As a yogi and someone very much interested in everything that has to do with the human psyche, I believe that having boundaries is important. As a mother, I am given an every day confirmation to that, in the process witnessing the creation of boundaries as a part of a healthy psychological development in my child.
Indeed, it seems that we are all born quite fused with the world around us, and as we gain more proficiency over our bodily functions and separate ourselves from our caretakers, we start to formulate and feed a sense of psychological and physical boundaries. As we start to learn language, we perfect this process and use an internal storyteller to help us navigate through our experiences and assign them meaning, in the process using words to separate what is “us”, and what is “around us” or “other”.
Having said that, I also believe that after a certain period of emotional maturation and a healthy integration in the community, it is also important to learn how to relax our boundaries. I would even go as far as to claim that this skill of letting go of our boundaries and mental preconceptions is an integral part of becoming a truly liberated and happy person, and it is one of the reasons why we do yoga.
The art and importance of dissolving the boundaries is exactly the topic of this interview and in the process of creating it I had to learn the lesson first-handedly. On the request of Krishna Taki, I didn’t edit the following answers in any shape or form. Out of the fear of not sounding authentic enough, Krishna Taki refused my edits that I believed were useful for the reader. I had to learn how to let go of my boundaries as a writer and editor and accept the fact that my interviewee had good reasons to keep his.
A: From reading about you in a few websites and looking at your photos, one gets an immediate picture of a very kind, warm, giving and generous person. Were you just born and raised like that, or did it take time to find your compassionate true self through a lot of spiritual work?
K: I am extremely grateful to have grown up in a family with a lot of love, generosity and abundance as a child, living with parents, grandparents, aunts, siblings etc..and i have naturally inherited this quality of generosity, giving and sharing in my life, especially because of the influence from my father. As an adult I seem to have embraced a spiritual journey, which cultivates and emphasizes the importance of compassion and generosity, so I feel i am able to share and serve with others quite naturally. Of course there is always the obstacle of the mind, when judgment and selfish actions have the chance to be cultivated but with the practice of awareness I am able mostly to catch those moments before they become too big and i can then get back into my heart centre. This is my sadhana. Also in travelling and living in Asia, and spending time with people who haven’t got much material wealth helped me to see how generous people are when they have ‘nothing’, and that in fact they are much wealthier internally from this lack of material possession and attachment to ‘stuff’ and space than we are in the West and i took great lessons from them and their humility and simplicity.
A: Coming from a yoga and energy body work background, it is quite natural that you found your passion in the Thai Yoga massage, except that not all yogis decide to work so intimately with other human bodies. What made it possible and interesting for you personally?
K: For me it is not about yoga or energy work, or even about Thai massage, it is simply a journey between two people and we need to give it a name so that our mind can understand its form. It is intimate, you are right, but we need to break the boundaries of what is intimate and what is personal space and see all of the boundaries which block us from coming together with others and go through them. But we need to break these limited expressions of the mind with awareness and understanding not with violence or force, and this is the elegance of thai massage. Without many words or heavy discussion, we are suddenly gracefully intimate…can we let go? can we feel good in that space? can we allow ourselves to be that open? As a therapist, if our intentions are clear and we are centred and grounded then we can facilitate a huge release and potential for dramatic change and deep healing. This is all beyond our understanding, that’s why it’s not easy to categorise it. In the end yoga is everything we do when it is done with awareness and with the deep desire for truth. From this place we are able to develop love, compassion, freedom and equinimity (the four stages of true love according to the Buddhist scriptures), which is the basis for all Thai massage teaching. When we can apply the teachings of the Buddha in every touch, every breathe, every moment..then this is where the magic lies…and this, my friend, is where we are going towards when we are teaching and practising Thai massage. It is just a vehicle to bring us to this state of unconditional love.
A: I bet that for the work that you do it is quite useful to be a sensitive/perceptive/intuitive kind of person. Do you believe that one is born with a talent to be more perceptive to subtle aspect of existence, or that one can learn it along the way?
