by Anne Dimon
Why we need more spa therapists like Jaspal Singh: ‘We’ve booked you a session with our traveling therapist,’ says Ayse Karpat marketing manager for Swissotel Izmir, a luxury resort hotel in the harbor city of Izmir on Turkey’s Aegean coast. I’m here as a guest of Swissotel on, this, my first visit to Turkey. Twenty plus years a travel and spa writer and industry journalist, and this is the first time I’ve heard the term ‘traveling therapist.’ Ayse tells me therapist Jaspal Singh, who visits this Swissotel spa from time to time for short durations, ‘is very popular with spa clients and you must experience a session with him.’ I was about to find out why.
Born and raised in Punjab, a northern state of India, Jaspal began his holistic healing journey at quality spas and wellness centers in India, Bhutan, Thailand and Cambodia, and since 2007 has lived and worked in Turkey. He now collaborates with different spas, hotels, clinics and health centers as a freelance (read ‘traveling’) healing therapist. PÜROVEL Spa at Swissotel, Izmir is just one of several spas that Jaspal offers his healing services on a freelance basis. What I discovered in his close to two-hour treatment is that Jaspal’s MO is less about the protocol and more about the person.
Sometimes, Jaspal tells me, a client may just need to talk.
Sometimes, he says, they may just need a hug.
It’s about listening not only to the words the client is using to communicate, but also his or her body language, manner, tone and emotion behind the words. Sometimes, Jaspal tells me, a client may just need to talk. Sometimes, he says, they may just need a hug. ‘Especially in cases of anxiety, stress related and trust related problems, a big warm hug can make a huge difference,’ he says. ‘In many sessions I’ve given hugs of up to 20 minutes long which had much more therapeutic value than anything else.”
He acknowledges that ‘warmth and patience is getting less in today’s fast paced life’ so he makes sure ‘to spend a few minutes in the beginning to make them (clients) feel comfortable and try to get as much information as I can’ about lifestyle and any issues or problems they may be experiencing. He says that in many cases, people simple want somebody to take the time to listen to them, ‘this, itself, proves to be a wonderful therapy, loosening them up and making them more receptive for the session.’ My session, too, begins with a friendly chat that allows Jaspal to ‘read’ me, and even before I hop up on the table to begin the massage he has already zeroed in on the fact that, while I may be overall healthy, I have a slight pain in my right knee. The damage was done while running the Malibu Half Marathon a few years ago and it has not yet completely healed. It blows me away that he knows that fact without even touching me.
Jaspal was not always a healing therapist. He has a Masters in Performing Arts from the National School of Drama (NSD) in New Delhi and previously worked in that field specializing in design and direction. But when we sit down to chat following the session, he tells me, ‘I strongly felt that something was missing from my life. It was haunting me that everybody who comes into this world must have some purpose so I kept asking myself, what is the purpose of my life? After listening to my heart and evaluating all the possibilities – I choose Healing as my new profession.’
He says he had studied reflexology following his Masters degree and had been treating people on a part-time basis while working in another career and ‘found it closer to my heart and more satisfactory as compared to any other work I had done so far.’
Over the years, he has studied Reiki, Pranic Healing, Traditional Thai Massage and various other therapeutic modalities from India and elsewhere. ‘Since the very beginning of my journey in this field, I found many flaws in the basic approach to these spa therapies.’ Many of the therapists he worked with, he says, were ‘mechanically following the ‘steps’ in their particular therapies for every individual, exactly the way they had been taught.’ But this is not his way. ‘I’ve always thought that everyone has different needs depending upon one’s physicality, circumstances, emotions and stress levels, so how, he asks, ‘can we provide treatment to everyone with the same yardsticks?’
That was when he decided to forge his own signature treatment by combining various modalities.
Following the initial conversation with a client, he tells me, ‘I try to assess the physical body through various techniques, checking the blockages, dryness, pain, stiffness, energy levels and other conditions. It gives me a fairly good idea of their problematic areas.
I strongly believe that every part of the body has its own memory storage. So after establishing a connection with it, it’s possible to get a lot of information regarding the person’s nature, physical, emotional, psychological, mental, environmental, stress related problems and the impact on one’s physical body. And while it’s difficult to explain, I can feel the other person’s pain and that is part of my unique gift. Because of that, I can easily shape my therapy according to their pain thresholds and sensitivity levels.’
So far the journey of 17 years in this field, has been very rewarding and satisfying and I feel very blessed, proud and honored to say that now I have more than 1,200 of my own clients, including more than 135 families in Turkey, and it’s growing every day.’
Personally, I found Jaspal’s brand of therapy to be a much more personalize approach to a treatment than what I have encountered at many other spas over the years and around the world. This, I’m certain, is due in part to his unique and gifted approach, but at a time when loneliness and depression are on the rise, perhaps building in a bit of simple ‘therapeutic talk time’ with a trained, qualified and caring wellness practitioner into a few spa menu offerings is something more spa directors could give some thought to.
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