The Power of Giving Compassionate Touch
by Shai Plonski.
The internal equivalent to oxygen, what we need in order to survive is love… Human relationships exist to produce love as surely as a lack of oxygen will kill us, so will a lack of love.” ~Marianne Williamson, Return to Love: A Reflection on A Course in Miracles
When I was 33 years old, I got dumped after a five-year relationship where we were engaged to be married. I was blindsided by it. It hurt about as badly as anything else I had experienced up till then, except for the day my dad died.
It was a Saturday afternoon at the start of a long weekend, so that gave me exactly three days to ‘get over it’ enough to be able to return to work. I was currently in the middle of leading a Thai yoga massage teacher training program with students who had come from around the world. It’s not as if I could call in sick.
The rest of the weekend was a blur. About the only thing I remember was an inner voice telling me that now, more than ever, my personal practice was key. Meditate, get on my yoga mat, learn from inspiring teachers and remember to breathe.
I showed up that first day back with a heavy and vulnerable heart, but then I did what I had been doing that whole month, not to mention most of the previous seven years. I engaged in the practice of compassionate touch. I taught what I knew to the best of my ability, let the moment take over, and somehow got through the day.
Nine years later as I look back, I realize it was then that I really knew that with Thai yoga massage I was onto something special. This was more than a form of bodywork, it was a spiritual practice. It was a way to connect with people and with the beauty of life in a way that could help me through the hard times, just as much as it could help celebrate the joy of it all.
The Heart of Compassionate Touch
This is a massage which is founded on a platform of compassionate touch. The only prerequisites are to to engage in meditation and a metta (loving kindness) practice. From there we learn techniques that come from the core where we use our whole body to give. This way, we get to take care of ourselves while helping our partner through a heavenly flow where the best of yoga meets massage.
The very definition of a great massage experience is that it needs to be at least as good to give as it is to receive. This turns the notion of balance into something much greater than can be measured on a scale. The kind of balance this beneficial practice brings is to help elevate one another. What that ends up producing between the two of us often leaves people speechless from how good it feels and what it means to connect on a whole other level. The idea that ‘we are one’ becomes an incredible and undeniable lived experience.
OK Go is a rock band that has made some of the most creative videos ever. In their song, The One Moment, they sing:
There is nothing more lovely, there’s nothing more profound, than the certainty that all of this will end. So open your arms to me, and this will be the one moment that matters, and this will be the one thing we remember, and this will be the reason to have been here and this will be the one moment that matters at all.”
To have the kind of exchange with another person where we experience that kind of depth and truth is priceless. It impacts us on all kinds of levels and that is the kind of quality that is available through compassionate touch.
Massage People You Care About
But you don’t have to be a professional to reach this kind of experience. The secret truth is that we are all already experts in touch. It’s the first sensation we use from the day we were born- to create a relationship with the present moment, with our loved ones, and the world that surrounds us. By the time we reach adolescence most of us may have forgotten its value and power, but that doesn’t mean that knowledge has gone anywhere. We can access it anytime we want.
In giving massage, we tap into the truth that through compassionate touch we are afforded direct access to safety, love, abundance and connectedness. It brings us into deep communion with each other and with ourselves in the healthiest of ways. Your partner on the receiving end gets to feel their stress and pain melt while you get a direct experience of bliss.
It is why, in all honesty I’m on a mission to share this knowledge with yogis, meditators, martial artists and really anyone on a spiritual path. It’s because the power of massage at home between loved ones is often overlooked as a way to help provide for a quality life, incredible happiness and support. It is a way to build a bridge and take the benefits of your practice and share it in a most profound way and to shift from the head to the heart; both giving and receiving.
Yet it is something that is totally accessible to anyone with an afternoon to spare to tap into your own natural ability to touch what this is all about. Giving this kind of touch isn’t tiring or hard work, it is a taste of freedom and universal love.
And if it speaks to you, then perhaps you’ll have discovered a new way to help you through some of life’s profound certainties.