Erik Emanuel Fenz
The only constant is change. Like a bird passing in the sky that leaves no trace, all composite phenomena in the world is just like that.
To be fully present to our experience as it is, without shrinking away from it, is to be a warrior -- of the heart. The essence of courage is being willing to feel our heart even in situations that are difficult or painful.
"If one knows that everything is impermanent, one does not grasp, and if one does not grasp, one will not think in terms of having or lacking, and therefore one lives fully."
-- Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche
"They both listened to the water, which to them was not just water, but the voice of life, the voice of being, the voice of perpetual becoming."
Hermann Hesse - Siddhartha
All the flowers of the tomorrows are in the seeds of today.
- Indian Proverb
Throughout this website using words and images, I have attempted to share random insights, reflections and experiences 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 journey of many transitions, endings and new beginnings. May you discover some useful takeaways and find yourself feeling the similarities with the many voices on these pages. There is no conclusion. Enjoy!
"Soon the child’s clear eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions, and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers."
~Peter Matthiessen, “Nine-Headed Dragon River: Zen Journals 1969-1982”
To know someone here or there with whom you can feel there is understanding in spite of distances or thoughts expressed...That can make life a garden.
-Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe
“Tell your story. Shout it. Write it. Whisper it if you have to. But tell it. Some won't understand it. Some will outright reject it. But many will thank you for it. And then the most magical thing will happen. One by one, voices will start whispering, 'Me, too.' And your tribe will gather. And you will never feel alone again.”
- L.R. Knost
"I discovered more and more that being alive means taking risks, acting despite a lack of certainty and getting involved in life. All this brings changes and for me the process of change is identical with life. I realize that if I were secure, rigid and static, I would be a living corpse. Therefore, I accept confusion and uncertainty and fear and emotional ups and downs because they are the price I gladly pay for a flowing, enigmatic, exciting life."
Carl Rogers, Humanistic Psychologist
We don’t receive wisdom; we must discover it for ourselves after a journey that no one can take for us or spare us.
- Marcel Proust, French Novelist
You seek the path, I warn you away from my own. It can also be the wrong way for you. May each go his own way.
- Carl Jung
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. To understand nothing takes time.
"Learning is definitely not mere imitation, nor is it the ability to accumulate and regurgitate fixed knowledge. Learning is a constant process of discovery — a process without end."
- Bruce Lee
"Learning is the only thing the mind never exhausts,
never fears, & never regrets"
- Leonardo Da Vinci
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.
Effort is a direct reflection of interest.
Attraction isn't a choice.
The things that excite you are not random.
They are connected to your purpose. Follow them.
"Everything has its own place and function. That applies to people, although many don't seem to realize it, stuck as they are in the wrong job, the wrong marriage, or the wrong house. When you know and respect your Inner Nature, you know where you belong. You also know where you don't belong."
~ Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh
"The Cosmic Spirit seeks not to restrain us but lifts us stage by stage to wider spaces. If we accept a home of our own making, familiar habit makes for indolence. We must prepare for parting and leave-taking or else remain the slave of permanence."
-- Hermann Hesse
"Not all who wander are lost." - J. R. R. Tolkien
Look at the birds, they make great sky circles of their freedom. And how do they learn to do that? They fall, and in falling, they are given wings.
When you do things from your soul, you feel a river moving in you, a joy.
There is freedom in admitting that you don’t know something, as that allows for a new learning experience to emerge.
When we follow what makes our heart vibrate (despite all the consequences) We will be fulfilling our true destiny.
There is a voice that doesn't use words. Listen.
"If you do follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track that has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life you ought to be living is the one you are living. When you can see that, you begin to meet people who are in the field of your bliss, and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid, and doors will open where you didn't know they were going to be. If you follow your bliss, doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else."
~ Joseph Campbell
“We’re in a freefall into future. We don’t know where we’re going. Things are changing so fast, and always when you’re going through a long tunnel, anxiety comes along. And all you have to do to transform your hell into a paradise is to turn your fall into a voluntary act. It’s a very interesting shift of perspective and that’s all it is… joyful participation in the sorrows and everything changes.”
