Rosen Method Bodywork: Bringing the Unconscious to Life

as published in Mosaic Magazine in May 2014.

When terrible things happen to us we start to treat ourselves as though we were terrible. In this way we come to think of ourselves in relationship to our experiences instead of who we truly are at our core essence. Attitudes such as “not good enough”, “ unlovable”, “broken”, “bad”, “victim”, “survivor”, “tough”, “stupid”, “can’t let go”, “not safe” become woven into our identities and our bodies, acting as barriers to our true selves. Our true self gets tucked away somewhere deep inside us because the terrible experience was overwhelming and surviving that experience became what was necessary. As time passes we forget about our emotional barriers and we loose awareness of our bodies and so the holding in our bodies becomes unconscious.

Our bodies tell the truth of our lived experiences. Our intellect holds the story to the degree we are conscious and willing to accept it, but our bodies hold the actual experience. Marion Rosen, the founder of Rosen Method Bodywork and Movement, taught that the body reflects a person’s emotional attitudes and that as we change our attitudes we change our bodies. Marion discovered that, “through our bodies we can become aware of, and undo, a learning process that is detrimental to our health and well-being.” Marion developed a form of healing touch that helps people to connect to these forgotten emotional holding patterns in the body.

Marion discovered that bringing people into a deep state of relaxation was the most direct way to allow feelings and memories from the unconscious to surface. By using a present, non-doing touch that follows the breath and meets the holding in the muscles and by using words that reflect what is happening in the body, practitioners create the possibility for embodied self-awareness for the client. In this way Rosen Method touch bypasses intellectual knowing, connecting instead to a deeper knowing in the body, the core of the barrier or the suffering. People often connect to memories and experiences that have been forgotten or that they vaguely remember but had no feeling connected to it. Feelings surface and are released. The breath and the holding let go and a deeper connection to self occurs. People experience themselves more fully and leave a session feeling more present, able to show themselves for who they truly are instead of the protected, hidden or absent version.

I have watched people transform as a result of this work. Sometimes the transformation can take place in one session, sometimes it occurs a bit at a time over the course of years. For myself I have experienced both big transformations in a session and the more gradual ones that built over several sessions and eventually led to a deeper awareness of an early childhood experience. The change in my life is not temporary it has been a true transformation as I have gradually connected to and allowed more of my true self to emerge out from behind my frozen state of survival. I live my life more fully, more connected and at peace with myself and those around me. I am not afraid to express myself and to do the things I’ve always dreamed of doing. I am also not afraid of the barriers I meet in others and myself.

I recently became aware of a holding pattern that is often a default place I live from when life gets busy and demanding, a place of having to do it all and it is a very lonely place one that I can’t reach out from. The awareness has been gradual, over a year or so as my life grew busier with my new position as the Vice President of the Rosen Method Institute Canada Inc. Over the course of several sessions I came to greater awareness of the feelings I experienced in a time of my life when I was very alone, overwhelmed, terrified and responsible for the survival of both my mother and myself. When I was seven years old my mother and I were living on our own and she was in the late stages of advanced alcoholism. I spent every minute either on suicide watch to make sure my mother wouldn’t kill herself or I would do all the adult things that needed to be done like making something to eat, cleaning the house, getting myself up and off to the city bus that would take me to daycare. I did all of this because I had to do it to survive. This I knew already and I have done a lot of therapeutic work on this time in my life. Rosen Method helped me to access what had remained unconscious. What I had forgotten about this experience was the feeling of just how alone I was and that there was absolutely no room for my needs. I had no awareness of need; it was just not an option for me. This was so painful to feel this. I had so much resistance to allowing these feelings to come forward. The whole process took over a year. Although I knew my sole focus at that time was on making sure my mother didn’t dye, I had not yet felt the incredible effort of just how much I really had to “do it all and then some”. During one session I felt so strongly the place of “can’t let go”. So strong I had to be. Allowing these feelings created the possibility of actually letting go and connecting deeper to my inner strength. Now I am strong enough in my connection to my true self that I can let go. This new awareness is transforming my life as I am now allowing myself to be more open than before with what I am experiencing and needing in the moment. I feel more genuine and authentic. I am saying no when I feel I have reached my limit and am taking the time to slow down before I make a decision to say yes to someone else. When life gets demanding I am not falling into my default place of having to do it all and then some. I am taking the time to listen to what I need and also taking the risk of being vulnerable and allowing what I need to come forward.

Through this work people often find what Marion liked to call their “jewel”; their truth or core being that enables them to live a life full of possibilities instead of judgment and fear. I have had the honor and privilege to witness this transformation in my clients and in students at the RMIC. As a practitioner during a session I am often touched at a place in my heart that is open and vulnerable. I feel the power of their truth. Sometimes my eyes fill with tears. I love that I can feel empathy without feeling like I have to fix anything. In fact I feel quite the opposite. There is nothing to fix. In each and every one of us is a true and whole self. This is what I hold the space for, the possibility of this awareness to arrive. I know that for my clients to trust and arrive in a more present state I have to be present in myself and in my touch trusting in the process and be willing to meet them wherever they are. In this way a safe container is created and deeper awareness of truth becomes possible.

Over time people often experience a greater spiritual connection within themselves; a connection to something greater. This is a felt experience from deep within. When the breath is free and the diaphragm is swinging without any effort the body and spirit come together and deep healing occurs in this state of surrender, opening and trust. Through this work bodies change, postures shift, wellbeing returns, lives are transformed and spirit comes more into consciousness. I both love and believe in what I do because I have experienced the results firsthand. This work continues to invite me to live from a place of inner truth and the love of an open heart. As a fellow human among humans I can’t imagine doing or “being” anything else.

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