Finding healing through the body-mind connection

Teresa Rodriguez

So far, this Year of the Dragon has descended on most of us with fiery vengeance. It seems as if we are all going a little bit crazy. The outside world is filled with negativity and trauma, while our personal lives struggle with inner chaos that is creating illness, anxiety, and pain throughout our bodies. So many of us want off this roller-coaster and find a place of peace and wellness.

What if there was a way to reconnect to that wise part of our being that could help us heal our chronic wounds, ease our suffering, and free our tight muscles? To do so, we must first embrace our inner dragon’s energy and harness its power to fuel our personal growth and transformation. Luckily, there is a dragon tamer and prolific healer the New York Times calls “The Hollywood A list’s favorite guru…a master.” Meet author and somatic therapist Fred Mitouer, Ph.D. On Gwyneth Paltrow’s website, Goop, they rave about Fred:

“When acupuncturists and other healers need bodywork, they go to Fred Mitouer. He does bodywork for all the Buddhist priests in the area (seriously), using a variety of modalities. He’s best known for a somatic therapy called Transformational Bodywork, where he combines deep therapy with an emotional release for lasting effects.”

Just 73 years young and filled with more energy than a college freshman, Fred lights up any room he walks into. His mischievous twinkle in his eyes and his friendly demeanor has guided thousands of people on self-discovery and wellness for over fifty years. Like many innovators in the wellness space, Fred is an adventurer, but his journeys are inward. Those who have answered the call for self-reflection and healing with Fred are some of the most respected names in media, business, and world leadership. Along with his somatic healing practices, Fred has presented his work in various international venues, including Paris, Hong Kong, the United States, and Russia. Fred’s clients come to him for more than just a 60-minute massage and talk therapy; they show up at his dragon’s gate needing profound relief, sage wisdom, and a place to reconnect with themselves.

Cheryl and Fred Mitouer

Fred and his wife Cheryl have known each other since they were four. Their tiny clay handprints from kindergarten hang proudly in their kitchen. Teachers and healers have created a wooded sanctuary tucked away in the majestic Mendocino mountains. Through years of love and hard work, they crafted an extraordinary haven for healing. With mythical dragons as guardians, their sprawling property is filled with playful spots like the Dragons’ Breath Theatre, the reflective koi pond, and a mesmerizing mirror maze. Guests also enjoy lounging by the pool, soaking in the hot tub, or unwinding in the sauna. It is a magical place where kids of all ages are encouraged to find their happy, soulful nature beyond the daily stresses of modern life.

Fred’s hands found Arianna Huffington sprained ankle on a hiking trail at Post Ranch while the two were guests at a wedding. This led to his work with her and her family and friends at her home in Brentwood. In a post-session phone consult shortly after she had launched Huffington Post—lamented to him about how she felt somatically stressed by all the deadlines she had to meet to keep the site running. Fred responded to her tensions by inviting her to breathe into her belly and reimagine her thoughts about “deadlines.” He told her, “Envision these opportunities not as “dead” “lines” but as living circles. Moving, flowing, and always changing.” It was an ah-ha moment for the media tycoon who later sold her empire to AOL for $315 million.

Fred, Arriana, and Cheryl

He explains that everything can be seen as a problem or project. That includes our own wellness, vitality, and mental fortitude. The world is in chaos, and that chaos has infiltrated our bodies through the news, our relationships, and social media. Fred asks, “How can we decrease the tension in our bodies and make it less oppressive?” Along with asking the question, Fred answers, “You need to focus on the present, you need to focus on the breath, and you need to focus on your body, and you need to get grounded.” He continues to explain that we each need to find a safe place, a middle ground, where we are not floating off in space or burdened by the heaviness of the world around us. But where can we mere mortals find such a haven?

The first time I met with Fred was almost ten years ago. I was suffering from debilitating pain from two car accidents that severely damaged my back. The first accident left me without a disc in my lower lumbar, while the second accident slammed my right leg up into my pelvis. For years, I received cortisone shots to ease the onslaught of suffering, but nothing helped. That was when my mentor suggested that I see Fred.

“There are many modalities of healing that can help people find wellness, but the one part that seems to be missing is the somatic component. We live in a 3-D world. We have right-left, we have back-front, and we have up-down. This is the space our bodies physically live in. For example, we can sometimes have too much tension, pulling one of our sides down or making us lean forward too much. We can have a limp in one leg, or our neck can be out of alignment. All this causes imbalance and dis-ease, our goal is to find balance within the body, so all dimensions are in harmony,” Fred continues, “sessions in Somatic Agency are explorations of self through conscious touch. They can be viewed as the art of “peacemaking” between the inner human being and the physical body. Unlike massage and most bodywork styles, which have physical goals as their primary focus, this approach aims at awareness. The focus is upon the place in the physical body where unconscious beliefs, repressed memory, and charged unresolved emotional experience coexist.”

