How did I get into Rolfing?

In college, I was part of a Gestalt group and one day the leader of the group told us about this amazing bodywork he had tried called Rolfing. I remember little of what he said about it or why I decided to go to the introductory weekend workshop. I do remember thinking that it was more therapy than bodywork. It was fascinating to see 12 people get a first session of Rolfing and see how dramatic it was for each of them but also how different. Our reactions ran the gamut from tears to laughter but all the sessions seemed to produce astounding structural changes. In my case, I had had dismal posture for years no matter how hard I tried to stand up straight. In fact, it hurt to force myself to stand up “straight” for any length of time. After the first session I found myself standing dramatically straighter with no effort at all. There was a sense of ease that was unlike anything that I had ever experienced before. Incredulous, I asked how this could be and my Rolfer told me that we had simply released the things that were dragging me down. It was a life-changing experience. I decided I had to do the entire 10 session series.

I went on to do 2 sessions every 3 months when this Rolfer would come to my town and finished 7 before leaving for France for many years. One summer, 7 years later, I was home and decided to get some work from a Rolfer I found near my parent’s home. So I asked, how would he proceed, would he start all over…? He told me we would just do the 8th session in the series of 10 – if need be, we would do some “catch up” work. As it turned out, it was perhaps the most profound session I have ever had – coming into it, I was still doing much better than before having any Rolfing 7 years earlier, but not nearly as well as after the 7 sessions I had had. I find it hard to describe the impression I had after this 8th session. It made no sense to me that this Rolfer could just pick up where we had left off 7 years earlier as if my body would still remember after all that time – but that is exactly how it felt.

I had been fascinated since my first experience and fantasized about learning to do this work, but it seemed out of my reach as I was leaving for France for what turned out to be almost ten years. After that session though, I knew that I had to do the Rolfing training and I knew that somehow I would learn to extend my reach to achieve that goal.

Three years later I found myself standing in front of the admissions committee of the Rolf Institute. I had finished my 10 session series, an advanced series of 5 sessions, 8 Rolfing Movement sessions and an introductory 10 week course; all of the prerequisites to being accepted into the actual Rolfing training. The movement sessions had been just as profound as the Rolfing sessions and left me feeling more comfortable in my body than I had ever felt in my life. I went into my interview feeling a quiet self-confidence yet very excited. Rather than the anxiety most of my fellow students felt I was almost bubbling over with enthusiasm – so much so that I started talking nonstop until finally one of the committee members stopped me and acknowledged my enthusiasm but wanted to know, could I summarize why I wanted to become a Rolfer in one word…?

His question stopped me in my tracks but somehow, I did not panic, in fact I did not even think, but I remember distinctly my eyes being drawn up and out of the skylight in the center of the room and from a place deep inside of me a totally unexpected answer came… “Love.” The room stayed silent for what seemed like a long time and suddenly there seemed to be no more questions and they asked me to step outside for a moment. They deliberated for less than 5 minutes and called me back in and the committee chair simply said, “Welcome to the Rolf Institute…”

I was surprised when writing this by how deeply moved I feel 20 years later as I remember that experience. I can give many reasons why I am fascinated by this work, but when I get quiet, in my heart of hearts I know that I do this work because I care deeply about the people I work with. Many times, in a series of sessions, there is a distinct moment when they stand up and look a little disoriented, as if they don’t quite recognize their body. I have learned to just wait as they negotiate between the new sense of their body and the “safety” of familiar and comfortable old holding patterns and then slowly…settle…down. The place they come to feels paradoxically new, yet very familiar, comfortable. Often the words that come to my mind are “Welcome home…”