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Grounding, the evidence

May 11, 2011

“People die from the feet up,” observes Everett Ogawa, master practitioner of Integral Bodywork. “That’s what my teacher used to say. You see it as people age. They fall more frequently, they break their hips. They’re not living in their lower bodies.”

Courtesy of my first three of ten sessions with Everett, I’ve experienced how his work, restoring the resilience of the connective tissue shaping the body, supports not only my physical alignment but my alignment in emotional and spiritual dimensions as well.

I ask him if it’s a reciprocal arrangement. Does a person’s inner work automatically translate into more mobile connective tissue and, as a result, visible changes in posture and gait?

“It can,” he replies. “Self-development can, but doesn’t always, bring about release in the connective tissue.”

In other words, if tissue is stuck on a material level, it needs a material assist — a physical method such as yoga, meditation, martial arts, or bodywork practiced with sufficient intensity and regularity — to get unstuck.

Everett tells this story: “I was visiting an accomplished Zen master. I saw that although he was sixty years old, he walked like he was seventy. He came to me for the ten sessions. As I worked, I only needed to use light touch to release the tissue. He said, ‘Everett, I see what you’re doing. You’re bringing transparency to the body.’ If you’re doing spiritual practice, that’s great. But you have to keep the body current with the realization.”

I like that. Keeping your body current with your consciousness.

I’d been home from my April visit to Everett Ogawa’s Integral Bodywork studio for ten days when I discovered something remarkable:

The lower half of my body.

For several months, in addition to the Gutsy Women’s Workout presented in The Woman’s Belly Book, I’ve been practicing Primordial Qigong. It’s a balancing, harmonizing form that honors the four directions as well as the alignment of heaven, the body’s center, and earth’s center.

Briefly described, you move through an Earth Cycle and then a Heaven Cycle four times, starting by facing east. In following rounds, you begin each pair of cycles facing south, west, and then north. The form structures your body as ritual space.

I’ve always enjoyed the Earth Cycle and its play of relatively small, circular hand gestures invoking vertical and horizontal axes. It’s fun.

Heaven CycleThe Heaven Cycle has been more challenging, involving large arm gestures that trace overlapping circles and frame the body in the vesica shaped by the circles’ intersection. It feels like work. I’m prone to leaving out a Heaven Cycle here or there, losing my place, spacing out in the process.

I realized a few days ago that I had been doing the Heaven Cycle with only a vague awareness of anything below my waist.

In contrast, now I’m tracking the complete path of the circles and the full extent of my body down through each of the vesicas. Now I’m enjoying the Heaven Cycles immensely — and the fact that my body extends below my waist all the way to the ground.

I’m not done with the subject of grounding. There’s a connection between grounding and “weight management” that I want to explore. I want to tease out the connection between grounding and women simply feeling good about ourselves and our bodies. Feeling good about ourselves in our bodies.

Is it possible that being grounded makes body image anxiety a non-issue?

I’m not done with the subject of forgiveness, either. I have a hunch that forgiveness, as strange as it may seem, is key to women empowering ourselves. To our attaining release, freedom, peace. Claiming the birthright of being human.

We don’t deserve to die because of the life we carry inside us.

Everett says to me, often, that depression is epidemic among women because women are suppressing their anger. “Women need to harness their rage,” he says. “The fire in the belly.”

What’s the connection, if any, between forgiveness and fire in the belly?

Where in the body does forgiveness take place?

[You can find musings on “What do women want?” published in chronological order at whatwewomenwant.]

2 Comments leave one →
  1. December 8, 2011 5:48 pm

    I am interested in the hand circles you describe because I like to do those movements with a loaded paint brush in my hands on large paper. I too have noticed that the upper arcs are so much easier. Last night I was working on a smaller paper and found I was making the same movement at the bottom across from my belly and solar plexus. So I’m doing this vortex and it wants to go up so I a snake coming out of the vortex and winding up a tree I had already made. I am just in awe of this snake. It kind of scares me, I put gold spots all over it…. all over her. She’s pretty serious. I’m trying to get brave enough to work BIG again, bigger vortex, bigger snake!


  2. December 13, 2011 12:42 pm

    I can only whisper and smile “archetypal!” I hope you’ll follow that snake where she leads…


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