Experiencing and Trusting our Inner Compass
“If you can’t see what you’re looking for, see what’s there.”
Rosen Method Bodywork is a body oriented process, using touch and sensation, to listen to and track meaningful inner experiences. Through self-awareness and listening we can remember how to learn from our inner knowing, our inner compass. Self-awareness can help us remember how to learn from our bodies again, so that our whole being—heart and head—is working together! Our bodies store information and memories at a deep sensate level and respond to everything that we experience.
By connecting to our felt sense, our bodies through touch, we are reminded of the tools we were born with that help us make choices that are in tune with who we truly are. The key to it all is awareness. When we find ourselves in the presence of another who is not judging us, who does not need to fix or change us, this can give us the space to feel and be who we are.
What might a session look like?
Sessions are approximately one hour in length. Clients usually begin face down on a massage table. No oils are used. Touch may be received through clothes or directly on the skin, as the client prefers. Standing or sitting by the massage table, I begin by putting my hands on top of the blanket or sheet covering the client. Then, as the client begins to respond in some way to the touch/contact, we begin to explore together what it is that is being experienced through felt sense/sensations and verbal dialogue.
“Acceptance is telling yourself the truth.”
I use listening hands and presence to help the client bring back to life things that perhaps have been stored in the unconscious, or are being “held back” by muscle tension or lack of feeling.
This bringing to consciousness allows the possibility of processing, through body sensation and awareness, things that we hold inside but with which we have been unable to come to terms. If you are not ready for touch, we can work with body sensation and awareness without touch.
Changes in the skin, temperature or breath reveal internal tensions and constricted movement—and its effects on circulation and physiology. Changes in the body can reflect the emergence of images, emotions, memories, and insights.
“Perhaps everything that
frightens us is,
in its deepest essence,
that wants our love.”
Rainer Maria Rilke
How often do people come for Rosen Method bodywork?
I suggest coming weekly or every other week, but clients can often see changes after a single session. In order facilitate the changing of what are often deeply-held habits of being, many clients choose to come at regular intervals over a period of time. It is also important to consider what is affordable and what timing works for you personally.
Other important things to know about Rosen sessions:
- The Rosen Method is not psychotherapy but works well in conjunction with it.
- This work is not recommended for those with active chemical dependency or who have been diagnosed with psychosis.
- I work with adults only.
Who was Marion Rosen?
Marion Rosen, Physical Therapist, was the founder of Rosen Method Bodywork and Movement. She died in 2012 at the age of ninety-seven, after a lifetime commitment to curiosity, the human body, and the ways in which a person’s true essence can be reached through touch and their own cultivated inner knowing. In the 1930s, Marion Rosen studied breath and relaxation in Munich, Germany, with Lucy Heyer who practiced with her husband, a Jungian analyst. Marion’s early experiences as Jew in Nazi Germany, I believe, later informed the Rosen Method. From her own experience of not being seen or valued for who she was, gave her a knowing how important that is for all human beings. Leaving Germany during that time, Marion Rosen studied physical therapy, both in Stockholm, Sweden, and later after coming to the United States, at the Mayo Clinic, in Rochester, Minnesota. She developed her work over many years in private practice and was encouraged to teach what she was doing to a small group of students. Those first students opened training centers to spread her work, which is now practiced internationally. She was one of the leaders and originators in the field of body-oriented somatic therapies of our time.
Here are some things that are the focus of a typical Rosen Method session:
TOUCH The nervous system is the home of sensation. Rosen Method practitioners use gentle, non-manipulative touch to establish a non-judgmental connection and presence that meets and listens to the client.
Through the contact between my hands and my clients’ bodies I track what is happening deep within their being. This practice of being with what arises—whatever that may be—helps clients to trust and support what comes from within, using this information to make decisions about how they want to be and live. This kind of attention produces oxytocin, the “calm and connection” hormone in the body.
“We need safe spaces for truth telling. The facilitator does no fixing, no saving, no advising, no correcting. We can then learn to listen deeply, to ask honest open questions, so we can hear each other into speech. Especially for those who haven’t had a voice. This is a discipline.”
BREATH Since our breathing is both voluntary and involuntary, conscious and unconscious changes in our breath or breathing reflect changes in our emotional and mental states. The diaphragm, the breathing muscle, reflects our state of being.
MUSCLE TENSION Muscles contract or relax. If they are contracting they are working at something; something physical or something emotional, something from the past or in the present. We notice physical tension to see what may emerge.
Our bodies (unconscious) mind hold onto these experiences and, over time, we may not even be aware that we are holding on to such things or that they are causing tension. We may come to experience the tension as a part of our essential being—as a part of who we are—rather than seeing the tension as simply an expression of a temporary state of being. How can we begin to allow something different, to begin to utilize our natural ways of releasing through the body? There is no formula, no single answer to this question. The answer will be unique to you and your experiences.
METAPHOR and WORDS How we speak about our experiences reflects our beliefs and thinking about ourselves and others. In a Rosen session we use words to explore unconscious beliefs and bring them to conscious awareness. We use body metaphors when we speak about our lived experiences: shouldering responsibility; having a gut feeling; keeping your chin up; having a heavy heart, and many more. The stories we tell ourselves, about ourselves, can come from within, or can be imposed by the larger culture.
CONSCIOUSNESS When we are more mindful and aware we become better able to make conscious decisions in our lives. We will feel less tossed around by life. When we bring our awareness to our felt sense/sensation we can receive insights and gain knowledge about what is relevant for our lives. We can then use this awareness to promote change on a deep body level. Sensation brings us to the present moment. Being at home in our bodies is really the only place we can be at HOME.
INTERCONNECTEDNESS There is a relationship between the health of an individual and the health of the community and the society to which that individual belongs. The individual, the community, and the society are in turn connected to the health of the earth that sustains us all. This interconnectedness can be experienced through the body. We can learn this interconnectedness through the experience of realizing where we put our attention in our lives. Feeling our individual inner process is crucial to living our lives. This ability to connect with this part of our experience can help us live with all of who we are, which is the gift we offer the world.