Thai Massage Sen or Nonsense?

Published: Nov 30, 2015 | Updated: Mar 21, 2020

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Ancient Thai art mural at Wat PhoIMAGE BY HELISSA GRUNDEMANN

An interesting question is if there’s a proper, genuine, or maybe better said — deductive or a priori theoretical or conceptual framework backing up Traditional Thai Massage.

As one studies the subject one discovers there are rather persistent antagonist views of the Thai energy lines (Sen) and acupressure-points outline. And subsequently it’s hard not to get the impression there’s something wrong with the picture.

Yet, does one need knowledge of the Sen to be a capable Thai Massage practitioner or therapist? I would say — not necessarily. A case in point of this is the fact that there are superb and exceptional healers in the high north of Thailand “doing Thai Massage,” who don’t have any knowledge whatsoever of the so-called Sib Sen or Energy Lines.

But then, why would one make up a conceptual foundation?

First of all, I’m sure there’s no deliberate fraud or faking implicated here. I reckon that the theoretical foundations of Thai Massage (and Thai Healing Arts in general) came about after a very long history of trial and error, look and feel and (curative) results. Experience!

Let’s see it this way — I don’t really believe that Doctor Jivaka Kummar Bacha saw 72,000 energy lines appearing in deep meditation, and I can’t imagine he actually did the Cobra-pose on a recipient either. Do you?

So, what does this teach us?

As a Thai Massage practitioner, I have noticed that I don’t need any theory to do “the work.” What I do, is in fact entirely based on experience. On having done a whole lot of sessions and learning from those.

I think that simply looking at a teacher’s or therapist’s work and — feeling, doing sessions myself and learning from those, would’ve been another way to learn me what I know now.

Now surely, becoming a Thai Masseur would’ve probably cost me a lot more time, if I wouldn’t have had some theoretical instruction going with it. I would probably have needed to “sit at the master’s feet” for an indefinite period of time. Like in the “old days.”

But don’t get me wrong — I don’t think there’s something inherently flawed with theoretical or conceptual frameworks. Nevertheless, it can obstruct us “going further.” It can hinder our creativity, our process of continuous learning and becoming better and more adaptive healers.

You see, after we’ve learned the concepts, we need to let go of them to really grow.

But that we can only do authentically by deeply understanding how these concepts came about. And as to that, I think real knowledge can only emerge from practicing an incredible whole lot and moreover, doing it with whole our hearts.

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