Thursday, June 25, 2020

Khwan (ขวัญ)



The Khwan (ขวัญ) is a specific cultural and metaphysical phenomenon found among the people of Thailand and has no adequate equivalent in the Western world. The term is very difficult to translate. Among northern Thais, it is regarded to be the vital principle and essence of life. It is also frequently referred to as morale, or spirit. The physical body has 32 organs and each one has a corresponding Khwan, responsible for the function of the organ. However, the 32 Khwan are usually considered as one Khwan, that of a particular person. In Northern Thailand, illness is often interpreted as the dislodging of Khwan.
When the Khwan is strong, stable and in its proper place, the person is in good health, called „krop samsipsong“ (ครบสามสิบสอง) – „complete thirty two“. However, when one experiences intense emotion, such as fear, pain, sadness, anxiety, sickness, loss, or sudden shock or accident, the Khwan can become lost, or leave the body. It can also be caught by various malevolent spirits or damaged by black magic. All of this can result in illness, calamity, or even death.
A fetus and a baby are not thought of as a person until the Khwan is completely settled in the body. There is no precise time when the Khwan fully resides in the womb. The baby’s Khwan does not contain any part of the mother’s or father’s Khwan. Instead, the child’s Khwan is the reincarnated spirit of the ancestor by matrilineage (lineage of the mother). The ancestor’s „outside-the-body spirit“ Phii (ผี) transforms into the child’s „inside-the-body spirit“ Khwan (ขวัญ). It is believed that the child inherits the basic characteristics of the ancestor; however, affected by various experiences during lifetime, the child grows and matures into a new person. When the person dies and his/her Khwan leaves the body, it then transforms back to „outside-the-body spirit“, or Phii, and join the ancestors until the next incarnation. This is the eternal cycle of rebirth, which emphasizes the permanence of the spirit over the temporary nature of the physical body.
During pregnancy, Khwan can enter and leave the womb freely at all time, and even after the birth the vulnerable stage is not yet over. Khwan can leave the baby, and the other Khwan can replace it. For this reason it is not recommended to massage a woman in early pregnancy as this can disturb the residing Khwan. Children generally have weaker Khwan in the same way their Elements are still weak and immature, so they are more sensitive and prone to illness. They are believed to exist both in the spiritual and the physical world. For this reason in Thailand it is a taboo to touch the head of the small children as it can disturb their Khwan. As one grows older, both Khwan and the Elements become stronger; one experiences good health and is fully involved in the physical world. In the older age, the Elements become overused and the Khwan weaker, thus old people are more prone to illness again. Same like children, they reside both in physical and spiritual world, this time gradually moving in opposite direction, from physical to spiritual.
There is a ceremony carried out to affect the status of the Khwan. It is performed usually before a person goes on a long journey or faces a risky or unpredictable situation. In such case, the special offerings are prepared, appropriate incantation is performed, and a holy thread (สายสิญจน์ - Saaisin) is tied around the wrist to bind the Khwan to the body and prevent it from deserting it. In case of illness, shock or accident, if the Khwan already left the body, the ceremony is performed to call it back to the body in order to restore health. This ceremony is called Tham Khwan (ทำขวัญ) or Riak Khwan (เรียกขวัญ) – „to make, to strengthen, to call, to reinsure the Khwan“. Additionally, Khwan ceremonies are performed in any occasion which can cause mental instability, like returning home after long absence, wedding, ordination into a monk-hood, change of status or residence, welcoming guests, etc., in order to restore the psychological balance of a person and reconnect him/her with the family, society and divine forces.



