A Journey Through the Senses

This six-star spa employs a concept that embodies ancient healing traditions
and mystic rituals of China and the Himalayas

Bangkok Post, Friday 29 July 2005

I've never been to Tibet, never climbed the Himalayas and the closest I got
to the roof of the world was when I watched Tomb Raider. Recently though, at
Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok I did find myself in a situation not unlike a Lara
Croft adventure.

The dramatic light spilling through the lattice screen washing down a
split-face stone wall, the Himalayan artifacts, the smell of scented incense
and aromatic oils, the sound of singing bowls _ what was I doing in a
Tibetan temple? It was a state of mind of course, and Chi The Spa at
Shangri-La was about to take me on a rejuvenating journey.

Matching the mystical ambience, this six-star spa employs a concept that
embodies ancient healing traditions, philosophies, and rituals of China and
the Himalayas. It's a health spa that believes in chi _ the universal life
force that governs well-being and vitality.

Arlene Finch, the spa director, explained that to maintain good health chi
must flow freely within the body. If blocked, it is likely that illness will
occur; and to clear natural blockages, movement is a key element. Combining
the physical movements of exercise, stretching, massage and hydrotherapy
with movement of the mind through relaxation and meditation will help
release the chi energy and assist the body's natural renewal.

In addition, the treatments and product range are designed according to the
Five Elements theory _ a Chinese philosophy that identifies the elements
metal, water, wood, fire, and earth which influence the chi energy. Chi's
therapies aim to achieve a balance of the five elements to harmonise with
the positive yang and negative yin energy within the body.

To identify my dominant element, I had to answer some questions related to
health as well as give my personal preferences related to colours and taste
in food.

"You're a metal person," Arlene told me. "Metal people have very high
standards and they will do things exceptionally well. They are constantly
thinking, analysing, looking at how they can do things better. However it's
very difficult for a metal person to switch off." That seems very much like
me, I thought. And I do find it hard to relax even while spa-ing, as
thoughts keep dancing on my mind.

The 1,000-square-metre spa is renowned for having the largest private spa
suites in Bangkok. The nine suites include shower, sauna, steam, bathing,
changing and lounging facilities. After stepping into the tastefully opulent
suite, the relaxing ritual started with sipping herbal tea, followed by foot
soaking and foot pounding which were a prelude to signature therapies
prescribed for my metal profile.

After changing into a comfy robe that made me feel like a yak, I had to take
it off for the Rejuvenation Himalayan Bath Therapy. The jacuzzi tub provided
colour therapy as lighting provided the illusion of the water continuously
changing colour. With water overflowing from the tub's infinity edge, the 20
minute soak was a nice way to unwind.

Lying on the bed for the next spa treatment, I was tickled by the sound of
the singing bowl.

Arlene later explained that the nerve channels within the body, through
which the life force flows, are sound sensitive. Vibrations increase the
vitality of these nerve channels by stimulating healthy tissue and organ
activity to restore good health. "The singing bowl is an ancient healing
instrument made from seven metals. It helps to clear the mind, relax the
body," Arlene said. "And if you are more relaxed, you will get maximum
benefit out of the massage and the therapist will be able to work deeper to
release blockage of chi."

Did the singing bowl had an effect on me? My mind, which was disco dancing,
slowed down to a tango, but it was the Mountain Tsampa Rub (2,100 baht,
excluding tax and service charge) that made my thoughts waltz.

Very different from other body scrubs that I previously experienced, it
involved two steps. First an oil massage worked on the lymphatic system to
help release toxins, then a scrub blended from barley and Himalayan herbs
gently exfoliated the skin. The heat pad on the bed, which stimulated
circulation, also made the treatment extremely soothing.

Then I had to take a shower to thoroughly rinse off the very fine scrub
before the therapist gave me the Himalayan Healing Stone Massage (4,500
baht, excluding tax and service charge). Combining Ayurveda techniques
(heavy oils, vigorous strokes), Chinese medicine pressure points and Tibetan
healing stones, this massage therapy aims to draw any blocked chi from a
particular organ.

Ritually carved stones, heated in oils and herbs, were used to rub the body
with a long flowing massage technique that worked on the meridian energy
channel. The hot stones were later applied to specific points to help dispel
blockages of chi, enabling its smooth flow throughout the body.

After three hours in Tibet, the sound of cymbals was a wake-up call and a
symbol of my imminent return to Bangkok. Were the healing instruments simply
gimmicks? According to Arlene, they are the real thing, and every element of
the Chi concept was developed by a team of experts in traditional Chinese
medicine and Himalayan healing arts.

Did the Tibetan touch work for me? I should like to say I'd return many
times to find out. But I think it will have to be a special treat.

Chi The Spa at Shangri-La Hotel Bangkok opens daily from 10am-10pm. For more
information, call 02-236-7777.

Dr. Yeshe Dhonden
Sleep and the Inner Landscape,
An Interview about
Dreams and Tibetan Medicine with
the Tibetan Physician, Dr. Yeshe Dhonden

Cause of Diabetes According to the Tibetan Medical Sources, Dr. Trogawa
Causes of Mental Disorders According to the Tibetan Medical Tradition, Dr. Trogawa

An Interview with Eliot Tokar regarding his studies with Dr. Trogawa, Dr. Dhonden and others (pdf)

Transformation and Balance:
The Principles of Tibetan Medicine in the Context of American Healthcare, Eliot Tokar (pdf)

Preservation and Progress: Using Tibetan Medicine as a Model
to Define a Progressive Role for Traditional Asian Medicine in Modern Healthcare Eliot Tokar (pdf)

Pictures from Tibet and Ladakh Circa 1986

Dr. Trogawa-Memorial Blog

The Household Physician

Medicine Buddha holding myrobalan

Aroma Therapeutic Tibetan Herbal Incense

"Tibetan incense, medicinal powder, and Tibetan 'precious pills' are in
great demand here," said one police officer who asked not to be named.
"People believe that it can prevent the virus. And SARS hasn't spread to Tibet."
Radio Free Asia-May 7, 2003

Tibetan Precious Pills and Herbal Formulations 

Handbook of Traditional Tibetan Drugs: Their Nomenclature,Composition, Use and Dosage

Four Crows and the Moon

Tibet Stamps, 1912 Sheets
Tibet Stamps, 1912 Sheets
1912 Tibet Stamp Sheet Originals
From Which Our Reprints Have Been Made



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