Physical, emotional, environmental? Is it one or the other?
The body: the external; the emotional: the internal; the environment we live in: the container. What causes what? What influences what?
Do we feel, or do we suppress? Does stuff sneak out? Does something filter in?
Legitimate questions that could link answers from psychotherapists, massage therapists, osteopaths, sociologists, natural therapists and so on.
This is my answer, from my personal experience, as a Thai Massage therapist and teacher.
For who is familiar with and open to the idea of mirrors and the reflections they give us, Thai massage is a perfect mirror to show the receiver how much tension he or she is holding and where in the physical body.
Being the body a concrete physical manifestation of thoughts, emotions, emotional patterns, unresolved past experiences; being that Thai massage works though a sequence of motions, which constantly require complete surrender to the flow of the stretches; it becomes easy for the receiver to gain awareness on where she/he is storing stuff and how much he/she is holding and controlling the body.
As a Thai Massage practitioner, who moves people around, lifts and stretches their limbs, rotates ankles and wrists, I immediately noticed how much unconscious tension there is, for example, in people who have a stressful life, who may have a stressful job, who are always busy and therefore out of touch with themselves.
Without any judgement on the reasons why that is, it’s very interesting to notice how much we human beings can be out of touch with our internal reality. We manage to ignore our feelings, our emotions, to shut down to a body that is trying to tell us things we obviously don’t want to hear, or don’t have the time to hear.
Consequently, to successfully ignore our body screaming for help, we build tension and hold ‘control’ on the body. I have so often massaged clients who are not able to let go of their limbs, whom I ask to drop and let me hold, but they are not aware they are holding.
To have total control, we all know, feels safe, but we also know it’s not so good for our physical body. The first step then, for those who are ready to move through their own resistance, is to simply notice, to become aware of what we are doing and just observe it.
From there the path opens to the one of the Buddhist teaching that Thai massage derives from: the loving kindness and compassion, which is not meant only towards others, but also towards ourselves!