~ Joseph Campbell, Sukhavati
Sukhavati means place of bliss, the origin of Campbells famous phrase follow your bliss.
"What keeps all living things busy and in motion is the striving to exist. But when existence is secured, they do not know what to do: that is why the second thing that sets them in motion is a striving to get rid of the burden of existence, not to feel it any longer, ‘to kill time’, i.e. to escape boredom."
“If we run a hundred miles an hour to the other end of the continent in order to get away from the obstacle, we find the very same problem waiting for us when we arrive. It just keeps returning with new names, forms, manifestations until we learn whatever it has to teach us — about where we are separating ourselves from reality, how we are pulling back instead of opening up, and closing down instead of allowing ourselves to experience fully whatever we encounter without hesitating or retreating into ourselves.”
— Pema Chödrön
Once you realize that the road is the goal and that you are always on the road, not to reach a goal, but to enjoy its beauty and its wisdom, life ceases to be a task and becomes natural and simple, in itself an ecstasy.
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.
"Deep listening is not just listening to the words; it's listening to what you feel and what you sense ..
and underneath that is a reservoir of quietness."
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.
When you no longer know what to do, we have come to our real work and when we no longer know which way to go, we have begun our real journey.
-- Wendell Berry
Your heart knows the way. Run in that direction. -- Rumi
Eventually, you just know. -- Carl Jung
Bodhi is a Sanskrit word meaning "awakening". Named after the imminent, semi legendary, ill tempered, blue eyed Indian prince and scholar Bodhidharma, who brought the art of Zen meditation to China in 520 a.d.. Bodhidharma "awakened" after sitting in a mountain cave for nine years, refusing to talk with anyone.
What he Realized: The Sweetness of Doing Nothing
In the Beginners Mind there are Many Possibilities
Shikantaza: No Gaining Idea
Italians have a famous saying, "Dolce far Niente", which means "the sweetness of doing nothing." It does not refer to being lazy, it refers to the similar saying "take the time to smell the roses" and the pleasure one gets from Being & Becoming.
One of the good things about the pleasure of inhabiting the body — how we feel the body from within, what we now call proprioception, our sense of the body as we feel it from inside — is that it’s an inherent pleasure that doesn’t have many stories at all.
Everything changes. The only constant is change. Let everything happen to you; beauty and terror. Just keep going. No feeling is final.
Suffering comes from not being willing to change. Believing that we are perfect, and it's the world around us that must cater to us!
"Sitting quietly, doing nothing, Spring comes, the wind blows,
And the grass grows, by itself."
“You exist as an idea in your own mind. The true purpose [of Zen] is to see things as they are, to observe things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes... Emotionally we have many problems, but these problems are not actual problems; they are something created by our self-centered ideas or views. When we realize the everlasting truth of “everything changes” and find our composure in it, we find ourselves in Nirvana.”
―Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
The true purpose of zen is, to see things as they are, and to let everything go as it goes.
- Shunryu Suzuki Roshi
To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest."
- Pema Chödrön
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 at the San Francisco Zen Center, where most monk meditators, including the Roshi, had developed chronic neck, back and knee pain from many hours, and often many years of "just sitting" in Meditation. During this time the idea for the name "Bodhi Body" came into being.
After leaving the Zen Center in San Francisco, I opened a massage practice underneath the Rolf Institute in Boulder, Colorado, along with my new wife Summer. I soon 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 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 energy work of Craniosacral Biodynamics, a powerful way to reset and rebalance the nervous system.
Rudyard Kipling once wrote:
Words are the most powerful drug known to mankind.
I enjoy reading the words of sages, saints, mystics and spiritual teachers. Words can be great pointers, depending on who is pointing. All living "teachers" have found new ways of expressing what ancient reality teachings have been pointing to for centuries, since beginingless creation. Reality is always already the case.
Nobody can teach us anything about reality. They can only help us get in touch with what we already intuitively feel to be true. Here and now. Buried within the subconscious mind, in the farthest corner of our memory, lies the wisdom of everything we need to realize: The purpose of life, how to love, how to reach our potential. Our task, If we want to live a true authentic life, is to bring that wisdom into ordinary, conscious, physical awareness. Paradoxically our mental efforts in doing so, keep us away.
