Rosen Method Bodywork is a form of somatic therapy that does not separate the mind and body. In Rosen, we know that one of the most effective ways to reach the unconscious is through the body, and we use touch and talk to access the deep feelings and emotional patterns that are often not accessible solely through the conscious mind. The method was founded by Marion Rosen, who began her training in the exploration of humanness in Germany in the 1930s, in the time before bodywork and talk therapies were divided into separate practices. I was lucky to have Marion as one of my primary teachers.
Rosen Method is based on the premise that when events or emotions are too much for us, we contract physically. Those contractions are often needed to protect us from overwhelming feelings in childhood, when we are powerless to change our circumstances. But as adults, when we have the resources to take care of ourselves, the habit of contracting so that we will not feel too much blocks us from knowing what we want and need and prevents us from living the full and rich lives that are possible when we can allow all feelings to flow through us.
It is a deep practice of presence that informs everything I do. At its core, it is about discovering that it is safe for us to feel ourselves fully, to not put away any part of ourselves. Marion often said it is about becoming the person you really are, not the person you think you should be.
Rosen looks a little like a table massage, but it is very different because we are not trying to change the muscular contractions with manipulation. Practitioners come with listening hands and open, inquisitive words and deep curiosity to the places where the body is holding tension. These places are often just waiting to be met, to feel safe enough to let up the emotions that caused the contractions in the first place. When those emotions are allowed to be fully felt, the contractions are no longer necessary and usually begin to dissolve.
Our training is incredibly complex and incredibly simple. We don’t manipulate or fix. We’re not doing anything to the client—we’re midwifing. We’re holding the space of safety that the client probably didn’t have—the safety to be completely with themselves, to feel whatever is there. And as they discover that it is not dangerous to feel even the most painful feelings, often joy comes flooding in.
In life we do not get to choose which feelings we let in. You cannot feel joy if you cannot let yourself feel pain. When we block any feelings, we block our capacity for all other feelings. But when we find out it’s safe to feel ourselves fully, our nervous systems begin to rewire themselves and our capacity for joy and ease expands. The more you let in, the more you want to let in. And bit by bit, you come to feel safe to feel all of yourself.
My Rosen practice has helped me to become skilled at staying present and being comfortable with being lost—just willing to stay there. And that very much informs my constellation practice, as now I know in my bones that the deepest work and biggest shifts come when we let ourselves get lost, when we surrender to what is.
It’s beautiful, profound work, and like constellations, it is life-changing.