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Meet Kevin Kunkel of BodyMind Practices in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kevin Kunkel.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My personal journey of understanding and healing my own body and mind is what led me to my current focus of an integrative body-mind approach to healing. As a child, I had a keen interest in how the mind works and how different experiences effect our development, especially through watching my 9-years younger brother grow up. At the same time, I was very active with sports, developing the body, and communing with the beautiful Wisconsin countryside. After doing my undergrad in psychology I delved deep into meditation while back-packing through Thailand and Asia. I had my first experiences of the mind-body connection when I would see how different memories and issues would seem to link up with different places of my body on which I would hold a meditative attention. My meditation practice, however, felt too much just in my mind, a bit disconnected from sensing my body. Fortunately, while in India at this time, I turned to learning yoga as a way to do more of an embodied meditation. Soon after I began practicing and then teaching yoga, I discovered the power touch has to further ground me in feeling and sensing my body versus being in my head. I entered massage therapy training and fortunately my initial training included a certification in the bodymind modality of Hakomi Techniques for Bodyworkers – a training on how to work with emotional and psychological healing through the lens of a bodyworker. A few years later I found the perfect combination of body-mind healing in Somatic Psychology, which gave me an even bigger container to understand and hold the deeper psychological and emotional challenges so many of us face. I’ve since been developing my own way of working with mindfulness, touch, movement, and somatic psychotherapy to offer clients a more whole-human way to improve mental/emotional as well as physical wellbeing.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’ve always known where my interest lie and what I wanted to do. How I’m doing it, staying honest and in integrity to the way I’m living my life has been my biggest challenge. Even though I had many early life experiences that could be termed successful, I was sensitive to the fact I was living quite disconnected from my body, often living from my head and making choices according to what I thought I “should” be doing. In my mid-20’s, I became personally committed to doing things in a new way: truly stepping in to trusting my body’s communication and wisdom and honoring its pace. I always knew I could be doing a lot more and be further along in my career from an external view point, but I stayed committed to not forcing things, understanding and allowing a pace that honors my heart, my gut reactions, my own healing and sense of integrity. This seems uber-important to me as I believe my personal level of integrity, authenticity, vulnerability, embodiment and centering are the cornerstones of being a true healer in this world. Although I’m so grateful for all the people I’ve learned from throughout the years, a part of my personality pushed me to learn and develop my own way of healing work. Again, I think if I just would have said “I do this established modality of massage therapy or psychotherapy” and began my practice from there, I would have been externally successful much earlier. When it is all said and done, I trust that I’ll be able to say my more slow and arduous struggle to develop and pave my own path of healing has given deep rewards for both myself and the people I’ve helped along the way.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the BodyMind Practices story. Tell us more about the business.
My business is a somatic psychotherapy and somatic massage therapy practice. The word “Somatic” points to seeing the body as a living, breathing organism that has its own alive intelligence. This viewpoint is quite different then the more reductionistic, mechanistic viewpoint that is taken by the mainstream medical and mental health communities. Stemming from this viewpoint, and what distinguishes all my work, is 2 core principles: there is always an interconnection and healing of the body and mind; and our bodies have an innate ability for self-regulation and healing.

As a somatic psychotherapist, I see clients for mental and emotional health and relationship challenges. Some of the more common issues I see are around anxiety, trauma, stress, handling stressful life events, and medical issues exacerbated by stress or trauma. In addition to traditional psychotherapy techniques, I use body-oriented, mindfulness strategies for a more holistic, integrated way of working with a client. When looking to change any mental, emotional, or even physical pattern that has been hard to let go of, using strategies based in the body, heart, and gut can make a big difference over just working with one’s thoughts on the matter. Above all, I love to grow people’s ability to be grounded, centered and aligned with their own natural rhythm and flow.

As a somatic massage therapist, I move beyond modalities, to simply being with your nervous system and what it needs to restore balance, gain improved strength and rigor in one’s immune system, and find new capacities to deal with stress, anxiety, or past traumas. Along the lines of the research which suggests 80% of all initial doctor visits are due to issues related to stress, I often work with clients who are struggling to heal physical disorders or injuries due to how stress, anxiety, or trauma effects their body’s natural ability to self-regulate and heal. In these somatic massage sessions, I allow space for us to make meaning of your story through words and feelings that arise, and then use touch to work through your story as it shows up in your body.

In addition to my personal practice, I’ve been slowly building a center which I’m very excited about: The Institute for BodyMind Healing. It is a gathering of like-minded practitioners who provide holistic body-mind healing within their own way of healing. The Institute’s mission also has an educational piece: educating both the public and mainstream medical and mental health practitioners of the importance of working with the body in order to heal the mind, and working with the mind in order to heal the body.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I feel most lucky about the institutions and colleagues I work with that seem to have come my way with ease and grace. I’m grateful for the opportunity to work with so many bodymind practitioners at my Institute for BodyMind Healing, and to be part of a leading medical center, Akasha Medical Center, and a mental health center, La Maida Institute, that are both 100% committed to holistic, integrative care.

Contact Info:

  • Address: 122 S Lincoln Blvd, ste 203
    Venice CA 90291
  • Website: www.kevinkunkel.com
  • Phone: 310 691 9079
  • Email: kevinJkunkel@gmailcom


Image Credit:
Photos – Diego Wallraff

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