Rosen Method Movement

I was reminded of a paraphrased quote by Nelson Mandela recently. He didn’t say exactly this, but his meaning was something like, “You have to physically reach out and touch people to bridge the gap between us – to feel that love is real.” This speaks to why Rosen Method Bodywork has been so important to me. Rosen’s listening touch is one of the things that has made Rosen Method Bodywork so powerful for my own healing. I can feel someone’s presence (or withdrawal) through their touch. When I tell a story of how I have been ashamed or rejected, I can feel though my Rosen Method practitioner’s touch whether they accept me or not. When I feel their acceptance, it gives me space and the possibility to accept myself. You can imagine, then, that when the pandemic hit, and we all quit working how hard it was for me to not receive Rosen’s exquisite listening touch. What I have found, though, is that I am as deeply touched by the music, the sense of community, the inward listening, and the sacred silence that I experience with Rosen Method Movement as I am with Rosen touch, and Rosen Movement invites the same profound awarenesses to arise within me as does Rosen Method Bodywork, and these awarenesses have had a far reaching impact on my life.

Rosen Method Movement is comprised of five main sections set to music that supports the intention of the section — each section has its own rhythm and feeling. The first section is warm up which moves all the joints in the body and lubricates the joints with synovial fluid.This section is the first invitation to come in to the body and requires a steady, easy to reach, rhythmic beat. The second section is Stretch, designed to allow our full width, length, and breath without stretching beyond ourselves, to free the thoracic diaphragm and to provide enough oxygen to the body to do larger hip movements of the Circle section and the Across the Floor section. The Music for Stretch is more internal and spacious. The teacher invites inward sensing, encourages movements that allow the intercostal muscles between the ribs to relax and the thoracic diaphragm to swing more freely, and she inspires students to take up our full volume as humans inhabiting a body.

After the joints have been warmed up, there is space in the torso for free movement of the diaphragm, and, therefore, enough oxygen to support larger movements of the hips. With this foundation, we move on to the Circle and Across the Floor sections . These two sections are more outwardly social. In the Circle Section we hold hands for support and balance (or get a chair, table, or the wall if in a zoom setting) and focus on larger movements of the hips often designed to lengthen the iliopsoas muscle. In Across the Floor we move in pairs across the floor while the rest of the class witnesses dancing pairs inhabit their bodies in movement. The Across the Floor section is a time for integrating all the movements so far, and is a time to witness and be seen. The rhythm in Circle is a sultry, hip moving, steady beat, and we use an endless variety of dance for music Across the Floor.

The last section of a class is called On the Floor, and as the name suggests, participants lie on the floor. The pace slows down again, and students tune into their heart beat, their breath, and the passive movements in the body that the breath initiates. The teacher describes movements to impact the spine, and participants invited to notice how much they are able to relax and yield to gravity’s support. The music is spacious without being spacey.

The combination of music in varying rhythmic speeds, movement, listening inwardly, and listening outwardly in a social way, and the sacred silence in between it all is a kind of alchemical magic that has led to profound awarenesses in me over the course of my training.

“According to the dictionary, alchemy is defined as ‘a seemingly magical process of transformation, creation, or combination’. This combination of
movements, music, awareness, and community that is Rosen Movement is transformative and feels so much like magic, magic that is so needed in our
world.”
~ Theresa Garcia

Rosen Method Movement calls us to find an easier, less effortful way of moving — to become aware of and let go of tension that is not required for a particular movement. We need tension. It is how we move our bodies through space, but often we hold ourselves in habitual ways and carry tension not actually required for movement in the moment. Letting go of habitual tension allows us to relax, to drop into feelings, to experience our bones as support (instead of using muscular tension as additional foundation), and to use our bodies as they were inherently designed to move, leading us to greater trust in our bodies and in our lives. We are given the ability to move through life with grace — and I mean grace not only as fluid movement, but also in the sense of a gift from Spirit unearned.

In my personal journey with the Rosen Method Movement Intensive training, I have had a slowly evolving awareness that reaches all the way back to my first Calistoga Rosen Method Bodywork intensive in 1995. Lisa Thomson was the movement instructor in the mornings before the bodywork training began. On the last day of class in the sharing, Marion said that I moved beautifully, but that I moved alone — I did not allow anyone in. In the January 2019 Movement Intensive, I noticed that when I am in myself, I can find rhythm and move, but when I am connecting with others, I sometimes get pulled out of my center. My sense now is that I could either be in myself connected or outside myself connecting to another in the movement, but I had difficulty being both places at once. This was a problem when trying to lead a class.

At one point during the 2019 Movement Intensive a class was being taught by one of the teachers. We, as students, were invited to touch our chest with our hands during stretch and connect with the fasciae and our hearts beneath our touch. From that place of connection, we were instructed to slowly reach out to the side with one arm. I reached right and caught the eye of someone in the room, and I had this springy sense of fasciae connecting me to her and to others in the room. I felt tears well in my eyes, and it seemed we were all cells or organs in one body connected to each other by springy fasciae (like the connective tissue that fasciae is). We were each separate with our own purpose, and connected in one larger community body. The possibility of connection to self and another felt like magic, and is a possibility that I have dipped in and out of during Rosen Movement Intensives and life since.

More recently, I have come to understand more about how I developed the habit of loosing myself. I was left a lot by the time I was seven — through divorce, my mother’s death, and the moving on of several care takers while my father lived elsewhere. When my father eventually came back to live with us, I centered my father’s needs, because I was afraid that if I expressed my needs I would be left again. I lost my own sense of rhythm and timing while centering someone else at the exclusion of myself. In 1995 when Marion commented that I did not let people in, I was beginning to reestablish my connection with myself, and I unconsciously felt I needed to block others out to do that. Growing up in a culture where women are taught to center the needs of other’s likely also contributes to that aspect in me. Through the practice of repeated losing myself and finding myself in the Rosen Movement community, I have cultivated new ways of being in connection with other people while being tender with myself as I find more self acceptance in that process. I can recover more easily when I feel I have lost myself and my center.

The combination of Rosen Method’s structure, music in varying rhythms, listening inwardly and outwardly, and sacred silence (or pause) supports the body’s unwinding. It supports trust in our bodies and our lives – at whatever speed life comes at us. And it touches us. We are touched by the music which effects our whole bodies from our neural structure to our hormones(1). We are touched by ourselves from our attention as we listen inward, and we are touched by being together — moving with others bonds us together, and regulates our immune system(1). Rosen Method Movement is about coming back to selves, our senses, our bodies, and our trust, just as Rosen Method Bodywork is, and I am finding that we can do all this without physical touch over zoom for these times when we must physically distance — and for the times when we no longer need to.

Please contact me at info@megbutler.com to learn more about Rosen Method Movement classes on zoom or in person.

1. “You know it feels good to dance. These scientists reveal why”, Sarah L Kaufman, Washington Post, November12,2021