Energy-talks about Thai Traditional Massage are often blended with many spiritual, religious, and mystical connotations. Over the years, I’ve come to have a more materialistic point of view on this “energy business.” Of course, I may be very wrong here, and I realize I’m getting myself into hot water now — or on thin ice, if you like — but I’ll give it a shot anyhow.
When you talk to Thai Massage experts they claim that Thai Massage is basically energy work, just like many other types of Asian bodywork. I do agree, but what then exactly is energy? What are we talking about?
In a way I think it’s quite simple: we all know what it means to feel “full of energy” or to feel the opposite, as to “feel low energy.” And we relate this with feeling healthy. Or not feeling healthy. Feeling full of life. Or not. That’s all fairly clear.
It’s not so hard to see that the total absence of energy equals death, although even a dead corpse can serve as a source of energy, which of course is another subject. But for now, we want to know about living bodies. Life. And to live presumes movement and change — movement of the body, of thoughts, of feelings. Action. No movement, means no change, means no life.
So how do we come to movement? First of all we need the uninhibited supply of the four traditional elements earth (nutrition, fuel or building blocks), water (liquids, transport, fluidity), fire (temperature, burning, transformation) and air (oxygen, metabolism, movement and flow).
Secondly, we need the harmonious workings of these elements to establish the natural function of the body. It’s the body that knows by its own intelligence what to do, that is, how to use and transform the four elements to constitute, sustain, and continue life and living.
Therefore, the natural function of the body is creating energy (and it needs energy to do that, by the way) and to put that energy, okay, let’s say, to channel that energy into transformative action, movement, and thus life. It’s a perpetual circle. The circle of life.
Thai Massage in particular and the Thai Healing Arts in general can help the body to build and distribute energy more effectively by clearing physical obstacles to support a healthy blood circulation, an optimal lymphatic and nervous system, and aligned body structure.
But we cannot see or touch energy, we can only see its result, its transformation into power, movement, action, life. If the body doesn’t function properly, well, it means life will not function properly. So to me, energy work is not something mystical, magical, or mysterious. Energy work is bodywork.
It doesn’t imply I think this is all there is to it. I do consider a “fifth element” of crucial importance. This mythical, mystical element of which we don’t know what it is exactly, but which is called Metta or Loving Kindness in Thailand. It’s our tender touch. Our gentle touch. Our healing touch.
It’s perhaps our body’s finest outcome, its ultimate result, yes, its sublime product. It’s what we cannot do without. It’s what a Thai Massage practitioner can give. It’s what anyone can give.
It’s this simple, natural and extremely powerful thing, this element we call love, touch and kindness, however we like to call it.