Jungian Psychology and Rolfing

Nicholas French. 59. has been a Rolfing Practitioner for 21 years. A former faculty member at the Rolf Institute, Nicholas is currently in the 6th of a 7-year Jungian training program. He lives in Dallas, Texas.
Pages: 15-17
Year: 1997
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Rolf Lines – FALL 1997 – Vol. 25 – Nº 4

Volume: 25
Nicholas French. 59. has been a Rolfing Practitioner for 21 years. A former faculty member at the Rolf Institute, Nicholas is currently in the 6th of a 7-year Jungian training program. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

BH: You’ve gone in a particular direction with the question of Rolling and psychotherapy….

NF: I had a relatively difficult childhood. I was on the couch in psycho analysis tit New York when I was nineteen, the locus then being that I had been in and out of four different colleges. It was very important to me because it helped to give me the tools to recognise that nix assumption that I knew what I was doing was in fact inaccurate. I ended up in Freudian therapy with a Viennese Jewish grandfather. Classical Freudian psychoanalysis: he would say almost nothing.

I kept studying psychology and reading and eventually talked my way into graduate school and began training in Freudian. Reichian, and Gestalt psychotherapy in the late 60s. I was very interested in Reich’s work because of his locus on the body. I eventually settled kilo Gestalt therapy and this is when I first heard of Ida Rolf. Somebody said that she had said that no psychotherapy, no matter how good, would be as deep, effective or lasting unless there were some physical change. And it bugged me. In my gut something said, “Danmn. I know she’s right.”

I heard there was a Roller in Boston, so I went for a session. He was one of those old-style, heavy-handed guys who was pretty anal. By the end of the session, I had a palpable experience and lie loosened a lot of conflict within me. I had to find out more about Ida Rolf.

I was in the final combined basic and advanced class with Ida in 76. We Would listen to her lecture, and .struggle with the possibilities. She’d ask us many questions. We’d watch her session. She was brilliant and also had a kind of perspective If cat I call wisdom. One of the things that struck me about Ida Roll: she seemed to have any to balance information front two different kinds of domains rational, materialistic, and metaphysical, intuitive holistic. I still find myself thinking about things that she would say, or expressions site would use. She influenced me to explore the connections between Rolfing and psychology. Initially I thought of Rolfing purely as a type of sophisticated body therapy. She used to say. “Man has many bodies,” alluding to the view of physical, menial, emotional, and etheric worlds.

However, while Rolling for 14 years and teaching for eight or nine, I began to see limits to how far Rolfing call take some people. Of course by this time I had a number of clients came back for advanced work, and I had the strong sense that as much as they had improved, there were still very deep blocks. It was very hard for me. I’d ask myself, “What am I not seeing?” “What is it I can’t get to?” “Is there something in them that needs a different kind of process”

I pondered these questions cur years when I ran into a book about C. G. Jung which was kind of a celebration of his life. A coffee table book: Word and Image. I opened it up and there in the margin was an excerpted quote in hold print which said. “As tar as I can tell the reason for being in my life is to cone to grips with that inevitable essence which I call God.” This jarred me. I began to put together Jung’s way of balancing the rational and the irrational, and I gradually remembered an anecdote that Jung used to get somebody to work in his body.. some woman. I began to wonder, since part of Ida’s ancestry is Teutonic, just maybe…

BH: My picture of Jungians and Jungian therapy is that it’s completely disembodied. They go off in their heads. They have this collective unconscious thing going and dream analysis they seem so sell-absorbed that there’s no reason to ever get grounded. When I think of methods of psychotherapy to put together with Rolling I think I Would put Jungian stuff last.

NF: I think that’s probably fairly accurate, judging by any experiences at international conferences of Jungian analysts. The curious thing is. I became so interested after reading Jung that I event into Jungian analysis because l wanted to see the practical cited tit it. And eventually decided just for the hell of it to apply to the institute for analytic training. A kind of irrational excitement led me to do it because I did not have the kind of continuous background in psychotherapy That most of the applicants had. But Some thing in me said. “Go for it. See what happens.” I’ve learned more and more to trust that small voice. The year I Was before their admissions committee I was the only one of the group that was accepted. It turns out that one of the reasons I was accepted was I had been a Rolfer for a long, time, someone on the committee had been Rolfed and felt that this was a very useful background and that there was a real need for an understanding of the boils’. So over the last six years. That I’ve been in the program (I will he certified in a year and a half), my focus has born to communicate how Rolfing and analysis scene parallel.

For example, Jung Says that Most of the time we don’t know what we’re doing or who we are He said, ”We don’t have an unconscious, the unconscious has us.” He described the conscious ego as being very small ban island) and the collective consciousness as huge (the ocean), illuminating creative, original. He said, “If is the ocean that affects the island.” If you establish a dialogue with it, you begin to find know ledge. Within the psyche, there is an archetypal pattern, the self, which it we allow it will move us toward a balance, a wholeness, a completion of our life. That is directly parallel to what I heard Ida talk about: If we can release fascial adhesions the body uses its own spontaneous self righting integrating capabilities. That’s Vital we all see in our work. We don’t cure, but we can help people release the chains they’ve got themselves tangled in.

A lot of people don’t knots that Jung a vied the expression “psychosomatic.” He pointed out there were certain emotional issues that could result in physical symptoms. He was a physician before he became a psychiatrist so he could deal with physical symptoms, but he said one needed to appreciate a psychological basis of these things: he could work from either end. He said, “Buds and mind aye the two aspects of a living being, and that is all we know.”

BH: How do you now put mind and body together?

