Ten years ago I fell in love with Thai massage. That was the beginning of an unexpected process that would give my life a totally new direction!
In mid-June 2013, for no clear reason other than a friend’s recommendation, I enrolled in this 10-day course in Berlin. Spending 10 summer days in my favourite city doing something new sounded exciting enough. I couldn’t have imagined that such experience would become a milestone in my life! By then I had already studied Swedish massage, learnt some anatomy (in Polish!) and exchanged a few massages, but it was thanks to this course that massage “clicked” for me and took me to new depths.
The teacher (Till Heeg) and his amazing team (Neus Abella, Almuth Kramer, Lucie Beyer, Kai Ribéreau, Yiannis Katsanas) kept emphasizing the importance of quality of touch, intention, communication, intuition and a mindful pace of work, always paying attention to our own ergonomics and our wordless exchange with the receiver.
I understood back then that in massage technique (as beautiful and effective it may be) is secondary to the quality of touch and the intention it brings across: each session is a conversation or an energy exchange if you wish and this communication can only happen if there is an atmosphere of safety and trust. Boy, was it different from the mechanical and painful Thai massage I had experienced (or should I say: endured) in Thailand! It was also a completely different approach than the “dry technique” the Swedish massage course I had taken in 2008 was based upon.
I remember we used to start the mornings with Buddhist chanting, meditation, yoga and breakfast in silence, all of which was pretty exotic for me then – especially at such a cruel time as 7 am or so!
During the massage practice there would always be someone from the assisting team around, ready to help with the confusing (for me) positions, with admirable empathy and joy. While we practiced in couples there was usually comforting silence, but you could also hear laughter, sometimes gentle weeping and even sweet snoring… A beautiful energy filled the room.
After ten days in this atmosphere my heart was full of joy and love. Unfortunately I was the first to leave, a few hours before the end of the course, as I had a flight to take that afternoon. I remember that people were queuing up to give me a hug (and most of them were great huggers!) and I was crying and wishing I had not booked that flight, so that I could prolong that feeling for a few more hours… When I arrived at Barcelona I did massage to all my friends I could lay my hands on – on yoga mats and blankets. One session lasted 5 hours and finished almost at dawn. But that’s another story…
I enjoyed this course so much, that the following year I enrolled again. There in Berlin I met Marta Łucja, who would become my friend and, a few years later, my assistant. Two months later, in August 2014, I travelled to Greece to take two advanced courses in a row at the famous Sunshine House school, with which my teacher Till was related (and now I am too). Back in Warsaw I quit my job as a Spanish teacher at the Instituto Cervantes after 13 years, in order to start a totally new professional path (at age 37!) and devote myself to bodywork. Most of my colleagues thought I had gone crazy…
For the last 10 years my life has revolved mainly about massage and bodywork. My passion has become also my work and way of life. I have invested almost all my time, energy and money in this direction, sometimes neglecting my personal life – a mistake I am currently working on mending up. Above all, I have learnt a lot about myself, because working with others demands self-reflection about one’s emotions, thoughts, reactions and conditionings, and compels you to constantly evolve and develop.
I have participated in 70+ courses and training, assisted in 35, conducted 75, and done thousands of massage sessions. I have created my own style, which I call “Contemporary Thai Massage”: it is based on traditional Thai massage (various styles and schools), Dynamic Thai Massage, Osteothai, Zoga Movement and also some Wuo Tai and craniosacral therapy. At the same time I keep learning new ways of bodywork and I offer series of Structural Integration according to Zoga Movement. All the methods I use on a daily basis approach the human being and their health from a holistic perspective, while also being very precise in the detail.
Today I still abide by and strive to develop these values and qualities my first teacher showed me, and I do my best to pass them on to my clients and students. I feel that my personal journey directly influences the quality of my work and my courses. With time I get to understand better those seemingly simple Buddhist words: metta, karuna, mudita, uppekha.
This is a beautiful path I will walk all my life, I suppose. As in every journey, sometimes difficulties arrive: insecurity, impostor’s syndrome, or other pitfalls of the ego, such as twinges of jealousy or momentary arrogance (which karma usually levels swiftly and carefully). I know these are occasions for me to go back and work on myself, so I try to accept them as humbly as I can and be patient with myself.
I am very grateful to all those who accompany on this path or parts thereof, show me new possibilities, inspire me, grant me their trust, pose some kind of challenge and motivate me to keep moving forward. A big thanks to all my teachers, colleagues, assistants, students, clients and metaphorical travel companions!