This past week I started into a series of Rolfing treatments. Rolfing is a “holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and movement education that organize(s) the whole body in gravity” (Wikipedia). The movement’s founder, Ida Rolf, believed that as our bodies naturally align with gravity, nature restores wholeness. By working with (separating) the underlying strands of bound up fascia, the muscles are liberated to move more freely. And in my single session (there are 10 altogether) that separation of the fascia hurts. Quite a bit. Like you want to cry or scream. And strangely sometimes laugh.
I have to say, following the treatment I felt pretty beat up. But I also felt good, as in somehow more of one piece than I felt before, more in my body. I felt more spacious. I mean I actually felt like there was more space in my body. My therapist worked on my diaphragm first. I didn’t know that my diaphragm needed working on, but this modality is all about breathing naturally. You breathe naturally and deeply, you feel more human. I’ve written about how the word “salvation” is from the Hebrew word, “yasha”, which is the root of Jesus’ name meaning “the one who saves”. It means “spaciousness”. G_d saves by creating large, safe places for the people. I figure what I’m undergoing is a form of body salvation.
What happens over a lifetime of injuries, emotional trauma, and consequent shallow breathing, is that the body constricts and contracts. The aging process is accelerated by this gradual constriction in the body. But the bodily constriction can be an outward manifestation of a lifetime of inward constriction, of the emotions, of the thinking process, and of the higher intuitive ways of knowing.
It’s been revealed to me that as I approach 60 (yup) I need to completely let go of “Bruce”. Bruce is the construction called my personality. And I figure I did not a bad job of putting “me” together. The personality is comprised of natural temperament, pre-birth and birth experience, compensation patterns (unconscious beliefs and agreements we make in order to survive), the influence of friends and mentors, presenting itself to the world through the physical correlate—our bodies. So I figure I’ll start with my body, and hopefully create enough space, for the new Bruce to emerge.
The Vedantic philosophy teaches that we don’t have just one body: we have a gross, physical body, an energy body (vital), an astral body (that has no physical limits such as in dreams), and a causal body (we’ll leave that for now). As we move from gross to vital to astral to causal, the body extends further and further out until in the causal body it is identical with the whole universe. The goal is for each of these bodies to be open to the Life that is living us. It’s my experience that despite being an incarnational religion, Christianity tends to neglect attention to the body as a sacred temple, the outward, physical, manifestation of Spirit.
This process of deconstructing my body (or perhaps better, creating spaciousness) reminded me of Jesus’ response to a request some people made that he show them a sign.
“Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews then said, ‘This temple has been under construction for forty-six years and will you raise it up in three days’? But he was speaking of the temple of his body” John 2:18-21).
My first session did feel a bit like the temple of my body was being destroyed. It’s going to take longer than three days to rebuild it. Jesus brought if off in three days, but he is the master, after all, of reconstructing dead bodies! And my temple has been under construction for longer than the Jerusalem Temple! So, I figure if it takes ten weeks or ten years it’s all in the service of resurrection. When any of us undertake deep, transformational work, whether with the temple of our bodies, our emotions, or at the soul level, it is in the service, not only of our own individual resurrection, but the resurrection of the New Human. We serve the evolution of our species. It’s gonna hurt a little bit, but willingness to undergo death is at the heart of the gospel.
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