PODCAST - Zen Mind, Healing Body: Eastern Wisdom and Trauma Healing with Alex Greene
In this episode of the Red Beard Embodiment Podcast, host Alex Greene opens up about his personal background and the profound impact of his early experiences with Zen meditation on his work as a trauma therapist. This blog delves into the episode, exploring Alex's transformative journey and the connections between Zen, bodywork, and trauma therapy.
Discovering the Call of Embodiment:
At the age of 19, Alex found himself questioning the limitations of his intellectual pursuits in philosophy and physics. Seeking a deeper understanding of the world and a sense of meaning beyond rationalistic approaches, he turned to his father, who had been deeply involved in Zen training. Encouraged by his father, Alex embarked on a transformative summer break, immersing himself in Zen meditation and martial arts training in Hawaii.
Zen Training and the Physicality of Embodiment:
Alex vividly recounts the rigorous physical training he underwent during his Zen training. From daily meditation practices and sword cuts to intense martial arts sessions and physical labor, the emphasis was on developing a centered, integrated body. The concept of "Hara", the physical center below the navel, became pivotal in his journey. Through breath, posture, and physical movements, Alex discovered the path to a profound embodied experience.
The Fusion of Bodywork and Zen:
Within Alex's Zen community, he encountered William S. Leigh, a remarkable bodyworker who had integrated Zen principles into his practice. William's approach, which he called Zen Body Therapy, combined techniques from Rolfing, Trigger Point Therapy, and Feldenkrais with the foundation of Zen meditation and the energetic understanding of Qi. Leigh's work, along with his book on psychospiritual transformation through bodywork, deeply influenced Alex's perspective on the body-mind connection.
Trauma Therapy as an Embodied Practice:
Alex's exposure to Zen Body Therapy and witnessing the transformative power of bodywork in releasing trauma and facilitating personal growth left a lasting impression. Inspired by William's compassionate approach and his dedication to creating a space for change and healing, Alex realized the potential of integrating embodiment practices into trauma therapy. His own journey as a trauma therapist became deeply rooted in understanding and working with the body as a vehicle for healing.
A Chance Encounter:
During his time as a monk in residence at a temple between 2000 and 2003, Alex had the opportunity to be around a revered figure named Everett Ogawa. Although he only knew Everett indirectly as a respected member of the community, this encounter left a lasting impression on Alex. Years later, a voicemail from Everett sparked a serendipitous connection, leading to a remarkable meeting that instantly felt like a reunion between old friends.
Discovering the Missing Piece:
Following this fateful encounter, Alex embarked on a transformative path of learning bodywork and somatic therapy under Everett's guidance. Initially driven by a desire to cultivate the same centeredness and warmth he sensed in Everett's voice, Alex quickly realized the immense value of this practice. Through the study of bodywork, he found a powerful tool to strip away habitual muscle tension patterns and address psycho-emotional imbalances, fostering a more grounded, integrated state of being.
The Integration of Zen and Bodywork:
As Alex delved deeper into his bodywork training, he recognized the profound synergy between Zen principles and therapeutic practices. In Zen, the emphasis lies not only in what one does but how one embodies the experience. Alex seamlessly integrated this philosophy into his own approach to bodywork, infusing each session with presence, concentration, and an unwavering commitment to becoming one with the therapeutic process.
Central to Alex's approach is the therapeutic relationship itself, characterized by the merging of two individuals' energies and the co-regulation of their nervous systems. Drawing from Zen teachings, Alex views this profound connection as an opportunity to show up for his clients in the widest and deepest sense. By bringing his authentic presence, empathy, and compassion to each session, he creates an environment where growth and change can naturally arise.
Becoming One with Others:
Alex's personal journey led him to a profound realization: his true calling lay in becoming one with people, in both their moments of joy and their experiences of pain and woundedness. This profound connection with others became the source of tremendous energy, joy, and meaning in his work. Guided by Zen teachings, Alex aims to facilitate the discovery and cultivation of his clients' true selves, helping them uncover their authentic nature and embark on a path of growth and healing.
By infusing his bodywork and somatic therapy practice with Zen principles, Alex creates a space where clients can reconnect with their true selves and embark on a profound healing journey. As his work continues to evolve, he remains dedicated to embodying the teachings of Zen and empowering individuals to uncover their innate resilience and authenticity.
Listen to the entire episode here and find out more about Alex’s unique approach!
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