A key component of giving a Thai Yoga Massage is to remain in the present moment, working with mindful touch. It can be difficult, particularly when starting out, to deliver a massage without becoming distracted by noise or your feelings. However, once distraction sets in, your connection to the person in front of you diminishes. Instead of noticing what’s arising for the person receiving, you’re tuning into your own needs. That’s not to say that if a position you’re in is causing you pain to ignore it. By all means, move. The key is to return to the present, enabling you to deliver a massage that works on a deeper level.
One way I’ve found to help cultivate present moment awareness is to use creative writing as therapy. More specifically, to practise Haiku therapy. I find this of particular use when carrying out pre massage prep to centre my mind before a client arrives.
What is Haiku Therapy?
TA Korba, author of Haiku Therapy, writes that this is: ‘the process of fitting your thoughts and feelings into a syllabic structure. Focusing on them in this way helps you bring what is hidden to the surface.’
A haiku, in its simplest form, is a three line poem. It contains five syllables in the first line, seven syllables in the second and five syllables in the third. To get more technical, it traditionally does not use rhyme. In addition it involves the use of a season word or Kigo. Furthermore, it usually employs a hyphen or ellipsis to signal a cutting word or Kireji. This is when writing in English rather than Japanese. You can use the hyphen or ellipsis at the end of a line, which brings a feeling of closure. Alternatively, you can use either in the middle of a line. This briefly cuts the flow of thought, suggesting two independent thoughts. Punctuation is very personal to each poet. For me, use of a hyphen suggests more of an abrupt and short pause. Whereas the ellipsis suggests time passing and therefore a longer pause. Importantly, a haiku focuses on capturing the present moment.
This is where you can see Haiku therapy is able to play a really important role in pre massage prep. It allows you to get in the right mental space to massage your client.
Haiku Therapy and Meditation Exercise . . .
The way I like to practise Haiku Therapy is to combine it with my meditation practice. Here are some point by point steps that show you how I go about combining the two.
- Settle in a comfy spot. Pop a pen and some paper next to you. If you get back ache when you meditate, you can support your body by meditating whilst sitting against a wall. Add some cushions for extra support. I also find it helps to support my knees with cushions by placing a few underneath them. In addition, sitting on a cushion or bolster naturally shifts your hips forward. This makes it more comfortable to sit for an extended period of time.
- How long you choose to meditate depends on where you are on your journey. I would recommend a minimum of ten minutes. During this meditation session I like to practise seed thought meditation. This is where you use focused intention during meditation. You can choose to focus on an object, a thought or a word. Try not to overthink this decision. Focus on your breath as you begin to meditate and allow what comes to come. I often find a word I had not expected is suddenly at the forefront of my mind.
- Allow your thoughts to pass like clouds through a blue sky. Observe them but try not to interact with them. Bring your attention back to your chosen seed.
- Once you have completed your meditation practice, continue to breathe deeply and pick up your pen and paper. Allow whatever has come up for you during your practice to flow from pen to paper. By focusing on an object, thought or word during your meditation practice this can stimulate your creative juices. It can also provide the starting point for your haiku. In this way, the haiku becomes an extension of your meditation practice. Giving yourself this important time to connect with what has come up for you, encourages you to let go. When you come to give your client their massage, you are then far more open to the present moment and the needs of the person in front of you.
Try it out and let me know!
Let me know how you get on with your own Haiku Therapy as a precursor to delivering a massage. Alternatively, feel free to try out Haiku Therapy in combination with meditation even if you’re not a masseuse. It’s a great way to start or end your day. Use the process to help you let go and embrace a new day or prepare for a peaceful night’s sleep.
Interesting in learning more?
Thinking of becoming a Thai Yoga Masseuse? Join Marek Gabor on his mindful Thai Massage Practitioner course in Crawley during September to December 2019. Click HERE to find out more and to enquire about booking your place.
With love and Light,