In 1989, Rowena Pantaleon quit her corporate job at Pacific Bell and decided to do bodywork. And, she’s not talking cars. She sees clients at her house and holds workshops and retreats at hot springs. She is a bodywork therapist, connecting the mind, body and soul through massage and meditation. Pantaleon, with her freckled face and a few white strands of hair, is Filipina and moved from Hawaii to San Francisco, where she eventually discovered her passion and skill for bodywork. In 1991, she settled in her West Lindo Avenue home and started Namaste Transpersonal Process and her career as a therapist. After abiding by the “Mahalo for taking off your shoes” sign, clients can step down into her lowered living room decorated with art from the Pacific Islands.
What does “namaste” mean?
“Namaste” is a Sanskrit word that means I honor the peace, the love, and the divine in you, and when you are there and I am there, we are one.
How did you get involved in bodywork therapy?
I have a friend who referred me to a Shiatsu therapist in Berkeley. After three sessions, on my way home, I started crying and I didn’t stop crying for three days [laughing]. He just worked and worked on my lung area because the lung is what holds grief. When I realized the gift of what it’s like to have that level of bodywork, I realized I had so many inner childhood wounds that needed releasing. And so for three years I worked with him—from 1985 to 1988.
Could you tell me about your workshops?
The workshops I offer are more spiritual based. It’s filled with meditation and then assisting the participant to begin to become more inner-directed than outer-directed. So that includes learning how to sense.
What does it mean to sense?
Sensing would mean experiencing what’s happening internally inside myself, noticing how my heart is beating, being aware if there is tension in my inner experience and also being aware of whatever feelings are going on inside me.
Who comes to your workshops?
Most of the people that come are people who don’t know what it’s like to embody their body. For example I get referrals from psychotherapists in the community. People that get referred to me have difficulty with grief, anger, or who have been raped or molested.
So, would the goal of the workshop be to find peace for these people?
The goal would be more to discover who they are, to have a deeper relationship with themselves. Awareness is more important than peace, because without the awareness you won’t know if there’s peace or not.