I am recovering this morning from the visit of my old friend Ash who spent a couple of hours yesterday sticking his fingers and elbows into painful bits of my body whilst I lay on the ground wearing nothing more than body oil. He had turned my living room into a strange mix of temple and torture chamber and played soothing music to drown out my screams. Actually I exaggerate – slightly.
Ash Hansraj, to use his spiritual name, I first knew as Ash Jeewah some five or six years ago and he knows me and my body very well indeed. He is a masseur and yoga teacher, http://www.bodyfix.co.uk who is the master of various techniques including the better known versions of sports massage but he first came to my attention when I was looking for an acupressure specialist. I have, since he first got his claws into me, had many massages both in Britain and in China but no one does it quite like Ash.
When I first took up Kungfu, I got interested in Chinese philosophy and as an adjunct to that, Chinese medicine, but, I also got to learn the main body pressure points which in kungfu are targets but in acupressure and acupuncture are healing points. As is often the way with Chinese thought, these things are full of seeming contradictions. Learning to fight, Kungfu style, has taught me a lot about meditation and, yes, peace.
Acupressure massage, as far as I know, came out of Ancient China in the same cultural and philosophical package that included martial arts and Taoist philosophy. I got to know about it when I read that martial artists used to have their own masseur who compensated for the harsh training regime that warrior training entails. I might be no warrior but I sure know what they meant when I first started to train seriously in the martial arts. Acupressure massage, as opposed to acupuncture, which has the needles, uses these pressure points as the focus for finger and, sometimes, elbow pressure in a vigorous but weirdly other-worldly experience that whilst finding all your weak points and causing some pain, also relaxes the body in a profound way unknown to me anywhere else. In my study, I keep a framed chart and a small model with these points marked on the body and, occasionally I do a bit of self-administration for headaches and certain body pains.
I hadn’t had one of Ash’s massages for over three years now as my brain haemorrhage meant that I could not do anything that raised my heart rate. It was a day of celebration that I am now deemed fit enough to return to this inspiring and ancient tradition and it was great was on one of his sussex-bound trips from his base in London. When Ash first “did” me he said it was like opening an old leather suitcase that had been forgotten in some loft for generations. Charming! He was right of course. I didn’t know how stiff I was until I was unravelled by this man. This morning, the morning after, I feel profoundly tired after sleeping the sleep of the dead and, I have to admit, I am still nursing some sore bits, but I feel as if I have been through a healing process where my body got to tell me just how damaged and broken I had been by those two and a half years of recovering from my brain haemorrhage and broken back. So I am grateful to you Ash, my friend.
If any of you are interested in Acupressure Massage or any of Ash’s other techniques, I have put his website on my Links column on the right of this page.