Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Training Is the Key: An Interview with Gagori Mitra-Gupta

ABA-BLOG: In the previous posts, the importance of in-depth all-round training for bodyworkers was addressed, especially in between the lines in Ken Dychtwald’s overview of what good bodywork can achieve.  Only someone very well schooled in the field would ever be able to accomplish what Ken is pointing to.  What about your training?  Was it encompassing?  Did it enable you to do some of the things Ken is talking about?

GAGORI: YES, it was; and YES, it did.

ABA-BLOG: I mean, not just by enabling you to give a good massage, which is a pleasant enough experience although the pleasure doesn’t last, of course. What I want to know is, if through your bodywork, were you able to coach someone to the point that his or her own life changed for the better?  Not for a moment, but for good? 

GAGORIYES, again.  Such things happened and continue to happen.

ABA-BLOG: You don’t elaborate much.

GAGORIMay be, because if I get warmed up to the subject, I won’t stop talking for a while. 

ABA-BLOG: Be my guest.

GAGORIWell, what I had the good fortune to receive through the people with whom I trained, turned out to be much more than a solid schooling in bodywork; it was more like a complete education.  It changed my life.  It did not only give me the tools for a career.  It gave me self-knowledge, self-assurance, broadened my horizons, and enabled me to become a self-made woman.  That’s some development.

ABA-BLOG: It is hard to believe that taking a course could bring that about.

GAGORIAs I said, it was an education, not a course.  It started with a 300-hour course or training in a variety of forms of bodywork, body psychology, tai chi for better posture, treatment etiquette and so forth, taught in four modules.  These were followed by a 2-year apprenticeship, so to speak, when I was invited to serve as an assistant to the trainers in three more 300-hour courses and learned so much more.  In addition I took part in several 5-day retreats in Tibetan yoga and attended seminars in self-inquiry all with the same trainers, very traditionally Indian in some ways, especially the self-inquiry part, but very modern at the same time.  So, if you add all of this up, I must have spent 2400 hours on my training and would not want to miss a minute of it.  Really, not even one of the bad minutes when I felt lousy, or inadequate, or was hurting because I had run into the brick wall of my own mind, or preconceived ideas; or felt challenged, because it appeared that my instructors demanded so much, or did not appreciate me or my needs nearly enough. 

ABA-BLOG:  Would you recommend that everyone follow your example and take such a long training?

GAGORIIt depends on what people aim for.  If you want to work as a masseur or masseuse in a hotel, or beauty parlor here in India and earn an average salary, then you don’t need to go to such great lengths in terms of training.  You take an 80-hour course in some form of massage, and a 60-hour course in another.  We will even help you find a placement.  But if you want to be an authentic therapist, able to genuinely help people through your work and call yourself a true bodyworker, then, yes, a long and comprehensive training is what it takes. 

ABA-BLOG:  What made you persist?  What made you forge ahead and do it?

GAGORII started without much of a plan.  Actually, I was just curious.  I originally had graduated as a B Com.  Then I passed my post graduate degree in Human Resources at Symbiosis in Pune, after which I was hired on the spot by some multi-national company, for a decent enough entry remuneration package even.  My family was elated.  They figured that now I had it made and would rise along the corporate ladder.  Me, on the other hand, I became depressed.  I found the situation depressing, or claustrophobic.  

ABA-BLOG:  I don’t understand.  Why?  But then, unlike many you probably weren’t the security-minded type.

GAGORII said to myself, “So now you’re set.  You’ll get promoted until you reach but one notch above the level of your incompetence, or you’ll get married, raise a family and die?  Is that really all that there is going to be?  Is that really all you want?”  Obviously it wasn’t.  I wanted more.  I did not want to get stuck in a rut at age 25.  Then, when I heard through a friend about a unique bodywork training given by an American psychologist and her German partner somewhere in South India, I made sure that I got the contact number, and signed up the next day.  I wanted to satisfy my curiosity.  After the first week of training I quit my job.  That is also something I never regretted. -  But, to come back to a previous point in our discussion, if you want to get that independent, a very comprehensive training is absolutely needed.  Western bodywork or massage schools only offer courses of 500 to 1000 hours minimum, when some of certification becomes part of it. And I understand why, just to learn and understand human anatomy as it applies to massage takes quite a bit of time.  As a bodyworker you also need a few years to mature.  You are not only acquiring some professional skills.  You become a therapist.  And being a therapist means that you need to get to know yourself in ways other than those, according to which you mistakenly believe you already know yourself.  You only know the surface.

ABA-BLOG:  In the trainings that you give, you do take these different needs into account, though?  I mean in your academy, you train people for their future job and help them find one, and you offer additional courses and seminars along the lines of the things that you went through. Is that how it works?

GAGORI In a manner of speaking, yes. We are presently restructuring the Aithein Bodywork Academy, and it seems that after some time we will be able to deliver the full package: professional training in different forms of massage and bodywork; advanced bodywork courses; plus trainings in different forms of self-inquiry and yoga and tai chi.  We want to be in the position to deliver what according to my own background and experience, I consider the full package.

ABA-BLOG:  Thank you.  I am sure we’ll pick up the discussion under from a different angle at a later date.

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