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(This post is a continuation of my quest to reclaim my body through Rolfing®. Click here for the post detailing my previous session of this bodywork technique.)

The two weeks following Session 4 have been … bipolar. The moments during and immediately following the session were some of my most powerful ever, but then for a good week I felt like I had regressed nearly all the way back to baseline in terms of how my body was behaving.

Then, like magic, a few days later, I’m feeling my body in a brand new, wonderful way.

Laurie “warned” me that many people viewed the fourth session of Rolfing as a ho-hum prelude to the more enticing Session 5, which centers on the heavy-duty psoas structure.

Session 4—the first of Rolfing’s “Core” sessions (sessions 4 through 7 in the Ten Series)—focuses on the inside arch of the foot and up the leg to the bottom of the pelvis.

She told me to picture the importance of this session like a fountain, the way the water shoots up through the center in a solid stream and then cascades down. We need to pull our resources up from the bottom—through the feet, legs, and pelvis—before it’s possible to shower ourselves fully in the energy that surrounds us.

(Source)

Pulling up, cascading down. (Source)

Well, for what is considered a rather “eh” session in other clients’ opinions ended up being a hotbed of sensation and emotional release for me.

When I went to lie down on the table, I was a buzzing bundle of stress. I had just started a new, demanding job that week and carried my tension with me. I was so heavy with angst and exhaustion and mental commotion that I feared absolutely nothing would affect me during the session, that Laurie’s intentions would do nothing for me.

That said, I hardly remember exactly what the session entailed, anatomically. Instead of trying to keep track of what she was doing and how she was moving my body, I just gave myself to Laurie. I gave my brain permission to shut off and surrendered to her touch.

I do remember at one point, with my knee bent and pulled into my chest, as Laurie’s hands kneaded my hamstrings all the way up to my buttocks and groin, I thought, “Oh, now this is Rolfing.” Translation: Oh crap, this is physically intense.

I wasn’t complaining, though. I have a high tolerance for deep tissue work, and I always find it a shame that it’s so hard to find a massage therapist who is willing to navigate that very important (yet “private”) area. Yes, it’s very intimate and the client has to have some degree of vulnerability to allow a stranger to dig deep just inches away from your perineum, but that is where some of our most buried wounds and emotions are stored.

For me, it’s been a very guarded area due to the labral tear in my hip and the impingements in both of my femurs. It’s my “problem area.” But with Laurie, I completely trusted her and knew that she wasn’t causing pain; rather, it was release.

As the session continued, I realized I was experiencing color visualizations. This is a fairly common occurrence for me when I am meditating or deep in yoga—what I think are just random objects begin to pass through my mind, but then I realize there is a pattern—they are all the same color.

This time, the objects were all deep red hues—a human heart, pools of blood, roasted red peppers. Perhaps a nod toward the root chakra, located at the base of the spine near the coccyx?

When I flipped onto my back for the end of the session, something shifted. One of the closing movements of every session is for me to do a small bridge pose—pressing my feet into the table, lifting my pelvis, and then sinking back down into Laurie’s hand, which rests under my sacrum.

This time, however, everything felt completely different.

The bottoms of my feet were just soaking up heat, pulling up from my soles energy that collected in my knees and then poured from the knees down my thighs, pooling into my pelvis.

My legs didn’t feel like liquid—no. My legs felt like vessels to a larger drainage system, containers for a very elaborate energetic sump pump that was squeezing in warm and fluid energy from below my feet and expelling it into my pelvic bowl.

It was turning into a non-human experience. It was neither pleasure nor pain. It didn’t itch or burn or ache. It was just … warmth. A bit of a heavy tingling sensation, but not “my-legs-are-falling-asleep” tingling.

Your know the emotional feelings you get when you hear a heartwarming story about a random act of kindness or see a video of an animal rescuing its owner? Imagine hearing or seeing hundreds of those stories all at once but then translating those emotions into physical sensations.

That’s kind of what was coursing through my feet, legs, and pelvis. I didn’t know what to do with all those feelings! In that case, what happens is that I get very warm, begin sweating, breathing quickly, and tears start escaping from my eyes.

The sump pump, in working order, does its job to make sure the soil has what it needs and then disperses the rest. Whoosh.

I slipped into a bit of a primordial state at the very end. Behind my closed eyelids, everything felt like it got much lighter, as though someone had pulled open the window blinds in the room.

