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Adventures in grounding

April 26, 2011

I can’t tell you stroke-for-stroke what Everett Ogawa did during my three sessions with him in early April — the first three sessions in the series of ten sessions that comprise Integral Bodywork.

I will tell you some of what I experienced both during these sessions and after. And I’ll tell you what I dreamed between sessions two and three.

During these sessions Everett attended to my psoas muscles, deep muscles situated along the spine, linking lower and upper regions of the body.

He also addressed my legs, feet, arms, shoulders, and rib cage in depth.

Yes, in depth.

The focus of Integral Bodywork, as Everett defines it, is restoring your structural integrity “through release of the body’s matrix of connective tissue.” Connective tissue is the sheath of fibrous material that surrounds and shapes each muscle and muscle group. It’s what gives muscle form. It’s what allows one muscle group to slide easily past another. As tendon, it’s what attaches muscle to joint and bone.

When neighboring patches of connective tissue stick to each other, such adhesions restrict muscular movement. Such adhesions make themselves known as stiffness, achiness, pain, slumping posture, shallow breathing — in other words, untimely aging. Such adhesions also impede the circulation of blood, lymph, and vital energy. (“Vital energy,” the life force that gracefully animates our bodies, also answers to prana, chi, and ki, depending on your preference for Sanskrit, Chinese, or Japanese languages.)

Asian healing arts have mapped the flow of vital energy through the body. The map identifies fourteen major channels, meridians, through which life energy flows. When our chi or ki is flowing fully and freely through these pathways, we feel most alive. We experience a thorough sense of health and well-being.

Being Belly Queen, I’ve been especially interested in how the meridians relate to the body’s center, the hara as it’s named in Japanese. Of the fourteen major meridians, ten of them — five pairs — relate to particular organ systems: liver/gall bladder; heart/small intestine; spleen/stomach; lung/large intestine; and kidney/bladder. Another meridian pair — “Conception Vessel” and “Governing Vessel” — trace pathways aligned with the spine and modulate the front and back regions of the body respectively.

The remaining pair of meridians: “Triple Warmer” and “Heart Guardian.” According to Matsumoto and Birch in Hara Diagnosis: Reflections on the Sea, the Triple Warmer’s role is to connect the vital force stored in your hara to all your organ systems and their energy pathways. In others words, Triple Warmer moves your core life energy into your body as a whole.

Matsumoto and Birch say the Triple Warmer meridian isn’t related to any organ system in particular. It’s most intimately related, they suggest, to your body’s matrix of connective tissue.

Everett suggests this analogy: If muscle is a telephone wire, then connective tissue is the internet, the web.

I’m getting the idea: Connective tissue anywhere in my body communicates with connective tissue everywhere in my body. It’s what makes my body whole, singular. It’s what makes my body an all-at-once actuality. To the degree it’s crimp-free, it’s the foundation for, yes, my sense of structural integrity.

There’s something to be said, then, for unsticking connective tissue anywhere it’s become stuck. When Everett Ogawa was pressing deeply into the soft tissue of my legs, feet, arms, shoulders, and rib cage, that’s what he was doing.

Freeing adhesions.

Releasing muscles into unrestricted movement.

Enhancing the flow of blood, lymph, life force.

And, most importantly, enabling Triple Warmer to distribute vital energy from hara to whole. That’s what makes Integral Bodywork  unique.

Between strokes, between working one area and another, between working left and ride sides, Everett would ask what I was sensing, how my body was feeling. Often he’d ask me to stand, take a step, walk.

At one point I said: I feel my feet more fully on the ground. I feel individual sparks of light on the soles of my feet, they’re in conversation with the earth — singing. When I walk, the floor feels springy.

At one point he said: This is when women tell me they feel like a telephone pole going down to the center of the earth. They tell me this is the first time in a long while, or ever, that they’ve felt grounded.

How did I feel? At several points I said simply:

Complete human being.

Following session two I dream:

I arrive home to discover that my boyfriend’s German Shepherd has eaten my left shoe, torn it to shreds, a Mary Jane that I had really liked.

I go upstairs to my room and the carpet is filthy.

I go to a party and alienate everyone I talk to.

Then I’m walking, perhaps with Everett, toward the beach, the ocean near and visible straight forward on the horizon. Overhead are people in hot air balloons, tracking on three parallel guidewires above our heads, sailing in the opposite direction. I walk into the ocean, eyes closed, sink gratefully, am immersed.

The next morning I retrieved a message from Everett on my cell phone. He said, in part:

When you work the connective tissue, the body releases heaviness, density at cellular and energetic levels. The tissue blossoms, space is created.  When space is opened in the body, awareness — consciousness — flows. Then the energy of your hara flows unrestricted down through your legs and feet. You feel grounded. That’s what women are looking for and that’s what they get with this work.

As I listened to the message, I saw a bright sun in the dark depths of a woman’s body, rays streaming into space.

I’m getting the idea that grounding is the “be here now” of life in the body. Being grounded is

Being down-to-earth, rather than flighty, heady, or full of hot air.

Encountering experience, actuality.

Being present and aware, rather than oblivious.

Grounding just might be foundational to whatever it is that women want.

And, given the enormous changes taking place and about to take place in our lives and all around us, grounding might have another appeal:

Survival value.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Marisa Smith permalink
    April 28, 2011 10:28 am

    Sounds truly amazing Lisa! What an incredible and transformative healing…i am excited and jealous! How neat that you’re work has primed your body to receive fully the benefits. I look forward to hearing more. Thank you for sharing.


  2. April 28, 2011 11:27 am

    Thank you for your response! The experience has been and continues to be so rich. More, much more, is on the way!


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