When we walk through fog, eventually we get wet.
The sound of rain, needs no translation.
Present moment experience is physical and body-based, not intellectual or theoretical. It is only by grounding our awareness in the living sensation of our body that our true presence can awaken.
Reality is Not a Religion
“Have you also learned that secret from the river; that there is no such thing as time? That the river is everywhere at the same time, at the source and at the mouth, at the waterfall, at the ferry, at the current, in the ocean and in the mountains, everywhere and that the present only exists for it, not the shadow of the past nor the shadow of the future.”
~ Hermann Hesse
Surrender yourself humbly. Do not be concerned with loss or gain. Love the world as your own Self; then you can truly care for all things.
Sometimes surrender means giving up trying to understand, and becoming comfortable with not knowing.
-- Eckhardt Tolle
The key is to just let go into this awake, alive presence. Don’t be concerned with transcending anything. Always remember that surrendering to the core of being is the Way. Go where the depth of silence takes you, to the very root of your existence. The more simple you keep the practice, the more powerful it is.
Reality is always true to itself. When you’re in harmony with it, you experience bliss. As soon as you are not in harmony with it, you experience pain. This is the law of the universe; it is the way things are. Nobody gets out of this law. To me, this knowledge is a grace. Reality is consistent. Argue with it, go against it, and it will hurt—every single time. It will hurt you, it will hurt others, and it will contribute to the general conflict of all beings.
~ Adyashanti, The End of Your World
In order to love who you are,
you cannot hate or deny the experiences that shaped you.
Only by getting in touch with your body, by connecting viscerally with yourself, can you regain a sense of who you are, your priorities and values.
No matter how much insight and understanding we develop, the rational brain is basically impotent to talk the emotional brain out of its reality.
- Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps Score
If you look for the Dhamma, you will find that it has nothing to do with the forests, the mountains, or the caves - it exists in the heart. The language of the Dhamma isn't English or Thai or Sanskrit. It has its own language, which is the same for all people - the language of experience. There is a great difference between concepts and direct experience. Whoever puts a finger into a glass of hot water will have the same experience of hot, but it is called by many words in different languages. Similarly, whoever looks deeply into the heart will have the same experience, no matter what his or her nationality or culture or language.
– Ajahn Chah
"The human soul doesn't want to be advised or fixed or saved. It simply wants to be witnessed - to be seen, heard and companioned exactly as it is."
- Parker J. Palmer
“If we step back and consider the "big picture," the inevitable changes in life are less likely to overwhelm us. When we have a sense of humor about the whole dance of life, everything becomes easier & lighter.”
- Jack Kornfield, Excerpt: “The Wise Heart”
"The meaning of “whole” or “wholeness” is to make holy or to heal. The descent into the depths will bring healing. It is the way to the total being, to the treasure which suffering mankind is forever seeking, which is hidden in the place guarded by terrible danger. This is the place of primordial unconsciousness and at the same time the place of healing and redemption, because it contains the jewel of wholeness. It is the cave where the dragon of chaos lives and it is also the indestructible city, the magic circle or temenos, the sacred precinct where all the split-off parts of the personality are united."
~ C.G. Jung
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
- Dr Elisabeth Kübler-Ross
"Yesterday I met a whole person. It is a rare experience, but always an illuminating and ennobling one. It costs so much to be a full human being that there are very few who have the enlightenment, or the courage, to pay the price… One has to abandon altogether the search for security, and reach out to the risk of living with both arms. One has to embrace the world like a lover, and yet demand no easy return on love. One has to accept pain as a condition of existence. One has to court doubt and darkness as the cost of knowing. One needs a will stubborn in conflict, yet open always to the total acceptance of every consequence of living and dying."
- Morris West, The Shoes of the Fisherman
To be whole is to be full of contradictions.
- Carl Jung
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 (fascia oriented bodywork) to be a direct way of accessing our "prior to mind" intuitive-heart wisdom, reflected through our body. The calm, sober, grounded, felt sense "experience" of 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
“A soul connection is a resonance between two people who respond to the essential beauty of each other's individual natures, behind their facades, and who connect on this deeper level. This kind of mutual recognition provides the catalyst for a potent alchemy. It is a sacred alliance whose purpose is to help both partners discover and realize their deepest potentials.”
