Contacting the Body, Remembering the Soul
Rosen Method is a unique form of bodywork that invites relaxation, awareness, and a coming home to the body. Founded over 30 years ago by Marion Rosen, a physical therapist and innovator in the field of body/mind therapies, Rosen Method is based on the premise that we use muscle tension as a way to limit our experience of life. Often this limiting is a means of protection, developed to armor, hide, repress, disconnect, or numb ourselves, depending on the survival needs in our given circumstances. Although there may be situations in life when this form of protection can be effective and even necessary, there is a tendency to unconsciously continue to constrict ourselves long after it is helpful to do so. Over time, these forgotten holdings in the body can lead to chronic physical pain, rigidity and numbness and can keep us stuck in unresolved reactions to the past.
As in massage, a Rosen session takes place in a quiet room with the client resting on a massage table. Usually clients are unclothed and covered with a blanket, although the work can be done with clients clothed if necessary for comfort. The practitioner makes contact and works with muscle tension in a way that feels supportive and relaxing. Unlike massage, there is no intention in Rosen to manipulate, change, or fix the muscles. There is only the intention to help clients connect more deeply with themselves, and to make space for the healing that can organically happen in this simple yet powerful process.
Because chronic muscle tension is something we hold unconsciously, Rosen, as it touches physical constrictions, also makes contact with the unconscious. The Rosen practitioner is taught to approach this contact with curious, respectful presence and to follow the wisdom and lead of the client’s body. S/he notices subtle changes in the breath while at the same time meeting (not pushing beyond) the edge of muscular holdings. As the practitioner tracks the subtle shifts in breath and body, s/he will acknowledge these changes to the client through verbal communication and/or by varying the touch. This intricate degree of tracking will often cause the client to feel profoundly met, supported, mirrored to, and understood. This process creates trust and safety for the client to soften and drop into a deeper experience of the body. From this depth buried insights, beliefs, feelings, and memories may be accessed. The Rosen practitioner allows time and space for this deeper connection to be explored and for accessed feelings to surface.
Some Rosen sessions are defined simply by clients accessing a state of deep rest. Although on the surface not much seems to be happening, these sessions are very powerful for some clients as they reconnect to a forgotten ability to trust being at ease in their bodies. Other sessions can seem more dramatic as the muscles soften and emotions or memories related to that area are released. Most important in Rosen however, is not the facilitation of relaxation or the release of emotions. What is most important is that Rosen provides the possibility for clients to access what is below the held muscles and emotion: their own wholeness.
When muscles and corresponding emotions let go, banished parts of ourselves are reclaimed. We can literally feel that there is more of us to help cope with life. We feel our physical boundaries more fully, reducing the need for isolating walls. Our energy isn’t needed for defending and can be used for living more freely and fully.
Rosen Method is not meant to take the place of psychotherapy. Rosen is generally about a client’s relationship with the self. The Rosen practitioner is trained to provide containment, grounding, and support to the client’s inner process and to recognize, invite, and stay present with emotions that may emerge. Because the work respectfully follows the lead of the body, clients generally do not open to more emotions than they can manage. That being said, it should also be noted that Rosen bodywork invites the dismantling of excessive defenses, which for some individuals and in some circumstances, is not appropriate. Generally, it is not recommended, for instance, that people begin Rosen work if they are in the middle of a crisis that requires all their defenses. If clients have a recent history of substance abuse, if they have ever been suicidal, hospitalized, or on medication for mentally related issues, most Rosen practitioners will require them to have psychotherapeutic support in addition to the Rosen work.
Rosen Method is appropriate for a wide variety of people with various needs. It can be helpful for those who experience alienation from their bodies or a vague numbness in their lives. It can be a powerful tool for those seeking holistic recovery from past physical abuse or trauma. It is often a wonderful complement to psychotherapy, especially for those clients who tend to stay “stuck in their heads.” Rosen is a very useful modality for those seeking greater self-acceptance, awareness and/or a deeper spiritual connection. It can also benefit those with chronic aches, pains, and illnesses which may involve an emotional component or be the result of chronic stress.