Erik Emanuel Fenz
Throughout this website, using words and images, I've attempted to share some of the insights I've received over many years of exploring the edge of my limitations, both in subtle spiritual and gross physical dimensions. Sometimes with very humbling results. It has been a learning process, of many endings and new beginnings. I hope you may find some inspiring, useful takeaways. Carpe Diem!
Travel and tell no one. Live a true love story and tell no one. Live happily and tell no one. People ruin beautiful things.
As you wander through this website, you might discover the gates of your body begin to open to a feeling, you may begin to experience new possibilities within yourself. New ways of looking at life. A vision may begin appearing of harmony, depth and wisdom that is usually only possible after a long life.
I don't think your life has to have purpose or a grand ambition; I think it's okay just to wander through life finding interesting things till you die.
I have no right to call myself one who knows. I was one who seeks, and I still am, but I no longer seek in the stars or in books; I'm beginning to hear the teachings of my blood pulsing within me. My story isn't pleasant, it's not sweet and harmonious like the invented stories; it tastes of folly and bewilderment, of madness and dream, like the life of all people who no longer want to lie to themselves.
What reveals itself to me ceases to be mysterious for me alone: if I unveil it to anyone else, he hears mere words which betray the living sense: Profanation, but never revelation. Each truth you learn will be, for you, as new as if it had never been written.
Eventually, you just know. — Carl Jung
Early in my bodywork career the main focus of my work was helping client's relax, unwind and get out of pain. After my initial healing arts training at the Heartwood Institute in northern California, I began giving sessions in the San Francisco Zen Center, where many monk meditators, including the Roshi, had developed chronic back pain from many hours, and often many years of Shikantaza "just sitting" in Meditation. During this time the idea for the name "Bodhi Body" came into being.
Bodhi is a Sanskrit word meaning "awake". Named after Bodhidharma, the Chinese Zen patriarch, who lived in a mountain cave for 9 years, refusing to talk with anyone.
The only constant is change. What he realized:
Let everything happen to you / Beauty and terror / Just keep going / No feeling is final.
After leaving the Zen Center in San Francisco, I opened a massage practice underneath the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado, along with my wife Summer. Soon after, I began wondering how to transform my practice beyond weekly, feel good massage session dependency, into something deeper, more profound and longer lasting. This eventually led me to becoming a Rolfer, where I discovered the many benefits of fascia oriented bodywork. The ability to help people get life changing, long term relief from tension, stress and pain and along with the subtle work of Craniosacral Biodynamics, a powerful way to reset and rebalance the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous system.
Rudyard Kipling once wrote: “Words are the most powerful drug known to mankind.” I enjoy listening to and reading the words of sages, saints, mystics and spiritual teachers. Words can be great pointers, depending on who is pointing. There are many fun spiritual “pointers” on this website. Especially on the "wisdom" page, insights extracted from many years of being an avid spiritual seeker. What I've learned is that Pointers often feel good and are worth considering as a reference and reflection of our own direct life experience. They can also inspire and open us up to a deeper journey of Self Discovery.
"Be patient toward all that is unsolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves ... Live the questions now. Perhaps you will gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."
After many years of seeking wisdom from many teachers of spiritual “success”, I found Biodynamic Structural Integration bodywork to be the simplest most direct way of accessing the "prior to mind" intuitive-heart wisdom, reflected in my own body. The calm, sober, grounded, felt sense "experience" of simple bliss with no cause. What words and practices from many spiritual traditions are often pointing to. Our natural state.
At the deepest level of our being--the divinity within that we share with all beings--there is no separation between me and you. At any moment it is possible to experience the warmth and openness of a heart connection with any living creature: a lover, a child, a friend, a stranger passing on the street, or even a dog. When we appreciate the beauty of another’s being, the heart channel opens and a spark of absolute love passes through us. In this moment of connection we no longer feel separated or isolated. We delight in sharing the one lovely, tender presence that dwells in the heart of all. - From the book Perfect Love, Imperfect Relationships by John Welwood
May what I do flow from me like a river, no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children. --Rainier Rilke
What I've discovered to be true for me and many others I've worked with over the years is, if we let our inner experience happen, without avoidance, without spacing out into dissociative spiritual-bypassing, cultish dependencies, fear based repression, or endless addictive, numbing distractions, it will eventually release our frozen knots and contractions, leading to a deeper, more grounded felt sense experience of ourselves.
Just as the depth and stillness of the ocean lie hidden beneath the stormy waves on its surface, our inherent wisdom lies behind all feelings. Allowing us to access the warmth and openness of the heart and letting us be the true human beings that we are.
Wisdom is not accumulated memory but is supreme vulnerability to the real.
Love is my religion. — Dalai Lama
Learning how to love is the goal and the purpose of spiritual life, not learning how to develop psychic powers, not learning how to bow, chant, do yoga, or even meditate, but learning to love. Love is the truth. Some say love Itself is the Actual form of God. Wisdom is inherent in all of us and love is the embodiment of this transcendent truth.