Riak Khwan Offerings

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Midwifery (งานหมอตำแย)




Midwifery (งานหมอตำแย) is one of the specializations of Traditional medicine of Thailand which is sometimes even considered to be the 6th aspect of medicine. It is exclusive to women as holders of this tradition. This knowledge and these skills are usually transmitted from mother to daughter throughout a lifetime. In the West these women are usually known as „Doula“ – someone who’s assisting a delivery of a child. However, midwife in Thailand is much more than a midwife in the West. She is a doctor of Traditional medicine. These are the women who are giving medical, psychological and emotional support to other women in one of the most difficult and challenging experiences a woman can go through, that is – giving new life. Midwives are next to mothers from the moment of conception, throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery. Literally, they are healers and caregivers helping human beings to come to this world. If we look at the vast scope of Thai medical knowledge, midwives are probably the ones who have to encompass the most of it. First, they have to administer complete prenatal care – to give proper dietary instructions to mother, according to her constitution and condition, to observe the growth of the baby, to know how to move the baby in the womb, how to treat the mother if she catches up a disease, to know how to prepare different kind of herbal remedies and how to give massage in the middle and late pregnancy. Then they’re assisting in actual childbirth – taking all the precautions to avoid any risk of infection, helping the delivery and knowing how to react if the delivery goes wrong, following all the procedures which would make the newborn safe. Immediately after childbirth, comes postpartum recovery, which consists of numerous physical therapies and herbal remedies. The midwife checks if the whole placenta is delivered. She instructs mother how to breastfeed. Mothers are usually treated with different kind of warming therapies, to dry the body of excess water. These therapies, together with massage in the following months, help the organs to recover and regain their original shape and location, especially the womb. The midwife also takes care of the baby’s health until the mother fully recovers.

This process requires a midwife to master an enormous body of knowledge and have a lot of experience in almost all aspects of Traditional medicine. She has to be skilled in physical therapies, herbal medicine, spirit medicine, astrology, psychology and so on... All this makes midwifery one of the most demanding specializations one can dedicate to in Traditional medicine of Thailand.

Friday, April 24, 2020

THE THEORY OF ELEMENTS - 6 Hour One-On-One Online Lecture




Since ancient times, different civilizations were questioning reality and what it means to be a human being. The sages from India, China, Tibet, Greece, Babylon and other parts of the world ended up with a conclusion that the best possible way to try to explain reality to the human mind are Elements. Although the Element theories differ in structure in various traditions, they all share the common role of to this day unsurpassed way to describe what everything is. The theory of Elements helps us to understand how natural forces define human life from the moment of birth, through growing, maturing and aging to the moment of death. It also helps us to understand that each of us is born with a specific quality, or better say „natural signature“ - Element constitution, a fact widely unknown or denied throughout the Western civilization, the one which takes us all to be equal, like machines. We are not. Given this natural constitution by birth, our life begins to unfold affected by numerous natural phenomena like seasons, weather, food we eat, other people, plants and animals and to all these influences we react according to our constitution. This constitution, together with our interaction with the world, as time passes, shapes our character, life tendencies, types of activities we choose, the way we react to the environment and other people, and for the therapist the most important aspect - it affects our health. For every body-mind oriented therapist, it is crucial to understand these deepest laws of nature, that is, every human has specific needs and is prone to most likely develop specific diseases. If we want to effectively counter the disease, we need the knowledge of what type of therapies and activities are recommended for each Element constitution, and how to match them. Not all people should eat the same food, what is healthy for someone,  is unhealthy for someone else. Same goes for all other activities, like type of work we should do, length of sleep, type of exercises and so on. Each of us is unique. The knowledge of these natural processes which shape our existence is really a requirement  if you want to evolve your practice to a higher level. This lecture is meant for all bodywork professionals regardless of their background, and is specifically adjusted to match attendant’s experience and current level of knowledge and understanding.

The lecture is divided into 3 two-hour parts in 3 days

For more information, please write to tttbelgrade@gmail.com


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Tuesday, April 21, 2020

How Did Thai Massage Become What It Is Today ?




Recently I was inspired by a student of mine to clarify certain facts regarding Thai massage practice and how it became what it is today. Many people don’t know it, but Traditional Thai medicine had been banned in Thailand for most of the 20th century. 