Before a session, Fred has frank discussions with his clients about what led them to his dragon’s gates. He asked thoughtful questions that started a dialog that includes the client’s emotional state and general well-being. For me, at the time, I was very frustrated and feeling stuck. Along with the physical damages that were caused by the car accidents, there was also a story that I created regarding my injuries. Fred explained that my emotions were getting stuck in my body and that the only way to relieve the pain was to release the story of my being a victim. I didn’t realize that so much of my suffering was wrapped in the false narrative that I was powerless.

A place for reflection

While Fred worked on the parts of my body where I felt pain, I also tapped into the sadness, fear, and anger that was pent up in my muscles, bones, joints, and tendons. I let out sobs of frustration and sharp bolts of rage. Then, I allowed wellness and peace to settle into my body. It wasn’t until Fred began to shape my flesh body like a sculpture that I began to release the old belief that kept me in pain. It reminded me of when someone asked why Michelangelo chose that particular piece of marble to carve the Pietà. He said, “There is an angel in it, and I want to free it.” I felt like Fred was the sculptor working through my body, and I was a piece of marble ready to discover my inner angel, the calm spirit who could tame my furious dragons. It was a profoundly emotional session that left me feeling more at ease and with a newfound clarity about my role in the beautiful dance of life.

After my time with Fred, I began to watch and feel how simple instances could cause physical reactions in different parts of my body. For example, when I saw texts from certain people, my jaw tightened, or I would feel nauseous. In the past, I would snap off snarky texts or get upset. But Fred reminded me that our bodies have their minds and have inherited unconscious memory banks of reactive instincts.

Our job is to transform those reactive behaviors and find confidence in our thoughtful responses.

Cheryl and Fred on their property

In his best-selling book, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts, Daniel Shapiro, Ph.D., a world-renowned expert on negotiation and conflict resolution, writes about how our reactive behavior is the cause of some of the most unfortunate situations in our personal life, as well on the world stage. Ironically, our bodies and minds can enter conflict and set fire to our inner dragons. Our mind is saying one thing, while our bodies are reacting differently. Shapiro shares, “Everyone wants to feel heard, understood, and appreciated. As you listen, you gain the power of information and affiliation. The other side trusts you, and you start understanding what motivates the other side to act. You are in a better place to influence.” This communication and balance are what Fred creates on a body-mind connection where he taps into your soul.

“Fred has become an integral part of my healing journey,” shares Tiffany Woolf, Bay Area Filmmaker, wife, and mother. “I have been struggling with a recent cancer diagnosis, which has been both shocking and terrifying. Fred has helped me to extract the overwhelming fear, pain, and grief from my mind and body to relax my nervous system and to let my medical treatment do its work. My treatment is responding beautifully. Miracles do exist if you are open to integrative healing work and completely trusting the process and, of course, if you are lucky enough to work with a compassionate and loving spiritual practitioner like Fred.”

“In Tiffany’s experience, there was a powerful and emotional release in her left arm that she could associate with her grandmother’s life experience in Poland during World War Two,” Fred explains.

With a deep understanding of the mind-body connection, Fred breaks down emotional barriers and guides you toward being fully present. His unique mix of courage and curiosity creates an unbreakable bond, providing a safe space for letting go of what no longer serves you. The transformative power of Fred’s personalized approach is heightened by his expertise to inspire and motivate. His work fosters collaboration and resilience within your body, allowing you to release fears, tensions, and emotions that no longer serve you.

As clients navigate this transformative process, they frequently discover untapped potential and a newfound clarity in their life’s direction. Fred’s techniques are tailored to unlock personal growth, teaching valuable tools for managing stress and anxiety.

With Fred, the journey to self-discovery is not just about healing — it’s about thriving.

Filmmaker L. Scott Jones has brought the magic of Fred’s healing work to life with his latest project, Grounding Light. This captivating film takes you on a transformational journey as you witness Fred at work with his clients, students, and colleagues. Through somatic agency, the body-mind becomes one with a greater Divine Intelligence, allowing you to tap into the body’s wisdom, quiet the mind, liberate the body, and integrate the soul. It is an inspiring documentary highlighting the importance of wounds in our healing journey.

Grounding Light – Revealing Somatic Agency from Lewis Jones on Vimeo.

In his book, Fred writes, “Once we are inside the wound [that we intend to heal], we no longer perceive old anger, fears, betrayals, and grievances as negative afflictions, enemies, or burdens we’d rather deny or avoid. They can prompt our growth, as in the analogy of an oyster making its pearl from an irritating grain of sand.” What begins with anger can become forgiveness and leave us bigger and wiser beings. Our once cruel and deadly dragons can become our winged companions who illuminate the night sky, showing us that our path is clear and we are indeed safe and protected.

Start your healing journey with Fred here.