A couple of years ago, I ran across an informational pamphlet about Rolfing. For a type of physical treatment that has such a ridiculous name, it sure held a lot of promise. I have been wanting to see a Rolfer ever since I learned about it.
This pamphlet (which I have since lost) explained that our physical bodies hold our memories—not just in the mind, as we might expect, but in our muscles and connective tissues, even in the way our energy flows. When a physical trauma happens, we know about the physical results (a bruise, a scab, a fracture), and we understand that the physical healing takes a certain amount of time. We know that sometimes we need to go see a physician to treat our physical wounds, and some of us go see a chiropractor to realign the bones and joints, or we see a massage therapist to work the troubles out of our muscles.
What’s unique about Rolfing is that it works on the connective tissues. The philosophy behind this type of treatment is that when we have emotional or spiritual traumas, they have a lasting effect on our physical bodies. These painful memories get locked into our posture and our balance, and the longer we go without releasing these memories, the more our bodies contort (in tiny, almost unnoticeable ways) to accommodate the emotional pain. When the Rolfer begins to work on a patient, they are stretching and moving the connective tissues (in some cases breaking up hidden scar tissue by massaging it) so that the body can release these memories.
I went in for my first Rolfing session a couple of days ago. The Rolfer works on the patient’s balance, so the patient must decide how much work they want done, because there are certain points where the Rolfer can stop and other points where the work must continue. The session can be stand-alone, one of three, or one of ten. Any other number will leave the patient out of balance until the next session.
There are rumors that Rolfing is painful. I think the rumors are exaggerated, but not untruthful. Rolfing is no more painful than a deep massage. Yes, there are moments of discomfort—but really, what do you expect when you go in to have your emotional traumas released? Just breathe through it, and the moments pass quickly. My Rolfer used only gentle pressure, and the relief I felt after the session was over more than made up for any momentary discomfort I felt as she was working on me.
I decided to go in because I fell and broke my rib back in July, as some readers may recall. Since then I have been unable to take a full breath, even though the rib itself had healed. My posture was horrible, because I couldn’t sit up straight—my shoulders kept slouching forward, bent protectively around my rib. I was tired all the time because I kept waking up throughout the night. As a result, it was difficult to get very energetic about positive emotions, even though I tried.
It has been two days since my session. When I take deep breaths, my entire rib cage and abdomen expand. I have had two nights in a row where I slept until morning, and I woke up feeling happy and refreshed. My sense of joy has been bubbling over almost continuously in a way that it hasn’t in a very long time. I find myself smiling for no apparent reason, feeling oddly happy that the sun is shining, or that my tea was brewed well, or that I got a text message from a friend. I’m even feeling strangely delighted that I have a paper due in the morning that I have yet to write, because I’m looking forward to tackling some new ideas.
Can I chalk all these things up to Rolfing? A skeptic might be inclined to think it was coincidental. What I can tell you is this: I haven’t felt this good in years, and it all started two days ago when I left the Rolfer’s office.
For more information on Rolfing, click here.