Latest posts by Pamela Herrick (see all)
- What a Thai Motorbike Accident Taught Me About Grounding - June 6, 2014
- Gratitude to the Lineage of Teachers - February 20, 2014
- Thai Medicine for the New Mama: Part 3 - December 17, 2013
On Thursdays throughout the Kingdom of Thailand, students express their gratitude to their teachers. The ceremony can be elaborate or simple. In
Thai language to wai means to show respect with hands in prayer position and head bowed. Khru means teacher. When we wai khru, we show our respect to our teachers.
Thai massage therapists honor as well Dr. Jivaka Komarabhacca, often referred to simply as the “Father Doctor” of Thai medicine (and spelled variously). If you have spent some time in Thailand and in Thai massage shops (and why wouldn’t you!), you have surely seen beautiful altars honoring the Buddha, the Father Doctor, the King and Queen of Thailand, past kings of the country and revered monks. Honoring, respecting and showing gratitude are a daily practice in Thailand, one of it’s most lovely daily practices.
When my little feet first touched down in Thailand as a traveler and student of Thai massage, I quickly learned how to kneel properly, bow my head deeply and recite the chants that my teacher taught me.
These things have become a habit for me. My massage studio has an altar which reminds me of the long lineage of practitioners of Thai medicine, of which I have become a part.
It became a habit from the very beginning to add some words in English each time I chant my respect. I honor my teachers, “in all the forms they have come to me.”
Each time I say these words, I remember a beautiful Thai woman whom I rode with in a song tau on my first visit to Thailand. Picture us both on a metal bench in the back of a covered pick-up truck taxi. Me with that excited “nothing like this has ever happened to me before” look. She, catching my drift. She sidled right up to me, as Thai women will, and asked, “Do you speak English?” She slid even closer and placed a hand on my thigh, as Thai women will, in a sisterly gesture. She asked why I had come to Thailand, where I lived and about my work. What she really wanted to
know was if I was traveling alone and did I have a husband. Alone, yes. Husband, no (not yet, anyway).
She told me how strong, brave and lucky I was to be able to travel the world alone. She told me she was in an unhappy marriage to a bad husband with no option to leave. She smiled at me broadly, showing me how excited she was for me, as Thai women will do, and hopped off the back of the truck.
We were together no more than five minutes.
To this day, I still think of her and what she taught me. I am strong, I am brave, and above all else, I am lucky. For these things I am deeply grateful. I do not take them for granted.
And I keep my eyes open for new teachers, in all the forms they may come to me.