I already wrote a post on the subject, but time has taught me additional things, and I’d like to elaborate a bit on details.
Now, a very “closed,” tensed client (or body parts which are tensed, contracted, blocked) won’t benefit from a hard touch. The receiver or the particular area first needs to be opened up—with a soft or softer touch.
This “soft-touch” could be anything from oiling-up, circling, relaxing pressure to even a short, relaxing conversation before getting on with the actual session. And sometimes we need a second or third session before we can even think about doing “real” work.
Often a (first-time) receiver really wants to, but can’t open-up. The body is in fact an autonomous system, and a living entity, and reacts with its own logic—which is only normal.
The physical body boasts a defense mechanism, which is sometimes very hard to control willingly, consciously. As just mentioned—it therefore may be that we need more than one session to get the trust from the receiver or the body, before we can engage into deeper, harder, tougher work.
Another fundamental question is if Thai Massage should necessarily be hard and tough to achieve deep releasing work. Some say yes, others no. There are several lineages e.g. hard or soft styles and both get results. A good example of both sides of the spectrum are Pichest Boonthumme, as a representative of the “tough style” and Mor Noi as a so-called “softie.”
But it’s difficult to say with whom exactly they get results. No info on that one. Maybe they only get satisfying results with those suitable for that particular approach. Maybe the clients who visit them are already lined-up in taking a soft or a hard one. It’s an issue we should certainly consider.
In general, I would say that it’s always better to start soft or softer. But we need to feel quickly what somebody can handle, in order to be able to timely advance to stronger work if necessary. That however needs experience, which is obviously not available in a Thai Massage training course. And most likely it’s not only experience, but also a kind of sensing, sensitivity or “feeling.”
On the other hand, we could also start with a shock-effect. Using power and domination and thereby softening, humbling the receiver immediately making him or her a meek, surrendering sheep. And then start deep work right ahead.
Recently, I heard about another interesting approach from No Sourintha. He stated that clients with low-energy are not suitable for a tough, hard approach. It would cost them to much energy and time to recover. Those would benefit more from a softer engagement.
I must say I had this experience also. I’ve often seen clients having difficulties to recover quickly after deeper, harder work. But on the other hand they always felt better after the recovery time. Yes, it took them some effort, some pain and “suffering” so to say, but they finally came out of it stronger.
But I can also understand this is not always suitable. I had for instance a client who needed ten days to recover, to be able to walk, talk and work normally again. That could have been disastrous if she had been engaged in some really important obligations. And to be honest—it scared the hell out of me. Luckily she came out of it stronger, released, and as new, thanking me for the “horrible” experience.
Anyway, I don’t know, I’m still alternating between both options hard and soft, all simply depending on what I feel or think of what I should do with a particular client. And sometimes I just simply fail in my judgement. And that—bothers me greatly, because I just want to be this perfect practitioner.
It’s why I’m still looking, searching, and trying to find the perfect formula, but I have the feeling I won’t really find it. It seems there’s no “magic pill” available. Sometimes it seems that I just need to pick a style: hard or soft. And as I have a tough hand already, the answer is most probably already given.
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