Hello, my name is Sifu Kurtis Tilley. I am a recent graduate of this academy, just a moment ago, in Feb. 2018, I walked this very stage as so many here, before and since. We are here tonight to celebrate with the Mongans, and each other, the 30th anniversary of ANT. In 30 years, so many have absorbed the knowledge and built the foundation for the development of skill that when pursued is so personally meaningful, and even necessary, in other people’s lives that one could say ANT alum have touched and changed the very structure of our communities. Our expanded understanding and dedication to self and healing has brought new life to our lives, our friends, and our families.

I knew once I had embarked on this journey, it would do more than serve to enlighten my experience, it would be a catalyst for growth in all whom I’d come into contact with. This particular path is so interconnected with different modalities of healing and seeking, that doors open for us as seekers, as well as for those around us simply as collateral growth. Just knowing a massage therapist can offer insights into life that one may otherwise not be inclined to be aware of.

The Greater Good

It is our continued interactions with our acquaintances and clients, our peers and loved ones, our alma mater and our community at large that expedites the effect of the greater good. Where some philosophers may think and write, musing over life, we take a ‘hands-on’ approach to change and aim to release the destructive build-up of tension in a world desperate for healing. It is this corporeal effort that grounds the intellectual and spiritual efforts of those disciples of attainment here, now, in this physical reality of possessing and maintaining such a complex and fascinating vessel, the body. These intimate and personal changes extend far beyond the individual; however, and shape the experience of all who they may come to know and interact with on a daily basis.

When my clients express to me, “Sifu, your massage keeps me out of a sense of despair and gives me the feeling that I can heal and grow”, or “ This 1 hour on your table is the only time where I feel I can rest and reset,” or “I didn’t think I would recover, but your massage has helped me trust again in my ability to overcome and achieve a sense of wellbeing” I know those clients will go back to work, back to the kids, back to the world with more patience and a deeper connection to self that will facilitate a more productive and relaxed environment for all with whom they interact.

Small Gains, Large Rewards

Knowing this of myself, and knowing ANT has been guiding healers for 30 years, I am sure the teachers, and the Mongan family, have touched every soul on Earth either directly or indirectly leading, no doubt, to a healthier and a more understanding world.  Our efforts are not insignificant. Our effects may be subtle, but the expansive and meaningful affiliations we create between people and their worlds, and people and themselves accumulate over time as we see session after session the accumulation of trust within even a muscle’s ability to accept the work being done. Some clients may take hours, sessions, weeks, months to feel like massage therapy has made any change, but all who remain consistent with their dedication to self-care, realize that potential.

We, as alumni, continue to re-visit learning, continue to call one another and offer each other new opportunities.  One contacted me this summer offering a shared workspace to which I was able to offer equipment, another I’ve been able to set up a working trade relationship, and others still I’ve been able to share and expand on our combined experience and knowledge so that we all improve together. Massage therapy is not a solo act, we are stronger as seeing, feeling, mutually benefiting the community. If you don’t believe me try offering a massage where you simply push on a body and don’t communicate with the muscles or listen to the structures. A lack of awareness leads to destruction. A sage once said, “Buddha means awareness, awareness of the body and mind so that one can prevent the arising of evil in either.”

Lessons on Healing

We become more aware of our world the harder we try to be aware of it, and when aware, we can catch early and mitigate not just the conditions of the body, but the associations of the mind as they manifest in the body. Another saying, “relax the body, the mind relaxes too. Relax the mind, the body will follow.”

We teach these lessons with our hands and our hearts. One healer changes the lives of many, many healers can change the course of a civilization. We need more healing in this world, and I am grateful for institutions such as this academy for delivering just those people who are encouraged to learn to be such.  Thank you and happy 30th anniversary.