The modern age has forgotten that facts and information, for all their usefulness, are not the same as truth or wisdom, and certainly not the same as direct experience. We have lost touch with the intuitive wisdom born of silence and stillness.
Alignment is when what we think, what we say, how we feel and what we do, are all in alignment. Alignment is the perfect balance between the descending gross physical and ascending subtle spiritual forces of manifest existence, as they are expressed within the constant relational field of earth's gravity and the unknown infinite space of sky.
Courage is a love affair with the unknown. — Osho
When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.
The wisdom in our body is the fluid, intuitive, visceral, living "knowledge" that ends the search for intellectual certainty that appears in the mind as frozen, fixed beliefs; conceptual “points of view." Regrets or longings of the past and fear and uncertainty of the future come from culturally induced, fear based patterning. Learned conditioned behaviour informed by familiar, unresolved emotions, related to our past.
The dis ease behind our search for happiness, the illusions of ultimate fulfillment are fixed notions, projections of happiness that only lead to suffering. We have a hard time letting go of our suffering, out of a fear of the unknown. We prefer suffering that is familiar.
We would rather be ruined than changed. We would rather die in our dread then climb the cross of the moment then see our Illusions die.
-- W. H. Auden
Everything changes. No emotional state can be induced to persist as a permanent experience. Now and then it's good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy.
And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.
- Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.
Once Upon a Time
I was born in 1960 to European immigrant parents in Boulder Colorado, where my father was attending graduate school. After living in Boulder for a year, my sister Ingrid was born and we soon moved to Europe where I spent my childhood living in Norway, Italy and Austria. During that time, I began developing an interest in the healing arts from my eccentric Austrian grandmother, who used to make remedies from plants and flowers, that grew near her medieval castle, in the mountains of South Tyrol, Italy.
During many walks in the surrounding forests, we would often sit alongside an ancient trail and she would read stories to me by Hermann Hesse, Rainier Maria Rilke and others. As I grew older these tales, particularly Siddhartha, inspired in me an interest in spirituality and a desire to explore Thailand, Bali and northern India.
Thus began a lifelong journey. Throughout my off-road travels I began discovering a different world, meeting people who lived in a different way, with different values. They had just the basic necessities and yet were very happy people. No psychological problems.
These journeys and others I took with friends and family became a means of coming into relationship with myself and others that was far removed from the limiting beliefs of my “conditioned”, sheltered, upper-middle class upbringing. It gave me a new awareness of the world, that has given me the ability to relate to a wide range of people and cultures that bring a rich sense of humanity to my bodywork practice.
The Ultimate Experience of Traveling
“Travel is such a wonderful experience! Especially when you forget you are traveling. Then you will enjoy whatever you see and do. Those who look into themselves when they travel will not think about what they see. In fact, there is no distinction between the viewer and the seen. You experience everything with the totality of yourself, so that every blade of grass, every mountain, every lake is alive and is a part of you. When there is no division between you and what is other, this is the ultimate experience of traveling.”
― Liezi, Lieh-tzu
I am the oldest of five siblings. I have two sisters and a brother who live in Italy, Poland and Israel, and a brother who sadly and quite suddenly passed away in the USA, during the Coronavirus Pandemic in 2020.
My mother Karin, a retired nurse, is from the old whaling town of Sandefjord Norway. Her father Otto was a whaler who sailed around the South Pole and often spent years at a time at sea. My father Emanuel was a European history professor, born and raised in Florence Italy and the mountains of South Tyrol, Italy. His father Johann was a minister and the founding director of a Seventh Day Adventist College and religious book-publishing firm.
After my formative childhood years in Europe, our family returned to the United States. My father accepted a position at a University near Ann Arbor Michigan, where he created an adventure-travel program called the European Cultural History Tour that took American college students on culture, adventure, history tours, throughout Europe, Africa, the Middle East, South America, South-East Asia and India.
Come to Your Edge Life Said
In my early twenties, in my seemingly endless desire for the ultimate experience, I explored B.A.S.E. jumping in the early pioneering days of the sport. Leaping off cliffs and towers with a parachute on my back and overwhelming fear in my heart. There is a brief interview of me near the end of the paramount pictures film “Sunshine Superman,” an exciting documentary and love story on the history and embodied philosophy of BASE, expressed beautifully by the founders of BASE jumping.
As a young man and before becoming a bodyworker, I explored many career and lifestyle opportunities and often felt pressured and compelled by my father to go into mainstream academics and become a Professor like he was. Instead of following his advice, I got married and started a carpet/upholstery cleaning business in Sarasota, Florida and later in Mill Valley, California. I also worked part time as a professional exhibition skydiver, for the Miller High Life Skydiving Team, jumping into airshows, football games, volleyball tournaments, music festivals and NASCAR car races all over mainland USA and Puerto Rico.
Several years later I learned to fly helicopters and worked for a time as a commercial helicopter pilot/flight instructor and once circumnavigated the United States, from east to west and back again, in a 1953 Bell 47 using a handheld GPS and by reading road signs. The inventor and philosopher/engineer Arthur Young called the Bell 47 Helicopter his mechanical expression of the human spirit.
