The third session of Rolfing is a big one. It’s taking the openings created on the top half of the body from Session 1, those made in the feet and legs in Session 2, and linking those upper and lower halves together by working along the side body, kind of like plucking out worn-out stitches from a plush doll and sewing it all back together with fresh, smooth thread.
I realize that each time I enter Laurie’s office, I am filled with nervous excitement and curiosity about the places I’ll go in those 60 minutes. It’s a bit of a paradox, because I am incredibly present as she works on my body, but the energy she stirs up always sends me into sensation that feels far beyond this earth.
Laurie reminded me that *that* is how we are intended to feel. Being in tune with that swirling energy and openness isn’t meant to be a deviation from normal—it’s how everyone should be experiencing their bodies!
So, really, I’m not going anywhere. I’m coming home.
Coming home is about stepping off the massage table, slipping into my clothes, and standing upright feeling completely supported in space. The sensation startled me as I got my bearings together after the session: ‘
It felt like I wasn’t activating a single muscle to keep me standing.
I wasn’t “loopy” or “floating” as I typically am after a traditional massage. No, I was balanced so evenly in space that it was effortless to remain vertical.
There’s not much one can do when feeling that way, other than let out a stunned, “Whoaaaaaaa.”
In that moment, I did not feel like a body surrounded by energy. I felt like energy surrounded by a human body, like my skin and (unactivated) muscle and bone was nothing more than a paper-thin shawl wrapped around my feather-light being.
So, how did I get to that place?
Unlike regular massage sessions where one remains either on her belly or back, most of this session I remained on my side after some initial work on my front body.
The first time I rolled on my side, it felt like my torso and everything below was a big bowl of warm soup, my lower half an ever-expanding bowl. It was so fluid and pleasant, and my hips—always a source of tension and apprehension due to my labral tear—felt like they had been transformed into miso broth.
Working on my upper half, Laurie would ask me to lift my arm, elbow up, which she held and adjusted as necessary. A little tension but never pain, I began to experience a feeling of being disjointed, as though my hand was floating out in space, unattached to the rest of me. My scapula—also hanging out in space.
Separate body parts suspended in mid-air, a mobile of various flesh-covered units.
The more I thought about the sensation, I realized what was happening. These parts were being pulled out of regular alignment like crooked books on a library shelf, being worked on separately, then being inserted back into place. Laurie the Rolfer/librarian was just dusting off the books and then nestling them back into their proper spot on the shelf.
No longer crooked, and now in alphabetical order.
Still on my side, she worked my lower half, asking me to align my shoulder to hip to knee to foot, and then I gently moved my knee back into hyperflexion, then forward. I did this motion repeatedly as she worked up through the knee, the iliotibial band, my quadratus lumborum, up through my torso.
If the eyes are windows to the soul, then the sides are windows to spirit, because this action brought on a sensation of brightness and airiness, as though the space between my armpit and iliac crest was a picture window, and Laurie was gently pulling back the heavy drapes that had covered it for so long.
I’m pretty sure I heard angels singing, because it felt like I was getting a glimpse into heaven—that’s how bright and pure it felt!
When there wasn’t heavenly light or disjointed library books (see what I mean about the places I go?!), there was lots of buzzing energy as I lie there on my side. It came and went in intensity, like a crackling radio station trying to come through, tuning in, tuning out, from static noise to FULL VOLUME.
This was probably the most “uncomfortable” part of the session, because my reaction was to turn it down immediately instead of being curious and listening to it. Laurie was turning my frequency dial, and I just didn’t know how to process all this new, incoming feedback.
Flipping back onto my back after that side work was an exhilarating feeling. My nostrils felt HUGE, the size of dinner places, able to draw in so much oxygen.
In addition, the upper lobes of my lungs—well, I could feel them! And give them air without even trying. I inhaled, and my lungs filled to full capacity. No more struggling for a deep breath.
What a better place we’d all be in if we could breathe like that all the time!
To complete the session, Laurie moved toward my scalp then drew her hands away slowly. My radio dial was still tuned in, and my nose and upper lip sensed her energy mingling with mine. It was so strong that my head and face began to draw upward to her, like a curious puppy smelling a pleasant scent, literally arching my head toward her fingers.
Soon after that, my scalp started to tingle at very specific points, as though she had attached live EEG wires to my head.
Then, I found myself where I started this post: standing upright with absolutely no effort.
I left Laurie’s office feeling keenly observant about everything around me, making connections where I may not have seen them before.
For example, in the bathroom, a strand from the throw rug under my feet happened to curve in the very same shape as a random marking on the slate floor.
Then, I noticed the tissue box on the bathroom sink had same curly curve.
I was so enamored with this similarity that I had to take a photo. That’s the kind of place I was in.
For what it’s worth, this pattern re-appeared later the following week, when I went into a liquor store for a new bottle of wine. I only realized the pattern just now:
Speaking of roots, the first week following Session 3 was amazing. I felt grounded yet free and experienced some wonderful openings, both emotionally and physically. I went to a beginner’s yoga class and actually enjoyed it, rather than continuously readjusting myself to feel comfortable.
I really thought I had turned a corner in my physical comfort … until this week. The second week after Session 3, I experienced some major life events that I think really made me slip a little. My left-side twinges are returning, along with the aggravating “tug” in my lower back/sacrum.
Granted, they are not as severe as they were pre-Rolfing, but enough to make me lament the gains I had made up until this point.
Let’s see how Session 4 works out tomorrow, and in the meantime, I’ll do my best to stay rooted, as reminded by my wine!