Articles and Audio Interviews on Rosen Method Bodywork
Touching the Body, Reaching the Soul, February 9, 2012, BlogTalkRadio -- Kerstin Zettmar interview by host Pamela Marie Edmunds
How Love Heals -- Kerstin Zettmar, Rosen Method Journal, 2011
Marion Rosen's Gift -- Kerstin Zettmar, 2012
How Love Heals 2 -- Kerstin Zettmar, Spirit of Change, 2012
Releasing Pain through Touch -- Barbara Ganim
Intimacy with Number One -- Kerstin Zettmar
Meeting with Marjory: A Rosen Method Memory -- Kerstin Zettmar
"Releasing Pain Through Touch" by Barbara Ganim
One touch therapist whose work is firmly rooted in the practice of emotional release to achieve optimal health and well-being is Kerstin (pronounced Sheshtin) Zettmar, so came to the US from Sweden 15 years ago in search of her calling. Although she was trained as an artist and journalist, she felt something was missing and returned to massage therapy and eventually the Rosen Method.
The Rosen Method is a unique form of hands-on body work focusing on the body-mind connection. It was developed over 35 years ago by Marion Rosen, who escaped as a young woman from Nazi Germany and fled to the US. Prior to her arrival in San Francisco, she lived in Munich where she studied and worked with innovative massage therapists who were just beginning to combine massage, breath work, and relaxation techniques with Jungian psychoanalysis. Further refining these techniques, Rosen developed her own approach in which unexpressed emotions were seen as "barriers" within the body, blocking the flow of energy and preventing the individual from expressing his or her true nature.
When Kerstin began studying the Rosen Method, she was already a licensed massage therapist with a demanding practice in Newport, Rhode Island. While acknowledging the benefits of traditional massage, she began to see that it was only skin deep. "As a friend once put it," she says smiling. "massage therapy is relaxation from the outside in. The Rosen method is healing relaxation from the inside out."
Kerstin found the Rosen Method a fascinating combination of working with touch, awareness of breath, and the emotions to reach the inside of people - their feelings, their inner life. Many clients have noted that the quality of the touch is gentle yet powerful. The unconditional presence that they feel through the touch reminds them of what they have been yearning for since infancy. For some it is the first time they have encountered another person where simply being who they are is experienced not only as enough but as something precious.
"The intention in the Rosen Method," Kerstin emphasizes, "is partnership - a relationship between client and therapist. And that relationship is a reflection of how you relate to yourself and to the rest of the world. The body doesn't lie. We play all sorts of mind games, but truth shows up in the body as the pain that separates us from connecting to ourselves and then to others. This work is about learning how to be intimate with yourself and the rest of the world in a safe way. So, unlike massage where I make the body relax, with Rosen I work with the client to meet that part of the body that cannot relax. We work together to explore the nature of that tension, and together we find that the underlying emotional cause. When that is acknowledged, the tension will melt. It's a very different process."
Many people consider the mind-body connection to be the holistic approach to healing. But an additional component is necessary to form the base of holism" spirit. While often mistaken as meaning religion, the idea of spirit means sensing and honoring our integral connection to all living beings - past, present, and future - and the responsibility and power that comes with it. Some people extend that connection to a higher power. Most practitioners of therapeutic touch believe in the holistic triad of body, mind, and spirit, and that all three are interdependent and inseparable when working with an individual.
with Number One"
Ah, relationship! They are such wonderful catalysts to bring to the surface anything uncooked that may lurk in one's soul. For many years I worked very hard at becoming enlightened. Eventually, I got quite skilled at the thinking positive, being all-accepting, ever-loving, and seeing a spiritual purpose in everything. This was true as long as I stayed out of intimate relationships. For some bizarre reason the men I crossed paths with always seemed to be taken, live on another continent, or have deep-seated fear of intimacy.
The men I did end up dancing a few rounds with would suddenly have the power to press all kinds of funny buttons in me. Pow! Out would come anger, fear, distrust, and a battery of other "unholy" emotions. How uncomfortable. I'd decided that they clearly didn't love me or they wouldn't do that to me, and out the door I'd go. I developed an appreciation for people who chose a monastic lifestyle.