NF: One of the more exciting monographs lung wrote was called Synchronicity. Something happens and you don’t know how or why; it doesn’t make any sense in any ordinary or reasonable way, but nonetheless, it’s real. Something happens en the inner or intuitive level [hat can not be explained as reasonable cause and effect. But we know that there is some kind of relationship that’s meaningful to us. That’s synchronicity.

Going back to Plato, Aristotle, we had to divide things down to their smallest parts to make sense of them. l’e lost the sense of the whole relationship. And think that’s one tit the most severe impediments in medical science. We all know the story of classical anatomy. They’re really good with crisis, but really poor with ongoing issues. And Ida had this remarkable understanding of the relationship. It we keep trying to see things as separate hits, we lose the sense of the overall field.

I see this when I’m working with Rolling clients who often ha v’ no interest Ill, or maybe active aversion to, allowing their emotions. They go through the work and the body begins to unfold, and crone together in a different way. So Ibex- find themselves talking about this, aid asking questions about the connection between mind and body. “After the session, I had a strange dream.”

The more a Rolfer is able to pick up what’s going in the other person the more the person will feel freer to allow things to c hang”. It doesn’t mean that every Roller has to be a psychotherapist, but I think there better be a deep, personal appreciation of the possibilities of change and possibility for a miracle.

BH; So what would you do to help Rolfers gain this appreciation! If you were going to design sun initiative in the initial training of Rollers, what would you include?

NF: It’s not a matter of trying to turn Rollers into psychotherapists, but of helping all of us understand and feel the depth of the relationships with our clients. It is very pragmatic. I believe that tire inure comfortable we are with our own mix of emotions, the store the client will know it even at an unconscious level-and be able to let go and respond to the manipulative focus.

I would include exploration of various principles of psychology that have helped us recognize that there’s more going on at an unconscious level than we typically acknowledge. I admit to a strong bias in favor of Jung’s analytical psychology. Freud said the unconscious was a nasty little garbage pit of personal emotions. Jung, however, demonstrated that thorn is much more, a vast area which includes the best and wont of human possibilities. To recognize this is to allow more room for healing and fullness of living.

It could he useful to explore the basics of dream theory. Many clients report changes in their dream lives during Rolfing, and dream Symbols offer important clues to expanding our awareness of who we are. Teaching Rolfers to actively accept and support Client’s emotions Would also improve our work. The better we understand basic psychology, the more we can hear that people come to us asking for Knifing but also wanting to explore a broader range of possibilities in their daily lives. Pain exits on all levels.

If we are willing to consider these two different worlds: the rational and the irrational, they can excite us. Jung commented that he kept running into people wanting to talk about filings as though life and the world are rational, when the evidence is that life is far more irrational than rational. Just as Ida Rolf Once said. “What you call thinking is in actuality rationalized emoting.”

BH: As you’ve gone through your thesis for your analytic training, have you gone back through everything that you know of Ida and her stance on Psycological issues?

HF Yes. My reading of her work generally is more of the focus on understanding the physical. She would indicate that we better open up our minds, and begin to understand what the body was, and how it might change. She talks about helping the body balance, and integrate so that it can make steps towards the gravitational field. I sometimes see Ida Rolf as a Zen master dropping out little koans puzzles or meditative things that can’t be solved by’ the rational mind. When she would say Things like, “The body is the personality exploded into three dimensions,” what does she mean? I never heard anyone actually asking her, “What the hell did you mean by that Ida?” Maybe everybody was so intimidated or were so awestruck, it’s what rang a bell inside, that nobody ever asked. She said a lot of those that I still carry around with me.

BH: How do you work out your analytic practice with your Rolfing? Do you do analysis two days a week, and Rolfing three days a week, or-

NF: I now work just long day Monday through Thursday with Rolfing and analytic clients interspersed I couldn’t imagine stopping Rolfing cause I really enjoy moving and touching people, and the kind of change that happens. It often happens a little faster than in analysis and it’s gratifying.

I admit that when I look at physical structure, and listen to what the client says, I’m feeling for what is said between the lines, so to speak … for the metaphors, the structure and its movement expressed. It the body is the personality its three dimensions, then I think we are impelled to ask ourselves, “What’s pinching this person where lie or she wants to grow and live? How can I help her let go of old restrictions?”

For example, when I see a functional difference between right and left sides of the body, I wonder how the different cerebral hemispheres runt be expressing a lack of balance of masculine and feminine or linear and holistic aspects of the person’s life And in fact, as more structural balance appears, there are corresponding Shifts in to person’s emotional balance. I see the buds’ as conscious in a way we don’t always understand. II we can tap into that level and have a conversation with it net only do we learn and enjoy the work mom, but the changes arc deeper and more lasting especially when the client is aware of the connection between cognition and experience.

One of the older Rollers said Ida would always say that Rolling should he described as an educational process, and she didn’t want Rolfing to be destroyed by crossing swords with medical and physical therapies. And my friend said, “Education what do you mean?” And Ida said, “well actually if I had to come down and say what Rolling is really, where it really falls, I’d say it falls under Shamanism.”

Now that really struck a nerve for Inc. The Shaman is someone who was chosen by the Gods or the spirit. The process of becoming a Shaman tends to be torturous: the ego is being either destroyed or reformed. To balance ego with unconscious process is the was to healing.

BH: Did this vision of training affect your teaching in the Rolf Institute?

NF: It after led the context in which I proceeded in leaching. These is sonic kind of overarching possibility hen. Just imagine these people are coming in dying to live, bursting to change, and all you do is identity the points to release and they grow through them. I want to find a way to balance those things and help them grow. I think we all get involved in trying for answers; we all keep looking. Once in class, I heard Ida say, “what we are doing here is, we are trying to learn how to see”

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