work on my instructors and other Thai massage practitioners. Another part of my training was working on native Thai people. Those with problems were brought to me to see if I could help them. Finally I was given the opportunity to work on my teachers’ teachers.
I’ll never forget Kani Ka catching my eye and pantomiming to use my elbows with really hard pressure.
The point is Practice!
Do you like doing it? I often say that there are two kinds of people: massage people and non massage people. Massage people are born with a love for the art. With love the journey becomes effortless: it’s something you want to do, and this gives you the interest to really get into it.
Approach your training as if you were blind. In Thailand, Japan, and many other countries, the blind are trained in massage, and they are often the best in the world. The blind must use their inner senses, and perceive the imbalance more clearly than those that are distracted by their eyes and mind. Therefore the blind see and feel at a much deeper level. This is truly one of the greatest secrets: don’t rely on the outer senses, use your inner ones.
After you’ve had some successes, you’ll believe in the power of bodywork. Muscles, ligaments, tissue, and even bones and nerves can regenerated because the body is alive. Bones are not as you see them in the museum. They are living tissue, alive, breathing, regenerating. Tissue can be changed with the energy you put in through your loving touch.
Approach healing with wonder, it truly is a fantastic privilege to touch the human body for the purpose of healing.
Take care of yourself.
Bodywork requires a lot of energy. Eat well and get enough rest, and spend time in nature. Taking care of you, walking your talk, gives a good example to your patients. They’ll trust and believe in you more. Take especially good care of your hands. (Taught in my Thai massage course) If you want to perform bodywork for many years you have to safeguard yourself and prevent overuse.
Allow yourself to receive.
Healers seem to have a broken receiving mechanism, which is why they are so drawn to healing in the first place. In giving the healer gets a small reflection back and so they feel good. But many healers receive too little. It’s common, after years in practice, to burn out. Let yourself receive! Anytime someone offers you anything, a hug, a compliment, a kind word, take it deeply into your heart. The exchange of energy, the giving and receiving of love is the true currency of life.