My body felt like it was losing shape, that instead of a long-limbed, 5’6″ woman, I was nothing but a collection of rounded flesh, shapeless. In my mind’s eye, I no longer had hair—my head was bald, a fetus—a feeling as though I were in utero but not at all feeling suffocated or claustrophobic.

A pleasant, light-filled container. That’s where I rested for the final moments of my session.

When I stood up to get dressed, my knees felt huge, as though the ball-and-socket joints had been replaced by those inflated plastic bags that have taken the place of styrofoam packing peanuts for protecting packages.

I also felt incredibly buoyant when I stood upright, as though balloons were resting under and next to every limb. I imagined that I looked a bit like Ralphie’s brother in A Christmas Story, when he’s wearing that massive marshmallow-like snow suit: “I can’t put my arms down!”

The morning after the session, as I put on my underpants after my shower, something occurred to me: I had just slipped into my undergarments using my non-dominant leg first. I always always always put on pants in a right-left fashion.

But now, left-right?! I paused, bewildered, realizing that I did something that felt different, “off,” and new.

… And that was where the magic ended for about a week, as suddenly all of my old aches and body nuisances returned, from my aching lower back to my wonky scapula.

Walking felt crooked again, and I did not like the way my body felt during a 5Rhythms class. I was very frustrated and feared that doing Rolfing during such intense life events (divorce, new job, moving) was counterproductive.

But a week and a half after the session, something changed. My body aches began to soften, and one of the biggest noticeable differences was the way my body felt during moments of sexual passion.

Sustained. Elongated. Full-bodied.

The fountain metaphor now totally made sense, with every orgasm feeling like a loop of energy being drawn up through my center and then cascading down, a continuous dance of rising and falling.

An act that has always been about feeling had suddenly intensified to a new level, this particular Rolfing session perhaps tapping the entryway to the core of something exhilarating.

Now who said Session 4 wasn’t interesting?!

 

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(This post is a continuation of my quest to reclaim my body through Rolfing®. Click here for the post detailing my previous session of this bodywork technique.)

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.

Source.

Side bodies. (Source)

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.

Carpet thread

Then, I noticed the tissue box on the bathroom sink had same curly curve.

Tissue pattern

Mind. Blown.

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:

Root Wine

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!

(This post is a continuation of my quest to reclaim my body through Rolfing®. Click here for my previous post detailing my first session of this bodywork technique.)

The second session of my 10-part Rolfing series began very similarly to a 5Rhythms® movement class, with an emphasis on the feet. My therapist Laurie explained that this particular session would not be as physically intense as the previous one, which had focused on such an anatomical (and emotional!) powerhouse: the ribs, solar plexus, and diaphragm.

She described that the first session was necessary in order to release the areas around the lungs, as this kind of work is not possible without being able to breathe fully!

Once that key area is open, it’s then time to work on the “grounding” areas of the body: the feet and lower legs.

SwingingFeet

Her description of why the feet are so important early on in Rolfing made so much sense, as it is also a key concept in the 5Rhythms practice. Flowing, the first rhythm, the rhythm of the earth, is about finding your connection to the floor, establishing groundedness, pulling energy up from the earth as your sustenance rather than grasping frantically at air.

It’s not about knowing where you’re going but having confidence you’ll be able to get yourself there, wherever “there” is. You’re completely aware of the support holding you upright.

Laurie was right—the first half of the 60-minute session was incredibly relaxing and reminded me of reflexology, the way she pressed into key pressure points on my feet. Reflexively, my fingers began to fan along with my spreading toes.

It was certainly more active than reflexology, though, with her prompting me to flex and release my ankle several times as she worked in that area and up my calves. It felt a bit like a PT session for a foot injury, with all of the repetition. (And I’m speaking highly of PT here, not knocking it! It did wonders for me 4 years ago for my hip issues.)

Like the first session, I began to experience some interesting sensations as the session continued.

The first thing I noticed was a distortion in my perception of size. My body began to feel very small and Laurie’s arms, which were working on my legs at the time, very long. Lying there with my eyes closed, I did not understand how Laurie’s condor wing-arms could continue to move up and up and up my leg, which felt no longer than a standard ruler. I was certain she’d hit my head, when in reality she never strayed from my leg.

Then, the reverse. My legs no longer felt tiny but expansive, billowing from below my quadriceps like clouds or overly fluffy pillows. It got to the point where my legs no longer felt attached to my body, that they were these highly sensitive entities hanging out in my personal space but not attached by means of bone or muscle, tendons or ligaments. It was a very contradictory sensation—my legs feeling “detached,” and yet I was still so highly aware of them, feeling every touch of Laurie’s.

