28 Feb | Feabhra – Thai Massage is Love
In February, I was preparing for my second tour as part of what I have called “Praxis Pilgrimage”. Borrowing the coinage of praxis from Gramsci, who was arguably 20th century’s most notorious Marxist. He was also the leader of the Italian Communist Party, and was imprisoned in in 1926 under Mussolini, where he remained until 1937. Fascinatingly, he managed to somehow smuggle an estimated 3,000 pages of his writings out of the prison during this time – the only reason we can cite his theories today.
He was a polymath – extremely agile at joining together seemingly disparate disciplines and areas of analysis. He shared in a lot of Marxist thought, but also injected his own distinct flavour into it. In a sense, he did what other theorists had failed to do – which was rehabilitate the political. He believed politics, although dysfunctional in there (then) present form – was worth saving.
‘Praxis’ refers to bridging the gap between the theory and practice: making politics inherently philosophical and vice-versa. Praxis then, refers to an instructive, consciousness-raising process. Developing it as a concept, he exposes the futility of one without the other. Captures that all ‘meaning’ can only be understood as a symbiotic creation between human behaviour and the social context in which it emerges. It was Gramsci’s way of making Marxist tradition actionable: practical.
I like this word because it prompts me to ponder how I intend to align my philosophies preferences with my political pursuits. I think congruence makes for wellness and I am (at least attempting) to orient towards having a congruent and cohesive expression of personal, professional, political and philosophical aspects.
The pilgrimage part of the puzzle refers to the leap of faith lifestyle change I plunged into as of the end of 2022. At the beginning of the year, around Spring time, three major life anchors fell away. I left my place of work, I separated from my partner; and my housemate also left unexpectedly. I was rattled and could scarcely recognise the life around me – almost overnight.
I had been extremely comfortable, living in my home house, rent-free – home town, instant community and all-around loveliness. And… and the same time had been feeling slightly unfulfilled. So, Moon by Moon, I prepared myself to leave. I had a few projects and loose ends to weave together but finally left Co. Clare.
My first stint was a 7-week trip in Northern Ireland, Scotland, Denmark and Portugal.
And February, was the beginnings of another 7-week tour, except this time I would be going further afield – all the way to Asia!
I did a Thai Yoga Massage course in 2019 in Sunshine House in Greece. I fell madly in love with the practice. Gentle and profound; still and dynamic; wordless holding; merging of bodies. That course, and particularly the style of my teacher Betty Papadoupolulou had an extremely deep effect on me. Being so touch saturated, having my soma so tened to, initiated a MASSIVE return to my body and her story.
Fast forward to 4 years later, I staring down the barrel at this prospective law-path, and thinking to myself ‘I am going to need a body-based practice if I am to have any hope in hell remaining in equilibrium on that journey.’ The knowing, that I need some activity that is not ‘conscious’ in the sense of cognitive functioning, but instead is supremely conscious in terms of giving and receiving through physical expression. Bypass from brain to body. So! That’s what led me to the Thai Massage Circus.
Now the hilarious thing, is that developing a ‘practice’, in whatever way, shape or form, was one of my key intentions for my 29th year. That’s why I started the Poem A Day Project. I had tried and failed miserably for years to establish a daily meditation/yoga/exercise practice and it was really discouraging. In September 2022, when I was in the lowest of the lows, deep diving with the Shadow – I wrote a poem. And I thought: I should this every day. Half a year later – I’m going strong!
The Circus was phenomenal. It was so perfect. The landscape; the rivers hugging the island of earth we were camped in, our own private waterfall; the structures – bamboo, natural materials, sauna with lemongrass herbal aromatherapy and coconut and coffee body scrub; the food, lovingly, carefully and nourishingly prepared; the massage: so.much.touch; the schedule, mediation, yoga, breakfast, circle, singing, class, lunch, rest, class, dinner, evening community event. Scatter the desired number of iced-matchas and swims in and voila – heaven on Earth. Every sense and craving catered too. Every scatch itched. And – of course, so much opportunity to hone p r a c t i c e … This communal rhythm was so irresistible.