THE POWER OF GENTLE TOUCH BY BILL SAMSEL Health and Fitness Connection -June 1995
In October 1980 I began a journey that continues to be challenging, rewarding, and fills me with gratitude. A friend described to me her sessions with Marion Rosen, a physical therapist. I knew immediately I wanted to talk with this woman. I did, and I began learning this subtle and powerful form of bodywork that both intrigued and confounded me. Since it was not a "technique" to learn so much as a way of being present with another person, my mind wanted to figure out what to do and "fix" the problem. Halfway through the training I got it. This bodywork is not about fixing a problem. This bodywork allows us to connect with the deeper parts of ourselves and experience relaxation/aliveness through our process of awareness. After two years of training Marion Rosen told the ten of us in the first training program that we were ready to become practitioners.
Even now with all this experience of Rosen work behind me, I continue to be moved by the power of this work. Rosen Method at its heart is simplicity. Combining gentle touch and verbal communication, the practitioner works with muscles that are chronically tense. The focus is to encourage relaxation of these tense muscles. This allows for an awareness of how these contracting muscles block our natural ability to move and express ourselves effortlessly. Through this awareness the possibility is reawakened in us to connect with whom we are and how we feel.
Why do we contract our muscles? For example, as a child someone may have told you: "don't cry." So you place a barrier there, expressed in your body as holding the neck muscles tight not to feel or express your sadness. Through the Rosen Method we get to experience this truth. When we do, we have the opportunity to accept this truth and to let go of the muscular holding. By tightening our muscles we force our bodies/ourselves to live in a smaller space than we intended. Try this experiment. Close your eyes and tighten the muscles in one foot. Notice what this is like. After several moments of tightening relax the muscles in your foot. Notice any difference. What happened anywhere in your body when you contracted the muscles in your foot? For instance, did you hold your breath or did you contract other muscles in your body as well? In a session the practitioner places his hands on the tight places in the client's body and he listens, watches, and feels for a response. When a client says what is true or when he/she has connected with his/her own inner experience, there is a response in the body. The muscles relax, and the breath deepens. Then the practitioner and the client may talk about what is happening. The diaphragm, the major breathing muscle, is the indicator of the deepest letting go. We cannot consciously will the diaphragm to relax. The willingness comes from our acceptance of what our body/mind is doing at this moment. With this awareness our muscles relax, and the diaphragm lets go, creating a deepening of our physical and emotional well-being. We become willing to live out of our experience of self-acceptance and trust in life.