But perhaps the most powerful moment of the session was when Laurie was working on my left knee. She was doing nothing painful or terribly intense, but suddenly it felt like that knee was a portal to All The Energy on the left side of my body, and she had successfully opened it.

I felt a rush of warm, pleasant, bubbly energy spread up through my hip, chest, spine, all the way up into the back of my skull. My body rocked in place a bit, and I released some kind of vocal exclamation—a laugh or a Wow! or an ecstatic *&*&((**^####! All I remember was feeling like I had just experienced a kundalini opening on my left side, and that the knee was the trigger point.

Laurie ended my session the same way she does for each, by cradling the neck and skull and doing some kind of energy healing that this time felt like I had long Rapunzel-like locks spreading outward that she was combing with an electrically charged brush. It’s both a bizarre and comforting feeling, all at once.

(Would it be weird to say that right before the Rapunzel hair sensation, I felt like everything from my neck up was encased in a swirling red, gold, and green Christmas ball, but it was a sensation so soothing and reassuring that I was nearly brought to tears? Yeah? Well, that’s what was going on.)

My immediate sensations after the session included:

  • Baby-smooth soles, as though they had been scrubbed with a pumice stone.
  • Incredible sense of equal weight distribution between the feet—no wobbling from right to left.
  • Intense awareness of the bottoms of my feet, almost like I could feel the bottom of my shoes through my socks.
  • A sense of walking with purpose and confidence.
  • Vibrancy of the world around me, senses in high gear—mostly in the way I perceived color (green tree buds, red cars, yellow street signs).
  • My legs looking much thinner when I put my pants back on after the session, as though I had done some magic instant toning exercise routine.
  • My left foot expelling excess energy during my car ride home, a bubbly sensation, like my foot was carbonated!
  • HUGE emotional release during the drive home, crying just to cry, which released a lot of blockage in my throat area.

It has been about two weeks since that session, and I’m still happy with the way my feet feel.  Maybe it’s also because I’m wearing thinner socks or no socks now due to the warmer weather, but I do feel like I have more contact with the floor than usual.

I’ve noticed my gait feels more comfortable now—I take a walking break every day at lunch and sometimes felt like I was walking on a tilt. That has subsided.

The effects from the first session are still sticking for the most part as well. I don’t feel like I’m being tugged forward on my left side, and I’ve been able to incorporate more lunges into my morning stretching routine, something I stopped doing for a while because of the restriction I felt in my psoas, pelvis, and lower back. Now, those lunges actually feel good rather than a prelude to another hip injury.

This week I return for Session 3: the side body!

(This post is a continuation of my quest to reclaim my body through Rolfing®. Click here for my previous post detailing my history and decision to try this bodywork technique.)

When I entered my therapist’s office last week, the session started with a 30-minute consultation during which I described the most prominent and frustrating discomforts in my body, including postural/gait imbalances stemming from a small labral tear in my left hip, which leads to pain and locking in my sacrum and low back, as well as leg-length discrepancies that make me feel like I’m wobbling; a left shoulder that always feels sloped forward and contributes to neck and occasional jaw pain; and an incredibly tight psoas that constricts full diaphragmatic breathing.

The next step was for Laurie to examine my posture as I talked my way through how my body felt from the inside.

Standing fully clothed in front of her, I closed my eyes and described the way the soles of my feet pressed into the floor, how my knees balanced my weight, what the inside of my pelvis felt like as though it were a bucket carrying grains of sand. Was the sand evenly spread from femur to femur? Or did the sand feel heavier on one side? We used this kind of visualization up through my shoulders, and then I walked across the room a few times for her to assess my gait.

Some people may find this kind of description difficult to tap into, but as a very visual and sensory learner, I found it very natural and was happy to be with someone who worked in this manner.

I liked Laurie before I even stripped down to my underwear and got on the table!

The 60-minute bodywork session began ever-so-gently with Laurie pressing key acupressure points in my face, neck, and scalp and eventually working into my shoulders and arms, my ribcage and diaphragm, and then some work on my hips, buttocks, and upper legs. This is the traditional format of Session 1.

I was prepared for tightness in my left shoulder, and it was there. But it was never more than I could handle, and the most intense moments only lasted a few seconds. Laurie was constantly readjusting my arms, elbows, and hands like a puppet, and it felt good to move with the massage rather than lie passively and have someone dig in.

