Yesterday I started a rolfing cycle of 10 sessions with a practitioner who is new to me. His hands felt knowing, clear and strong in the small room. At one point, I opened my eyes to see him literally bending his head over and into his state-of-the-art air filter, and its rush of cloudiness streaming from its vent surrounded his entire head while he breathed the air deeply into his nose and lungs. I laughed to myself. And in that moment, I felt safe.
Safety has never been a strong lived experience of mine. Emotional safety is relatively attainable for me, but a sense of physical safety, not so much. And 2020 has surely left me full of fear, as more than once or twice and then again on election night, I conjured a nazi storm trooper KKK parade marching down my block. I had mapped out the hiding place for me and my daughters as well as our eventual escape route to those who would hide this Jewish lesbian and her kids. But alas, with the recognized win of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, my nerves are lapsing into more credible ease, shedding constant anxiety that clings dearly to my bones.
And then yesterday, budding from the generosity of my partner’s early holiday gifting, I embarked on a new embodied adventure with rolfing. And as I laughed at my practitioner’s head immersed in the fog of his fancy COVID compliant air filter, I felt relaxed enough and ready to commit to a journey of ten sessions.
In child and young adulthood, growing up in a home dominated by formal athletics as proof of efficacy, I excelled. My body was my defining source of power and place. Not until age 30 did I expand my definition of embodiment when I was introduced to the concept of bio energetics – a system of alternative psychotherapy based on the belief that emotional healing can be aided through resolution of bodily tension.
Physically, I was in phenomenal shape then – swimming a mile a few times a week, running another 6 miles or so a day and then walking with a pack of dogs who were my neighborhood crew – we walked in the stunning Jerusalem hills where I lived. It was then that I began to learn that in my powerful physical form, I had buried deep wounds. I had hidden my access to needed self-awareness and self-determination. I still do.
Rolfing is deep myofascial work that organizes the whole body. It focuses on your body’s structure and gravity to create balance. And it feels necessary for me (and as many people as possible,) to end 2020 in balance, so I am jumping in with both feet for a full recipe – the term for a full cycle of ten sessions. The first session is called ‘the uwrapping’.
This past summer – the summer of 2020 – I threw out my back on a road trip cross country from Colorado to the North Shore of Boston, in our newly purchased RV. (Very trendy.) I spent the 8+ weeks of summer walking the beaches in knee high waves as well as in the care of an acupuncturist, a shaman and a chiropractic neurologist. I experienced palpable back healing, a renewed sense of purpose in daily movement and maybe most significantly, I felt taken care of in the literal hands of others. Just to be on a table or floor and have nothing but the loud silence of positive energy permeating my body via someone else’s manual care of me – It was sanctuary.
And as I boarded the plane home to Colorado from beachside living in August, I was determined to continue to access this sanctuary back home. But on my own, without my partner, surrounded by the weekly, sometimes daily shifting realities of COVID parenting and working, and the tension of upcoming elections, I depressed, and I gave in to being lonely and feeling far from it all.
Carl Jung said ‘What we resist, persists’ and this is a common theme in so much of the mindfulness work I have gently pursued in my lifetime. Currently, I am wowed by the book Stay Woke by Justin Michael Williams and Immunity To Change by Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan . I encountered both of these texts as part of my studies this year in the inaugural class of the Inner MBA program – a ten month online learning sequence designed and sponsored by Sounds True, Wisdom 2.0, LinkedIn and NYU Mindful. Doing the work of this course, being able to chunk it out at my own pace, has been a gateway to blissful moments of intellectual sanctuary even as one or both of my daughters, or the new puppy (trendy again,) are whirling around me with needs big and small.
And then my back started to hurt again a month ago and I realized that as the end of 2020 approaches quickly, I have not dug deep enough into my reliance on physical sanctuary as the always center core of my wellbeing, and that this moment in time demands my working through my resistance to the resilience of finding this power source once again.
So throughout my ‘unwrapping’ yesterday, I began to welcome to the surface my well-known wounds and emotions stuck in the fascia of my body. My true sanctuary is there, everywhere, and in 2021 I commit to crawling into those spaces, come what may.
Happy New Year.