Massage is a method of treatment long-established in Indonesian society in general and amongst Javanese communities in particular, trusted for its ability to improve health towards optimal levels.
Since ancient times, several societies in the world have come to adopt some form of massage therapy for its empirical results in alleviating pain and discomfort in various parts of the body. Before the advent of modern medical science people already enjoyed the relief offered by massaging or squeezing those body tissues experiencing pain or stiffness. Massage essentially consists of methods of wringing, rubbing and pressuring sore spots, applied with specific movements and rhythm to produce a relieving effect. In Indonesia, massage techniques have flourished and developed well over centuries as a result of proven effectiveness yet arguably also because of factors of low cost and ease of learning or transmission. Indeed, it can be performed anywhere anytime and the benefits for fitness (body care) besides serious therapeutic treatment are felt almost immediately.
Interestingly, in Java massage techniques have often been characterized by usage of the power of instinct or inner sense (called ‘naluri roso’ here). According to practitioners, therapy then focuses on applying energy stimulation through pressure techniques whereby energy frequency will lead to the dissolving of stagnations that ultimately are believed to cause health problems. A state of balance or equilibrium related to both circulation of blood and energy is the sought-after outcome. Javanese massage integrates various aspects of anatomical science and traditional teachings on the aesthetic balance between motion, breath techniques and subtle feeling (tata gerak, tata napas lan tata batin). As in classic dance, Javanese knowledge of Health refers to an attitude called “Laksita-Tama”, namely: “Wirasa, wirama, lan wiraga” (with respect to the guidance of subtle senses and accompanied by precise rhythmic motions). An interpretation of the philosophy behind such massaging states the required condition of “Nyawiji, Greget Sengguh Ora Mingkuh”, meaning the masseuse has to perform massage while heart and mind are set in complete concentration (Hening) whereby the qualities of creativity, feeling and intention (cipta, rasa, kersa) are balanced together which will then cause the desired power (energy) to manifest and operate effectively. Other laws found in Javanese massage therapy especially in diagnosis and etiology relate to the Law of opposites (Yin Yang) and the Law of Five Elements (lima unsur).
Examples of Javanese massage techniques:
1. Gunyer (Pressing Thumb): uses the thumb to apply pressure on points along muscles and tendons around the hand/arm/shoulder area.
2. Ciwelan (Pinching): wringing movement to relieve stiffness in shoulder, neck and upper back area
Before massaging wash your hands to keep it hygienic, rub your hands together and use oil to provide a smooth, relaxed and warm massage. By respecting an even and gradual rhythm and concentrating on the patient’s well-being, pleasant results and a feeling of well-being are likely to ensue.
Hoping that this article on massage may be inspiring and helpful, next month we’ll introduce further beneficial Javanese Healing methods.
Salam kesehatan. Rahayu….!
By Moko Pramusanto and Patrick Vanhoebrouck