Well, hello there. It’s been a while. Whatever you were planning for 2020, this was not it. For me, as a touch therapist, it’s been the strangest of years. I closed my practice about a week before the mandatory lockdown, and I remember my final two sessions with clients as strange, mutually wary experiences: all the ease and spontaneity of my work replaced with the intruding thought: could I pass infection to my client, or they to me?
When the lockdown came, I decided, for various reasons, not to rush to immediate commentary via a blog or social media. It didn’t feel like the right way to respond, or one that was especially needed amid the din of hot takes and daily briefings and online-everything. I went home and I stayed home. I’ve read a lot of books and enjoyed the rare luxury of growing my nails long.
Sometime in August, most likely, I will return to work. It may be a bit sooner or later, depending on government guidance. And while it will be a return, it will also be something new, both for me and my clients. New measures taken to keep everyone safe, new hours and availability (which may initially be restricted), but also new ways of practising Rolfing, including online movement education and embodiment coaching. On the infection control front, I’ve already bought air purifiers, face masks and visors, bottles of hand sanitiser, etc. Sessions will be spaced further apart, giving more time to clean between sessions and change the air, and initial consultations may be moved online so that you can talk to me about your objectives free from the encumbrance of face masks. I’ll be posting more about the specific new measures in due course.
What I’m more excited about is the opportunity to work in new ways. Ida Rolf characterised Rolfing as education rather than therapy, and educational in the true and old sense of a drawing forth of a person’s potential in every aspect of life: physically, emotionally; even spiritually. Rolfing is a fantastically effective physiotherapy, but that’s only a part of it. The true achievements of Rolfing are increased adaptability, resilience, self-regulation, and appropriate relationship.
What do I mean by that? By adaptability, I mean the ability to reach and flex in a changing world, whether that’s the physical ability to swerve an unexpected obstacle in the street without losing balance, or the ability to adapt, as we all must now do, to a world that is rapidly shifting around us. By resilience and self-regulation, I mean the ability to bounce back from injury, shock, and loss of function. One of the physical hallmarks of a good Rolfing experience is when clients notice that, not only do they have improved function and less pain, they recover more quickly from the too-long walk, or the too-long day at the office. They recover the ability to do the things they used to do, but also the ability to live more freely.
By appropriate relationship I mean that physical groundedness, balance, and power (the ability to reach or jump, accelerate, stand one’s ground or give one’s weight to the floor) imply the ability to be a body in the world, in connection with the creatures and objects that surround us. And these physical relationships have an emotional and social corollary. Can I lean on someone? Can I stand on my own two feet? Can I assert myself? In Rolfing these are themes that we address obliquely, that emerge in fact quite naturally in a process of working with the body. But they are also topics that can be explored in a more direct way through coaching. As an Advanced Rolfer who is also a qualified Coach, I can help you explore the issues that emerge at the meeting place of body and mind, and will be offering online sessions online that can address a number of topics around embodiment, patterns of behaviour, career change and other life goals.
I have until now been a fairly ‘classical’ Rolfer, sticking chiefly to the ten series. I hope that it will be possible to return to this foundation of how I work over the medium and longer term. It is going to be difficult, however, to offer some parts of the work while Covid-19 is uppermost in people’s minds: for example, the intra-oral work that’s a part of a session seven, or some of the more adventurous, improvised integration and movement work where I need to be able to coach a client through movement at proximity. There will be more online work, and maybe a ‘tapas’ approach instead of the ten-sessions-ten-steps ‘recipe’. It’s going to be a bit different. But that’s ok, because the world is also a bit different, and what we need from manual therapies right now is an experience of safety under the conditions of a pandemic.