By Manel Luque Aguilera


‘A huge salary. Nice apartment with swimming pool, sauna and gym attached. Living on a sunny island, close to the beach. Playing beach volleyball after work and on Friday’s chilling out in the Spa. This was my life. I thought I had it all! I felt happy then, back in 2006. Until I met a man who changed this idea completely.


I thought I was happy


On one of these Fridays, when I was having my weekly relaxation time with a friend in this luxurious Spa I met a man who worked there. He looked super relaxed and had a natural high because he was extremely happy. He started to talk about his job. That he loved what he did. He told me his work gave him happiness and recognition. He felt blessed that he was able to help so many people in his work. And the people he helped, expressed their gratitude towards him every day. I was impressed.


I wanted to know more


What kind of work did this guy do? And why did his job gave him so much happiness? I was working at the time 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, minimum. The job was nice, I earned a lot of money. Of course, I had deadlines and sometimes there was stress. I was happy with the money I earned and was able to do nice things. But I did not get this much happiness from the job itself like this man was explaining to me. A couple of days later he popped up at my work. ‘Let’s drink a coffee and talk,’ he said. I asked him if he didn’t need to work because for me it was a bit difficult to take time off like that, so we could meet after work. He said: ‘I work when I feel like working. I am my own boss and schedule my work hours how I like it.’


The man that changed me


So after work, we had a coffee and he shared his stories. He told me about what happened that day, that he helped a woman cure her headache and that she gave him a big hug when she left. And another person was super glad that he felt very relaxed, without all the stress he had when he came in. He said those stories happened to him every day. People were telling him daily: ‘Thank you so much, you helped me to be less stressed, less burned-out, less depressed. Thank you for curing my pain in my shoulder, back, migraine etc.’ He was a chiropractor and massage therapist working as a free-lancer in different places.


His job was amazing!


I then realized his job was amazing. This man felt so happy in his life because he could help his customers with his hands and knowledge, making them healthier and happier. I realized that my happy state was not the happiest I was able to realize in life. This man showed me another way of happiness. I was so used as most people to follow the rules of society; working for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, sitting the whole day in the chair and earning money.


He opened my eyes


I now felt that happiness is not getting a high salary, having good working conditions and live on an island with the everyday sun. But real happiness is when you are able to help yourself and at the same time help others. When you work in the office, on an island, it was only good for me. I realized that it would be amazing that you can help yourself and also others. Plus have a daily reward: helping people with your knowledge, improving their health and mental state. I also wanted to have a life with a work schedule when I liked to work, getting rewards and recognition in my daily job and really feeling I was able to help people. So now I knew… I wanted to become a massage therapist.


Now I knew what I wanted!


However, I didn’t know anything about massage. I even never received massage treatment, so for me, it was a totally unknown field. So I started to do my research. I wanted to learn the perfect massage treatment to the body to help people recover faster from injuries and to prevent people from injuries. I did my research and found that Therapy Massage should be based on stimulation and that this is best done by acupressure. The other ingredient of the best Therapy Massage should be manipulation of movement, in the form of stretching the tissue, muscles, and joints. And this is how I found traditional Thai Massage, massage therapy that is based on acupressure and stretches. I had to go to Thailand, to study traditional Thai medicine. And I did, after researching I started my studies at the 3 best schools in Thailand.


So I went…


First I studied at ITM Chiang Mai. This school is recognized by the Thai government and King as the best school in Thailand. The protocols – called Nuad Bo Rarn – being taught are based on the Old Medicine Hospital techniques. These massage techniques based on the more than 2500 year old traditional Thai medicine, have been tested for more than 40 years in this hospital, before the lead teacher Chongkol Setthakorn of Old Medicine Hospital (nowadays called Shivaga Komarpaj School) decided to open his own school ITM Chiang Mai, teaching these Nuad Bo Rarn protocols.  This massage technique is used to recover from mental problems, such as stress, burn-out, depression etc, and to prevent physical problems, such as pain in the back, headache, knee etc. My second study was at Chettawan Health Center, the most recognized school teaching royal massage, known as Wat Po. This technique of massage is based on therapy acupressure massage. Acupressure Massage Therapy is a treatment for various ailments, such as headaches, back pain, stress, tension (burnout), sleep problems, menstruation problems, arthritis, high blood pressure, stomach problems, tennis elbow, feeling low or depressed, constipation, sprained ankle, knee problems, neck problems, hip pain, shoulder pain etc. Acupressure Massage Therapy is used in Thai hospitals to eliminate the need for surgery. The third school I went to is the Tao Garden School, where I learned about Thai abdominal massage, called Chi Nei Tsang. Abdominal Therapeutic massage (Chi Nei Tsang) directly massages the internal organs, unlike most massage techniques using indirect methods in contact with the internal organs. Oriental medicine states that the cause of a disease is often found in the internal organs, and the massage techniques of Abdominal Therapeutic massage help proper functioning of the internal organs. I learned that this medicine helps in relieving constipation, cramps, knots, lumps, scar tissue, headaches, menstrual cramps, poor circulation, infertility, and many other problems.


Now I wanted to know more!


These studies made me want to know more about the interrelation of ailments, internal organs, and treatments. I studied treatments for physical ailments but also about the benefits of massage treatments for mental problems, like stress, burn-out and chronic fatigue. Being a massage therapist I was looking for complimentary massages that I can use in my treatments to help my clients recover faster from injuries, without the secondary effects. Therefore I studied Phytotherapy, natural herbs that are used for many years in traditional medicine in Thailand like Thai traditional herb ball, steam baths, and herbs to treat abdominal problems and balms and oils. Nowadays I make my own oils and balms to treat my customers. Moreover, I go a couple of times a year back to Thailand, to study, teach and share my knowledge for free to those in Thailand that are not so fortunate as I am having the money to study at the best schools.


This is real happiness


So all this has happened after the talk I had with this man that I met in the Spa back in 2006. My life has changed a lot since then. Being able to share my skills in traditional Thai medicine in my massage school and making others happier and healthier is an amazing experience. I feel blessed and super happy. Actually, I feel healthier and happier than I was before. Today I don’t sit 8 hours a day, 5 days a week in a chair doing my job, but I move constantly, being surrounded by my students and customers that are giving me daily gratitude, is an amazing experience. I now know that money is not the goal of happiness. Real happiness is much deeper. Real happiness is about having compassion for others. Being able to help others to become mentally and physically healthier and happier gives me a true happy feeling.’


Create a healthy and happy day!


Manel (& Nicole)