— John Welwood
May what I do flow from me like a river,
no forcing and no holding back, the way it is with children.
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.
Avoiding our inner demons - our fears of change and death, our anger and jealousy - It gives these opponents greater power. The more we run, the less chance we have to escape. We must face suffering, enter it; Only then can we get rid of it.
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
"For one human to love another: that is perhaps the most difficult task of all..., the work for which all other work is but preparation. It is a high inducement to the individual to ripen ... a great exacting claim upon us, something that chooses us out and calls us to vast things."
-Rainier Maria Rilke-
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 in alignment. Alignment is the balance between the descending gross physical and ascending subtle spiritual forces of manifest existence, as expressed within the constant relational field of earth's gravity and the unknown infinite space of sky. In Indias esoteric tradition it's called Shiva/Shakti, the union of masculine and feminine.
Adventures w/ Ivo
Courage is a love affair with the unknown. — Osho
When you become comfortable with uncertainty, infinite possibilities open up in your life.
Knowledge that Ends the Quest for "Knowledge"
The wisdom in our body is the visceral "knowledge" that ends the need for intellectual certainty, that appear 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 disEase 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.
"Love is not selective, desire is selective. In love there are no strangers. When the centre of selfishness is no longer, all desires for pleasure and fear of pain cease; one is no longer interested in being happy; beyond happiness there is pure intensity, inexhaustible energy, the ecstasy of giving from a perennial source."
Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj
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 in Brief
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.
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.
“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
Walking ten thousand miles of roads is better than reading ten thousand scrolls of books.
– Chinese Proverb
I am the oldest of five siblings. I have two sisters Ingrid and Heidi, who live in Italy and Isreal. A brother John who lives in Poland, and my artist brother Robert 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 renaissance Florence. His father Johann was a minister and the founding director of a religious book publishing firm and Villa Aurora, a Seventh Day Adventist College and Seminary. After the family house was bombed during the war, they moved north near the Dolomite mountains in South Tyrol, Italy.
After my formative childhood years living in Europe, our family returned to the United States. My father accepted a position at a University near Ann Arbor Michigan, where he subsequently 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.
In my 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 Magnolia Pictures film “Sunshine Superman,” a thrilling documentary and love story based on the history and embodied philosophy of B.A.S.E. 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 and 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, music festivals and NASCAR car races all over mainland USA and Puerto Rico.
Several years later, after selling my business, I lived a childhood dream by learning 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 my own classic 1953 Bell 47, using a handheld GPS and by reading road signs. The inventor and philosopher/engineer Arthur Young called his Bell 47 Helicopter invention an expression of the human spirit. Mechanical levitation?
During my final years in California, my father was involved in a tragic car accident that left him a quadriplegic on a ventilator for over 11 years. Much like "Superman" Actor Christopher Reeves, who became friends with my father. During this time I went through a painful divorce from my high-school sweetheart who I had been with for over 11 years. The girl next door. My familiar "reality" began dissolving. Can you imagine what my father and Christopher Reeves were feeling?
Soon after my father's accident, I survived a near fatal helicopter crash by “flying” to the bottom of an alligator inhabited, glassy water lake in Florida, USA. This near death experience was life shattering and a huge shock to my aviator, "top gun" identity and personality. Although I jumped "back on the saddle" and continued flying for a while, it brought me to a crossroads in life where I lost all my usual drive and worldly ambition and chose to spend a couple years in deep introspection. Just sitting, with no gaining idea, at a Zen Community in Marin county, near San Francisco. And at the Esalen Institute, along the coast of Big Sur, California.
"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 crisis is a holy summons to cross a threshold. It involves both a leaving behind and a stepping toward, a separation and an opportunity.
The word crisis derives from the Greek words krisis and krino, which mean “a separating.” The very root of the word implies that our crises are times of severing from old ways and states of being. We need to ask ourselves what is it we’re being asked to separate from? What needs to be left behind?”
― Sue Monk Kidd
There comes a time in your life when the life you have been living is over, and you have no clue who you are becoming.