Since I wasn't quite ready to take that leap, though, I chose various therapies instead. That helped to reassure me that I was a wonderful, open woman with all the tools for intimate relationship. Maybe I just hadn't met the right guy yet.
As life would have it, a number of years later I found myself at a workshop for something called the Rosen Method. It was advertised as a form of body work addressing emotional root causes of chronic muscular tension. Since I was now working as a loving, caring massage therapist, I thought I might learn something that would prove beneficial for my clients. Little did I know how entering this workshop would change my own life.
Rosen work is about finding out and accepting who you really are at the core of your being. It aims at creating a safe space for you to become intimate with your innermost self, the person you are when you stop pretending, performing, or pleasing. Marion Rosen, its founder says, "This work is about transformation from the person we think we are to the person we really are. In the end we can't be anybody else." The key factor in this method is touch - a gentle, intimate kind of touch that clients at times claim they've been missing since infancy. In contacting the body in this way, the unconscious / forgotten feelings, memories, and dreams that have been held in by tight muscles and restricted breathing are evoked. Often what we have tried to conceal the most, even from ourselves, shows up the clearest in the body. The body doesn't lie.
I can still hear my teacher's voice as she with warm hands gently probed the tight muscles of my upper back in a class demonstration: "The first few layers of Kerstin are quite relaxed. When I stay on the surface with my hand like this, I get the impression of someone very open, trusting, and receptive. I don't see a lot of breath in her back, though, so that makes me want to explore deeper... and when I do, I find some muscles working very hard, holding very tight. Right here, over her heart, there is a big boulder that doesn't want to budge. Something is being very well protected here."
And she was right. As she contacted the big rock over my heart and just stayed there with her hands, very patient, with unconditional presence, it slowly started to melt. The melting was coming from inside of me, just like the tears that began to stream down my cheeks. Eventually memories emerged, shedding some light on why I at one time, had felt the need to install this protective boulder - why it was so much safer to fall in love with people that I couldn't get very close to.
I feared that if anyone looked closer than the first few layers of me they'd find this very human being. Since childhood I had tried to be "Christ in drag," and with that goal in mind, a lot of my humanity seemed unacceptable. I had swept a lot of it under a rug of muscular tension; no wonder my back and shoulders felt so lumpy now.
That Rosen Method workshop was the beginning of a journey for me and on the winding road I have run into many bumps. It can be messy at times being a real human being, yet it's much less lonely than being a phony saint.
For a long time I was under the impression that so-called negative emotions were causing tension in the body. It came as real news to me that it actually is the trying to suppress unwanted emotions that causes the muscle to work over-time. I do believe there is something true about the notion that holding onto anger, grief, fear, and hatred can contribute to making a person sick. Yet when we give ourselves permission to fully feel our emotions through the whole cycle of beginning, middle, and end, they usually don't last very long. It's our trying to stop mid- stream that keeps us stuck and unhappy in our unfinished business. For some people learning to trust the cycles of emotions is a large part of this work.
These days I've given up on the idea of becoming a perfectly enlightened being. In my dance of intimacy I still lose my balance from time to time. The difference now is that I take those moments as a wake-up call to examine what it is inside of me that might be calling out to be healed. I'm really much more interested in becoming whole than holy.
Being fully alive doesn't mean you are in neutral or that you always are up. In my experience it means that you have all your emotions available to you but that you are not enslaved by any particular one of them.
As a painter I sometimes think of it as having a full palette to choose from with all the colors of the rainbow. As a weaver I know the importance of the dark or the cool strands of yarn to set off the light or fiery ones. We are all artists in co-creating our lives. Creativity is our natural inheritance. I've been fortunate to watch many people wake up to their creative potential as they have had courage to be honest with themselves and go through the barriers down to their core. And if we go deep enough we come to the place where we are all one. What could be more intimate than that?
reprinted by permission from Spirit
of Change, Vol.13, No.57
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