Highlighting – the selfless and self-effacing Neil Turner

A series of posts featuring some of the wonderful massage practitioners who generously provide us and our clients with their warm personalities and deft touch.

img_3620This guy. Wow! He couldn’t do more for others if he tried. There just isn’t enough hours in the day for Neil to be more good than he already is.

A man with eclectic tastes in most things, he lives and breathes the Adelaide Hills when he’s not rubbing people up the right way or volunteering his time for the disabled in Bali.

A modest man, as many good practitioners of any craft usually are, we’re super proud to call Neil a friend as well as an esteemed colleague.

Please tell everyone who you are.

Hi I’m Neil Turner. I’m a father of 2 young adults and have one of the most lovely people in the world as my partner.

I came into the world of massage in 2007 and prior to that I was a music teacher. I love music (anything creative but my main love sits on the heavier side).

I’m passionate about Asian therapies, travelling within South East Asia and visiting my disabled friends in Bali for two months every year volunteering my massage (‘pijat’ in the Indonesian language) service to them.

Here’s an article Neil wrote for the ATMS journal about his time in Bali  with his ‘second family’.

Is Corporate Massage ‘it’ for you or do you apply your skills in private practice? If yes, how and where?

Corporate Massage is one of a number of ways that I feel I can help or make a difference for others.

I also work at the ‘Float Room’ in Marion, Adelaide where as well as giving massage we also have ‘float tanks’ where people can simply ‘float’ themselves into bliss or try to rid themselves of any number of complaints – insomnia, anxiety, stress, etc.

However the majority of my work is within the ‘disability sector’ (I don’t like the word ‘disable’ so I usually adopt the word ‘difable’ – different ability – a term that many difabled people are starting to use themselves.

It takes a special kind of person to work as a touch practitioner. Why do you do it?

Since very young I have spent a lot of time travelling throughout Southeast Asia. I am always fascinated to observe the local people performing their traditional treatments on others for the purpose of health and healing.

It was during these years perhaps that I noticed first hand the profound value that the art of touch can have. It was later in life when my job as lecturer in music at the ‘Centre for Aboriginal Studies in Music’ came to a close that I embarked upon the Diploma of Remedial Therapies, majoring in Asian practice and techniques.

During this period of study I was (as we all were) continuously involved in the practice of ‘safe touch’. It seemed so essential and yet so many people in society appeared to be ‘out of touch’ – literally.

Initially I was focused only upon the physical effects and benefits, but later on during my practice I started to ‘get it’. I was contributing in some way in helping each person feel a little happier, maybe a little more stress-free, or perhaps that chronic neck pain has been diminished or even gone altogether.

There are so many people who can benefit from the ‘wholistic’ reality of massage. Massage/therapy that starts off with the premise that what we are doing is not necessarily ‘us’ doing the healing, but rather that we are able to contribute to the facilitation process which starts some kind reaction whereby our client is freed up to be able to initiate or continue their own healing process.

How does what you do every day contribute to the greater good of your community, or thinking big, the planet!?

These skills that we as ‘touch’ practitioners have gained are, I believe, something that we must continue to work upon so as not to let ourselves drift into a state of complacency. Complacency that can transform itself into ‘just a job’ or ‘just another dollar’, and ultimately a bad or boring experience for the recipient.

For many people ‘safe touch’ from us may be the only touch they ever receive. I feel it is my human duty to make that touch treatment as close to exactly right for every individual.

My work in Indonesia (Bali) for the last 3 years has been perhaps one of the most profound events in my life. A simple decision to ‘go somewhere’ out there and see what I can do has produced such huge ramifications in my life.

And not because I’m on the path to saving people, or some such misdirected thinking, but because together my difabled friends and I have forged a relationship of mutual respect, cultural learning, understanding, acceptance and friendship.

Very importantly it is a 2 way process that required dropping the concept of ‘what I’m doing is of utmost importance for them’. This way of thinking tends to just retard the natural development of good relations and turns it into an ego driven venture which is ultimately quite ‘see-through’ and damaging.

For me this involvement in cultural respect and integrity, however small-scale it is, may be as much as any well meaning individual can do.

This is, I believe, the kind of contribution that is so easily achievable for the ‘greater good’, within your own community, or thinking big, the planet.

And very importantly, because you’re a normal (super) human and like to do normal (super) human things too, what is the most normal thing about you?

Call me crazy normal, but I’m a proud cat lover and very keen bushwalker.

I love going out to see a good heavy metal band; when my eldest son graduated I cried; I was grief stricken when my cat (Zeni) died; I love Summer; I get anxious (in a good way) when I have a new client; I get excited watching the Olympics on TV; I dream of the next time I will ride my motor scooter through Bali; I hate cooking; I watch a lot of SciFi series and love reading fantasy books.

I believe we need to acknowledge this balance in life. As one of my difabled friends in Bali keeps saying to me, ‘life itself is beautiful’.

Thanks for your honesty buddy. I wouldn’t have expected anything else from you!

Neil captures most of why we do what we do right here. The simple truth is we’re all in this together. There is no ‘us and them’. Neil is us and we are he. And you dear reader are all of us.