A note from Carl:
After a two-month hiatus, I am back to the newsletter. (Thank you to Erin for covering my weeks.)
I just completed an 8-week training in the Structural Integration work of Dr. Ida Rolf. I’ve been practicing Structural Integration for 16 years, and with each round of training, I fall more deeply in love with the work. It is the same with Feldenkrais. I remember when Erin and I were starting our Feldenkrais training, we each had a bit of fear: “If I learn how this work works, will it lose the magic?” Not at all. The deeper I go into both methods, the more there is to harvest, and the more magic is revealed.
Pictures of Ida Rolf and Emmett Hutchins
Last night, I was soaking in an ofuro tub at our one-and-only, neighborhood Japanese Spa, The Kura Door. (Erin had given me a gift certificate for my birthday, so it was a perfect way to celebrate the completion of my training.) As I sat in the tub, I was marveling at how different my body was after having received the Structural 10 series in training. My legs looked different, the tissues of my quads and IT band had lost their hardness, and had this supple quality that was surprising to my hands as I touched and felt. In my forearms, I felt that all of the sticky tension that gradually accumulates with computers and phones and being bodyworker was also gone. I kept thinking of Mary Oliver’s line:
“You only have to let the soft animal of your body love what it loves.”
I was much more fully inhabiting the soft animal of my body than I was two months ago. And it was not a soft, squishy, collapsed body, it was the relaxed, soft animal, but also ready to powerfully move and mobilize kind of body.
I remember speaking with a friend and colleague recently, and we were wishing that people could be able to go through the 10 series at major transition points in life: After puberty, graduating high school, changing professions, getting married, getting divorced, having a child, weaning a child, after the loss of a loved one…. The great benefit that can come at those transitions when you feel that you have a new body, that the old patterns of breathing, of how you hold your head, of how you store tension, of how you connect to the ground, have been released, and there are new, fresh possibilities available.
There is a theme that has come up in several of our podcast conversations – with Michael Meade, Francis Weller, Stephen Jenkinson, Kinde Nebeker – the challenges that come with a culture that doesn’t practice initiations or rites of passage. We don’t have the structures that humans have had for tens of thousands of years where at certain points in life like puberty, marriage, elderhood– who you were before ritually dies and you are a new being, maybe with a new name, new lenses to see the world, new responsibilities, new gifts to offer.
In this training, I was recognizing how the 10-series is like a rite of passage.
Even the sequence of the session matches the traditional patterns of initiation. There are three elements common to initiation.
A separation, an ordeal or challenge, and then a re-integration, and a recognition or blessing of this new being. In the 10 series, the first three sessions are like a separation – differentiating our arms, legs, and head from the torso, unraveling the many ways we harden, tense, and hold on our surface.
The next three sessions that go deeper to the core offer a challenge – not that it is an intensely painful ordeal, but more that there is a depth and intimacy of feeling these deep areas that don’t often get the light of attention. These include our psoas, pelvic floor, deep hip rotators, tailbone, sacrum, and more.
Then the last sessions are all about re-integration and connecting our functions to a unifying, organized center, and emerging in a new body.
Now that I’m done with the training, I am excited to share new insights into the work with others, so I’ve opened up a few spaces in my practice for people to do a 10 series.
You can sign up for the series here. Or a 3 payment option here. Feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions.
Having completed the training and received the sessions, I do feel initiated into a new phase of life. And it is perfect timing that on Saturday I will be teaching at the free-online Embodiment Conference.
I’ll be joining many friends and wonderful teachers like Brooke Macnamara, Philip Shepherd, Russell Delman, Diane Hamilton, Charles Eisenstein (who we just interviewed for our podcast – episode coming soon!) and over 100 other teachers.
I’ll be presenting on one of my favorite things – “Somatics and the Dharma: Finding More Ease, Alignment and Embodied Presence in the Posture of Meditation.”
The conference is free, and you can access all of the recordings for a week after it ends on Nov 24th. My session is on Saturday at 11 am.
You can sign up for the conference here.
And speaking of change and initiation here is a beauty from Goethe:
The Holy Longing
by Johann W. Von Goethe, translated by Robert Bly
Tell a wise person, or else keep silent,
because the mass man will mock it right away.
I praise what is truly alive,
what longs to be burned to death.
In the calm water of the love-nights,
where you were begotten, where you have begotten,
a strange feeling comes over you,
when you see the silent candle burning.
Now you are no longer caught in the obsession with darkness,
and a desire for higher love-making sweeps you upward.
Distance does not make you falter.
Now, arriving in magic, flying,
and finally, insane for the light,
you are the butterfly and you are gone.
And so long as you haven’t experienced this: to die and so to grow,
you are only a troubled guest on the dark earth.