The ban had begun in 1923. when Western medicine overtook the throne as official medicine in Thailand, and Traditional one became illegal. It had remained illegal to practice by mid 80s, when Thai government, by suggestion of the WHO, started the so called “revival” project. The idea behind this project was to bring back the practice of Traditional medicine into the system of public health care. In order to do that, it was necessary to corrupt traditional medical practice by standardization, as it had to fit the Western academic standards which were the ruling paradigm at the time. What does the corruption mean? It means that many aspects of Traditional medicine, as it was transmitted and practiced for centuries, like the medical knowledge of anatomy and physiology, teacher- student relationship, Divination and Magical sciences, a number of physical therapies and all techniques which are difficult to learn or require a long time to master, have been removed in the process of creation of this “new” curriculum of Traditional Thai medicine. In this process, Traditional medicine was literally massacred and the “new” Traditional medicine was born. This new medicine, to this day, is heavily promoted and regulated by Thai Ministry of Health and Ministry of Education. This is the reason why we can witness such widespread confusion about what Traditional Thai Medicine is. What we have in fact, are two completely different and incompatible traditions which are commonly called by the same name. Thai massage, as an aspect of Thai medicine, has shared the same destiny. The best parallel that can help us to understand this phenomenon is the one which compares Thai massage with popular Yoga. That is because most of ancient Asian traditions underwent similar process of corruption. In the same way in which Yoga asanas were torn off from the complex body of authentic Yoga practice, resulting in “new” Yoga which looks more like fitness than spiritual practice, the same way the techniques of Thai massage have been torn off from the immense body of Thai medicine, and Thai massage created this way looks more like a wellness service than spiritual practice. This is why in all schools of Thai massage in Thailand you can learn nothing but massage techniques. For many years Westerners had thought that learning Thai massage was learning techniques – the greater your arsenal of techniques is, the better therapist you are. And it wasn’t our fault, as there was no one to tell us that there is so much more to learn out there. Even if one has mastered hundreds of techniques something was still missing. There was a huge gap in understanding the practice, and everyone who was truly honest with themselves, would admit it. That gap was either covered by artificial merge of Thai massage techniques with other, more accessible medical systems like Chinese medicine or Ayurveda for example, or with fancy massage settings, relaxing music, candles, incense, Buddha head, essential oils and many other new age props with purpose to highlight the aesthetics. This is how we ended with “style over substance” Thai massage. When our practice looks amazing but the gap is still obvious. What is this gap? The gap was created by removal of everything which has been removed in the process of creation of “new” Thai medicine and Thai massage. How this gap reflects in one’s practice? Well, one knows many techniques, but what to do with them? How to apply them? When? Should we follow a sequence? Or we shouldn’t? Is this technique indicated for this client and his/her condition? What to do? It is extremely difficult for a Westerner to find the answer to this question in Thailand. Ten years ago, it was literally impossible. In order to know, and I mean to really know - how, when and which technique to apply, to begin with, we have to know what is human body, what it consist of and how does it function? What makes it functioning? How it is affected by the lifestyle and environment? If someone is in pain, what can be the cause of it? Are we able to diagnose it? Do we know what kind of therapy is indicated in given situation and which one is not? What is the exact effect of a particular technique when applied to our complex body-mind system? The answer to these questions can’t be a vague sense of „intuition“, or a „feeling“, as we can frequently hear from Thai teachers in schools. The answer is - the medical knowledge of Traditional medicine of Thailand. The knowledge many Thais know nothing about, or have only heard of (it has been removed 40 years ago, remember?), and the rare ones who know, usually old masters, have language and cultural barrier which makes them incapable to share it with non-Thais. 



                                    Ajahn Dao, 1916-2013.

Human being is too fragile for us to apply often very intense and potentially dangerous techniques, the ones Thai massage is well known for, based only on our „intuition“. Intuition can be very blurred and questionable. If Thai massage would consist of soft, gentle, non-invasive techniques like effleurage, it could be imagined that we play guided by our intuition; however, Thai massage is probably best known for its extensive and intensive stretches, and strong pressure techniques frequently administered by elbows, knees or feet. The nature and structure of these techniques, if we ponder on, show us that the origin of this therapy had highly therapeutic purpose. If one applies the technique by exceeding the safe limit just by few inches, Thai massage turns into martial art, thus it can be very dangerous and a skill one should not easily play with.

