Each time you get on a client’s tissues and then shift ever so slightly into the place that makes you say, “Ah, that’s where I need to be,” you have been experiencing the energy of it. Like it or not, you actually perceived with your whole body/being where the structure needed you to engage. Yes, you are on physical tissues, but mostly, you are on energy. This article can help you get more consciously aware of this and refine your perceptual skills.
The development of my perceptual skills, and my ability to distinguish between energy and physicality, came to me, in large part, from working my own process. I didn’t start out with any sense of, or goal for, energy. I just wanted to feel better inside. Throughout my childhood, in the family home, I felt horrible, but I also had a white spot in my chest that regularly told me, “It doesn’t have to be this way.” When I got out on my own, away from family, I thought, “If it doesn’t have to be this way, what way can it be?” – and I began the process of figuring out how it could be any other way for me.
In my twenties, I came to realize that everything is vibration. Everything. And all vibrations are different and distinguishable. The vibration of angry is different from the vibration of rage, and the vibration of furious, and the vibration of mad. This is why it is possible for you to say, “You’re mad,” and the other person says, “No I’m not, I’m furious.” This response happens in everyday conversation because the vibration of “mad” did not match the person’s experience, so, without even realizing why or how, the person corrected you. But this goes further. The vibration of one person is different from another. The vibration of one tree (even of the same species) is different from another. The vibration of one bird is different from another. Since everything is vibration, I set out to recognize and distinguish vibrations in my inner world and learn ways to heal what was horrible.
One key element of my foundation in working with energy was to recognize, distinguish, and identify vibrations. In my own process, this was done by letting vibration arise in me, experiencing it, and identifying what that vibration/feeling meant. If you want to build some skill in perceiving energy, you can begin by experiencing emotions. It is not that a specific emotion is the energy, but more accurately we experience an energy that we then label as an emotion. So beliefs, childhood conditioning, misinterpretations, and such, are not the energy but, instead, activate and organize our energy into a pattern that we then label as ‘such and such’. I mention the vibration of emotions not because emotions are the energy, nor because emotional energy is the only kind of energy. I mention energy associated with emotions because emotions are familiar to us. So you can become more familiar with energy by working this process backwards: you know the emotion, take it on, let it embody you, then feel/experience its vibration. This is for practice. Remember that everything is vibration/energy.
Another key element in my foundation of working with energy is what I call accurate, reliable, and dependable (ARD) information. I adopted this standard for working my own process because I wanted to do real work with real results. The sad thing about the thinking mind is that it can create all sorts of false information. Its information will send you off doing all sorts of tasks that give the appearance that you are working hard and making progress when, actually, you are not, since the information was faulty to begin with. The thinking mind knows how to delete, distort, rationalize, deny, forget, and generalize. If you had a friend who was skilled in these traits, you wouldn’t go to that friend for the truth. So the thinking mind is not the place you want to go, and not the tool you want to use, to become skilled in perceiving energy and vibration. This could be challenging if you think you are your thinking mind, believe your aliveness and the function of your body comes from your thinking mind, or hold that you do good work by virtue of your thinking mind. You have been through Rolfing® Structural Integration (SI), and you are a Rolfer. Your whole body, your feeling sense, is the best, and most accurate, tool to achieve ARD information.
To sort for ARD information, I tell clients to remember a time when they were in a store trying on new clothes. You put on some new clothes, look in the mirror, and say to yourself, “Nooooooo.” Or you look in the mirror, your whole face softens and brightens, and you say, “Oh, yeah!” These are the distinct vibrations of yes and no. ‘Yes’ feels like a fit, like everything is in place as it belongs, as if everything has been waiting for this to be exactly as it is, like a door opens, or everything calmly settles and becomes harmonious. A ‘no’, on the other hand, has a completely different vibration. Feel for yourself what ‘no’ feels like in your own body when you take on the experience of no. With a felt-sense of yes and no, you now have a tool to distinguish if the information you’ve perceived is accurate or not. To begin to get ARD information, begin by adopting the habit of verifying for ARD with yes/no. This is where I began when I started figuring out what was up with me in my inner world and what needed to be healed.
Another key element for me happened in my early thirties when I experienced that everything is talking to everything all the time. From this, I realized you can talk with anything. You may have skills in talking to some things more easily than others, but everything is talking to everything all the time. When I say “talking,” I do not mean telling it what to do. This is unproductive. I mean staying in a state of perceiving what is presenting itself.
If you don’t like the word ‘talk’ here, then substitute ‘be’. Everything is being with everything, already, and all the time, and everything is available to be perceived by everything, all the time. To do this, however, you’ll need to lay down your ego, intellect, the need to be right, attachment to outcome, the thinking mind, rules, force of will, intention, and any ideas you have that you have to do something. You need to go quiet, get present, and be available to experience whatever is there simply because you and what-it-is are there. Instead of taking your thoughts about it to it, let it, whatever it is, present itself to you. I often compare this state-of-being to times when you ask a three-year-old a question, like, “Did you go to the park today?” The three-year-old will begin with, “Well, when I woke up this morning,” and then ramble on and on. All you can do is stand quietly, be patient, give up judgment and expectation, and listen until the answer to your question comes. This is the state of being you want to cultivate in yourself in order to hone your skills in perceiving energy more accurately. Open yourself and listen/be available for what is there to present itself to you.
