Rolfing Works

The verdict is in, after this morning’s practice: Rolfing works. I first noticed something when I got to Prasarita Padottanasana B. I usually sail through A, because I can pull with my hands to get my head on the floor. But B and C pose more of a challenge. What I noticed today was 1) my head was on the floor, no problem, in all Prasaritas, and 2) I was strangely, and just slightly, off-balance. As if my shoulder/neck area was “too light.” It took me a few moments to figure it out, but I realized that usually there is a ball of tension in my upper back, between my shoulders, and it kind of makes this tangled ball of tension that “sticks” my shoulders, upper back, and neck all together. And all of that was missing. It was like I was empty inside, and lighter. And it affected my balance ever so slightly.

I also realized that I kind of think of that area as my “core,” as the most dense part of myself. Where I keep my willfulness and determination and ambition. All the “strong” stuff. The missing heaviness/tension in that area meant my whole center of gravity shifted. It was particularly noticeable in anything upside down: the prasaritas, handstands, sirsasana. I didn’t feel less strong, but I could feel the tension missing. Interesting, eh? That I associated tension with my strength and balance?

All I could think was, “I’ve got to get this done to my hips, too!” It is much as I suspected: the Rolfing adjusted the structure I’ve learned to identify as “me”– in this case, the upper back tension that I thought was simply a part of me, that I created and clung to as part of my physical identity. I knew it was there, but I didn’t know how MUCH there it was, or that it wasn’t really necessary to my physical structure, until it was relieved.

Not sure how the Rolfing fits in with what else was going on in practice today. Marichyasana A was a breeze–easy to bind, and then I just leaned right down until my chin was on my shin. I love when that happens–a pose just reveals itself so easily and gracefully. And Bhujapidasana felt pretty good. I got my feet underneath me with relative ease (though still sliding along the mat), and I even managed to get out of the pose, despite putting weight on my head. It wasn’t pretty, but it was a step in the right direction.

There is this scary feeling when you first practice zen: If I dissolve my ego, what will be left? and now I am confronting a bit of that with Rolfing: If I dissolve my tension, what will be left? Will I still be me? Those questions seem so compelling at first, but after a while, you just sort of let it go–the whole drive to preserve the pre-conceived “self” relaxes. It’s sort of like moving deeper into a pose. All the questions you have at the beginning dissolve, too, and you wonder why you were so attached to them to start with.

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5 Responses

  1. How many rolfing sessions have you done? I was thinking about trying it but for some reason am hesitant…

    and I think if the tension goes away you might even find more of your self..

  2. I’ve done one session. Perhaps a bit quick to declare it a success, huh? 😉 The book “Spacious Body: Explorations in Somatic Ontology” is about Rolfing, and pretty interesting. The practitioner I go to is known for being very gentle–not sure if your reluctance has been about pain, but it is possible to have Rolfing without pain.

  3. I’ve been considering rolfing for the past year. Thank you for the post and noting how it relates to practice. I look forward to future posts as you get more work done.

    The “rolfer” I spoke with wanted to do 10 sessions with me to get my whole body covered. The sessions were pretty expensive so I probably won’t be doing them until next year sometime.

    And to wax philosophic here, if we create the self through some process of individuation and that process creates tension then the loss of tension would naturally shuffle off some self. Yeah, that can be scary! But, if it is that individuation process that brings about the self then stepping away from or reversing that individuation process may open us up to a greater union with the world and people around us.

    What a wonderful opportunity! I look forward to reading how this goes for you. ~G

  4. You didn’t see her come home crying like a schoolgirl from the pain 😉 I keed, I keed …
    The Cop

  5. […] From her post “Rolfing works:” […]

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