K: We are all born with this natural state of intuition, perception and sensitivity but over time and as we grow it is covered by what society expects and demands from us – to be in the mind. Walking this spiritual path enables us to uncover and unlearn what has kept us from shining like the jewel we are inside and to get back into the inner Yin, which has been terrorised by the external Yang. So of course we can learn along the way, there is always potential for change and growth and learning, when we understand the fickle mind. Only when we see how much of a hindrance our mind is to uncovering our true nature then can we touch this sensitive, perceptive, intuitive nature that you ask about. Thai massage is helping us to get there in being present for yourself and others, but it is just a tool used to uncover our true essence. Everyone can do it. At any moment.
A: How can one learn to be more sensitive/perceptive/intuitive and what advice would you give to people who work closely with other people’s bodies?
K: Daily self-inquiry, awareness in daily life and a burning desire to find your true self are good ingredients for the recipe of self-knowledge, self-awareness and self-love, all of which enable us to work closely with other people. When you really want to conquer the ego and behaviour which doesn’t serve your higher self, then there is nothing more worthy and you will feel a shift as will the people around you, especially those you touch. The aim of yoga and meditation is to develop that, and so there is nothing to be afraid of when you work closely with others in this state because you are guided. When we do something with love, joy and happiness and not just because we are earning money from it, then we are open to receiving on many levels, as when we give massage we receive also – the touch is two-fold. If you keep this understanding, are present, clear and mindful during the massage ceremony the effects can be very powerful for all, and there is nothing to be afraid of.
A: What about some of the more negative aspects of working closely with others through this subtle energy exchange? How can one protect oneself and not receive what one does not want, and not to give what one should not?
K: I like working with the elements – using them to cleanse, purify and revitalise, especially water, Also any kind of self-bodywork, movement, chi gong, pranayama, prayer, devotional singing helps to clear energy fields and get into the present moment. But again the concepts of positive and negative are just polarities of the mind! If you think negatively then you are likely to attract negativity. If you anchor and ground yourself and are simply a quiet observer for whatever is manifesting then it is difficult to be affected by what is happening (positive or negative). This is why it is important to have regular meditation practice, a good diet and healthy way of approaching life in order to adjust your life to meet the needs of a therapist. It is not just a profession, it is a way of life. When you understand this, there is nothing to be protected from.
A: What do you find the most gratifying and interesting in your work and how do you keep your inspiration flowing?
K: The sangha. The people around me help me to grow and inspire me. When i see the possibilities and changes that manifest in the lives of those around me it feeds my soul. I see in my own life dramatic changes over the past 20 years, since i began this journey of Thai massage and what i see inspires me more than anything is my family – my children and my life partner – who help me stay authentic and grounded and never let me forget to play. Water is also a big inspiration in my life. being close to the ocean, rivers, hot springs, swimming, cultivating a garden, holding hands with strangers, living with people in community and cooking are all reminding me of the magical inspiration of every life. When we do Thai massage retreats we usually live in community, which means living daily life together with others and the bond and connection becomes so intense and special that nothing else can feed our souls more than having the space to take a look on the inside surrounded by others doing the same and sharing life for a while together.
A: Having a keen interest in organic farming, nutrition, and healing through food consumption, what advice can you give to people to stay optimally healthy mentally and physically?
K: Staying healthy is having the desire to know yourself and again, i repeat myself, breaking the boundaries of what is keeping you away from the light being that you are. Doing self-inquiry, being with sangha, having a devotional practice and understanding that we can be grateful for every little thing in life, standing here right now, alive in this body and saying thankyou everyday no matter what is happening, good or bad, is part of the knowing that all is taken care of by a higher source. This Dharma is very powerful and can not only help you stay healthy but can radically transform your existence. I have always been attracted by nutrition and eating healthy, and i believe after trying out several radical ways of eating and consuming for optimum health, that moderation is the key and some gentle practices such as fasting or doing mono-diet once a week, having small meals, chewing well and respecting above all the natural resources of the earth are what the body responds to best. Singing, dancing, jumping into the water everyday also move stagnant energy and help keep us feeling fresh and alive.
Krishna Takis will be teaching the following courses at the BYC 2017:
Thai Yoga Massage with KrishnaTakis – Thursday, July 20th, 10-13h / 15-18h
Chi Qung & Yoga with Patrick Broome – Saturday, July 22, 10:30am – 12:15pm
Thai Yoga Massage – The Sacred Dance – Saturday July 22, 2017 3:30pm – 7:45pm