Weight of the Hand

The last time in Thailand, Pichest came up to Michelle as she was working on someone and stopped her and said, “weight of the hand.  That’s all.”

That idea has informed my practice these days.  The weight of the hand (and arm) is all I need 80 percent of the time.   The challenge is backing off, letting the arm relax and letting the full weight of the hand/arm sink.

It takes a moment.  A moment for me to scan my body and relax it.  A moment to make sure I am truly letting go of my arm and hand.  A moment to trust that in time, that amount of pressure will be enough.  And after a few moments, I am usually surprised to realize that, yes, it is enough.  Sometimes it’s more than enough.

Try this sometime.  Hit your open palm into a wooden floor.  Ouch.  Then, put your hand on that wooden floor and let the weight of your hand connect to it.  I think you will find that the floor seems hard when you hit it hard, as you might expect.  But when you let yourself sink, there is a softness that seems to emerge, making the floor seem pliable in some way.

In the body, the same thing happens.  When you just let the weight of the hand engage the tissue, a whole new world emerges in the space that you are entering.  You begin to see contours and ridges and softness and hardness and movement in a way that you may have just pushed through before.  You begin truly communicating with the body instead of just imposing your will on it.

This takes trust and patience.  There might be fear that comes up when you back off and let go.  There might be a sense of loss of control.  There might be an awareness of your sense of the client’s expectation for “deeper” work.   The interesting thing is, though, you will find that the work does become deeper and more personal when you just use the weight of the hand.

Try it and see how it goes for you.  And then let me know your experiences.  I’m always interested.

  1. Nemir Adjina
    Nemir Adjina05-08-2012

    very interesting, but I don’t understand, does this mean you do not use body weight, just the dead weight of the arm? How does it work? nemir

    • chicagoschoolofthaimassage

      Hey Nemir,

      Thanks for writing – and good question. I’m thinking a video response might be in order to help explain the concept. Of course, I need to figure out how to do that first!!! Anyways, I am thinking that weight of the hand / arm is more a internal mental process on my part. It keeps me from “pushing”. So even if I am positioned with my body above the person and have the weight of my body moving into my arm / hand, if I think to myself, “weight of the hand”, I find that I relax more and just let the natural weight that the body position creates do the work. It’s a very different experience to give and too receive and it feels so much more mentally expansive – as opposed to tight. I don’t know if that makes sense – it’s really hard too write about!

  2. Brian Chambers
    Brian Chambers11-17-2012

    This entry brought me back to the many times I would find myself FEELING surfaces my hand came to rest upon: a page, a banister, a table top–a bar top! Almost massaging them, but really just feeling the contact, the information, enjoying and educating my touch sense. Almost absentmindedly, but with a great deal of “mind” in the hand itself.
    From a technical standpoint, I find the “weight of the hand” principle to also be invaluable as prelude and transition to using more strength. That is, the quality of “engagement” with a spot on the other person’s body is so important! I can’t really complete a powerful, dynamic sequence of moves with quality if I have not engaged properly–and for me this might only take an extra 1 or 2 seconds in some cases–not always a full weight-of-the-hand awareness, just a completely unforced “this is where my hand IS” confirmation.

    • chicagoschoolofthaimassage

      thanks for this brian. it’s interesting. it can be used in so many places. as a prelude and transition to using more strength like you said. and also, as a check in while you are using the “strength”, to allow the pressure to come from the architecture, gravity, etc as opposed to pushing from the shoulder, arm, hand. it seems to take sense of pushing out of it and allow for more flow. That being said, there needs to be energy in the hand too. but it’s a qigong type of energized sense. weight of the hand but energized at the same time. shit – words are poor messengers!

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