We have just completed a three week class for Advanced Rolfers and Movement Teachers, and comments which follow are to share some observations and reflections on the process.
A CONTEXT OF PEERS. We began with the notion that, at this level of continuing education, it was appropriate to think in terms of a context which engages everyone involved in creating the event. Throwing out all the old forms (instructor/student, etc.) in favor of an atmosphere in which a group of peers meets to examine questions regarding the work which connects them seems to have provided a sense of great spaciousness in which a creative dialogue could begin to take place. For some time, many practitioners have requested an event like this, and for one reason and another it failed to materialize until now.
A couple of additional contextual remarks may be in order. One concerns the combination of manipulative Rolfers and Movement Teachers. It should be admitted that before we began the class, we had only the most fragmentary ideas about how the specifics of format would work in such a gathering. There have been some few preliminary workshop events which led to itI did three days of work in Michigan with two Rolfers and one Movement Teacher, and there was a workshop not too long ago taught by myself and a Movement instructor, and probably some other work which I have temporarily lost in the maze of mind, besides some basic classes in which the co-instructors were from both persuasions.
In the seminar event, we grouped ourselves for work with each other and with models in teams which had various constituents. Sometimes a manipulative Rolfer lead the event, sometimes a Movement Teacher. At other times, two Movement Teachers worked with a model, or the team consisted of three Rolfers. A few sessions were done one-on-one, because of the model’s or Rolfer’s preference.
LOGISTICS & PRACTICALITIES. We took a three-session series as our beginning point, around which to organize the experience. This provided a simple, straight forward context in which to examine new ways of approaching advanced work. During the course of the event, it was suggested we address in some detail ideas central to the five-session series of the advanced training. This proved to be a stimulating part of the whole.
At the outset, it became evident that even the most sacred of cows would have to be open to question. Certainly some were, and this in itself seemed to have a salutory effect on the increasing ego-lessness which was experienced as the class continued.
From a practical, logistical viewpoint, the class looked about as follows:
We did 98 sessions in three weeks. Six of the sessions were demonstration series. This left about 18 hours for discourse, questions and answers-perhaps “questions and questions” would be more accurate. The models exhibited great variation, both in body type and present condition, as well as extent to which they had been Rolfed.
BODY, LINE, ESSENCE. Philosophically, we covered a lot of ground. A discussion on definition of terms led to the unique thematic development of this class. The progression began with a discussion of such terms as body, essence and line, among others. Bob Ball shared a personal notion regarding physical body as a surface of a multi-dimensional field. Observing body as the surface of a thing yet deeper, rather than our usual unconscious tendency to regard it in only three dimensions, begins to shape some very provocative shadows for exploration. From this discussion emerged a very simple definitional discrimination, and as I remember, we settled upon body as that which is organized; essence as that which does the organizing; and line as organizing principle.
We also came to the comprehension that ‘line” is a unity, whereas the concepts of “core” and “sleeve” are dependent, each upon the other, for their existential realities.
An interesting side effect was that line emerged more than any other single idea as the concept which was seen to sweep away merely accidental and manufactured distinctions between manipulative and move-men” work. When Becky Carli did a three-session series with a model who had had no previous work, it was striking how close these individual sessions resembled Sessions #1, #2, and #3 of a basic Rolfing series, both in strategies and results. This was particularly important to Becky, since one of the frustrating questions she hoped to begin to get some light on (through this class) was whether or not-in the face of confusing and conflicting opinion-her understanding and practice of Movement work can be truly seen to spring from and be guided through the same principles central to Rolfing.
The structure of this seminar event precluded a merely “recipe” formulation. It was nevertheless interesting to note that at several points in our examination of advanced work, we harkened back to the ten session series, to discover primary connections.
One notion which interested me had to do with the ancient query, “What is Rolfing?” In this context, it turned out to be that a Rolfer acts as a facilitator for the client to transform the way in which she or he organizes the experience of life.
COMMON DENOMINATOR. Perhaps the centerpiece of the whole class event should be a session which Emmett did with Pedro Prado, to demonstrate some principles related to the fifth advanced session. Watching this striking example of what we had come to refer to as “donkey to donkey” communication, one came to the conclusion very easily that any apparent differences of opinion which exists in our community regarding the essentials of the work we all participate in and through, is only relevant at the level of opinion. Since this is one of the lowest levels of consciousness, it may be thought of as having a pretty shaky foundation. At any rate, I became convinced as I observed this very subtle and creative work session, that any practitioner of one of the somatic arts, let alone a Rolfer, would be struck (just as we were) with the elegance of this session. All the arguments went out the window, in the face of this simple demonstration of a level at which we are in complete agreement.
FOUR HANDED WORK. One major benefit of approaching a class like this through the medium of “fourhanded” work is that it creates an opportunity and a demand for the practitioner to reach through the organism of the client to discover connection to the hands and intention of the other Rolfer(s) involved. I believe that this translates, when the practitioner is back in the habitual environment and working alone, into a view of the fascial organism which is far broader and more connected and whole. There can develop from this exploration the ability to think and work in larger planes, to reach for longer circuits of connection.
MEMBERS’ CRITIQUES. Toward the final hours of the class, we set aside a brief time for a process of group critique, since we had been asked to report on the class to the faculty. It would be impossible and inappropriate to attempt a complete recapitulation of this discussion, but a sampling of observations may be helpful.
“This class gave me a new awareness and comprehension of what form (shape) is, and what it represents.”
“The work we did together seemed to result in easily perceptible and major change of shape.”
“Changes, in general, in this class, took place in a manner that is much smoother and more gradual than I have experienced before.”
“The non-judgmental atmosphere which was maintained throughout, made learning easy.”
“Most of the time, ego was not in evidence.”
“This kind of mutual work and exploration is what can keep the community together.”
“Re-examining Ida’s notions about the process of maturation (with a little Perls and Jung thrown in when necessary), suggests that when one has begun to grow into a more mature level of relationship, through the process of individuation, the ability to make finer discriminations among things (differences) may become an ability to choose to regard similarities.”
“For me, the capstone of this class was the demonstration which developed of the actual meeting (interface) which has always existed between movement and manipulative work. This had been, previously, only an intellectual exercise.”
I hope these brief notes on the class provide an adequate basis for discussion. It all seems to me quite dry, when compared to the memory I hold of the event, and the shared excitement all of us felt, as we traversed a couple of the current outer edges of our enquiry.
Line emerged more than any other single idea as the concept which was seen to sweep away merely accidental and manufactured distinctions between manipulative and movement work.
At the outset, it became evident that even the most sacred of cows would have to be open to question.
….At several points in our examination of advanced work, we harkened back to the ten session series to discover primary connections.Post Advanced Seminar