Another key element for working with energy, and developing perceptual skill, is to become very comfortable with, and acquire implicit trust in, “I don’t know.” For many this state is scary because education and family conditioning have taught us that not knowing is dangerous. But this fear, literally, keeps us out of the state of being where a high level of perceptual skill and accuracy is available. I-don’t-know is the willingness not to know, the willingness to put all distractions of self aside (mind, ego, need for outcome, intention, training, technique, being right, etc.), and the willingness to pay attention to whatever presents itself without discounting or doubting it. Just to be clear, staying with something in order to perceive it more clearly, and to experience the accuracy of it, is not ‘doubting’; it is verifying. I don’t know, and then perceiving what’s present, is a highly resourceful state to be in and to work from. It is a state where accurate information presents itself to your conscious awareness.
Which leads us to four additional skills in honing your skills for working with energy: 1) asking questions; 2) not making assumptions; 3) curiosity; and 4) experimentation.
Questions: My skill in asking questions came from two places (or at least this is my story). First, I believe there is a facet of me within the Who-I-Am that possesses a bigger, broader, richer, deeper perspective on things, and with more access to truth and accuracy, than my human, everyday, paying-the-bills, self. I focused on the vibration of that facet of Who-I-Am and asked it questions. These days, that facet is hardly a facet at all. It is more the Who- I-Am instead of only a part of Who-I-Am. For those who experience the I-know-that-I know within yourself, this is the aspect to which you want to ask for information and verification. The second source of my skill in asking questions is a knowledge of Neuro-Linguistic Programming. I am not interested in the jargon of this model, and it is loaded with jargon, but the tools within it are invaluable. To name a few: everything is information; learn what specificity is and ask for it; that people mistakenly think language equals experience and that experience equals understanding; how to listen for missing information in what people say; how to listen for what people already know but haven’t realized or have stopped hearing themselves say; and a distinction in questions. I suggest to clients that they stop asking ‘why’questions. Why? Because ‘why’ begets a ‘because’, and ‘becauses’ are made up in the thinking mind. What, where, when, and how questions give information. For me, the most potent information question starts with a ‘how’: how does that makes sense for you; how do you make sense of that; how does that fit for you; how did you come to know or feel that; how do you organize it so you are able to hold these two contradictory bits of information as both being true? ‘How’ (plus your lack of judgment and a desired outcome) will give you information.
Assumptions: Identifying assumptions and not making assumptions are so crucial because making assumptions is so second nature to us that we don’t realize we’re doing it. Assumptions can have you expending massive amounts of effort that don’t produce results except to leave you frustrated and believing something doesn’t work. So, during a session, when a client says an area feels like a hard green block, I focus to perceive that area more fully and, then, to engage both the client and myself more actively in what’s presenting itself, my response will likely be: Hard like stone, tedious, a hard rubber ball, impossible – what kind of ‘hard’? Green like forest green, lime green, like it’s new or a rookie, grass, military clothes – what kind of ‘green’? And a block like a child’s toy blocks, a wall, an impasse, cement, is it as small as a pea or as big as a barn, what feels accurate? I ask questions and don’t make assumptions. It is amazing how much information you will receive when you lay down ego, intelligence, doing, the thinking mind, and let yourself be available to perceive and be willing to ask for clarity and specificity.
Curiosity: I place a very high value on curiosity. It helps me stay in a state of perceiving so I can notice what’s here. Being in a state of curiosity can help to stop you from grabbing for an answer or an outcome, from going for the apparent safety/security of preconceived ideas and techniques, from getting caught in analytics, and from engaging with the structure as if your intervention is telling it what to do.
Experimentation: When I am open to what is presenting itself to me in clients’ structures, many times, not only does the structure present what-is-so but also presents how I can engage with what-is-so. Many times, I’ve never before done that particular ‘how to engage’, so I decide to try it. After years of hearing clients respond to experiments with, “Oh that’s perfect,” “How did you know that was there,” and “That’s connecting to everything and letting go,” you acquire an implicit trust and willingness to experiment with the approaches that present themselves via your perceptual skill.
Each time you get on a client’s tissues and then shift ever so slightly into the place that makes you say, “Ah, that’s where I need to be,” you have been experiencing the energy of it by perceiving with your whole body. Whether you realize it or not, you’ve used your whole being to find where to be. A highly refined level of perceptual skill to experience energy allows us to let what-is- there present itself, instead of taking what we think we know about it to what-is-there, and instead of imposing or applying what we think we know onto what-is-there. You know that it is accurate because, in your body, which is your best tool for perceiving, you feel it. It fits. Everything has settled calmly and rests harmoniously exactly where it belongs. For some, realizing that energy and energetics were involved is disturbing.
Some reject the idea outright. If you’ve been thinking that you found this place because of your thinking, your technique, your training, or the anatomy, then you have an opportunity to shift from what you’ve been thinking you were doing into what you’ve really been doing. You have an opportunity to recognize that you can perceive energy. You have an opportunity to begin to clarify for yourself how to become even more adept in working with energy and honing a skill you already have.
Deborah Weidhaas is a Certified Advanced Rolfer and Rolf Movement Practitioner. She has been in practice for twenty-five years. She had over 110 Rolfing SI and Rolf Movement sessions in her own body before she trained as a Rolfer. After completing a ten-session Rolfing SI and a ten- session Rolf Movement series, and doing a few tune-ups, her inner voice told her to go back to Rolf Movement, and it would tell her when she was done. For two years, she actively worked her own healing process by coupling weekly Rolf Movement sessions with the mental, emotional, and spiritual healing processes that her inner voice presented her. Even so, she spent her first two years as a Rolfer ignoring the energetic/ perceptual information that presented itself to her about her clients as she worked with them. She spent the next two years cautiously testing and verifying the accuracy, reliability, and sources for the information she received. Deborah recognizes herself as highly adept in the organization and dynamics of the structure of being and in engaging her clients in ways that allow them to resolve their own mental, emotional, and spiritual issues that arise from receiving Rolfing SI. She recently relocated from Los Gatos, California to live and practice in Richmond, Virginia.