Interview by: Janae Jean & Spencer Schluter
This mid-month episode, we spoke with Everett Ogawa, the founder and teacher of Integral Bodywork®. Ogawa is a Certified TRE® Provider as well. He was trained in Structural Integration, Zen and martial arts. He also earned an M.A. in Buddhist and Western Psychology. Ogawa’s approach to bodywork evolved over the 35 years he practiced and taught bodywork and Zen in Chicago. Ogawa now resides and practices in Tucson, AZ.
Integral Bodywork® is a ten-session process, which is called “bodywork/spiritual path for the digital age.” In practice, the body is viewed as a ”gateway to the process of Surrender and the experience of Grace.” If you want to learn more about Integral Bodywork® or find a practitioner, visit www.integralbodywork.com.
Below are only a few of the questions from our hour-long conversation. Listen to the audio podcast (below or on Stitcher, iTunes, GooglePlay, Facebook or YouTube) to hear even more insights from Ogawa on topics including: Zen, meditation, martial arts, bodywork, the “ten sessions,” and more. – J.J.
Spencer: I read in your bio that your background is in martial arts and Zen, and also bodywork. You’ve got a specific modality that your practice. Did you start out in a more traditional form, like Shiatsu or acupuncture?
Everett: As far as bodywork goes, it kind of just came on me. My immediate bodywork teacher came into my life. I was experiencing difficulty with my body, and when I felt his work I knew intuitively that this was what I needed. So, I begged him to start teaching me, and that was 27 years ago.
SS: You do a lot of holding very painful stances and stuff like that in martial arts, and that build this self-discipline that you have the ability to make yourself do things that are uncomfortable even though they are uncomfortable. We are such a convenience society, where if we have a headache we take some Advil and want it to go away. When we’re tired we want to drink a cup of coffee, we don’t want to go for a jog around the block or anything like that. I think that there is somehow a connection between pain and forcing yourself to be unconformable, and building that self-discipline. I’m wondering if this is why your process is accelerated. Is that perhaps one of the reasons why it’s faster because it’s so intense?
EO: Yeah. I mean that’s part of it. The older I get … the more I’m around … I don’t think it’s the main point. We teach people whatever level of discomfort you access… what do you do with that discomfort? We teach people a letting go technique, of focusing and penetrating into the center of the discomfort. This is really the heart of the work we do. It’s how to release negativity from your field of consciousness … how to release it. You can have intention; sure you can have strong intention but access it through your body. Your body’s a storehouse of negativity and pain. If you want to get more release, use the body as a gateway. Go in there. We teach people how to focus in the discomfort. If you run away from the discomfort, you will have it until kingdom come; it will still be there. If you want to release it and live “lighter,” then you have to turn around, and instead of running away, you’ve got to penetrate into the center of that discomfort. Whatever level it is. Whether it’s a “ten” or a “five” in intensity level. Penetrate into the center of it, and penetrate as deep as you can. Bring as much awareness of everything that’s going on in the center of that sensation, so penetrate into it with as much awareness as you can muster. Feel all the connections in your body and your mind, all over the place as you go into the center. When the awareness you bring into the discomfort approaches a certain maximum level … the whole ball of wax starts to unravel.
Janae: How do people learn to accept their body and learn to love their physical body? We were talking about mind-body connection, just how important that is to heal other parts of themselves. People will think, “I’m meditating every day,” or this or that, but they will still hate themselves when they look in the mirror.
EO: That’s a big deal, that’s a big deal. For instance, in my work I would say over the last 20 years, I’ve spent 90% of my day, 95% of my day is working with women. Because women are seeking something in our world right now. They’re seeking … I don’t know what you want to call it … power or understanding or growth. They’re really seeking it. The ones that are open and really seeking earnestly, they show up at my door. I have seen women get incredible shifts, but because they wanted it so much.
Almost every woman who has come in over the last 20, 25 years … every woman … one part of the body is very, very problematic for them, and I will leave this with you guys, is women’s bellies. Most women do not want to acknowledge having a belly because of the cultural taboos against all of that. Our culture brainwashes women, and young girls, starting just when they’re infants, not to acknowledge that part of your body, and there’s all kinds of negatively layered on that in women’s experience. So, most women are not inhabiting their bellies anywhere near as fully as would be productive for them, both in terms of their overall development and their health – their ongoing health. If you ain’t accessing your tummy, your belly, you’re missing the whole ballgame. That’s where all the deep chakras, all the deep energy in your body, begins to manifest there in that part of your body. If you’re not bringing awareness into your belly, you’re trying to play a tennis game without a racquet and with only your feet – you don’t have any arms and a racquet! I mean it’s really not a good situation. To me, the biggest public health issue in the United States is women not living in their bellies, and all that cultural stuff that makes it that way for them brainwashes them.
JJ: It’s like trying to keep women from being in their power.
EO: That’s right. It keeps women “in their place.”
SS: They say have you have as many neurons in your digestive tract as you do in your brain. Your “gut feeling” and your “instinct” … I can’t count the numbers of times my instinct, my gut, told me, “This is a bad situation; get out of here!” That’s something I learned from martial arts … the best fight to get in is the one you don’t get into at all. If that guy across the room seems like he’s really aggressive, if he’s giving you “the eye,” it’s better to leave. There’s no reason to get confrontational, you don’t have to prove that you’re stronger than him. I think that so much media and so much advertising goes into making women deny their instincts that we want them to be consumers; and we want them to be sex objects, and we want them to be compliant spouses. There’s all these things that our culture is trying to program them to be and those are really in stark contrast to what their instincts are … if you are talking about a disconnect from those inner chakras. All this work goes into telling them to deny what their gut is telling them. They’re telling them that this house, this car, these consumer products, this makeup, this clothing and this sugary drink, this will fix your deep feelings of emptiness. I’ve met many, many women who seem to have this hole inside them and they keep trying to fill it with things that they spent money on. You are never going to fill them. The whole purpose of all that brainwashing is to brainwash you into buying and buying and buying. The people who want you to do that they don’t care if you’re healthy, or if you feel good about yourself, or if you’re self-actualized. They’re just trying to sell you stuff.
EO: The way I understand through my training … and I’ve had some incredible teachers … if you can’t access your deep belly, you’re cut-off from the root of your being. You are cut-off from the root of your being! Whatever that means to you, whatever those words MEAN to YOU. If you’re not living in your belly … and you don’t’ have a lot of awareness in your belly … so much of life begins and manifests and flowers in your belly that you are cut-off from the root of your existence – of your being. And, don’t even talk about personal power because you ain’t got none! Okay, let me put it that clear. That’s a strong statement. But, the real power, power in its deepest sense, is in everybody. You can access it, being more awareness into your belly … you’ll have already … you’ll realize a huge gain in your existential power already.
Janae Jean serves as editor, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. She has an M.M. in computer music composition from Johns Hopkins University and is actively researching using electronically generated sounds for healing. See janaejean.com and perennialmusicandarts.com for details about Janae’s upcoming classes, lesson information, workshops, shows and projects.
Spencer Schluter is the advertising account manager, social media manager and podcaster for Conscious Community Magazine. His experience includes visual communications, advertising, social media, marketing, public relations and business development. Visit yggstudios.com for more information about his freelance design and consulting work. He is also a master level Reiki and traditional Chinese Qigong practitioner.
Podcast Theme Music: Sublimation (Theme from the Conscious Community Podcast)
Janae Jean Almen and Spencer Schluter, composers SpindriftGreenMusic Publishing ©2017