Category Archives: Student Assignments (archived)

Thai Massages

The techniques of healing-massage practiced in Thailand have evolved since the earliest roots of Thai massage, which coincidentally lie not in Thailand but in India. Jivaka Kumar Bhaccha was a contemporary of the Buddha and personal physician to the Magadha King Bimbisara over 2,500 years ago. This doctor from northern India is believed to be the founder of the art of Thai massage. He is also referred to as the “Father Doctor” and the Thai healers practice the ethics of giving thanks to the Father Doctor before and after massage. His teachings probably reached what is now Thailand as early as the 2nd or 3rd century B.C., which is around the same time as when Buddhism was introduced to Thailand.

Researchers report that Thai medicine is believed to have “Rural” and “Royal” Traditions. The rural traditions seem non-scholarly and rely on informal methods of education. The “Rural” tradition of healing seems to be passed down through generations with some secret code transmitted orally from the teacher to students. The “Royal” tradition of Thai medicine is believed to be developed at the royal court and shows influence from India, China, and the Muslim world. It seems to have a great influence from the Auravedic tradition from India.

It is very clear that the tradition of Thai massage was never seen merely as a job when looking back on its history. It was always considered to be a spiritual practice closely connected to the teachings of the Buddha. Massage was taught and practiced in the Buddhist temple until fairly recently; the establishment of legitimate massage facilities outside of the temples is a recent development.

“Metta” is the Pali (and Thai) word used in Theravada Buddhism to denote “loving kindness”. The giving of massage was understood to be a physical application of Metta and devoted masseurs still work in such a spirit today. A truly good masseur performs his art in a meditative mood. He starts with a Puja, a meditative prayer, to fully center himself on the work and the healing he is about to perform. He works with full awareness, mindfulness, and concentration. A massage performed in a meditative mood and a massage just done as a job are completely different. Only a masseur working in a meditative mood can develop an intuition for the energy flow in the body and for the Prana lines.

The limits of Western style medicine became apparent, bringing about a revival of interest in alternative health care in the West and to a certain extent also in Thailand and other countries of the East. Suddenly, in the late 1980s, Westerners discovered Thai massage in their search of traditional ways of treatment. Many people, including doctors, nurses, physical therapists, masseurs, and yoga/meditation therapists, came to Thailand to supplement their knowledge with a training in traditional Thai massage. Additionally, people in thailand seemed to realize that for certain ailments like asthma, constipation, or frozen shoulders along with recovery after a heart attack or to regain mobility of the limbs after a stroke, Thai massage treatment is far superior to conventional medicine and therapy.

Furthermore, Thai massage differs from other massages because it focuses on major pathways of energy lines in the body called Sen lines. Thai culture teaches that if an energy line is blocked it will damage one’s mental and/or physical health. Below are pictures of Sen lines in the body, where energy is found. There are thousands of Sen lines in the body, and a few major lines. In order to unblock Sen lines, deep massaging and stretching techniques are applied to the troubled areas. The stretching done in Thai massage looks very similar to yoga. Traditionally, therapists have worked on unblocking Sen Lines with their thumbs because they are precise and can find Sen lines very easily. However, thumb injuries are very common when used too often so modern culture has adapted to use other parts of the body to massage as well. Thai massage therapists now commonly use the palms of their hands, elbows, and forearms because it is sustainable for a long period of time.

Sen LinesSen-Lines 2

Sen lines do not have a universal location on all bodies so Thai massage therapists have to locate the energy lines in the body for every person before working to their unblock energy lines. Thai massage is said to have major health benefits as a result of Sen lines being unblocked.

Working on Sen lines in the body through Thai massage is meant to speed up the healing of the body. Many health benefits of Thai massages include alleviation of muscle pains and fatigue, and mental and physical relaxation. Muscles that are in pain can be relaxed and stretched out by Thai massage stretches in combination with slight kneading. Stretching and massaging muscles at the same time also makes muscles more flexible and increases joint movement. Joint movement is increased because fluids are released into them through the unblocking of lymph nodes and spinal fluid throughout the body. A larger amount of fluid in the joints allows for more comfortable and swift movements. When Sen lines are unblocked this also creates increased blood circulation throughout the body. Blood circulation allows the body to become healthier and more immune to diseases because toxins can be released more quickly . Thai massages aid in relaxing the mind and increasing overall energy, and aids regular sleeping patterns. The Sen lines used in Thai Massage to target an individual’s energy are very beneficial for an individual’s overall health and wellbeing.

– Emily Riforgiate and Taylor Fuchs

thai massage man

Sources:

Kathy, et al. “Thai Massage and Traditional Sen Lines.” Thai Healing Massage Academy | Thai Massage Online Courses, 2018, thaihealingmassage.com/thai-massage-and-traditional-sen-lines/.

