Recently, Lauren Breau, a wonderful acupuncturist and blogger at Wildwood Community Acupuncture received a classic 10 series from me. I have always enjoyed Lauren’s lively and funny posts about Chinese Medicine and so I asked her to write about her experience of receiving a 10 series from me. Here is her first entry:
Disclosure: For transparency’s sake, a few things about myself.
- Up until my first 75 minute treatment with Gary in January, I’ve never had more than a 15 minute “sample” of Rolfing. Generally speaking, I know next to nothing about Rolfing.
- I’m 36. I have one biological child who arrived via c-section; I mention this because it’s probably the most significant physical event that I’ve been through. My body feels different since having a child – not as stable or resilient. Though my body has changed, I still consider myself a pretty tough mamajama. Also of physical relevance – I played soccer for 20 years. Much of it was high-intensity and competitive; I’ve sustained a few injuries, though none serious.
- Gary and I work in the same building. I am an acupuncturist in the community clinic at Wildwood. We’ve shared many a lunch hour, but we rarely talk shop.
- I’m not getting paid to write this; I am, however, doing a trade with Gary. He offered to do a 10-series with me (10 sessions of Rolfing) in exchange for some blog posts about my experience. Gary was very forthcoming about the fact that he didn’t want me to feel pressured to write anything specific. He simply wanted some content on his website for potential patients that was written by someone who had been through a 10-series. Fair enough.
- Each of these pieces were completed within 2-3 days of my treatment. I would take immediate notes on my phone after a session, then expound on those details within the next couple of days. This is my experience, written from a place of honesty and, as always, a general openness to transformation.
- Energetically-speaking, I consider myself a sensitive person. I’ve been practicing acupuncture for 8 years now. Acupuncture gave me the language to explain the things I already knew about my body before discovering Traditional Chinese Medicine. I love both the hard and soft sciences. I’m a forever advocate of critical thinking.
Session 1: Gravity
What is your relationship to gravity, and to the earth? If you close your eyes, do you feel heavy? Or do you feel light? Do you feel as if the ground below is holding you up, or do you feel like you are being pulled, or pushed, to the ground?
Rather than dorking out about the science of gravitational forces, I should say this – I ask this question because it was the first question that Gary asked me before starting Session 1 of a 10-Series Rolfing treatment. I’ve been thinking about it since.
My connection to gravity, and my connection to earth, has always involved an acute sense of mass. In other words, thinking about gravity makes me feel my weight (not the kind that is focused on a scale, but the kind that makes you tired after an afternoon of snowshoeing, or the kind you feel when you’re attempting a jump shot 15 years after you officially retired your high tops).
Thinking about being “held up” by the ground beneath my feet makes me feel different, definitely lighter. More at ease.
Either way, an interesting question to start my 1st session.
When Gary asked me if I’d like to work on anything specific, I mentioned my right knee and my pelvis. My right knee gets “stuck” occasionally when I’m walking up stairs, especially if I’m carrying something heavy, like my 2 year old chubette. Also, 20 years of soccer caused a fair amount of wear and tear to my right knee. Something about my c-section in 2012 also seemed to further weaken it.
I also mentioned “pelvic congestion.” Since the c-section, I’ve experienced a lot of imbalance south of my navel. That area feels…well, like I said, congested. Things seem to flow in most areas of my body until they get to my lower abdomen, then the brake lights come on. Things stop moving so smoothly. It frustrates me.
Before starting any hands-on work, Gary took a moment to examine me as I turned north, south, east, and west. For those of you curious about dress requirements, I was wearing a sports bra and soccer shorts. A camisole or tank top is also acceptable. Upon further questioning, Gary told me that those who might want to stay more covered could wear loose sweats and a tee.
Upon a brief visual examination, Gary asked me about my right ankle (which I’ve rolled a billion times playing basketball) and my jaw (I clench it when I get stressed). Though I began the treatment trusting Gary (since I’ve known him for a while), these observations increased my confidence. After a quick look, he was able to pinpoint two problem areas that I’d neglected to mention. As a fellow practitioner, I understand that being able to efficiently ‘read’ the body takes a lot of practice. So far Gary was spot on.
So…when it comes to Rolfing, everyone wants to know. Did it hurt???
The experience was definitely intense, but not distressing. When I was younger, I’d seen a couple of chiropractors who put my body into positions (with little verbal guidance) that made all my lower sphincters clench at once because it felt compromising, especially because I had no clue what they were going to do next.
Gary’s touch was professional and seasoned. In other words, it was obvious to me, from the moment he put his hands on me, that he’d done this before. A lot.
Also of interest was that I played an active role in the treatment (and had some control over the intensity and the pace). Because I was involved, there was an element of…well, there wasn’t that requirement of complete surrender, which I’ve had some practitioners demand of me, even during my first treatment. (I always find that weird. I’m like “Yeah, right, buddy. I don’t even know you and you want me to relax while you’re doing what?!”)
Gary would “hold” a particular area of my body, encourage me to take soft breaths into my solar plexus, then I would move through the resistance, or pressure, that he was applying.
We worked my forearms, hips, neck, and the area along my ribs during the first treatment. First the right side, then the left. Gary would give me a moment to check in with my body after he was finished with a side. Each time he finished working my right side, it would feel lighter. The left side felt ponderous in comparison.
The treatment was 75 minutes. By the end, I’d figured out what “breathing lightly into my solar plexus” actually meant (with Gary’s guidance, I figured out that he was NOT asking me to do ujjayi breath). When I fell into the rhythm of soft breathing, the intensity of working through a limb (or area of the body) was lessened.
I also used that new breathing technique for the rest of the week. The Friday that I saw Gary for Session 1 happened to be the first day of my winter vacation. On Saturday morning, my husband and I walked along Wells beach and my joints felt like they’d been oiled. Everything seemed to work more smoothly. I felt, you know, less likely to roll my ankle on a snow covered rock. Lighter. More comfortable in my earthsuit.