In that sense, my first Rolfing session felt like a combination of all my favorite bodywork/movement modalities—traditional massage, Thai yoga massage, chiropractic, yin yoga—all wrapped into one package, with a side of deep meditation.

I have a history of falling asleep during massage sessions, and although the Rolfing was at times surprisingly relaxing and comforting, I never felt the urge to drift off, mostly because I was taking great pleasure in the ways Laurie’s attentive work allowed me to feel my body in ways that had been locked off for so long.

For example, when Laurie worked on my perpetually tight psoas—which has been pulling on my diaphragm and sacrum for some time now—I experienced a wonderful opening in my sacrum, a sensation deep within the tailbone that I have only felt once before during a particularly intense A.R.T. session on that same area.

It was like smelling a marvelous new scent—imagine your nose suddenly inhaling something delicious—except it was my low back feeling something that had never been felt before.

I believe the words I said to Laurie were, “It feels like you’re tapping into a hidden repository of feeling in my sacrum!”, like Indiana Jones coming across a new, glimmering treasure buried deep in an ancient temple. It was there all along but just needed to be discovered!

I had a similar experience in my torso—after several minutes of her fingers smoothing out the tissue between my ribs, I had the sensation of my chest just opening and opening and opening like a blooming flower in fast forward.

My post-session description: “It was like a gynecological exam for my ribcage; she just spread me wide open!” It was a new sensation of expansiveness that I have not felt in a very long time.

Rolfing was no doubt more intimate that a traditional massage session in the way Laurie needed to work deep near my ribs and tailbone. That meant working near my breasts and close to my coccyx (i.e., at the top of my butt crack), but the sensation was more relieving than weird or uncomfortable. I am not modest when it comes to pain relief!

The work was also highly energetic and meditative for me. When she worked on my solar plexus, I felt a relaxing blue color spread through the area. Later, as she touched the same area as I lay on my side, I felt a wave of emotion swell from torso to throat, enough to make my eyes tickle with the beginnings of tears.

Midway through the session, I began to feel like a pot of water sitting on the stovetop, as though tiny happy bubbles were beginning a slow and steady rumble under my skin. I described the sensation to Laurie.

“What do you think that is?” I asked.

“That’s called good ol’ fashioned energy!” she replied.

By the end of the session, the bubbling had intensified to what I described as feeling jittery, giddy, and highly caffeinated. Laurie indicated that was a good sign, that we had worked deep enough to tap into the energetic body. Right on cue, it was time to wrap up the session before the energy got too intense.

Sure enough, as I lay on my back and Laurie did a few final touches on my scalp, something amazing happened.

She pulled her fingers off of my head, but I could still feel her. I knew she was no longer physically in contact with my head, but she was doing something above my scalp, and it felt like my facial skin was being pulling upward, a kind of energetic facelift. The sensation triggered an eruption of energy, which spilled forth in a burst of laughter.

It was not ha-ha funny laughter or nervous laughter but simply my body’s way of releasing the energy she had been coaxing. Almost instantly Laurie laughed back, saying she was keenly aware of the bubble of energy she was working with as well.

Stepping off the table, I felt amazingly aware of my bodies—yes, plural intended—my physical and energetic bodies. I felt like the planet Saturn, surrounded with rings of sensation that reached far beyond my corporeal surface.

Laurie encouraged me to use that sensation as a support, to learn to be comfortable being supported and carried by those rings of energy rather than using brute physical force to carry my body through space. I love this visualization, and I will probably write in greater detail about it later as I learn to incorporate it into my dance practice.

Before I left, I stood in front of Laurie again, feeling my way through my body from the bottoms of my feet up to my scalp. I was surprised at how firmly my feet were planted into the ground, when earlier I felt so wobbly and off-balance. The amazing thing is that Laurie didn’t do any work on my legs below my knees, which goes to show that everything is indeed connected.

Other immediate effects included a very acute tingling sensation in the big toe joint of my left foot, as though someone had spread Biofreeze on the area. This is the toe that has arthritis, and I couldn’t believe how vividly it was “speaking” to me after a session that included absolutely zero work on my feet.

It wasn’t pain, just an energetic “Hello, stuff has opened up in the rest of your body that is now trickling all the way down to me. This pesky arthritis has ‘locked’ me out for some time, but now I’m beginning to feel again!”

Taped Toe

I felt strangely alert when I left Laurie’s office. Massages tend to make me super-sleepy and lethargic, but the feeling I had after Rolfing was more akin to how I feel after meditation or kundalini yoga—totally in tune with the world around me, grounded, radiant, and receptive.

