How I got into Thai Yoga Bodywork

I was supposed to be a rockstar. Doing bodywork was never on my radar growing up. If you told me that I would be working in close proximity with people like this when I was younger, I would have called you crazy.

In my spare time when I wasn’t working toward being a rockstar, I studied. I started with the first philosophers and worked through them up until present time, then I read about psychology, metaphysics, quantum physics, and eventually intuitive medicine.

I have been studying intuitive medicine from different perspectives since 2006. I started with sound, voice, and music healing. Then I worked with the Tomatis Method, Thetahealing, Chakra healing, Vapassana Meditation, Guided Meditations, Affirmations, the metaphysical connection between the mind and body, understanding the beliefs and patterns that are associated with different diseases, and Reiki.

I wasn’t a big fan of talk therapies at that time. I kept on searching for something that resonated with me. It was when I studied Reiki that I finally found something I could work with. Hint, hint….it wasn’t Reiki.

I was studying at a place in downtown Milwaukee and I loved the space so much that I emailed the owners and told them I had to work with them (not, could you hire me? do you have any openings? no, I HAD to work for them). I offered the services I had at the time of cleaning or answering phones. They said they needed more Thai Massage people and I replied, “Where do I get training?”

I started my training in Milwaukee and then started working. At first I was terrified to work on other people’s bodies. I felt it was such a huge responsibility and I didn’t want to hurt anyone, but I continued. As I worked through that first year and a half I noticed the healing benefits of the work. I wanted to learn more.

A client of mine recommended the Thai Massage Circus which is taught in Laos every year during the month of February. I wanted to learn from the source and signed up for the training in 2016.

It was a life-changing experience. I felt that in Milwaukee I learned the A-B-C’s of Thai Massage and in Laos I learned how to write paragraphs and tell stories.

When I came back home, I opened Firewalker Arts and started practicing at my own space. Since then I have been back to Thailand to for additional training and learned foot reflexology.

And again, with foot reflexology, I was a non-believer when I started, but after several years of practice and hearing stories from my clients, I realized that the similarities were not just a coincidence.

I love this work and hope to continue to do bodywork for as long as I can. I have had countless clients come in and enjoy the transformative experience of Thai Massage.

Bangkok, Thailand 2/5/16

Journal:

4am I woke to a group of japanese children fluttering in and shopping at Suvarnabhumi International airport. I went in search of a city map and a deck of cards.  The cards have beautiful pictures on them-places I might one day like to see. At first I was collecting for my mother but now perhaps I will keep them for myself and get her another set.

The air here smells muggy and dirty – similar to florida but trade the lizard egg smell for burnt rubber. 32 degrees C – I’m told that translates to 80F.

After getting a boarding pass and learning some more Thai phrases from the linguist at the check in desk I ventured to the Bangkok airways long.  I say hello in Thai, they don’t seem to notice – perhaps we are all very tired.  They hand me a wifi passcode and wave me through.

The waiting long is stocked with what looks like an impression of American snack foods – I sample one of everything – twice at least.

Throughout my 12 hour stay I sample each drink and alternate between sleep and reading.

An old couple from Britain tells me of their adventures in Bangkok which inspires a lengthy internet search and map plotting adventure.  That comes to a close with obsessively watching juggling videos and scribing notes on which tricks to drill while in Laos.

Exhaustion supersedes most of the previous spiritual rumination – but there is still a background noise of wonder towards all the people who don’t speak english.  It seems that all our lives are very similar still.  Everyone has a cellphone, there are wifi phone zombies everywhere.  People sleep wherever they cane and smiles are still universal (as well as gestures).

I attempt to feel and intuit those whom I don’t understand but it seems they’re mostly passing the time talking about nothing.  The same that I am doing, texting updates to Sarah via Voxer.  Curious what kind of snacks we will receive on the flight – hopefully not fried scorpions!

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Additional Notes:

I made the mistake of filling my water bottle from the fountain at the airport.  It made me ill for a half a day and the flight was a bit woozy but it wasn’t too bad.  Later I learned that the airport has really really bad water.  That was the only time where I accidentally drank anything other than bottled water.

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Chicago, IL 2/3/16 O’Hare Airport

Written Journal Entry:

The airport is a lawless place of the highest respectability.  Children and the elderly are most noble – juggling and even dropping entertains all for a few seconds as they pass.

International travel is not a small accomplishment.  Each person on this side of the gate has either earned or been given this experience.

Thoughts and ears wander through foreign sounds of conversation – communication.  How do we all communicate?  What things tie us together? Our most simple desires: work that is fulfilling, a creative outlet, a sense of self-confidence, to be loved, to express oneself, to dream and spirituality.

How do we universally convey these messages and meanings?  Through art, dance, gesture, money, numbers.  Some things are the same – the way we count, the ways we can move and the ways we can create visual and audio art.

No need for fancy education to understand one another.  Though common courtesy may not always be common it’s always appreciated.

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Additional Notes

Some things are naturally “known” through communication by all.  Numbers are the same everywhere, even if we don’t say them the same.  Everyone appreciates a decent tip – as I have come to understand tipping in Thailand is not the same as back home.  In the US a standard %20 is customary for all services, from waiters and massage therapists to hair dressers and cab drivers.  In Thailand if they were decent its normal to tip pocket change. Pocket change is in the amounts of 1, 2, 5 or 10 Bhat.  35 Bhat (B35) is equivalent to $1 US.  Doing the math, a regular tip is less than a dollar.  If you really enjoyed the service 10% seemed to bring a smile. 20% made me a new friend who would then open up speaking english and asking all kinds of questions.

Cost for a 60 Minute Thai Massage B200 = $5.71 us with a B20 tip = $.57

A cup of coffee in Thailand from a hostel was about B50 – $1.42 which is about the same for gas station coffee in the US.

Breakfast ranged from B45 – eggs, toast (spread with mustard/mayo), ham slice, coffee and water

to B100 for a cashew/strawberry/raisin/honey crepe

They do “dutch” or “english” style breakfast very well even though the bread is super fluffy and tastes like a sugary cake.

Gratitude is also understood by all, even though we don’t say it the same, it is quite easy to learn.  On the trip I learned how to say Thank you in Thai, Lao, German, Japanese and Philippines. Cop Coon Ca, Cop Jai La Lai, Danke, Arigato and Salamon.

Also “Meow” is understood by people of different nations and languages.  Most usually bringing a questioning look and a smile after.

The asian languages have a sing-song quality and I’m missing hearing it already.  They emphasize inflection and raising or lowering of pitch.  It took some time but a wonderful thai lady was teaching me the difference between beautiful and bad – “Soi” or “Soy”  they sound almost identical but she kept explaining.  I strained my ears to hear the very subtle difference and it was in the facial expression and very slight inflection.  The little bit of Thai I picked up only made me want to learn more.

The most important phrase you can learn in any language is “Thank You”. There’s no power greater than gratitude to bring miracles into your path 🙂