During this life changing time I let go my dream of being a professional helicopter pilot, when I discovered the heart opening healing power of transformative bodywork and the desire to live a more meaningful life (for me), by helping others learn the “art” and yoga of living in their bodies. This began a lifelong exploration of spiritually oriented, body-based solutions to tension, stress & pain; suffering and trauma.
What these experiences have taught me is that when I have come to my “edge” and stepped through challenges that have scared me the most, I've gained innumerable benefits. I learned how to feel the fear and do it anyway. It also gave me courage to grow and let go of people, places and things, no longer true for me.
Courage, the joy of living dangerously.
Adrenaline, Trauma, Cortisol & Ecstasy
"People who can’t find ecstasy in the heart of daily experience, often seek it outside themselves. I see this everywhere I look. There is often a directly proportional relationship between one’s hunger for bliss and one’s degree of emotional toxicity. The more extreme the internalized pain, the more extreme the quest for externalized bliss. I call them, ‘bliss-seeking missiles.’
Often trauma survivors on the run, they try any drug, or extreme experience, in the hopes of tasting from the ecstasy tree. They want it and need it that badly. They are looking for proof that there is more to this life than darkness. They are seeking evidence of essence, anywhere they can find it. It all works out well, if they take the energy that emanates from their adventures to come back down into their bodies to work through their stuff.
To clear so much emotional and energetic debris that they can one day feel ecstasy naturally, in the heart of daily life. It doesn’t work out well, when the quest becomes an entrenched way of being that floats them further and further way from themselves. Because ecstasy doesn’t mean a thing if there isn’t an intact self to come home to. The real ecstatic alchemy begins and ends within the self-itself. Centered. Spacious. Ecstatic in the heart of the everything."
Soul work is not a high road. It's a deep fall into unforgiving darkness that won't let you go until you find the song that sings you home.
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.
“You live like this, sheltered, in a delicate world, and you believe you are living. Then you read a book (Lady Chatterley, for instance), or you take a trip...and you discover that you are not living, that you are hibernating. The symptoms of hibernating are easily detectable: first, restlessness. The second symptom (when hibernating becomes dangerous and might degenerate into death): absence of pleasure. That is all. It appears like an innocuous illness. Monotony, boredom, death. Millions live like this (or die like this) without knowing it. They work in offices. They drive a car. They picnic with their families. They raise children. And then some shock treatment takes place, a person, a book, a song, and it awakens them and saves them from death. Some never awaken." ~Anaïs Nin
(Book: The Diary of Anaïs Nin, Vol. 1: 1931-1934 https://amzn.to/3PTfJPt)
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, teachers, supermodels, artists and poets. Actors and writers. Plumbers. Pilots. BASE Jumpers. Business people and Entrepreneurs. Nurses, Physicians and Musicians. Roshis, Rabbis and Rinpoches. Many “ordinary” extraordinary people, who value and appreciate life changing, 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.
This is who we are. We dream of flight, but are afraid of heights. To fly you must have the courage to face the terror of the void. Because it is only in the void that the flight happens. Emptiness is the space of freedom, the absence of certainty. But this is what we fear: the uncertainty. So we trade flights for cages. Cages are where certainties live ...
LOVE, NOT REASON, SHOULD MAKE DECISIONS. DECISIONS BASED ON REASON AND NOT ON LOVE ARE KARMIC. THEREFORE, LET THE HEART BE YOUR INTELLIGENCE. THE HEART IS UNREASONABLE. THE HEART IS "MAD". AND THE HEART IS THE GROUND I CALL YOU TO WALK ON.
- ADI DA SAMRAJ
People who live deeply have no fear of death.
A heart in love with beauty never grows old.
In Norway w/ Alex
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
They fear love because it creates a world they can't control.
- George Orwell
"Passion is the spark of excitement we feel when we stand on the edge of the unknown. It arrives on the boundary where two different worlds rub up against each other -- male and female, self and other, inner and outer, familiar patterns and unchartered possibilities.
So in following our passions all the way, we arrive at the boundary of life and death; here we feel the insignificance of our small self as we enter into the mystery from which we come and to which we must return."
