Getting Your Hands Wet

Digging up mud with our neighbor Neru for the house walls

by Laura

I started treating my Nepali family with Integrative Manual Therapy about two years ago, and this fall I made an effort to include the plastic cards we’re experimenting with as a community teaching tool.  My family in Nepal is pretty comfortable with IMT–they’re always willing to let me treat them.  And there’s generally a very positive context here for hands-on therapy, as it is compatible with many types of traditional and natural medicine.

Still, I haven’t ventured very far out of my own Nepali home with IMT.  For one thing, we’re talking Hindu culture…when the crazy American showed up a few years ago, even the whole hugging thing was totally weird.  People use their hands for so many things–digging, chopping, churning, milking–Aamaa can pick up a hot pot off the fire with her fingers!  But there’s not a lot of touchy-feely stuff happening, natural medicine notwithstanding.
For another thing, I’m admit I’m intimidated by whether people will really be able to tell this is medicine.  And just kind of putting your hands on people isn’t really in line with, you know, fairly rigid rules of conduct.  I mean I’ve gotten in to trouble just standing too close to the wrong water jugs!  (More on the Rules of the Water tap, have a listen here. )
I find that, whether I’m in New England or rural Nepal, when you’ve decided to treat someone who doesn’t know anything about manual therapy, there is a particular moment after they lie down, just before you touch them on the shoulder, belly, knee, where something has to shift a little.  In a clinic, this is quite easy, because even the uninitiated have showed up specifically to meet you, the clinician.  But everywhere else–family reunion, apartment of old college friend, mat in the yard of house in Kaskikot Nepal–you have to kind of turn in to a therapist.  With no context that moment of transition always seems a little daunting.  Then when it happens you can feel a subtle change, like passing through a doorway.

by Laura
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