By Amy Adams
Our daily lives are filled with ritual and tradition. Whether it be daily meditation, coffee, hygiene patterns, exercise, conversation, or work, the consistency helps define our day and who we are. Some of our routines ebb and flow naturally, such as with a change in season or age, while others are shifted abruptly with accident, illness, weather, or a number of variables. In my case, when I stepped off the plane and into Thailand, all of this came into light.
Never have I been so acquainted to my attachment to personal rituals- yet having no choice but to start afresh on many levels. I could not drive from place to place, but rather navigate by foot, or take a taxi truck or tuk tuk. Communication was not always simple and Charades became a common practice for understanding. I had to adjust simple things, such as brushing my teeth with my sink located on my balcony, and using bottled water instead of tap.
Once school began, I actually felt even further settled, as it provided a steady and consistent routine. In accordance with the Thai culture itself, the school is built on tradition. Each morning when we arrive we leave our shoes outside and go inside to wash our feet. We gather in the morning to chant in unison to honor Shivago- the Father Doctor and founder of Thai massage- and finish the day the same way. In fact, each Thai massage is initiated with a similar mantra (prayer) in silence by the therapist before the session begins. The full five minute mantra finishes with “Na a, Na wa, Roka, Payati, Vinas Santi”- “We pray for the one whom we touch, that he will be happy and that any illness will be released from him. ”
I marvel at the rich culture surrounding me in Thailand. Even within bustling nightlife in the Old City of Chiang Mai, you can stumble upon one of many temples where monks are meditating and townspeople are bowing in prayer. I am honored, humbled, and excited to be bringing back some of this richness to share via the Thai massage art form. I am truly interested in the many aspects of my new routine here in Thailand and comparing it to some of my normal tendencies at home. And, I am realizing, as they say here– so much of what we do is the “Same same, but different!”