Workshops are great. They are fun and you learn something, but I’ve got to say sometimes the best part is the sense of community one feels/finds when participating. This new life form takes shape for three days we go around consuming and processing information and learning about ourselves in the process. This calss was unique in that from day one everybody was eager to know each other and hear the stories of the cast of characters in class. As a result we bonded very quickly and I left knowing I’ll seem many of these folks again.
This class was held in Boston with the legendary Neal Powers. Neal is the president of the guild for Structural Integration and an all around good guy. He studied Rolfing with Ida Rolf (I found out this weekend she is Swiss not German) back in the early days and is now 41 years into his practice. This was a class of sophisticated students with a lot of experience and the teacher seemed to ask the most questions. I left feeling like Neal was a pick pocket of the mind and delicately nicked my question before dangling answers in front of the class for anybody to pluck. Soon after our introductions I realized what a unique group I was sitting with. These are experienced and successful practitioners taking a class to refine skill rather to learn something that will get them more clients. These were the north east elite and bought a lot to the table.
My partner in adventure is Rob Martin. We met in Hawaii in 2000 during my initial Structural Integration training and him and I have been on many adventures together. I drag him all over kingdom come and he keeps me out of trouble. We’re a good team.
As mentioned our class jelled right off the rip. A bunch of us went out to dinner to Sol Azteca on our first night for at a wonderful and authentic feeling Boston restaurant. Guacamole and margaritas have a way of bringing people together. I may be biased but Rolfers are an super interesting group. They are independent, adventurous, bright and warm and we had everything to talk about.
As with any learning experience in your professional field the tendency is to want to polish what one is good at rather than open yourself up to the part of you that doesn’t know what you are doing. It’s an exercise in humility and vulnerability. With bodywork, when a client comes to see us we have to be the expert and know what we are doing. In a class environment, we are very much on display in that all the sessions are done for everyone to see and observe. We go from out tiny little kingdom of the treatment to admitting we don’t know everything and being around people who just might. I’ve learned I feel stronger after I embrace my weaknesses and that this is a time of support and understanding.
Seeing Neal work was different than any other practitioner I’ve seen before. His arms are like two probosci (I think it’s proboscises but probosci sounds cooler) gather and learning and absorbing. He sponged up the treatment models body, jumped into it’s skin, felt it from a distance and felt it up close. He propped his head on people and saddled up close to adsorb their jujube. What I saw was that as maybe the most knowledgeable person in the class, he was very curious, and offered unconditional support and understanding even love to the people he worked with. Our bodies want to be know and by gathering and learning the therapist ability is magnified, amplified even and his quick short bursts of treatment were very effective. I’ve talked before about creating treatment models, and Neal is someone who wants to fill in every gap possible to really understand who he is working with.
Our goal here is integration and Neal equates integration with transmission or movement and energy. In this sense we are using energy as force of weight and matter though the body. When a body is integrated if feels light and fluid and capable and alive and our job as a team (client therapist team) is to re-establish that together. We watched as Neal explored and then treated his models drawing out life and movement from stuck places.
Our final night together a group of the NYC girls, Rob and I went contra dancing to Arlington with the wonderful Nor’ Easter playing their hearts out. The NYC girls had never gone contra dancing before and totally rocked it! The whole place brightened up when the NYC girls showed up and we had a wonderful time do-si-doing and gypsy dancing. It was a great way to conclude and cement out time together with some great memories.
Thank you Neal, and Eric and Garrett for a wonderful fun filled and insightful weekend.