- John Welwood, Journey of the Heart
Being present is like standing on a cliff -- exhilarating!
Wandering in mountain solitude and fearsome places is the greatest of all monasteries.
उत्तिष्ठ जाग्रत प्राप्य वरान्निबोधत| क्षुरस्य धारा निशिता दुरत्यया दुर्गं पथस्तत्कवयो वदन्ति|| (uttiṣṭha jāgrata prāpya varān nibodhata| kṣurasya dhārā niśitā duratyayā durga pathas tat kavayo vadanti|| ) – which means "Rise, wake up, seek the wise and realize. The path is difficult to cross like the sharpened edge of the razor (knife), so say the wise."
— Katha Upanishad
Sri Ramana Ashram & the Razors Edge
Knowledge Of Freedom
“Human beings have a drive for security and safety, which is often what fuels the spiritual search. This very drive for security and safety is what causes so much misery and confusion. Freedom is a state of complete and absolute insecurity and not knowing. So, in seeking security and safety, you actually distance yourself from the freedom you want. There is no security in freedom, at least not in the sense that we normally think of security. This is, of course, why it is so free: there's nothing there to grab hold of.
The Unknown is more vast, more open, more peaceful, and more freeing than you ever imagined it would be. If you don't experience it that way, it means you're not resting there; you're still trying to know. That will cause you to suffer because you're choosing security over Freedom. When you rest deeply in the Unknown without trying to escape, your experience becomes very vast. As the experience of the Unknown deepens, your boundaries begin to dissolve. You realize, not just intellectually but on a deep level, that you have no idea who or what you are. A few minutes ago, you knew who you were—you had a history and a personality—but from this place of not knowing, you question all of that.
Liberated people live in the Unknown and understand that the only reason they know what they are is because they rest in the Unknown moment by moment without defining who they are with the mind. You can imagine how easy it is to get caught in the concept of the Unknown and seek that instead of the Truth. If you seek the concept, you'll never be free, but if you stop looking to myths and concepts and become more interested in the Unknown than in what you know, the door will be flung open. Until then, it will remain closed.
I've seen people who have never meditated come to satsang and have a deep experience of the Unknown, and I've known many who remain in the trance because they stay with the mind's techniques and strategies. There is no prerequisite for experiencing the Unknown. Everyone has equal access to it.”
‘One of the most difficult things to learn is that mindfulness is not dependent on any emotional or mental state. We have certain images of meditation. Meditation is something done in quiet caves by tranquil people who move slowly. Those are training conditions. They are set up to foster concentration and to learn the skill of mindfulness. Once you have learned that skill, however, you can dispense with the training restrictions, and you should. You don’t need to move at a snail’s pace to be mindful. You don’t even need to be calm. You can be mindful while solving problems in intensive calculus. You can be mindful in the middle of a football scrimmage. You can even be mindful in the midst of a raging fury. Mental and physical activities are no bar to mindfulness. If you find your mind extremely active, then simply observe the nature and degree of that activity. It is just a part of the passing show within.’
- Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English
Within each of us exists a warrior and a yogi. A warrior who will push through and overcome, who is determined, who will achieve, and a yogi, who is the most tenderhearted and compassionate being. The one that can let go, that can flow with what is. But it is the combination of these two that makes us uniquely human. We have the opportunity at any given moment, to select the behavior that is appropriate: a call for action, or a call for surrender. The ideal is to integrate this dual nature into One, complete being.
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, Zenkei Blanche Hartman, John Daido Loori, Charlotte Selver, Frank Ostaseski, Joan Halifax, Stanislov Grof, Ken Wilbur, Dr. Alexander Lowen, Sam Keen, Gabrielle Roth, Natalie Goldberg, Ram Das, Jack Kornfield, Adyashanti, Eckhardt Tolle, Osho, Adi Da Samraj, David Deida, Master Zhang, Bruce Burger, Daniel Odier, James Swartz, Swami Dayananda, Skratch Garrison, Yogi Sundar, Peter Levine, Robert Schleip, Jim Asher, Ray McCall, Bob Schrei, John and Anna Chitty, Gelek Rinpoche, Dalai Lama, Ramana Maharaj, Arunachala, Nisargadatta, Karl Renz, Jeff Brown, Mooji, Amma, Mother Meera, Thich Nhat Hanh, Tarthang Tulku Rinpoche, U.G. Krishnamurti, Suzuki Roshi, my super psychic cat Shakti, and many more. Including life in Mother India for over ten 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 additional training in Deep Tissue Therapy, Polarity Therapy, SourcePoint Therapy and Somatic Emotional Clearing. He trained at the Heartwood and Esalen Institutes in California. The Rolf Institute in the U.S., Germany and Austria. The Naropa Institute, and the 3 year 700 Hour, Franklyn Sills based Biodynamic Craniosacral training in Boulder, Colorado, with John and Anna Chitty.
