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Dub Leigh

by Dione Hills(more info)

listed in interviews, originally published in issue 12 - May 1996

Is there a focus only on anatomy in the trigger point workshops which you are doing in the UK and Europe?

Not only anatomy. Actually what we  do is work on body, mind and spirit. That’s the whole purpose of the exercise, not just on the body. That’s the main difference from the others. When you get through with a client there are great changes in body, mind and spirit. There’s a lot of trauma embedded in the body. Look back to Wilhelm Reich and how he made a step up from Freud and said trauma is buried within the body. What we do is take all that out, change the tissue so that it doesn’t have a trauma buried in the unconscious mind.

Dub Leigh
Dub Leigh

Do you think you have to work through all three levels at the same time?

The problem with working with the spiritual side is that you don’t get your hands-on working with the body. As Ida used to say, when people came up to her, and she was extremely psychic. She would always say “Look, there’s the body there, there’s no point in working on the aura,” and things of that kind.

You can see the body and you can feel the body and that’s where you make the changes. If you change the body you can’t help but change the mind and the spirit. We have found that when you go down with disease, your body, mind and spirit goes down together. When you come back, it comes back very close together.

So the body is a way in to the other two?

Yes. For me it is the fastest and best way. It is the only way. Our work is based on Tanouye Roshi’s work too, that is a training in Chi and Zazen. That’s the other side of it. You have to build your chi so that you can understand chi, so that you can build chi and get the old dirty chi out and get clean chi fed into the body and get the chi in the body circulating. To get that vital energy circulating without constriction. Then you get all three; body mind and spirit are changed completely. That’s on the inside. Zazen meditation and these things are a very basic part of our work. So we not only get our hands in the aura, which for us is the mind, we also get the old dirty chi out, then we can get the channels and joints open and the chi circulating.

So if someone is trained in your method, is part of the work therapy and part of it educating the person to do it themselves?

That’s only a part of it. The other part is you have to continue and get your own chi so that your vibrations are high and people with higher vibrations can be tuned into your body. You have to have a lot of things to do besides just sitting and looking.

To learn the meditation side is very important. To learn how to do all of these things is important especially in meditating. The client does not have to know how to do the actual work itself. The client needs to know something about their own body, mind and spirit. Meditation is really the basic issue. If you do those things you can maintain what you gain, if you don’t do those things and you don’t have an awareness, you lose what you have gained. We build on that all the way through.

That is interesting because you sometimes hear of people who are trained in massage and bodywork who get sick because maybe they pick up stuff from their clients. It sounds like your method is one way to help with that?

We keep away from that and one way is to keep your vibrations high. You don’t want to pick up the wrong vibrations. You do meditation to keep your own awareness. I had one client who did her maintenance exercises twice a day through the same type of therapy. It is the only way the exercise will work – a bit of maintenance added to a bit of motor exercise. You keep chipping at it. Your body can progress. I don’t think you can do our work, day after day, and not get your body worked.

Do you have any words to say to body workers who are getting older and finding the work harder as they get older – what they can do to maintain themselves?

Develop your own chi to a great extent so you can do your work well and not have to work with so much physical effort. Now at 82 I use 10 or 20 times less than I used to years ago. And I get changes so much faster. I rely more on intuitive advice and counsel than I used to.

Is Zentherapy your integration of the three different traditions you have worked in?

More than three. When I say I’ve studied with a lot of people, I spent a lot of time studying Wilhelm Reich’s work. Then I went into Ida’s work more than anyone else’s. Then I got into trigger point anatomy. We didn’t call it that in those days.

Raymond Nimmo D.C. was a chiropractor. He pioneered the idea that when a muscle is tight and hard and you put pressure on it the right way you release the trauma. That’s very important in our work, getting the trauma out, getting a muscle to release its trauma and the dirty chi comes out. We learn to see and smell that. Anyone can see how the tissue changes. I got it all from Nimmo.

Then I went to Ida. She picked up from Nimmo. She knew Nimmo. In fact, Nimmo set up seminars for her to explain her work to people. So they were friends. She went one way and he went the other. The way Ida went was working with energy fields. Her thing was energy fields of the universe and energy fields of the body. If they were lined up the energy field of the universe would give the body a lift instead of being pulled down, instead of gravity pulling it down. Gravity would do that. When the body is structured right and aligned properly, as Ida’s method is, you will get a lift from gravity instead of a drag down. Instead of your body being shortened, your body will lengthen according to Ida. It will ease through space with less effort – all those things if the body is aligned with gravity.

Is the energy field and gravity the same thing?

