When clients tell me what the biggest benefits to being Rolfed were, they usually say that it’s not that the symptoms that brought them in are long gone, but that their emotional/stress state is much better. I was naïve as to how much stress impacted my body and its tension level, and how much my unexpressed emotions caused that tension until months after I completed my Rolfing.
A trick to avoiding or lessening healing crises is to express those emotions you haven’t felt or thought you couldn’t express.
This connection between our emotions and our bodies isn’t as “out there” as it was 30 years ago. We are beginning to understand this connection. Rolfing was a crash course in embodying this understanding. Simply put, when we had emotions that we could not express as a child – getting mad at our parents is a common one – we turned that emotion into physical tension. The father of stress research, Hans Selye, M.D in his book The Stress of Life, calls fascia the “organ of stress.” It is where stress goes. It is the primary organ of the body for holding our emotions. The facial network engulfs all muscles and organs of our body – it is every where just as our stress is.
As the fascial system releases, so do the old stored emotions. It is as if someone de-encrypted a hard disc that stored old data. Stored emotions held in the body still need to express what they were unable to completed or express when their trigger first occurred. For example, as kids we could not tell our parents we were mad at them. I have heard from clients how they went through a period where they were irritated or angry at things they had not been angry at before being Rolfed.
The emotional healing crises can be the most perplexing aspect of Rolfing for clients, particularly for us men. People using control as a survival strategy can initially feel a little challenged by having their emotions take over. For some, it can get intense as they travel through what Joseph Campbell called the “Hero’s Journey.” For these fortunate clients, I say this sincerely, since it will prove to be a huge gift to those who experience this journey. It will be unlike anything they have ever experienced. At some point in this journey, you will encounter “The Dark Night of the Soul.” You will feel you are stepping off an edge into the abyss. The void that you are stepping into is the completion of parts of your life, the places you have avoided – consciously or unconsciously.
This step into the void is a leap of faith. I know it may feel as though you are being pushed. Yet, you can step back into the life you have. It will take a conscious decision to allow the process to take you over the edge. I know that it feels like you will die. Carl Jung, MD would claim that your ego was dying or its dominant control of you was dying. It does not want to lose control – it will fight.
For the chosen few who experience this journey, it will change your life forever. You will never be the same. Rolfing is by no means the only way to catalyze this transformation. I have seen other therapies do this along with spiritual ceremonies, and life crises break open this process.
A special note: no matter how great you may feel after traveling through a healing crisis, allow for some time to integrate the changes into your life. Do not make any important decisions until you are rested.