Last December, before the year turned, something inside me pushed me to seek out rolfing. I was purely curious about it. I first heard of the body work from my friend, Ron of Hawaii in the 70’s and the subject surfaced up again among my colleagues in the 80’s. All I remembered was how great it was for the body and how much it HURT.
Through some contact (an osteopath), I met Barry, an advance rofler in Vancouver. Barry said very little about the mechanics of rofling since I had done some extensive research on the subject. When he asked me what I know about rolfing and I stressed,”PAIN”. He just smiled and said it did not need to be. Newer modality is less evasive than those of the older days and the level of pain experience is also directly proportional to past injuries and any scar tissues build up.
So I stripped down and laid on the bed and readied myself to battle pain. Barry coached me to breathe while he worked on my body. I was to meet his fingers from inside with my breath. I was so focused on the breathing work that I forgot about everything else. Then I realized that I was meditating! Yes, there were painful moments but the pain was so different from those that I had experienced from massages and was totally bearable. If anything, it was less painful than that that had been inflicted by some of my previous massage therapists. After Barry worked on my right chest and shoulder, I immediately sense a space opened up for my right shoulder had never experienced before. It felt a lot freer and remarkably different than my left shoulder.
At the end of the first session, Barry taught me to let my body aligned itself naturally with gravity. And for a few minutes a day, I was to stop and let gravity adjust my posture.
When I got home, I checked out myself in the mirror and was totally surprised how my posture had changed. As long as I remembered, I always had round shoulder and I hunched forward. And many a times, I had tried to stand “straight”. It just felt totally uncomfortable and not natural. And now, it just feels a lot natural for my shoulders to be pulled back. It actually feels better. I also understand that I have to remember to practice my new posture to teach and train my body to go there naturally.
So I found myself paying more frequent attention to my body.
It was about my feet and legs. I asked about my flattish feet and Barry said that he can help me fix it. He said that no one was born with flat feet or rather, all babies were born with flat feet. Remember what babies’ feet look like? How the arches develop is entirely dependent on how the babies learn to walk. I learned to walk with my feet slightly turned outward. As I walk, my feet roll from the outside edge of my heels to the inside of my big toes. As a result of I have calluses on my inside of my big toes and balls of my feet and heels of all my shoes are worn out on the outside edges.
After the session, I looked down at my feet and was surprised to find my big toes (the one on my right foot particularly) were straighter somewhat. My homework was to focus on walk/taking my stride correctly. I was told to focus on “pushing” off evenly from the balls of my feet rather than the inside edges of the balls of my feet and the big toes.
Barry worked on the outside edge of my body, ie, legs, side of underarms, neck and head.
It was the inside edge of my legs to the inside of my butt.
This session, I was taught to be aware of activating the inside edge of my legs and thighs when I walk or stand.
I also learned that it is a myth that as we age, our body is stiffer and more prone to injuries. We feel that way because a lot of muscles in us are stuck due to injuries, bad postures, work usage etc. When we lost full usages of all our muscle, we feel stiff and get injured easier. Rolfing frees up muscles and our job is to use all of them. The more they are being used, the more they serve us!
As the time progresses, I realized that I am more aware or paying attention of my body. I found myself being “home” a lot more (“home’ being my body). I was prepped when growing up to be “out” there, thinking with my head. I became to be disengaged with my body. I remembered during one of my life coaching training workshop, I was introduced to the concept of “thinking” with my body. I had no idea what they were talking about. The idea that the body can give me a lot of information or answer was just WEIRD. I was told that if I stopped thinking or searching for answer with my head, the answer that I sought out would just pop out.
I began to realize that I had started to practice some form of walking meditation. I would walk with being conscious of my body and at the same time, I am engaging with the world outside. The only difference is I am not THINKING.
When I am being rolfed on the table, I am so busy engaging with my breath and being with what ever pain that I actually finding the whole process, pain or without pain, rather quite relaxing.
So, is Rolfing a spiritual practice? I think so. I feel more at peace with myself and my life. I am more in touch with my negative thoughts or more aware of when I go there.
Physical benefits I am experiencing: My knees are stronger and they no longer hurt when I go up and down the stairs. My body is more fluid.
I am looking forward to my fifth session.