As a conclusion - medical knowledge of Traditional medicine of Thailand is the foundation of physical therapy practice, regardless of what kind of therapy, out of many, one applies. I would paraphrase my teacher: „For the practice of Thai massage it is essential that one acts according to the medical knowledge of Thai medicine; as long as one does so, it is absolutely irrelevant if massage is performed on the floor, on the table, on the chair, in the moving train, it can be on the roof ... it doesn’t matter if oils are used or not, and it is insignificant if the client is clothed, half-clothed, or naked. The purpose of Thai massage is to solve the problem, and whenever as a therapy it might do it, one has to know how; everything else is secondary“.

Sunday, April 19, 2020

Individual Online 8 Hour Lecture on Traditional Medicine of Thailand



This individual (one-on-one) in-depth introduction into the magnificent world of Thai medicine can currently be an ideal way to improve your knowledge and skill during this time of no-contact. As a practitioner, you will gain a greater understanding of your practice and massage in general; by learning the basics of Thai anatomy and physiology you will understand what the body consist of and how it functions; the theory of Elements will help you to understand what causes sickness and how it can be treated; different diagnostic tools for bodywork would help you to acquire a real perspective on your bodywork practice - is massage a solution for the particular health issue or not ? Which is the Elemental constitution of the client ? What is the structure of the treatment that should be applied to the specific constitution with specific health problem ? If you have been trained just to apply numerous massage techniques, this lecture will give you a deeper understanding of when, how and why each massage technique should be applied or not. Regardless of what type of bodywork were you trained in, this knowledge will give you a lifetime insight into how natural processes shape health and disease. The lecture is specifically adjusted to match attendant’s background, experience and current level of knowledge and understanding. 

The lecture is divided into 4 two-hour parts in 4 days

For more information, please write to inbox or tttbelgrade@gmail.com

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Saturday, April 6, 2019

One-on-One Training for Advanced Thai Massage Practitioners


This specific type of training was created for practitioners who have already studied Thai massage and have had several years of professional experience. It is meant for all those who still have doubts or questions regarding their practice, feel that something is missing, do not know with whom to study more or simply want to take their skill to the next level.
The main purpose of training is to introduce the wide spectrum of Traditional Medicine of Thailand which, until recently, wasn't available to the international Thai massage community and is still not available in massage schools across Thailand. The training teaches the spiritual foundation of Traditional medicine of Thailand, Traditional Thai Anatomy and Physiology and therapeutic procedures. It covers the following topics:
Wai Khru, Buddhism, the five roots of Traditional medicine of Thailand, the Theory of the Elements, manifestations of the Elements in the human being, Types of imbalances of the Elements, Khwan, Sen, Wind Gates, Points, Treatment of Layers, Bodywork pulse diagnosis, Abdominal massage, Oil Massage, Advanced massage techniques and more ... A profound knowledge of these subjects is necessary for the practitioner to be able to understand how the body-mind functions from the perspective of Traditional medicine of Thailand, how to make an accurate diagnosis and which specific therapy should be applied for healing. Without a deep understanding of this medical theory, one can face many difficulties in applying massage or any other therapy beyond the confines of simple spa/wellness service.
In addition, the practitioner is introduced to and trained in basic Reusi Dat Ton exercises. These exercises represent the primary and most important aspect of physical therapy. They form the foundation from which all other physical therapies have evolved. Reusi Dat Ton is the only system used to experience and understand the Thai medical theory in the practitioner’s own body-mind, before applying it to others.
The more technical aspects of the training are adjusted to suit the trainee’s current knowledge, constitution, abilities and needs. The teaching program is tailored to suit the practitioner’s current level of practice. Any ineffective techniques used by the practitioner are gradually replaced by techniques that match Thai anatomy and physiology and better suit his or her constitution and abilities. The aim is for each trainee to develop his or her own style of work and to practice with maximum efficacy and safety.
The trainee will develop an insight into the complex interconnection of different aspects of Traditional medicine of Thailand and how massage, as only one of the numerous physical therapies, was artificially torn from a wider medical structure, with the sole purpose of serving the wellness industry.
The teaching program also includes a demonstration of other physical therapies such as Tok Sen, Fire Cupping, Luk Bpra Kop and Scraping in order for the practitioner to understand how massage integrates these other therapies, the difference between the therapies, and which aspect of the body and mind each therapy affects. Overall, trainees will come to appreciate why these skills should be referred to as Thai Traditional Therapy and not simply Thai massage. Massage is but one single approach which belongs to the ocean of Traditional medicine of Thailand. All the information taught stems directly from the following Buddhist, Thai and Lanna medical texts: Dhatuvibhanga Sutta, Kalama Sutta, Maha Hatthipadopama Sutta, Kayagatasati Sutta, Maha Rahulovada Sutta, Girimananda Sutta, Vimuttimagga, Kam Phi Chanta Saht, Kam Phi Thaht Wiwawn, Kam Phi Thaht Wiphang, Kam Phi Roknithan, Kam Phi Samutthan Winichai, Tamra Nuad Meung Chiang Mai, Tamra Yah Lanna and other ...
All trainees are provided with an English language training Manual.
The training is held at Traditional Thai Therapy center in Belgrade, Serbia, or at other location, including abroad, by request. Center is located in the very heart of the city in a nice and quiet neighbourhood, about a 15 minute walk away from all the city’s major sights. In recent years, the city of Belgrade became a popular European tourist destination that is easily accessible from all major European cities. Belgrade has a rich history, offers a wide variety of interesting sights, and is also very well known for its charming inhabitants.
There are numerous affordable accommodation options which can be booked for the duration of the program, like Airbnb, hotels and hostels. 
The schedule for the one-on-one training program includes four hours of training per day, for a period of no less than three days.
For more details about the teacher and the training curriculum please visit