TFFS. “The Untold History and Benefits of Traditional Thai Massage.” Thefourfountainsspa, The Four Fountains Spa, 11 Apr. 2017, www.thefourfountainsspa.in/the-untold-history-and-benefits-of-traditional-thai-massage/.

Kitchen, the SimpleDifferent. “History and Origins of Traditional Thai Massage.” History and Origins of Traditional Thai Massage, http://www.sunshine-massage-school.com/history_of_traditional_thai_massage.html.

 

Sex Work in Thailand

History and Prominence

Prostitution has been common in Thailand and its predecessor states for centuries. From 1351–1767, prostitution was legal and taxed. It became illegal in 1960.

There are three acts governing prostitution in Thailand.

  • Prevention and Suppression of Prostitution Act
  • Penal Code Amendment Act
  • Entertainment Places Act of 1966

Sex work is a prominent component of contemporary Thai culture and the national economy, but as is true of virtually every culture, there’s a multi-faceted ethical, human rights based controversy surrounding the practice. Like many other nations, Thailand struggles to control sex trafficking, and some believe that finally putting a stop to the illegal yet prevalent industry is a key component of doing so.

Solicitation of sex has been illegal in Thailand since the 1960s. However, upon the onset of the Vietnam War and the subsequent influx of U.S. soldiers throughout Southeast Asia, the industry thrived. When the military left, tourists began to fill the void in the market that they’d left. Since then, Thailand’s sex industry has been openly, if reluctantly, tolerated by authorities.

In 2017, tourism minister Kobkarn Wattanavrangkul commented that she wants the country’s sex industry “gone.” Since then, Thai police have launched a series of raids on bars and clubs, the aim of which is to find and put a stop to trafficking and licensing breaches. While the raids are well intentioned, many fear the most immediate effect will be that, without a system in place to help women who prevented from doing sex work, thousands of families who depend on income from sex work will be forced deeper into poverty.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that over 80% of Thailand’s sex workers are single mothers, and that avast majority are supporting a combination of parents, grandparents, and sometimes siblings. The national wage is currently 300 Thai baht (approximately $8) per day, but even the lowest-paid sex workers can bring home twice that much, making it one of the few options for a economically and socially disempowered woman to support herself and her family. (https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/articles/2017/02/09/sex-workers-face-poverty-thailand-announces-image-makeover)

Sex Worker Power

The push to enforce the illegal state of sex work in Thailand is motivated by desire to cease and prevent the abuse of sex workers, but simply enforcing the illegality of the practice would likely have a detrimental effect on those who the policy change seeks to assist. As is the case globally, Thai sex workers advocate for decriminalization of sex work in order to regulate the practice, like any other work environment. Currently the lack of regulation due to sex work being illegal and yet such a strong component of the Thai economy allows, and in fact incentivises, disempowerment and abuse of sexworkers. Among those pushing for regulation of sex work is The Empowerment Foundation, which is an organization that provides educational (law, human rights, medical) & legal resources to sex workers.

(http://www.chiangmaicitylife.com/citylife-articles/what-sex-workers-want-you-to-know/)

Chiang Mai’s Can-Do bar is entirely run by sex workers in The Empowerment Foundation, which publishes research, personal experiences, and creative media about sexwork in Thailand, emphasizing personal empowerment and the importance of sex work to disempowered women.  (http://www.empowerfoundation.org/barcando_en.html) As Empower spokeswoman Liz Hilton described, “This is a group of women who are refusing the poverty they are supposed to live in. They want to take that chance, not just for themselves, but so they can bring their families, generationally, up out of poverty. So they’re the women buying the land, buying the tractor, sending kids to university, sending their brothers to the monkhood. They’re carrying the bulk of the family dream.” (https://www.newsdeeply.com/womenandgirls/articles/2017/02/09/sex-workers-face-poverty-thailand-announces-image-makeover) Through their work, Empower ultimately hopes to decriminalize sex work in order to achive regulation of labor for the protection of sex workers, much of which hinges on official legal seperation of sex work from sex trafficking. In this way, the national goal of stopping sex trafficking and protecting the rights & safety of sex workers can be achieved while maintaining the livelihoods of the thousands of sex workers thier and families who rely on the industry. (http://www.chiangmaicitylife.com/citylife-articles/what-sex-workers-want-you-to-know/)

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https://www.facebook.com/sweetsmartstrongsexy/photos/a.1914129032168904.1073741827.1914127395502401/1914128955502245/?type=3&theater

 

 

Lila Weller, Manon Maurer, Mary Grace Lewis

 