RainbowGlow

That evening, I attempted a simple backbend by pressing my hands into my sacrum, raising my chest, and tilting my spine back. Recently, my range of motion in this pose has been embarrassingly limited with my thoracic tightness, but that night I was able to see the wall behind me. I could not believe how far I was able to go back and the wonderful opening in my chest that allowed me to do so.

* * *

At the time I drafted this post, it had been exactly 1 week since my first session, and although I feel tugged by my old compensatory patterns, I am trying to be mindful of my movement and work on staying open and expansive.

I have noticed much more opening in my sacrum, chest, and shoulders during my warrior lunges in yoga and considerably more flexibility in my spine during backbends (but not as deep as that one the first evening). I can also bend forward into gorilla pose without feeling the usual psoas-sacrum-hamstring tug that so often limited my stretch.

I am staggering my 10 sessions every two to three weeks to help with the payments, and Laurie reassured me that I won’t “lose” what I’ve learned in-between sessions.

I return this week for Session 2, which involves the feet and lower legs. Watch out, Arthritic Toe!

I’ve been experiencing some discomfort in my foot recently, and my podiatrist—an athlete who knows better than to tell an active patient, “Well, just stop dancing for a bit!”—recommended taping my big toe to help stabilize the joint that’s causing me pain. This isn’t that fancy kinesio taping method you see on Olympic divers, either. Nah, this is a just an ugly mound of adhesive that looks like I’ve broken my toe.

Taped Toe

My movement isn’t too inhibited by the tape—I’ve just been advised not to go into full relevé on my left side. However, after a test dance in my carpeted living room that had bits of hair and rug fuzz clinging to the unraveling tape, I decided that maybe I should protect the tape by wearing my soft-soled jazz shoes.

Although most people dance 5Rhythms barefoot, there is no shame in wearing shoes during class. Jazz shoes, ballet slippers, FootUndeez, lyrical sandals, sneakers set aside solely to the dance floor…all are welcome, as long as they aren’t worn out on the street. Heck, a young woman came to class the other day in an orthopedic walking boot.

During a recent 5Rhythms class in New York City, I completed the first of two Waves in my jazz shoes. They protected my tape, and I also felt like the shoe’s slight heel and split sole gave me more support. But as I started the second Wave, I found myself falling into a foot funk, looking enviously at all the beautiful exposed toes and cracked heels flying around me.

Most of all, what I was longing for was the sense of connection that comes from dancing barefoot. You wouldn’t think that a think layer of leather and rubber would create an energetic barrier, but it does! The bottoms of the feet are loaded with acupressure points, and their stimulation can affect all body systems and energy channels.

The minute I decided to say hell with it and peel off my shoes and socks—that moment when my once-cocooned feet touched the cool floor—I simultaneously felt both ferociously wild and peacefully contained. Almost instantly, I could feel my dance change. I wasn’t doing new moves; rather, it was my body being moved differently as my feet were given the freedom to breathe in and receive the bubbling waves of energy around me.

Appropriately, the shoe removal came just before a dance-mix mash-up of The Doors’ “Break On Through” ripped through the studio speakers. My cloaked feet had broken through to the other side, a new nakedness that gave me a sense of falling into the floor and ascending high past the Manhattan skyline. I was walking on air, stomping on flames, sinking into sand, stepping into the unknown…and feeling every sensation of the journey.

I don’t recommend compromising comfort and podiatric health, but, if possible, I do encourage trying out even just a few minutes of being barefoot. How does the connection with the ground below you influence your dance? If impossible to remove your shoes, allow the palms of your hands (also loaded with acupressure points) to explore the floor. You may be amazed at the energy you can harness from these extremities.

Beach feet

Five years ago on this day, Vandita leads our morning sadhana and closes class by singing to us as we lie in savasana, our own little yoga nidra lullaby. In my blanket womb, I feel comforted, tender, safe, and warm. Tears. Emotion.