During my final years in California, I went through a painful divorce and during this time my father was involved in a tragic car accident that left him a quadriplegic on a ventilator for over 11 years.
What these experiences have ultimately taught me is that when I have come to my “edge” and stepped through challenges that have scared me the most, I have gained innumerable benefits. I learned how to feel the fear and do it anyway. It has also taught me the willingness and courage to reflect and grow and let go of things that no longer serve me.
"There is a teaching that says that behind all hardening and tightening and rigidity of the heart, there’s always fear. But if you touch fear, behind fear there is a soft spot. And if you touch that soft spot, you find the vast blue sky. You find that which is ineffable, ungraspable, and unbiased, that which can support and awaken us at any time."
~ Pema Chödron, "Practicing Peace”
A few years after my father's car accident, I survived a near fatal helicopter crash by “flying” to the bottom of an alligator inhabited lake in Florida, USA. This near death experience was life changing. It brought me to a crossroads in life where I lost all worldly ambition and chose to spend a couple years in deep introspection, healing and recovery in a Zen Community near San Francisco and at the Esalen Institute along the coast of Big Sur California. During this life changing time, I discovered the healing power of transformative bodywork and the desire to live a different, more meaningful life (for me), by helping others learn the “art” and yoga of living in their bodies. This began a lifelong exploration and practice of spiritual and mind/body solutions to suffering and trauma.
Many of us face the hypervigilant busy, over stressed dilemma of the modern world. Where value and emphasis is placed on status, image and objects. Rather than on who we are as sensitive, empathic, feeling, human beings.
After many years of living with the driving force of culturally induced ambition, often leading to highs and lows of self loathing depression, anxiety, addiction and reactive fear-based survival patterning; i came to realize that i was living with symptoms of PTSD, that came from not feeling my feelings and being in a hypervigilant, sympathetic “on” position for so many years. Normalized addiction to adrenaline and drama, that eventually led to adrenal fatigue and a few dark nights of the soul. This insight, along with my accident became a strong catalyst for change, once I became willing and able to self reflect, accept and recognize my unbalanced, dysfunctional, self-destructive patterning.
Since beginning my practice, I've worked with thousands of individuals from all walks of life, including many world-class athletes, students of yoga and meditation. Professional dancers, artists, actors and writers. Business people & entrepreneurs. Physicians, musicians, a few Roshis, Rabbis, Rinpoches, and of course many “ordinary” extraordinary people who enjoy and appreciate deep, effective, transformative bodywork.
It is the many interactions working with clients that have taught me the most over the years. People like you and me, sharing and touching on a state of presence, which allows us to be more inherently ourselves.
Beauty, enlightenment, adventure and healing are desperately important counterpoints in this age of rapid change and negativity. To align with the soul takes great courage.
To align with the soul takes courage. Ramana defined enlightenment as ‘absolute courage at all times and in all situations.’ If you want to live an awakened life, it takes courage and grit. It takes someone who loves reality enough that they become a servant of it.
The most repressed and denied aspects of our soul ... (are) often the treasure that lies buried in the darkness.
— Carl Jung
Some of the teachers I’ve learned from and studied with over the years in Europe, India and the USA, either directly, or indirectly through retreats, schools, dance venues, workshops, ashrams and temples, include:
Zoketsu Norman Fischer, Mel Weitsman, Charlotte Selver, Frank Ostaseski, Roshi Joan Halifax, Ken Wilbur, Dr. Alexander Lowen, Sam Keen, Gabrielle Roth, Natalie Goldberg, Ram Das, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, Eckhardt Tolle, Osho, Adi Da Samraj, David Deida, Gaetano Vivo, Bruce Burger, James Swartz, Swami Dayananda, Peter Levine, Robert Schleip, John and Anna Chitty, Gelek Rinpoche, Dalai Lama, Ramana Maharaja, Nisargadatta, Karl Renz, Mooji, Amma, Mother Meera, Thich Nhat Hanh, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, U.G. Krishnamurti, Suzuki Roshi and many others, including life in India for many years, which is my heart home and eternal teacher.
Erik has over 21 years worldwide experience, as a bodyworker. He is a certified Advanced Rolfer ™ and Biodynamic Craniosacral therapist, with over 3000 hours of training in Deep Tissue Therapy, Polarity Therapy and Somatic Emotional Clearing. He trained at the Heartwood and Esalen Institutes in California and the Rolf Institute in both Europe and the U.S. and completed the 700 Hour, Franklyn Sills, Biodynamic Craniosacral training in Boulder, Colorado. Erik is a long-time practitioner of Zen meditation, Vedanta, Iyengar Yoga and Jingui qigong. He has been Jumping out of airplanes for over 40 years, offering a unique perspective on “heightened states of calm awareness” and the phenomenon of fear.
Come to the edge," he said. "We can't, we're afraid!" they responded. "Come to the edge," he said. "We can't, We will fall!" they responded. "Come to the edge," he said. And so they came. And he pushed them. And they flew.“
— Guillaume Apollinaire