By Anna Slama
I lie down on the massage table and Pirjo adjusts the arm support, sheet, and position of my legs for maximum comfort. I close my eyes and take a deep breath as she places her hands gently on my back and says: “This is Anna’s moment”.
I have had the fortune of having many Rosen therapy sessions regularly for a couple of years. Without any doubt, it is the treatment that by far has had the most profound impact on me. And I have tried all kinds of treatments, as a means to better health and self-discovery. From a Rosen therapy perspective, these two aspects of life are intimately intertwined.
The presence, or the mindfulness, transmitted through Pirjo’s touch instantly puts my body in a state of increased trust and relaxation. My breath deepens and it feels as if I have been put in a cradle that moves me peacefully up and down. This is a sensation I have had many times at the beginning of a Rosen session.
Apart from that, no two sessions have ever been the same. So many aspects of the Rosen method are similar to life itself when it is authentic. For instance, you cannot predict anything. The feelings and memories arising from your subconscious always take you by surprise.
“Chronic muscular tensions serve the purpose of protection. They keep authentic feelings and experiences locked in the subconscious.”
Pirjo asks if I have any special wishes for this session. I tell her I don’t, though I do have pain in my lower back, something I often have.
She starts exploring the tensions of my body a little here and there. Usually, I get feelings, memories in the form of pictures, or insights pretty quickly during the sessions. Today somehow the access and connection feel more intangible.
As Pirjo is working on my back a picture does pop up, though it is somewhat vague. It is a memory from a place in the Austrian alps I visited with my family when I was about eight or nine years old. We spent a week there in a very simple cottage. There was a farmer next door who brought us fresh milk every day. The landscapes around were green and lush. Especially the green color was distinctive in the memory. It was as if the little me of that time was embedded in green surroundings, in nature.
Now another picture flashes by. It is from a neighboring area with riding stables. We went there so I could have a riding lesson. The sun is shining so brightly in the vision I see before me. It is the sunniest of summer days.
Strange, I think to myself, I have always had an unpleasant memory of that riding class. And now I see the most divine sun shining down on that day.
Pirjo continues to work a little bit lower down, on my hips. Again I get that intangible feeling.
All of a sudden I feel a very mild and happy smile forming on my face. And then the insight hits me; I have forgotten what it means to be happy! I am not allowing myself to be happy, I have not been capable of being happy.
The tears come, as a sign proving that the thought just occurring to me is not mental speculation, but the plain truth.
Marion Rosen said: “This work is about transformation, from the person you think you are to the person you really are”.
Like many of us, I thought I was a pretty happy person. I had all sorts of things in my life that made me think that I should be happy.
Nowadays I know that no one can be genuinely happy if he is not in contact with his true, authentic being. It is that connection the Rosen method can guide a person to, through his or her bodily experiences.
The session continues.
Again the feeling of vagueness appears. It is as if I am in unknown territory. The memories of Austria appear again but they tell me nothing. It is just strange how the sun is shining so brightly on those stables.
I am now lying on my back and I guide Pirjo to the point where the pain is strongest, deep inside my gluteal muscle. It is as if the tension has extended all over it, occupying my fundament in a way, as protection.
These kinds of more or less chronic muscular tensions ( i.e. not derived from temporary work, exercise or injury ) always serve the purpose of protection. They keep authentic feelings and experiences locked in the subconscious.
A normal massage relaxes tensions technically and temporarily, while the special touch of the Rosen method meets the tension. Thus the body and the individual, which are one and the same, get the experience of being seen and accepted. This allows for relaxation of the defenses, the physical tensions.
As Pirjo manages to connect to the crucial point of tension around my bottom, I sense something I have never felt before in a Rosen session, let alone in daily life. I feel a strong sense of panic. The fundamental trust I have gained over many sessions allows me to keep going, exploring the feeling instead of escaping it.
And the next moment I realize what it is all about, what it was about back then. It was about being deprived of what was natural to me, of naturalness itself.
With that I mean the possibility of establishing a connection to the amazing creature I was sitting on, the horse, with my gentleness, my sensitivity, my curiosity, carefulness, and warmth.
These qualities belonged to my authentic being, but as a child, I was not yet conscious of them. They were vague sensations. A moment and a possibility had arrived on that day, for me to discover a large part of who I was and who I wanted to be, in relation to the world. This was not only about the connection and love for the horse, it was about the whole situation, about my life.
That was why the sun, symbolically, was shining so brightly in the vision.
But the vague sensation about who I was and wanted to be in relation to this wondrous life was immediately taken from me. “Keep your heels down!”, “Sit straight”, “If the horse doesn’t obey you, use the whip!”, “Keep trotting!”, the riding teacher shouted.
And I heard; “Forget your own sensations! They are totally unimportant.”, “Be technical!”, “Obey the grown-ups who know more than you!”, “Learn to control your body!” ”Seek control over others, not connections!”.
That moment, and of course many other similar ones, instilled a basic fear in me, not joy, love, and wonder of life. It robbed me of my emerging sensitivity, curiosity, and gentleness, which was tantamount to the killing of my soul. That was why the memory was connected to a deep panic, which together with all the other authentic feelings had to go underground, where it stayed for over twenty-two years.
A few days after the session I realized that I have been a living dead among many other living dead for at least two decades.
Many years have passed since this session and maybe you ask if I came alive after this and other Rosen sessions?
The Rosen method is by far the best method I know for this purpose, to come alive! Living according to your innermost nature, connected to your body, is the same as, and the only way, to really be alive and also to be real.
As John Lennon said, though: “The more real you get, the more unreal the world gets”.
We suppress ourselves and adapt for a reason, for acceptance and ultimately for survival. As a child you need to see to that your caretakers, the grown-ups, accept you, so you can ensure your survival.
Most people live from that adapted and diminished personality, though not everybody is aware of it. I wasn’t, until I found the Rosen method. The Rosen practitioner is like a midwife, who brings the true you to life, or at least awareness of your true self. As a grown up, finding the courage to also live according to your true nature is your own responsibility.
Anna Slama is a writer, activist and – soon to be – developmental psychologist.