I studied Thai Massage at TMC school in Chiang Mai in November 2011. The course was good, clear and takes you through the steps of giving a 1-2hr Thai massage. The lecturers were professional and stayed exactly on track for all sessions. The notes were excellent with every one of the 151 positions explained clearly for both the giver and receiver. So what was missing? I think it was what I had been warned about in 2005 – when I first studied Thai massage under a teacher in Alice Springs – she said to me that you can always tell if a person had learnt western style or asian style. These were very wise words and I have held them in my mind ever since – the mystery of what she meant is opening up to me now as I seek more understanding of Thai massage.
For the TMC course to be accredited as ‘professional development hours’ by western massage associations, I believe they had to compromise the style of teaching. Also because of the expectations of westerners who fly in, consume the course, then fly away again. Western style is anatomy based, and you are given all the information to learn without having the challenge of self development and discovery.
My first teacher in 2005 did not allow me to take notes or look up the positions in books. I had to learn from her personally and we worked at an organic pace. Obviously this type of learning has an indefinite time frame. It relies on the quality of the teacher and student and on how they strive together to find knowledge. Unfortunately she had to leave town suddenly so the training ended. I recently caught up with her and she simply said, ‘ it’s good you are going back for more training.” I smiled ….
I am very grateful for the learning I received at TMC School because I have a set of skills to call upon and my clients have benifitted greatly – but I want more.
Now I’m returning to Chiang Mai in search of a deeper understanding of Thai massage and especially the Sen lines – and to develop myself as a practitioner.
I have 2 teachers in mind.
The first is Felicity who is a westerner living in Chiang Mai. I stumbled across her on Facebook. I looked at her web site and found that she offers the next step I am looking for. So I have booked into her 2 week Sen Lines course in March 2012. I’ll be in Chiang Mai in a few weeks and will report back on how things went.
The other teacher I found is Pichest Boonthume – who I describe as an enigmatic guru. I think I will seek to spend some time with him later in the year. I found a lovely blog article by one of his students here – http://thaitravellers.wordpress.com/2009/11/04/one-week-with-pichest-boonthumme/.
Here’s a great quote from the blog:
After lunch, whenever you consider lunch to be over, you can come inside and work with someone. This, like the rest of the day, happens organically. No one decides when lunch is over, or who should work with whom, or in what way. Often, some people are working, some are watching, some are sleeping. Usually, by an hour or two after lunch, everyone is working with someone. At times, Pichest receives massage from one of the students, and then will often show them some new things and work on them for a while. Other times, we will go around and give some adjustments and advice. Other times, he sleeps. In Pichest’s class, one finds oneself looking to the other students as well as to Pichest for answers, ways to work and experience.
And so the journey continues…..