Who Stole My Chi?

Energetic therapies are far from being a new spa phenomena. In fact, roughly ten years ago, a client of a well-known destination resort and spa sued the facility because she felt the massage therapist who gave her a treatment while at the resort stole her chi. It became the task of the court system to determine how to handle such a claim until the case was finally settled out of court.

Reiki, Ortho-Bionomy, polarity therapy, Zero-Balancing, and Quantum Touch are just a few of the many healing modalities being routinely practiced throughout the world. However, as more spas begin embracing options like acupuncture, guided imagery, gem stone therapies, and ayurveda, there is a risk that consumers will become lost in the shuffle and all healing arts professionals will suffer from the stigma of a few who misrepresented modalities in their haste to promote the services at their facilities.

Reenita Malhotra, owner of Ayoma Life Spa at the Hotel Valencia in San Jose, Calif., says there may be too many therapies offered at spas, and similar facilities don’t offer a lot of substance. “There are a lot of specialty services being offered out there that can result in malpractice that simply aren’t being taken seriously,” she says. “Many of the ayurvedic treatments offered in the United States are being administered by therapists who don’t have a complete understanding of the art and science that is ayurvedic medicine and healing.”

To Malhotra, energetic work, like ayurveda, can be confusing to clients. “There is a gross energetic level and a physical level in which toxins express their qualities,” she says. “In ayurveda, the therapist must bring the subtle energetic toxins and convert them to the physical so they can be worked on and eliminated.” She cites as example the fact that a person with emotional depression could express their toxic quality of that feeling to a physical state. “A client being worked on might detoxify their system, for instance, by expelling mucus,” Malhotra says. “To the client, this could be very disturbing if not explained, because they would not understand the sudden change in their bodies.”

Beyond the realities of detoxification and opening energetic blockages, there are control issues. Take for instance clients who feel afraid they are giving up their power to therapists who work on their energy. The client who felt her chi had been stolen may have also felt she was particularly vulnerable during her massage session without understanding the intention of the therapist. “This is the problem that arises out of lack of communication between the client and the therapist — sometimes certain modalities will not help with the problem the client is experiencing,” Malhotra says. “If that is the case, that should be pointed out early on so they can seek alternative therapies. Ultimately there are two types of spas — fluffy or relaxation spas and wellness centers or medical spas. Serious therapies belong in the latter category.”

So which path do you take as a resort spa?  Many of those who frequent resorts are spa aficionados.  They know a quality massage that is tuned into their needs.  They expect an intake that is thorough and a facial or aesthetic treatment that produces results, educates them and improves their look as well as specific problems. Consumers want to travel and remain in the healthful habits that they enjoy while at home.  At a resort the standards of this care are even higher. Smart approaches to resort spa programming will include regional therapies with active ingredients preferably foraged from the jungle, the desert, the ocean with a staff throughout the property that understands from top to bottom what the spa specializes in. You cannot cookie cutter your way through the spa solution without suffering the inevitable corporate—who stole the spa’s chi?

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