As macrobiotics, we take our nourishment
seriously with carefully chosen foods. We consider where the food
is grown, by what methods, and how it is prepared. Nourishment is
not limited to food. It is the air we breathe, the way we move and
exercise, rest and sleep, and last but not least: human touch.
The reason I use the word "bodywork" as opposed to massage
is that the latter evokes lightly rubbing oil into the body and
falling asleep. There is a time and place for that, yet there is
more to explore. Holistic bodywork is more then a luxury.
The therapist and client work together as partners. The body and
mind work as one entity.Bodywork is not only
to be utilized when one aches, it is a preventive, energetic medicine.
The issues are present in the tissues long before we start to complain
about them. Often during a session we realize how stressed and tight
we really are. When the tissue releases, the mind once again feels
light and clear.
People often ask me which type of bodywork to choose. It really
depends on the therapist. If the therapist has the right intention
behind his touch and is experienced, the work will be top quality.
Ideally speaking, the bodyworker is at home
in his body. As a Thai massage practitioner, I find it essential
to have a strong yoga practice in order to enjoy my work and flow
through it like a dance. When the bodyworker feels
good in his body and what he does, so does the client. I myself
have an affinity for meridian based systems like Shiatsu and Thai
massage, though I taste and learn from many other styles.
Holistic bodywork is a partnership. Sometimes clients
think that bodywork is something I do to them. This is really a
recipe for failure, leading to disappointment on the part of the
client and exhaustion on the part of the
practitioner. True bodywork is something we do together. While the
client relaxes and lets go, he releases stored energy through breath
as the bodyworker opens the bodymind. This runs completely contrary
to: "Work on
my body while I fall asleep." Hopefully you will learn, or
rather relearn, how to let go into a deep level of relaxation while
staying at the same time hyper aware (akin to shavasana in yoga).
In this trance state change and healing occur. Some
people are unable or unwilling to go there, but willingness to adventure
there leads to growth and healing.
In Thai massage, we start with the feet and loosen
them thoroughly. The feet are overlooked by most of us, though we
draw the earth's energy up through the feet and the legs. A prime
reason to practice your standing poses in yoga. The late Chayut
Priyasit, a famous Thai master, used to work on the feet for at
least a half hour before touching the rest of the body. By that
time the body was already quite relaxed, and open to deeper work
In Thai massage, we view the body as a whole. So
even if someone complains about the shoulder, we
will patiently work the entire body, loosening it up bit by bit,
rather than just working the sore spot.
As macrobiotics we are focused on food and nourishment.
Bodywork in itself is an essential form of nourishment. For the
touch to be nourishing, it has to be non-judgmental and focused.
The intention of a good bodyworker,
contrary to popular to belief, is not to heal or fix the person.
It is rather to create the optimal conditions for the body to heal
and repair itself. This is an important distinction. If the bodyworker
tries to fix his client, he then takes on the responsibility that
is truly his client's. This will inevitably result in premature
exhaustion and is the cause of many bodyworkers burning out on their
How does this relate to macrobiotics? Come back
to nourishment in the widest sense of the word:it starts with the
breath. then we have movement. Food and drink of course. Rest and
real relaxation. Last but not least, touch. It has been interesting
to touch the bodies of people who have followed the macrobiotic
lifestyle for a while. Generally there is less stiffness since an
excess of animal foods have been eliminated.
Too much salt can produce quite a bit of tension,
most noticeably in the shoulders. And even among macrobiotic
practitioners, one has to overcome the idea that bodywork is a luxury
reserved for times of illness or injury.
I have had the privilege of working with older people, sometimes
up until a few days before their passing. It is amazing how touch-deprived
some older people get as their friends and close family members
They just so soak up the touch. If you have an older
relative, treat them to a massage! The more the body opens up, the
more the mind does the same. So look at bodywork also as a means
to expand consciousness. Next time you wrestle with an important
question or decision, let it go for a while.
Make your body a little more flexible. Get a massage,
and new thoughts and inspiration will follow.
To touch an be touched is to be part of the human race. Think of
it as food for the soul. Movement and bodywork are an integral part
of a holistic lifestyle. As an adventurous macrobiotic practitioner,
go and explore a little bit.
Be adventurous and participate. Its not something
that's done to you, you are there to contribute. Please report back
to me on your experiences!
Robert de Nies practices macrobiotics and teaches
Thai Massage and Yoga in San Francisco, California. He has studied
extensively in Thailand, Japan, Europe and the U.S. Please visit
his web site at twww.bodymindwork.com