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Begin Again

“Rolfing is an awareness school. The body is its medium. Not its end” (Peter Schwind)

Amidst changing foliage and colder days, November 1 found me back at the entrance of the Kailaish Centre in St. John’s Wood, the backdrop for the first-ever Rolfing Training in the UK.

We are now in the second phase, where the modules and the bulk of the work revolve around the 10 series, a recipe loosely knitted together by Ida Rolf, the founder of the bodywork method. The series take the client and therapist on a journey, establishing relationships, exploring and opening up the breath, finding ground and space, setting bones free from other connective tissues, and deconstructing, then reconstructing the body’s structural integrity, piece by piece.

The days are long and the work intense, and while we have all not only undergone the 10 series, but a minimum of 5 additional Movement Rolfing sessions (I have had somewhere between 20 and 25 sessions), throughout the second phase of the training, we all undergo the 10 series again by working on one another.

One principle of the Rolfing work is closure. The idea is that each session in itself is complete with a clear beginning and end, a concept that resonates with me tremendously as the yogic path is also about beginning and ending, or life and death. So often fear, frustration and anger arise around the feeling that there is not enough time, or opposite, the sense that too much time is spent in endless struggle in times where the path that lies ahead feels complicated and obstacle ridden. The thought that each moment in effect has closure, and each new moment is a moment to begin again, is comforting and easy to digest.

I have allowed past bodywork sessions to be about trying to ‘fix’ a laundry list of client complaints in the hour or hour and a half allotted, which has left me feeling rushed and less effective than perhaps I could be as a therapist with a more focused task. I found that working in this way was ultimately not serving the client or myself as a practitioner. The Rolfing process alleviates this problem through the 10 series and highlights the principle of closure not just at the end of each session, but repeatedly throughout the working relationship.

Yesterday we watched an entire first session unfold between a Rolfer and outside client, and for me the idea of closure was carried throughout the session, both in the transitions between talking and working, moving to different regions of the body, and the more intense fascial work punctuated by moving away to give space to the client’s system to digest and absorb the penetration of touch. During the session that lasted over an hour and a half, I continued to bring myself back to this principle, breaking the segments of work down, allowing moments of closure for myself in order to stay present and hold the space for the treatment.

Atha yoga-anushasanam means ‘Now, this is yoga, as I have experienced it in the real world’. It also implies that the present moment is where all realities merge as our experience. The previous moment has already died, and the next moment is unborn. Effectively, each moment gives us the chance to begin again, each breath is a new birth followed by a small death, and if we think we breathe over 84,000 times a day, we have many chances to let go, to reset our intention and to gain closure. And begin again…

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