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family-photo-for-website-3James Schwartz – Certified Advanced Rolfer

I have been doing this work for over 25 years now, and looking back on my life, I can point to certain defining moments where my world seemed to shift on its axis, where my center of gravity changed so dramatically that there was literally no going back. One of these happened thirty years ago when I signed up for a workshop with 12 others to try something called Rolfing. Up to that point, I did not consider my body much of an ally in my personal evolution. I struggled daily with my dismal posture which still made me look like the depressed and introverted adolescent I had once been. I realize now that my physical structure was stuck in the past, that I embodied the person I used to be rather than the person I was becoming. All of that changed in one hour. I stood up after the session and felt elated and… confused. I hardly recognized myself, yet on the other hand I felt more myself, more at home in my body than I ever had. After years of slumping I was standing tall and straight with an ease I had not even imagined was possible. My Rolfer saw the confusion on my face and answered my question before I could even find words for it: “All I’ve done is to release some of the things that have been dragging you down all of these years…” My sense of what was possible underwent a dramatic expansion in that moment – a process that continues to this day.

Being Rolfed in a group setting was in fact a wonderful introduction for me because I saw that 13 people having the same first session of Rolfing could have 13 dramatically different experiences. So, right from the start I realized that Rolfing is a deeply personal experience with a different story line for everyone who goes through it. There are some common themes to these stories though. For some it is relief from chronic pain, dramatic postural change, improvement in athletic performance; for others it is finding a sense of ease and grace, of youthfulness in their body… Many people feel changed in deeper ways; they speak of feeling more able to stand up for themselves, more centered and quieter inside, of feeling more “at home” in their body. All of these help us move towards a state that I refer to as “the embodied self.”

It is not my purpose here to explain in detail what Rolfing is – others have done a fine job of this (see the Rolf Institute’s site at www.rolf.org). What I want to talk about is the experience of being Rolfed, to give people who are considering Rolfing a sense of what they might expect from my work. I would also like this to be a meeting place, a place to share our stories just as I did when I first got Rolfed. I will be using the blog to tell these stories and to reflect on matters both practical and mysterious, to talk about what I think I have learned in 20 years but also about the sense of wonder and mystery I experience every time I put my hands on a new client’s body, about the difference between knowledge and wisdom. As Rachel Remen puts it: “Perhaps real wisdom lies in not seeking answers at all. Any answer we find will not be true for long. An answer is a place where we can fall asleep as life moves past us to its next question. After all these years I have begun to wonder if the secret of living well is not in having all the answers but in pursuing unanswerable questions in good company.”

I hope that you will enjoy as much as I have the company I have been blessed to keep…

James Schwartz