In Part 1 of I’ve Been Rolfed I explained what Rolfing is and how it works and my reasons for deciding to try it. In Part 2 I look more closely at how my body changed and my physical awareness grew over the course of the treatment and what I ultimately gained from being Rolfed.
The Rolfing Process
Over the course of the 10 sessions which took place over 5 months, I began to feel more comfortable in my body. The aches and pains I’d experienced over the winter decreased. My stamina and energy increased. I started walking to and from my Rolfing sessions – a round trip of seven and half miles which I did with ease.
Each session with Lukasz brought new awareness about a different part of my body. The way my feet come into contact with the ground and my muscles rotate around my spine in a spiral as I walk. The rhythm of my shoulders moving gently forward and back. All these things that sometimes don’t happen unless I become conscious of what my body needs to be doing at a particular time.
Rolfing practitioners often speak about the body in relation to gravity and I realised when I began my first Rolfing session that I had no awareness of where my centre of gravity might be. After the second session I became more aware of it as the point where I felt most stable. And as someone who walks a lot, I felt more connected with the ground. It felt important in claiming my place in the world, this connection between my body, my feet and the earth.
In the third session Lukasz looked at my posture and said that if we drew a line down my side, more of me is in front than the back. My head and neck are tipped forward and my stomach sticks out in a very unflattering fashion because I tend to stand leaning backwards a bit. It’s the typical posture of someone with kyphosis. I need to aim to lean slightly forwards.
After that session I was aware that my back was feeling much looser between the shoulder blades. The spasm in my chest was finally releasing after eight months and I was also more aware of my shoulders rolling back and forth when I walk.
By the beginning of the fourth session I was feeling more integrated in my body. This was a huge break-through for me. I felt that some sort of mind/body connection was taking place as I became more aware of the different areas of my body that were worked on each session. I was also aware of a growing acceptance of my body. For so long I’d felt little else besides some form of hate or disappointment towards it. But now I felt I was starting to accept my body for what it is and to feel some form of love or caring for it.
I realised that my body was not always a source of pain and illness and discomfort. It has areas of strength, like my legs which carry me for miles when I walk. Other areas, like my shoulder and calf and knee have recovered from injury and still serve me well. I acknowledged that my body has the ability to change for the better and I felt very positive about it.
After five sessions Lukasz noticed quite a big change in my posture. My neck was better positioned and my lower back was sticking out less. I realise that I’ve been experiencing fewer headaches.
St Cuthbert’s Way
Between sessions 7 and 8 I walked St Cuthbert’s Way. The walk went fantastically well and I couldn’t believe how well my body coped. Although my legs and feet were sore after a day’s walk, it was not debilitating pain. And carrying my heavy backpack had no nasty effects like headaches or muscle spasms. It was amazing. There were times when I thought I was in the wrong body!
Although I struggled up the hills and got out of breath, in general I was absolutely fine and my stamina developed nicely. I felt really strong and fit and that my body was dependable.
Because St Cuthbert’s Way was such a positive physical experience for me, I felt more integrated. More at one with my body. More loving towards it.
Gardening Without Injury
It wasn’t only walking where I felt a big difference. For the first time in years, I spent a Spring and Summer in the garden, doing lots of digging preparing the vegetable garden, and other tasks that involved lifting, bending and kneeling. All this and not a single injury! Unheard of.
By the end of the 9th session I felt my posture had definitely improved. My chest was more open and my shoulders looked less hunched. Lukasz said he could see an improvement in my pelvic area. Instead of tilting backwards, my pelvis was more forward and supporting me better.
The Results. What did I Gain From Being Rolfed?
I believe that good, lasting change is slow change. Anything quick and dramatic tends to be a quick fix and wears off like a bad drug experience leaving you feeling depressed and craving more.
Unfortunately, it’s not possible to undo almost half a century of bad postural habits and muscular growth in a few months. The physical change in my posture wasn’t dramatic and I have to admit to feeling slightly disappointed about that. But even though the changes were subtle, they were still life changing.
My posture has definitely improved, but I think the greatest change has been psychological. I had felt anxious about being Rolfed because I thought it might be psychologically traumatic and bring up memories and feelings from the past things that I wouldn’t be able to handle and make me depressed. But that didn’t happen at all. And while I remain convinced that my body has embodied the traumas of my childhood in the form of my crooked spine and hunched shoulders and so on, either those traumas are still there, deeply buried under locked muscles or otherwise I’ve dealt with them in therapy and there is nothing more to be released emotionally.
Before I started Rolfing I was hoping to achieve a sense of physical integration, a mind/body connection instead of the disconnect I’ve always felt. I wanted my posture to improve dramatically, and I also hoped that working on my fasciae would help stop my frequent injuries from exercising or gardening.
Everything I hoped I would achieve through Rolfing, I did. My body has healed from injury. It’s improved in strength and stamina. It’s carried me hundreds of miles on foot. It’s become a source of pleasure.
My posture improved. I’ve developed acceptance, respect and love for my body and my mind and body feel more integrated than they’ve ever done before. That’s a huge thing for me.
The past five months have been an amazing physical journey. I feel like Rolfing has allowed me to inhabit my body in peace. The war between my mind and body is finally over. I am one.
Read I’ve Been Rolfed – Part 1: The What, Why and How of Rolfing
To find out more about Rolfing practitioner Lukasz Gregorczyk please visit his website: http://rolfing-london.com/
Photo: Thanks to Be-Younger.com on Flickr.com (CCL)