If I had to identify the one factor that drew me to embark on the journey of becoming a pneumatherapist it would be the spiritual connection inherent in the work. Whilst mentally preparing myself to start this training course, I was excited to discover how I would incorporate spirituality in the healing, and its impact on me. But I also knew that one of the methods employed by pneumatherapists to achieve such outcome was through working with bodies and physical touch. I must admit, I was not particularly excited about this aspect of the job! I knew it was there, but I consciously pushed it aside, hoping that it would somehow take care of itself.
However, being a firm believer that self-awareness is one of the keys towards self-development, I simply could not ignore this issue without giving it its due reflection. I hoped that it would lead to some insight.
What did I discover about myself?
Where do my hang-ups about physical touch come from? I guess it all boils down to my relationship with my body. I was brought up in a culture where nudity is considered bad, or should I dare say sinful! Going to the beach at the age of 3, I was made to wear a two-piece swimming costume, covering both my buttocks and chest. As if there was anything to cover on that tiny body! I still recall vividly my first ever blue-and-white bikini and my protest at why I had to put on the ‘bra’ when my brother could go bare-chested. My dad’s response was, “cause girls need to cover their chest”. That was one of the earliest messages I recall receiving about bodies and nudity. And such message continued to be re-affirmed throughout my entire childhood and adolescence, not only by close family but also by society at large. During my early teenage, a religious movement I belonged to, prohibited all its girl-members from wearing trousers and imposed wearing a dress (yes a dress!!!) as our swimming costume! What does that teach a teenager who is at the crux of experiencing her sexuality about her own body image and that of others? Put all of this within a context of media bombardment of perfect bodies.
So yes, although many years have passed since then, the after-effects of such messages persist. My current body image is not exactly one that I am proud of. Although I believe that I’ve come a long way from that timid, extremely self-conscious teenager, I can honestly say that I do not burst with confidence when it comes to the way I perceive my body.
So what does this have to do with becoming a pneumatherapist?
Here lies my dilemma: how am going to feel comfortable in the presence of others’ naked bodies if I am not comfortable with my own body? How am I going to touch another person’s naked body for healing if I have my own doubts about others’ touching me? Worse still, how will all my hang-ups effect the healing of the people I work with at the clinic? The answers to all my questions came from the practice itself.
In the few weeks of my training, I have practiced giving massage healing to a number of people. I have therefore, seen, met and touched various bodies, and the feeling I am left with is one of awe and deep gratitude. All my nervousness, insecurity, doubt, that I had prior to starting this work, somehow drifted away, practically with the first massage that I gave. Of course, the thorough training, preparation and support by Adele, my trainer, contributed immensely to this. However, I believe there were other factors which came into play. I will try and identify them.
People’s trust in me as a healer at the time, is something which makes me very humble. It takes away the focus from my ego and places it where it should be. Seeing how people are ready to make themselves vulnerable because of their belief in the healing of the massage, not only deepens my respect for them but is a big realisation and a constant reminder that what is happening at the moment is not at all about the body, but about the spiritual connection taking place between myself, the person receiving the massage and all the spiritual beings present with us at that moment.
And this brings me to another point – that the body is merely a vehicle that is transporting the soul. Just like other vehicles, it may be brand new, latest model, or have some wear and tear on it. But nonetheless, it’s just a vehicle doing a job, which once on the road, starts experiencing its depreciating value. Never having been one to be impressed by nice, sexy cars, perhaps makes it easier for me to use this analogy. To my surprise, I have discovered – quite early on in my experience of massage healing – that it really is not about the body. The body is simply there to give us an indication of where the healing in the spirit of that person is needed. Touching the physical body is our way of making contact with the soul. In this way, the body almost becomes irrelevant – I nearly do not see it anymore. Instead, I am in awe of the spiritual connection that takes place during that time.
So back to how am I to physically touch others given all my hang-ups about bodies? Easy! Massage healing is not about the physical body. The physical body is nothing more than a map, guiding us to direct Prana energy wherever it is needed the most. All this work is also teaching me to be more respectful of my own body and to challenge my warped perception of my body image. Who knows? Perhaps by the time I am a pneumatherapist I would have overcome my hang-ups!!
So if I had to go back to the original motivation of why I wanted to become a pneumatherapist, i.e., to work spiritually with people and not to work with physical bodies, I should worry no more. Working with bodies is indeed a beautiful, humbling and enriching way of working spiritually.