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Tuesday, October 30, 2018

CERTIFICATE



Certificate.
In this modern era, most of the people when inquiring about my teaching first come up with two common questions: „How much does it cost ?“ and „Do you give a certificate ?“ Rarely one asks the question which is, by my opinion, the crucial one: „What exactly do you teach ?“
Over the 20 years which I have spent in the world of bodywork I went through a typical evolution of a bodywork therapist. I was learning and learning, traveling, going from one training to the other one, from one workshop to the other one, and I was practicing, practicing, practicing ...Then one day I started to teach and share my experience, and during those times I have acquired all these certificates shown on the picture above. All that was only to one day realize that they don't matter at all. That for the real teaching you would never be granted certificate. When it comes to bodywork, to become a true, mature practitioner, it requires a talent to begin with. If you don't have a natural talent for touch, no amount of training and no certificate would make you a good practitioner. Further on, it requires practice, and we are talking here about serious practice. What is a serious practice ? Well, it is at least between 5 to 10 years of continuous practice; thousands of people going through your hands. Remember, every human being is different, and this is why it is the experience which makes you a great practitioner and not the technical knowledge. It is the way it has always been, and will always be, at least when it comes to bodywork. This makes very clear why a weekend, two weeks, or a month of training wouldn't make you a practitioner. You can just acquire a good foundation, assuming you are lucky enough to learn from a knowledgeable and experienced teacher. Afterwards, it's upon you to put what you have learned in practice, otherwise you'll forget it all. Certificate is just a piece of paper and if it holds a title, it is often a false one. Throughout my life I met many „certified“ practitioners of various disciplines, many of them maintaining practice which doesn't fit their certificate title at all.
Certificate didn't exist in ancient times. It is a modern phenomenon, invented in the process of standardization of knowledge; a product of our market oriented society, with purpose to introduce „instant reputation“ within the business environment. It leaves no space for questioning. It exploits our basic ego longing for recognition and feeling of importance. Certificate is gradually becoming a motif by itself, making this certification business to become much more prone to corruption. Today, it most likely doesn't reflect the actual knowledge and experience of its holder.
I never show my certificates to anyone. Got them out of a dusty box specifically to make this picture, and I immediately put them back to rest in darkness  It is this attitude people unconsciously recognize with me so they never ask about my qualifications. However, sometimes it happens, and it is usually someone from far away, who comes with a question: „Are you certified ?“
And I just kind of keep silent, not knowing what to say ...