Here is an interesting interview with Nemir Adjina. One thing I find particularly interesting is that he puts a lot of emphasis on the emotional and spiritual aspects of Thai massage, and the impact modern life has on us.
I asked him a couple of questions about his experience with and feelings about Thai massage, and here are his answers.
He teaches classes, workshops and retreats all over the world.
To find out what Nemir is up to and how to get in touch with him, visit his website at www.sawadeeinternational.org.
When did you receive your first Thai massage?
In London in the year 2000.
When and why did you decide to study Thai massage?
I was looking for a type of massage which involved the whole body, I was living in Dubai practicing architecture and studying Yoga and Jiu Jitsu at the time, my Yoga teacher said he practiced Thai Massage but I had not heard of it, and did not know what he was talking about. Returning to London I was looking for a change of lifestyle and thought that there must exist a type of bodywork which is similar to Jiu Jitsu but with the purpose of curing, not harming. Out of the blue came an offer to try Thai massage, I remembered what my Yoga teacher had said, and gave it a try, I knew I had found what I was looking for.
How many years have you been practicing traditional Thai massage now? What were particularly memorable experiences you had?
10 years. I have been privileged to teach in many countries (Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago, Argentina ) the courses always provide memorable experiences.
As a practitioner, I have worked in Mexico, Spain, New York, London, the carribean, Germany, Italy.
I am touched by the emotional impact of the work. Once I treated a lady with MS and she burst into tears upon seeing her body move with increased mobility. Another time in New York, my client cried to herself, it was the first time she had allowed a man to touch her for years. In Sardinia a client spent 3 days in a kind of state of grace.
In such cases , we go deeply into the life of an individual, which is always humbling and moving.
In my first visit to Thailand, I went looking for a teacher who would give me a “spiritual” massage, when I recieved the treatment from Blind Master Sinchai Sukparset, I had a dream where he brought me water to drink, I woke up crying.
Sometimes the experience is not agreeable, after one treatment a client collapsed into a conversion crisis (like epilepsy) which lasted for 4 hours, I called the ambulance, she recovered to sign the release form, then lapsed again into this strange state, it was not easy to be with her, she had not told me that she suffers from this condition.
I have also met some extraordinary people, for example a Persian mystic who teaches a massage to establish the energy of heaven in the body, in preparation for the coming change in the earth’s energetic field. According to him, in the not too distant future, the energy of heaven will descend on the earth, and our bodies (which already contain both energies) can be prepared for this.
You say that traditional Thai massage is more than just therapy – and that one of the aims is spiritual re-integration. Can you explain in detail what you mean spiritual integration?
By spritual re-integration I mean a more harmonious and natural relationship between mind, heart and body. Thai massage is often refered to as massage with two hands and a heart, so it must be done with compassion, both for oneself and for the other.
The practice of meditation is very useful in this regard. For me it means amplifying the role of our heart in our lives , research has proven that the heart is an intelligent, aware entity which has a strong electromagnetic field (in other words, it emits light). The heart has a powerful influence on our mental and emotional states, we have to re-integrate our selves, become whole.
Most ancient spiritual traditions concentrate on the heart – why is this?
The ancients sages and seers knew what modern science is only now showing us to be true. Yoga means to bring together, to connect, the Sufis aim to produce the Insan Il kamil , the completed person, this is the goal of spiritual practice, and also of Thai massage. Of course, first we have to remove the pain!
What’s the most common thing you hear people saying about how they feel after your treatments?
It depends on the circumstances, the time and intention behind the treatment, each one is different.
What are the physical requirements a person should possess if he or she wants to study with you?
Thai massage requires a certain flexibility in the feet and knees, it can be developed with time, but it is easier if you have already got this, either genetically or through some practice like yoga.
What qualities should a good Thai Yoga practitioner develop in your opinion?
Compassion and humility and the ability to listen
When you give a Thai Yoga treatment – how much of your work is based on anatomical and physiological knowledge, and how much on intuitive awareness?
A good question. It depends, one needs a good understanding of anatomy, of how the body is put together, you also need to be able to feel, to observe, then trust your intuition. The balance is never the same, a good Thai practitioner once said to me “sometimes we do with the mind, sometimes with the heart, it depends”
You say that you want to continue your studies of Nuad Bo ruan, and you personally feel you have only scratched the surface so far. That is not something common to say for a practitioner who has your range of experience and exertise, including an internship at MaeOnHospital in Thailand. To my understanding, you think that Thai massage still holds an even greater potential – what is it that you hope to be able to achieve with Thai massage as you further your studies?
It is like Yoga, if you practice only the physical aspect, you will be limited , even if you practice for 30 years, you will only scratch the surface, maybe even worse.
The aim of yoga is mental stillness, when the mind is still, we can see very deep, and we realise we are only at the surface, unless we have mental quiet, we cannot see the depths, and we think that what we have is all there is.
Thai massage is like that, in that sense it can be called Thai Yoga Massage, not because we bend our bodies, but because it leads to inner peace. Then we start to get a feeling of there being so much more. The real depth of this tradition is only now becoming known.
Working in the hospital was a valuable experience, treating Thai people for their ailments, physical and emotional, which are no different to westerners.
Modern culture assumes that its way of knowing is correct, but we have lost a lot of useful qualities along the way. Take feeling for example, can you detect a human hair beneath 7 sheets of paper with your fingertips? I cannot, but that is training for pulse diagnosis in ancient Greek medicine. As a Thai massage practitioner I aim to have that kind of sensitivity in my fingertips, how else can I feel what is going on in the body? How quiet can one become? This quietness is largely lost in the modern world, but was a part of traditional culture, sensitivity to nature, the ability to see, to hear, to really feel.
Luckily there is an American man, Tevijjo Yogi, who has studied Thai medicine at great depth and is initiated into the ancient shamanic/ Buddhist tradition from which it comes, as he is one of very few who is able to connect the ancient Thai tradition with the modern world.
I suppose what I hope to be able to achieve is to remove the obstructions, even around the heart, and to help remove the veils which obstruct each persons ability to see the light of their hearts, including my own! Each thai massage starts with the Wai Khru, which apart from other things is a prayer for the well being of all humanity, that is the essence of Thai Massage.
Finally, if there is one message that you could share with everybody in the world, one realization or understanding that you could just “give” people, as if you had a magic wand – what would that message or realization be?
There is an english saying “Laughter is the best medicine!”
– End of Interview –
For more about Nemir, visit www.sawadeeinternational.org