Thai Food

By: Madi Anderson & Dagny Helander

Thai food is usually recognized by its spicy quality.   Thai food however strives to effectively combine the four flavors: sweet, salty, sour, and spicy.  “Virtually every dish is an exercise in balancing these four tastes” (Williams, 738).   In addition to the four flavors, “bitter also factors into many Thai dishes” (Williams, 738).  Most people usually notice or taste the spicy element of Thai cooking, but once someone becomes acquainted with the spicy element of Thai food, one can begin to appreciate Thai food with all the varieties. Continue reading Thai Food

Buddhism in Thailand

By: Liz Behrens and Rachel Wong

Buddhism is a prevalent part of the Thai society, and even the royal family of Thailand is affiliated with the Buddhist faith.  Approximately 95% of the Thai population is Buddhist.  Because of the pervasiveness of Buddhism in Thailand, the country is also known as “The Land of Yellow Robes” after the traditional garb of Buddhist monks.  The practice of Buddhism has been around for thousands of years, but it is uncertain as to when Buddhism appeared in Thailand.  There is much controversy to when Buddhism arrived to Thailand, formerly known as Siam.  Many scholars believe that the birth of Thai Buddhism began with the Indian emperor, Asoka, who sent Buddhist missionaries to encourage Buddhist worship.  Although this theory is widely believed, historical evidence shows that Buddhist foundations were brought with a group of settlers known as the Mon-Khmer.  Continue reading Buddhism in Thailand

Traditional Thai Medicine

thai_traditional01By: Melody Redmond and Madison Denkers

Traditional Thai Medicine (TTM) works as a holistic system rather than treating medical issues on an individual basis, as does Western Medicine. It uses methods such as massage, herbalism, spirituality and unique philosophies to address needs of the body, heart and mind. Many people are increasingly dissatisfied with the results and treatments of Western Medicine and are turning to more holistic approaches, such as TTM, for answers. Continue reading Traditional Thai Medicine

Malaria in Thailand

By: Sia Gerard and Karsten Gillwald

Malaria is directly translated to bad- air, which for a long time people believed, much like the Black Plague, was spread due to “bad air”. Malaria, despite modern advancements in medicine, continues to cause widespread infection and death in many parts of the world, especially in tropical regions. Continue reading Malaria in Thailand

Thai Festivals

By: Cera Cantu and Joe Caesar

Thai people enjoy relaxing and spending time with their families and friends. With over a dozen public holidays throughout the year, they have many opportunities to do this. New Years is celebrated three different times a year! Holidays and festivals in Thailand are either religious, traditional, or commercial (Thailand, nd). Most traditional and religious holidays are based on the Thai lunar calendar, so their dates vary from year to year. However, some of the holidays celebrated in Thailand follow the Gregorian (western) calendar.

Continue reading Thai Festivals

Refugees in Thailand

By: Nicole Roberts and Sarah Schafer

A refugee is someone who fears persecution while living in his or her home country, due to race, religion, nationality, or belonging to a particular social/political group, and seeks the protection of another country (Hodes, 2000). It is estimated that there is 19.2 million refugees world wide in which half of these are children (Ehntholt & Yule, 2006). Refugees have an increased risk to develop psychopathologies such as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Conduct Disorder, due to traumatic exposure from war and leaving their home country (O’Shea, Hodes, Down, & Bramley, 2000). Many refugees will spend years in camps in which poor living conditions can consist of inadequate water and food supply (Lustig, Kia-Keating, Knight, Geltman, Ellis, Kinzie, & Saxe, 2004). Many of these refugees may then be sent to a foreign country not knowing the language (Kinzie, Sack, Angell, Manson, & Rath, 1986). These refugee children and adolescents are then expected to begin school at their age level, instead of their academic ability (Kinzie et al., 1986). A refugee child or adolescent may begin to feel lost between the pressures felt to perform above his or her academic abilities, combined with the burden of past memories, such as war and structural violence. Continue reading Refugees in Thailand

Ethnic Minorities in Thailand

By: James M. Bacigalupo

According to Cambridge Dictionaries Online, ethnicity is defined as “a large group of people who have the same national, racial, or cultural origins, or the state of belonging to such a group” (Cambridge). Furthermore the given perimeters of the word minority is simply put as “less than half of a total number or amount; the smaller part of something” (Cambridge). Thus one can postulate that an ethnic minority is indeed a group with similar origins and that of similar cultural and social constructs. Continue reading Ethnic Minorities in Thailand

Water Issues in Thailand

By: Caitlin Lemmon and Mariah Hartle

Water is a very important resource for the people in Thailand. With a population of over 68 million people, things such as urbanization and industrial expansion are impacting water quality for the Thais. Untreated waste, from growing industries have been steadily increasing in the water. Because of this their main source of income, agriculture is being strongly affected. Many farmers have not been properly taught how to conserve their water use when they plant their crops, therefore much of the water available is being wasted. If a proper solution was implanted for these farmers, and waste was cleaned from the drinking water, this crisis could be solved quickly.(Suwal, 1) Continue reading Water Issues in Thailand