Erik is a (former) long-time practitioner of Zen meditation, with many years background in Dzogchen, Kashmir Shaivism, Vedanta, Daoism, Iyengar Yoga and Emei Mountain, Temple Style Jingui Qigong. He has been riding motorcycles, jumping from perfectly good airplanes and off of big mountains for over 40 years, offering a unique perspective on “heightened states of calm awareness” and the phenomenon of fear.
"When an eagle takes flight into the immensity of the sky, he never thinks, 'My wings won't be able to carry me. I won't be able to fly that far.' Remember your innate nature and adhere to it with utter confidence."
~Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche
To Thine Own Self Be True
Goodbye," said the fox. "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-Exupery, The Little Prince
"Love says: 'I am everything'. Wisdom says: 'I am nothing'. Between the two my life flows."
“It is always the false that makes you suffer, the false desires and fears, the false values and ideas, the false relationships between people. Abandon the false and you are free of pain; truth makes happy, truth liberates.”
“The word ‘sacrifice’ is not really about self-denial, as we’ve been taught, but comes from the root ‘to make sacred.’ In order to make an honest encounter with the unknown, something of great value must be given up, lest we cling to an old version of ourselves. And in making that sacrifice, there is a transfer of a power. In naming and releasing it, we own that which used to own us. The energy locked up in our conformity is liberated for our benefit and conscious use.”
“Nature is always calling us into greater gestures of bravery. And as we accept those invitations to our personal edge, we lose the ability to shrink into falseness.”
“Belonging: Remembering Ourselves Home” by Toko-pa Turner
“A life truly lived constantly burns away veils of illusion, burns away what is no longer relevant, gradually reveals our essence, until, at last, we are strong enough to stand in our naked truth.”
Excerpt from “Coming Home to Myself” by Marion Woodman
"To be simple means to make a choice about what's important, and let go of all the rest. When we are able to do this, our vision expands, our heads clear, and we can better see the details of our lives in all their incredible wonder and beauty."
~ John Daido Loori
“I was no longer needing to be special, because I was no longer caught up in my puny separateness that I had to keep proving I was something.”
~ Ram Dass
“Even faith in God is only a stage on the way. Ultimately, you abandon all, for you come to something so simple that there are no words to express it.”
“Reality is always true to itself. When you’re in harmony with it, you experience bliss. As soon as you are not in harmony with it, you experience pain. This is the law of the universe; it is the way things are. Nobody gets out of this law. To me, this knowledge is a grace. Reality is consistent. Argue with it, go against it, and it will hurt—every single time. It will hurt you, it will hurt others, and it will contribute to the general conflict of all beings.”
"Dissolving of ego is when ego comes into total alignment with reality."
Jumping off the cliff, with open hands. - Wumen Huikai
The modern Japanese Zen master, Haku'un Ryōko Yasutani says:
Shikantaza is the mind of someone facing death.
Let us imagine that you are engaged in a duel of swordsmanship of the kind that used to take place in ancient Japan. As you face your opponent you are unceasingly watchful, set, ready. Were you to relax your vigilance even momentarily, you would be cut down instantly. A crowd gathers to see the fight. Since you are not blind you see them from the corner of your eye, and since you are not deaf you hear them. But not for an instant is your mind captured by these impressions.
In the Midst of Movement & Chaos...
Keep Stillness Inside You
Kjerag, Norway 2015 - Video by Piotr
Erik, Kim and Alex
"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