With renewed physical strength and relief from ongoing throbbing pain, I feel like this is something I must share with you immediately. Blind massage is common in Cambodia and it’s not hard to find a place to visit when your joints are sore. I’ll be honest, I love massage, I love spas, and I love all the environments that a bit of imagination can conjure in constructing a place of zen. I get frequent massage to relax and to make sure that life in an office doesn’t get too deep into my posture.
Three weeks ago I got a kink in my shoulder. It seemed to get worse everyday. I’ve had a hard time each morning to move my head and neck. I’ve gone for frequent massages that have helped, but by the next morning, all therapeutic assistance had seemed to vanish. Told by many of my Cambodian colleagues that I needed to visit blind massage, I can’t deny that I was a bit hesitant. Last week I had my first blind massage. It was incredible. The masseur found the exact spots and worked them like never in my life. The next morning was the first day in nearly a month I didn’t wake up in terrible pain with a paralysing headache. Over the last week I’ve had five blind massages. Yes, I’m addicted!
Today I had the most impacting experience. Recommended at work, I visited Nigah, a blind masseuse at a Seeing Hands Massage near my office. I walked in, and in a perfect American accent, I was asked what problems I had and how much time I could spare for a visit. Taken into the dark group massage room that has become quite familiar to me over the last week with blue sheets, blue pyjamas, and strong air conditioning, I laid down into what was about to be an agonising but incredibly therapeutic knot breaking shiatsu experience. You know when you sometimes have to direct somebody to where the pain is to give you a massage? Not with Nigah! She found every terrible knot and put her entire strength into it. It was incredibly painful – but as she said, “no pain, no gain!”
When Nigah was a child, people actually urged her to die early so she could be born again with sight. She felt differently. She loved listening to American radio and eventually learned a perfect American English with all the expressions to boot. In spite of her parent’s refusal to let her get involved in the massage industry, she secretly attended a blind massage training led by an NGO in the 90s. 10 years ago, she received a scholarship to study shiatsu and anma massage techniques in Okinawa, Japan. Now she manages her shop and is a member of the Seeing Hang cooperative that is popping up all over Cambodia. She has an incredible sense of humour. She spent the hour with me making me scream in pain while she laughed and apologised for hurting me – but with the promise that I would get better. I feel absolutely better!
It is inspiring to see, for a brief moment, an environment where someone with a disability has the advantage and guides the seeing into an experience that is so powerful and moving. Not only do I admire in awe the social inclusiveness of this thriving entrepreneurial model, but I now straightly sit up amazed at how much relief I have!