The practice of Metta Bhavana, or loving-kindness meditation, cultivates an emotional warmth that can be shared with clients through the art of Thai massage.
Metta Bhavana is central to Buddhist teachings and to the practice of Thai massage. According to Tuja Wellness, this type of meditation cultivates compassion: first for yourself, and then for others, fostering a caring relationship between both parties based on empathy and touch.
Increasing your empathetic awareness helps you notice both verbal and nonverbal cues from clients, resulting in the trusting, honest relationship that you need to provide the best massage experience possible.
Increasing awareness through meditation may seem daunting, but it is actually an exciting opportunity to keep invested in your body and its constant changes, as well as to tune into this ebb and flow that’s occurring in other people.
Navina founder Drew Hume writes that:
Our bodies are constantly changing, and even if you massage only a single person ever, their body will be different each time and, therefore, there will be new information that will need to be read and interpreted. If we assume our touch to be perfect, we will give a lesser experience to our client.
Using Metta Bhavana to find love and acceptance for yourself and others allows for a beautiful exchange of positivity, producing a sacred experience with every massage.
How to Bring About Presence and Compassion
The steps of Metta Bhavana include:
- Thinking of yourself
- Thinking of a friend
- Thinking of a neutral person
- Thinking of a difficult person
- Thinking of all beings
The steps in this process open you up to feel real, universal empathy. Finding compassion for yourself and your loved ones is easy, and it also begins the path towards doing the same for people you find difficult, and even for beings you don’t know.
Once you’re able to find compassion for all four types of people in your life, you can work towards expanding your mind to finding loving-kindness for all beings everywhere.
And don’t think too hard what that loving-kindness should feel like. The next time someone does something nice for you or you receive affirmation for something you’ve done, take note of the physiological sensation you experience — that’s what you should be looking for when finding your Metta, both for you and for your clients.
How does Loving-Kindness Affect Your Practice?
After creating an internal space for pleasurable thoughts and feelings, you’ll soon be able to enter a state of focus and clarity. Hume reminds us that:
This method of practice will not only give you a better experience in the massage, it will enhance your clients’ experience and ultimately allow you to practice Thai Massage for as long as you desire… without burning out or developing overuse injuries.
This relates to the first step of Metta: thinking about you. You want to give fully to others, but you can’t do that unless you also take care of yourself.
Developing Metta Bhavana improves your ability to connect deeply with yourself and listen to your body, which reduces the risk of injury and increases the happiness and satisfaction you’ll feel from practicing regularly.
Continuing Your Practice
Metta Bhavana requires ongoing action for continued growth. Some days you may find it easier to find this loving kindness, while other days might be more challenging. That’s okay — we can’t all be the Buddha every day, as much as we strive to be.
The practice of Metta Bhavana hones your sense of mental clarity throughout your days as a Thai massage practitioner, both during sessions and in other aspects of your life. You are your most important relationship, and finding time to foster this relationship will improve your interactions with all other beings.
Other positive practices to help your development as a practitioner include participating in meditation events. The Tuja Wellness 30 Day Meditation Challenge was a great opportunity to expand your own practice and connect with others on a similar journey, and the opportunity will certainly be great again next year.
By joining the Facebook group, you can get real time updates on future challenges.
Now that you’ve learned about Metta Bhavana, check out the embedded meditation recording below and try it yourself. Remember: practicing loving-kindness won’t just help you give a better massage, but help you to succeed and feel satisfied in whatever you do.