Yes, sure it’s the same thing, the energy field of the Earth which is an energy field which acts as gravity. We don’t know we’ve got it, like a fish in water a fish doesn’t know it’s got water, it just swims around in it. That’s a few of the basic things I learnt from Ida. Ida would reposition the fascia – not just the muscle tissue but the fascia so it is not stuck. Allow the fascia to release and you get a completely different operating of the universe.

After Ida, I studied with Moshe Feldenkrais at Esalen. I studied with Moshe on and off for about 8-10 years, till he died. I studied a lot with Moshe. Moshe and Ida were old friends, they worked together in London. Ida said that she learned from him that one could tell where a person was and what they were by their body, their personality in their body. She told a story about she and Moshe being together talking about a physchiatrist from New York whom they both knew and Ida said “I think he’s schizophrenic”. And Moshe says “How could he be otherwise, haven’t you  looked at his body?”

The other thing we used of Moshe’s, a subtle thing learned, and that was the muscles generating positive thoughts and attitudes are the extensor muscles of the body and the negative thoughts and attitudes are in the flexor muscles of the body. So if you want a person to feel better and have better attitudes you want to work on the extensor muscles of the body. Moshe did that. Moshe didn’t lay it out that way, like Ida did, get your hands in there and work, but Moshe would use awareness lessons. There are a lot of other things they had in common but Ida had a structured recipe.

Moshe, he went to Japan to study with Noguchi. Noguchi was world famous, Moshe tells about people lining up around the block waiting to get in. He and his helper got in and instead of spending a few minutes together they spent an hour or two talking. One asked the other how many exercises they had. Moshe asked him and he said he did the same thing to everyone who came in – I think he was working the psoas muscle. And Moshe said “How many manipulations and how many exercises do you have?” Noguchi says, “I have one. How many do you have, Moshe?” Moshe says “I have unlimited numbers.” He always tried to do things differently each time and there is no end to what manipulations there are or awareness movements he could do and did. And he  did something different everytime you saw him. And he charged a fee for teaching each time, so he was unlimited in the amount of fees he could charge.

After Moshe I went to work with Lauren Berry. Lauren Berry was a genius. He was a physical therapist, he never went to school. He qualified as a physiotherapist in California and was trained in engineering, so he saw the body as pulleys, joints and mechanical leverages. He saw that clearer than anyone. But he developed techniques that are really creative and he had no fear whatsoever as far as manipulating the body. I worked with him for a number of years.

He had his own group of people who did his type of thing, mostly joint work working with their hands. Getting people to pass gall stones and that type of thing with his hands which no one outside ever did. He taught people how to go in deeper to get organs, put kidneys back in their nests – stuff like that. His joint work, I still use it but only when all else fails and I think “God, what else can I do?” And I think of Lauren Berry and I go out there and pop a joint and the guy jumps up, out of pain. It’s really an extra bag of tricks to have. If people see you do that they think “My God, he’s a genius!” I had this foot problem for 14 years and he comes and he pops my foot one time and I get up and walk without pain. He doesn’t even take the bandage off. As Lauren says, “After you do it about 98 times and the there are 2 that you can’t release and you realise that you’re just a human again!”

After that I went out to Hawaii to rest. I sat around just enjoying being a hot-shot. Then I met someone who took me out to see Tanouye Roshi, a Zen Master. I guess I didn’t take too much to him because he didn’t seem like he was interested in having me come over there. In fact, he told me at first that he didn’t think I should come over and I was really upset about it, I wanted to come.

There’s a feeling in the property, it just gives you a lift. There’s a halo over that property and an energy field throughout it. Jesus, I felt so much better and I was tired and I needed rest. I was pretty upset all the time I was there. I shook hands and thanked him and then he asked me to come out and stay for two weeks. I didn’t know what a Zen Master did. He put me to work on bodies after I’d been there about three days. He watched me very closely and one day said “Have you ever thought about doing it this way?” and he showed me some things I’d never seen. From then on I wanted to be a student. When I’d finished those two weeks I asked him if I could come out again and he said that I’ve got to come for 21 days. So I trained for 21 days. At the end of 21 days he said “I think you ought to stay 30”, so I stayed 30 days. After 30 days I asked if I could come back and he said I could stay as long as I liked. I stayed there for 6 years. At the end of 6 years he chased me out to teach throughout the world. Since then I’ve been training half the time in Europe and half the time in the United States. About 6 years.

Is the training mainly physical confrontation or do people go through a lot of emotional changes?

