The Legacy of Kam Thye Chow

Nov 12, 2019
A male massage therapist standing on a floor mat that is stretching a woman using Thai Yoga Massage.
When I first began practicing bodywork, I learned Thai Yoga Massage.  Thai Yoga Massage, as taught by the Lotus Palm School of Thai Yoga Massage, located in Montreal, Quebec is a fully-clothed variation of an ancient bodywork practice that has its roots in Ayurveda and the temple practices of Southeast Asia.  One of the more attractive qualities of this type of bodywork includes the fact that it is connected, deeply connected, to the historical Buddha and his form of medicine concurrent to the time.  If you were to learn Thai Massage, or Thai Yoga Massage, or another form of bodywork from Asia, it will more than likely include invocations and recitations that exemplify the likes of its ancestral lineage.

Since Kam Thye's passing in 2018, and since I initially left Columbus in 2008, I've been left to wonder how, if at all, I would address his untimely passing into Spirit.  Although there are other people that most certainly knew Kam Thye a lot better than myself, including his senior students and managers, I must say his passing took me by surprise and quietly served as a reminder of all of these great bodywork teachers that the current generation has at its disposal.  If you were to look at the spiritual teachers from thousands of years ago, and from across all continents, you would see striking similarities in what they were teaching and the context of each.   In this case, Kam Thye taught us about the importance of finding a heart-centered approach towards bodywork and infusing it with Metta – or compassionate loving-kindness.  His form of Thai Massage also teaches the importance of working with different body types, and with time, I found this transference of knowledge from an Asian reference point, to a North American one, to be of the most importance.

In the last few months, and as I realign myself with a business of value, I have been challenged with what to do with Thai Yoga Massage, if anything.  As a practitioner, and as a massage therapist, I decided that returning to the floor mat and providing these types of massage would not be in my best interest.  Not only have I gained weight due to tobacco cessation and felt uncomfortable with the idea of providing floor-centered bodywork, but I have also realigned the cusp of my work to include a more precise style of somatic and spiritual alignment in the form of Myofascial Release and Craniosacral Work.  These table-centered approaches to bodywork provide the best of both worlds in the form of pain and stress management, and a spiritually-centered awakening process that is more closely aligned with my own values, and the type of shamanism that I'm coming from.  Although I love Thai Yoga Massage and what it's taught me, I've decided to let it go and move on to learn from the ancestral teachers that exist in both Spirit, and in flesh.  Admittedly, it's odd to not see myself offering Lotus Palm's Thai Yoga Massage, as it was central to my initial success, although this is a necessary step for my personal and professional growth.

This brings us to a deeper understanding of working from our own personal histories, those things that we have the most experience with, and from within our own ancestral lineage that includes our birth parents, and grandparents, and so on and so forth.  In this case, and out of deep respect and admiration for Kam Thye Chow's friends and family members, I could say that he is spiritually in the right place.  Although those that knew him best most certainly miss his physical presence, and his compassionate soul, he is here in spirit to help those on Earth bridge this ancestral healing into reality, and for the benefit of all sentient beings.  Although I call upon him rarely, he has revealed his presence at my yoga practice, and in my writing, and I am grateful for his place on the other side, and with his fluidity in communicating his presence.

At this point in time, we may find ourselves calling upon our own paternal lineages, this includes our birth fathers, and grandfathers, and great-grandfathers, and so on and so forth and inviting them into the healing process of the masculine spirit.  This silent invocation may serve as a quiet reminder of the importance of this work while balancing and harmonizing the gender-specific roles and relationships that current generations have made for themselves.  My father Richard, for example, would have never been open to receiving this type of work while he was still alive.  In Spirit, however, this becomes an entirely different story as he is called upon frequently to assist in my own work.  This has become a practice of humility that is partially due to the blemished reputation that he suffered from that while fairly, or unfairly, was a common misperception throughout poor Richard's life.

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