Thai Massage Sip Sen Energy Lines

Published | Updated November 1, 2018
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Ancient art mural at Wat Pho
IMAGE BY HELISSA GRUNDEMANN

The Sen. Sip Sen. Or Sib Sen. The 10 main energy channels running through our bodies. We all know them, well—we most probably learn them when taking a Thai Massage course. We learn their trajectory, we learn how to manipulate them—with pressure, rocking, with stretches, and with Yoga poses.

They are the canals, the channels, the pathways trough which vital energy is distributed. Life energy. Human energy. Bodily fuel. Some call it Prana, others Wind, Lom, Chi, or Universal Energy. And moreover—by opening the channels (or unblocking them if you wish) and by “balancing” the flow of energy, we restore the proper functioning of our body and mind. It’s as simple as that.

Yes. But when we take a closer look and ask some critical questions, it becomes much less obvious. The first thing to notice is that various schools and every distinct style and lineage of Thai Massage use another map of the energy lines. This is of course not easy to accept—to say the least.

Asokananda for instance, explained this phenomenon by stating that each map historically focuses on different (therapeutic) aspects, giving us the example of a modern map which either focuses on rivers or streets or maybe only on restaurants and hotels. Depending on the focus, the maps are drawn slightly different. Well—okay! Got that!

Yet another issue is that we cannot anatomically see the energy lines. If you would dissect a body you wouldn’t find them. They are invisible. And naturally the question arises—how in heavens name can you manipulate invisible things?

But some say—you just feel them! You can feel the invisible channels and the invisible energy. Okay! Fine! I’m willing to take that being true…

Then there are these special points located along the energy lines. Good for this, and good for that. Therapy points, distribution points, healing points. Points which are often quite sensitive and even painful when pressed. But—then again, who are we to question thousand years of healing experience?

However things may be, knowledge of (the topography of) the Sen can come very handy. Quite practical. When giving a session it simply helps not to forget to pay attention to all parts of the body. And besides that, talking about the energy lines and their functions with your clients helps to better get health issues to the surface.

I do value the Thai Healing institutes that try to find the origins of the knowledge of energy lines. Today, it seems rather clear that there are striking parallels with the Chinese Meridians and the Indian Yoga Nadis. Especially with the latter. It’s also evident that a bunch of energy lines have a similar built-up as our nervous system, lymphatic system, blood circulation, and muscle make-up. It’s even suggested that maybe the Sip Sen were just an ancient and traditional way to describe the layout of different body-tissues.

But maybe there’s nothing to understand here. Maybe it’s really only something we can feel. Can sense. Invisible things before our eyes. Well… for now, I’m happy we only need to learn 10 energy lines and not the full set of 72.000. That would’ve been something, wouldn’t it?


Article Categories: Thai Healing Arts Quick Reference