We feel good when emotions come up and we get a lot of pain out of the body. The tissue changes and
the body, mind and spirit rises to a new level. That’s what the whole thing’s about. Get that painful trauma out and get your bodies changed. Get your spirit changed and get up to high levels and start over! If you do that often enough you get a clear body. Pretty soon your body is alive. You can get in there up to your elbow and you can’t find any tight muscle, you can’t find any trauma which is buried in there. That’s what we want for all people. But you have to practice, get processed That’s the purpose of the work. The purpose of the work is to get people clear so people can be on a different, higher plane. With enough people on a different plane then the whole world can change. You function differently.

Does the work allow when the body is ready to be released and look at it?

That’s very important. Of course it’s illusion. You have one group here that has been training in some kind of therapy where they try to force the body to get released and it’s the most unpleasant type of people that try to get them to change those habits. As long as they have that they are totally false. A waste of time and effort. You have to let trauma loose, spontaneously. And you have to allow it. You can’t hinder or help it. But if you do that you haven’t let it go as it should go. As Ida used to say, anything that they can bring up they can handle, don’t ever try to force it. Don’t try to force anything. You try to push your hand in some body and they start pushing back, that’s the worst thing you can do is try to force it. Wait until they ask or allow you in. When they’re ready for you they’ll ask you and let you in. You try to force it or force emotions out that’s . . . I know a lot of people do that in a therapy situation, I think they’re, I hate to say it, they’re on the wrong track. You do it very gently.

Talking about the body being spontaneously ready to move, do you find people going through spontaneous movement much with your work?

Spontaneous movement?

Yes. Spontaneous releasing from the body.

When you work on an area and if that area releases, then very often you get a vibration and you can tell what part releases by the vibration and frequency of the vibration. If you get a spiritual release, you don’t get the vibration. You cannot because it’s such a high vibration and it comes off as a poof and it’ll knock you back. They are very different, material and spiritual vibration. Any time you get a poof that knocks you back, its a spiritual release. It is usually poisonous, a great release, and allows for positive changes in body, mind and spirit.

In your work and in so many works now the idea that the body, mind and spirit is all one integrated whole is commonplace but out there, in the “real” world, there all seems to be a lot of separation, isn’t there?

It’s not commonplace. I think they are very separate. It’s not always one big bundle, they are very separate, the body and the mind and the spirit are completely separate but when you change one it can pull the other two with it. No matter which way it goes, body and mind is not the same. The mind and the brain is not the same thing. Ida used to say to us all the time, “Where’s your mind? You know where your brain is, it’s in the skull, where’s your mind?” Today, I think as Ida did, the mind is in the connective tissue, it’s all through the body and it’s outside in the aura, that’s where your mind is and the brain is in the nervous system and your skull, and your second and third brain is down in your lumbar and sacral area.

And the next stage of your work?

There are several ways we can make it better but the basic whole we can’t improve. The way we get this process is very, very efficient and it does the job. Our practitioners know this. I don’t want people making a religion out of it. It’s not a religion. Zen is not religion. A lot of people think Zen is religion. Zen is just a method of personal development. I don’t know myself what the hell’s in this, but I know it doesn’t test any religious cult. Roshi never asked me what church I was born to and he never said I ought to be Buddhist or even encouraged me to study. For me it is a system or method of personal development. I was there on the property for three years and somebody came and he asked me if I would show these people through the property, outsiders, I can’t remember where they were from, the United States, I took them around the property and showed them what we did. When they left and I shook hands and he said “Tell me what Zen is?” And I said, “I don’t know what Zen is. I don’t know the definition of Zen, I’ve only been here three years”. I thought I was stupid. I felt really bad so I went to Roshi and asked what I should have told him. He said “Exactly what you told him”. And I think I can answer that same thing now. I don’t think it’s an important thing to know. What I know is it works. As long as it’s working for me I don’t have to have a reason to follow it. I think that is the problem with lots of us, dreamers trying to put into words what isn’t. I can feel Zen. I can feel what I’m changing.


  1. Patti Zentara said..

    I was fortunate to have Dub in my life in the 1970's when his major practice was Rolfing and I had those magical ten sessions with him. It changed how I felt about my body, totally. And provided other releases, also. I did not know till 2012 that Dub passed away I am pleased to know he made such a miracle of his life! I do miss him but his sprit of being alive will never leave me. RIP, dearest Dub! Love you. Patti

  2. Mike said..

    We published some articles by Allan Rudolph who knew Dub as well as Feldenkrais, Lauren Berry and Ida Rolph. His articles are under the heading bodywork and make interesting reading.

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