How holistic therapies helped me at 137 Pillars Bangkok’s Season of Wellness

I was suffering from chronic shoulder and neck pain when I walked into 137 Pillars Bangkok’s Nitra Spa to see one of the visiting wellness practitioners at their Season of Wellness, a three-month wellness festival featuring visiting holistic healing gurus from around Asia.

Nitra Spa at 137 Pillars House Bangkok

The Season of Wellness was initiated to support the lifestyle needs of 137 Pillars’ international luxury business travelers, many who are stressed from frequent travel and demanding jobs. It’s also open to local residents with physical or emotional issues that seek holistic or alternative healing instead of medical and chemical treatment for their issues.

The event features healers specializing in Tai Chi, energy healing, sound healing with Tibetan singing bowls, neuromuscular massage therapy, fascia therapy and more. Usually this type and calibre of holistic offerings can be found scattered around top wellness retreats around Asia, and usually not in Bangkok. So 137 Pillars Bangkok brings these multiple holistic offerings together for city residents and is the first Bangkok hotel to create such an offering.

Season of Wellness at 137 Pillars House Bangkok

I chose a session with Stephen Kirwin who specializes in treating physical problems and has over 22 years’ experience in neuromuscular and orthopaedic sports massage. I had an ongoing shoulder and neck pain that had been bothering me for months. I’d been treating it with acupuncture, which alleviated the pain but was a slow process. I’d also been getting Thai massage, which helped, but didn’t cure the problem. My muscles were so tightly clenched that masseuses had to dig their elbows in to massage the hard lumps in my shoulder and neck.

I didn’t know what to expect but hoped somebody could help me with my pain. When I met Stephen I felt immediately at ease. His big, burly frame and American warmth gave the comforting vibe of a giant teddy bear. Stephen is an elite athlete who’s competed in 12 Iron Man competitions and countless triathlons and marathons, which led him to become a sports therapist working on athletes with injuries. He’s treated Iron Man champions, celebrities, and was on his way to Spain to treat the Spanish national football team after Bangkok. With his sports background and two decades’ experience as a therapist, he can tell simply by looking at the way you walk and stand what your physical problem is without even touching you. He said that he could see from the way I stood that my shoulder and hip were slightly out of line.

Visiting holistic practitioners Stephen Kirwin, Ronnie V., and Richard Wickes at the Season of Wellness

Stephen asked me to tell him what was going on with me. I told him about my stiff left shoulder and neck that had been troubling me throughout the past year.

When he asked if I had PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), I was so surprised I was momentarily speechless. I don’t know if he asks every client this question, but in fact, I did have PTSD from an accident ten years ago when I’d been hit by a motorcycle and injured my spine. Did he know that from just looking at me? How could he tell?   He later told me that his grandmother and mother were energy healers and he also has an intuitive ability to read energy and he said he’d sensed a deep heaviness in my energy, as if a huge burden was weighing on me.

While working on my neck he asked if I’d had a whiplash before. I am puzzled. The answer was no, not as far as I know.

He said he could feel scar tissue in my neck that is typical of whiplash, and that it felt very old.  I was amazed.  I had scar tissue in my neck? It was old?  Ugh!!  How revolting!  What does scar tissue feel like?

Then I wondered if I really did have a whiplash from when I was hit by a motorcycle ten years ago. I had definitely hurt my spine but wasn’t aware of other injuries, since I’d been able to get up and walk away without even a bruise on my body at the time of the accident.  Stephen says this is normal because people who have accidents are so full of adrenaline that they don’t even feel anything and only start feeling the pain later, which is exactly what happened to me.

Stephen informed me that whiplash is common for people who have car accidents, and a spine injury can throw the whole body out of balance. Also, people can have injuries for years and not realize it. Most likely my current problems stemmed from these old injuries, and my recent stress had exacerbated all these problems. So it wasn’t entirely the computer and phone to blame, as I’d thought

Stephen Kirwin at work

Stephen said he felt a tightness in my abdominal area which indicated deeper fascia injuries. This was all news to me! Had I been walking around with this stuff for years? Since my shoulder couldn’t be cured in one session, Stephen suggested a second session with him to continue working on the muscles, and recommended that I see therapist Richard Wickes who could fix the deep internal injuries that he could feel from the tightness in my stomach area.

I left the session hugely enlightened and fairly amazed by what Stephen had told me, and returned the following week to for the follow up session with Stephen and a session with visiting practitioner Richard Wickes.

Based in Hong Kong, Richard is a clinical massage therapist, naturopath and psychologist, and a gold medal winning Kung Fu master and Tai Chi expert. He specializes in osteopathic techniques and energy therapy which when combined are called integrated fascia therapy. Since Richard practices so many different therapies, I didn’t know what therapy I would be getting, but trusted Stephen’s recommendation that Richard could help me.


Poolside cabana with a bird’s eye view at 137 Pillars Bangkok

The session with Richard was different from what I expected. Richard’s fascia therapy was not massage, but involved him gently manipulating the internal fascia tissue in my abdominal area.  I don’t know how he did it, but I didn’t feel anything much.  Since the tissue of the abdominal fascia is connected to the shoulder, he healed the shoulder and neck pain by manipulating the stomach fascia back into place.

Richard said that in the past he’d suffered from shoulder and neck pain, and had been treated by a therapist who healed him using this method of manipulating the abdominal fascia without even touching the actual shoulder and neck. He was so impressed by the results that he studied the technique and started practicing it. After the treatment he asked how my shoulder felt and I  found that I had less pain and much better rotation. He hadn’t touched the neck and shoulder at all.

Richard Wickes (left) and Stephen Kirwin (right)

Another of Richard’s specialties is energy healing, which I was curious about because chronic emotional stress had left me feeling completely exhausted (which was the heavy feeling that Stephen had sensed when he met me). We didn’t have much time left, so Richard gave me a short 15-minute session which was different from other energy healings I’ve had.

We sat face to face while he sensed issues that came up using his intuitive ability, and then he cleared the negative energy and negative issues that were troubling me, and strengthened the positive energy. I had no idea what was going on, but listened all agog while he talked, describing what energies and issues he sensed coming up.

It was a quick session and I didn’t feel anything at the time, but noticed that a few days later I did seem to feel mentally calmer and less stressed.  I was intrigued by the experience, and if I have another chance in future, I’d be interested to try a full session of energy healing with him.

The garden and fish pond at 137 Pillars House Bangkok

So if you’re thinking of seeing these talented therapists for your own treatment, I’d highly recommend it.  However both Stephen and Richard work only on people who have real physical problems, such as chronic pain or physical injury. They say they won’t treat people who don’t have actual problems that they can heal.

What I’d learned from these sessions with both Stephen and Richard was that the source of my current pains were from old trauma (the motorcycle accident 10 years ago) that were now giving me trouble because I was under so much stress. As with many holistic healing treatments, these therapies brought to light that the source of your pain may be much deeper and less obvious than you think.


Have you had these kind or similar holistic therapies before? How was your experience?


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