There are snowflakes falling at 6:30 a.m., a day after sun and 60-something-degree warmth, snow falling one day after I sat outside on the lawn in nothing but a light jacket. Like snowflakes, we are all unique, all different shapes and sizes and density, all falling at different speed and rates, all landing in our own spot. But together, we are one. One snowflake is beautiful itself when it lands on your glove, but together the snowflakes create a gorgeous landscape of snow, drifts, men, forts, and white mountain caps. Is this why I keep seeing people’s faces here? Why, during savasana, every time I close my eyes I see flashes of my classmates’ faces, like they are posing for passport photos or a driver’s license. A, E, D. Everyone. A blink, a face. Even people I didn’t think I cared about, people toward whom I may have harbored ill feelings. We are One. I don’t need to worry about “losing” these people once I leave because they are already inside of me. They are me, I am them. Is it that simple? Can I really break free of feeling like I’m going to lose everyone here by embracing everyone, knowing we are One?

***

After class, as I get my breakfast, I see G, the woman from yesterday’s gentle class whom I assisted first. She smiles and says hello. She grounds me. I feel good. Connected. Vandita’s class has centered me, brought me back home. The funny thing is that she hardly “taught” us–she let us teach ourselves! I did my own thing and emerged from my lullaby womb feeling refreshed, as if I’d been given a beautiful, profound lesson on life. But really, I just trusted myself. I listened to myself. I sang and danced and was OK with my body, my song. These people at the front of the room–the are our guides. Not idols, not gurus, not people we bow and pray to. They are our guides, helping us find ourselves. Tickling our inner knowledge here and there, opening and inspiring, allowing us to grow. Guides, not gurus. Why worship, when the true light lives within? Bow to the Buddha, not because you worship his feet but because you want to walk in his footsteps and cultivate his inner harmony. You just want peace. Not to crawl on your hands and knees for an unattainable figure, idol, but to stand on your own and help others find their feet as well.

Molly's feet, courtesy of Molly.

***

Briefly, my bubble of security bursts as I was faced with THEFT! My black Kripalu coffee mug that I left on the shelf outside Shadowbrook was gone after I emerged from class. A taste of the real world. 😦

***

During Rudy’s guided meditation, I become still. For a few minutes, I disengage from the pull of everyone else. I feel a draw in my belly, my solar plexus. A heat. A gnawing. I feel my third eye burning along with my stomach. I feel slightly nauseated, wanting to purge–or maybe just needing a hug from a stranger. We meditate after 60 minutes of hip-openers. To see, to watch how such opening postures can clear the mind…. I sit in ardha padmasana. I can feel my posture straightening as my breath continues, micromovements of lifting and extending. It feels like little miniscule flashes of heat and light pulling my torso up, sinking my hips, rolling my shoulders back and down.

I tune in, feeling energy around me. The feeling is heat, warmth–my palms and fingers extend; I want to touch this energy. I hear murmurs, whispers, energetic echoes all around the room, as is everyone’s discarded monkey minds are hovering above, dancing, itching to return into the brain. The warmth is amazing, I feel it envelop my body; my hands again like sponges, soaking up this golden, invisible, warm glow. Rudy chimes as out of meditation, and I am reluctant to let go of the glow. I feel myself grabbing the energy, making fists with my palms, bringing that energy to my solar plexus, my heart, bowing and letting what I captured, what I collected, soak deep into my being. Let me bring energy into my life, not physical beings, not idols, not statues, but their energy, their inspiration–elements that are never gone forever, even when the source has disappeared.

During Roger’s relaxation, I experience a feeling of light pressure on my forehead, from eyebrow to eyebrow, like a washcloth lying on my forehead.

***

I am vibrating today, a ball of unbridled energy. I think yesterday’s and this morning’s expulsions have cleared my channels and freed my room for reception. Between crying my eyes out last night, getting my period, enjoying the effects of bhunaman vajrasana, and peeing out a storm after this morning’s coffee, I feel good. Happy. Open.

This morning and afternoon’s meditations turned my power up, my antenna in the right spot. During Helga’s evening sadhana, I felt like I was vibrating. Like, if [my massage therapist/energy healer] saw me now, our touch together could start a fire. The energy just blasting from my pores, circulating through my nadis like a race car circuit. After many yoga mudra forward bends, my arms were buoyed by an unseen force, rising like a beach ball was at either side of me. I feel good sitting in meditation. I am actually starting to like meditation. It helps me tune into my deep thoughts, like

NO, I don’t speak with my body, I speak through my body. My soul speaks through my body. How can I make that work for my practice teach? How can I make that work for classes at home? How can I be me and help others in the process?

About the Author

Name: Jennifer

Location: Greater Philadelphia Area

Blog Mission:
SHARE my practice experience in conscious dance and yoga,

EXPAND my network of like-minded individuals,

FULFILL my desire to work with words in a more creative and community-building capacity;

FLOW and GROW with the world around me!

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