Gemma’s second Rolfing session


In the 2 weeks that have passed since my first session of Rolfing I’ve genuinely, hand on heart,  felt calmer in myself. More sure. Taller. Let me explain. This past week has been hectic, insane and overwhelming as I made numerous TV appearances in the lead up to Eating Disorders awareness week. I’ve done live television interviews many a time and held my own with seeming ease, but in the past the lead up to these times have often been filled with worry and stress. But this time was much different. I felt in control. I felt supported by MYSELF. Whether that’s a progression of age and learning? Maybe so. But I know in part it is down to that first Rolfing experience also. I felt supported by ME if that makes sense? I could feel the floor beneath me more than ever, which Aidan had told me was part of rolfing…feeling the bodies space and support.

I felt stable and had a gravitas in my body I can’t say I’ve ever felt before. 

My wonderful Mum and I went on The Lorraine Kelly show, in what turned out to be, a monumental moment in my life as we delivered an interview that touched the nation, with our story of how I battled with anorexia for 13 years and how we, as a family, overcame, recovered and began our charity SEED (Support and Empathy for Eating Disorders). The response to that interview was overwhelming and alongside almost every media publication picking up the story and aiding to raise even more awareness, we had an influx of referrals to the charity. People whom had suffered from an eating disorder for years, stepping forward, out of the shadows and asking for help. Even friends of sufferers getting in touch asking how they can help their friend. The quote of the interview used over and over was from me, saying, “There’s a light at the end of the tunnel” and my goodness, we have had 100’s finally wanting to find their light and recover from their eating disorder. It’s just been incredible.

During periods of the spotlight being on me, I’ve in the past, become a little smaller in myself, a little guarded, a little scared. How I felt this time was incredibly different.

I felt sure in my words, I felt brave and I felt proud. Even during the interview, when I watched it back, my body was much more open. My neck and shoulders filled the space and I watched as my Mum and I held hands and I supported her as she had me for all these years. 

I watched myself as a young woman, I could see the difference. Another lovely experience I had was catching myself in a conversation with a couple of strangers. My friend had invited me to a cabaret night and when I arrived he was stood with two of his friends I’d never met. He introduced me and I welcomed them both with open arms and a hug (I’m northern, we love a good hug!)  I stood and spoke and laughed and I could feel my body feel so supported beneath me. I’ve never taken note of myself like this before. Almost like I was watching myself from the other side of the room? When my friend and I were on our own, he turned to me and said “You see, that’s why I know I can introduce you to anyone…you hold your own more and more these days and I can’t help but smile watching. You are like a light”. I know this is down to maturing of course, but also, I’m positive, it’s down to rolfing too.

Session 2 began very much the same as session one. Standing up and having Aidan study14.07.04_RolfingPractice 107368 my form. This time we were focusing on the lower body. I’d expressed how I never seemed to have good balance and also felt an unease around my hips, pelvis and torso. I was honest and said I wondered if it was because I didn’t feel confident in my body, especially as I’d put weight on the past 6 months and had always struggled with feeling and allowing myself to be seen as attractive and womanly. I felt tense and as though my legs and pelvis were somehow separate to my whole body and mind. And so the work began, and tellingly, as Aidan lifted the leg and gently pushed it back to the pelvis whilst bent, it felt blocked. One side more than the other which suddenly made sense as to why I often feel unbalanced. In session one, we’d noted that the upper right side of the body was tenser than the left, and now we could see that the lower left side of my body was tenser than the right. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a contortionist! These are just things I would never have noticed so subtly if it weren’t for the care and attention Aidan brings to the Rolfing session.  Once again, Aidan worked by massaging, applying gentle force, asking me to interact to his touch and I could feel my body lengthening and easing again.

I’ve always had a strange unease about the balls of my feet being touched. They felt awkward and I tensed up as he touched and I felt panicked. What was lovely, was being able to express and discuss this. Aidan explained that there are sometimes attachments of emotions to our various body parts, and he asked me to breath deep and release as he gently touched the feet. I instantly felt more relaxed.

By the end of the session I couldn’t believe the difference when I stood on my feet…the pain and tension in the balls of my feet were soft. As I walked we noted an elegance in my step and I could feel it too. I felt open and stable, more than I had in years. I felt light and yet connected to my step.

We had talked at the top of the session about how our back can hold the weight of our past. How we can often push away from what had been and this showed in our posture and stance. What we wanted to try and do was actually feel our past as a part of ourselves. This resonated so much with me. I’ve not had an easy life, that isn’t to garner sympathy, it just is what it is. I’ve been bullied, hurt, attacked for being the person I am. I’ve abused my body through starvation from a terrible illness that takes over your body and mind. I had to fight to be where I am today, literally fight to survive. But here I was…and I have always said my past is my present and made me who I am today. I have no regrets. However as I stood there at the end of the session I could feel my back feel stronger and fuller. I stood tall and felt excepting of what was around me, in objects, in space, gravity and air and that my body didn’t just stop at my skin .

As I stood I could feel there was more than just the floor beneath my feet. Like I was stood on a platform I’d never felt before. Like I knew what was beneath was deeper than the wood floor. It was such a warming and lovely feeling…knowing that I am supported deeper than I ever knew. As I’m trying this process for, yes, myself, but also to look at how and if it can help eating disorder sufferers (ones battling now, and also those recovered) and also if it can help strengthen the body, but more so mind…this was a huge moment for me. I am well and healthy in body and mind now and it’s been an amazing journey,

…but I suddenly realised I still have things to explore and I still have nurturing to do. I’m really feeling I’m on a new journey and it could be my most important one yet.

If you think you or a loved one suffer from an eating disorder, you may want to contact SEED. Here’s the link SEED Eating Disorders Support Service

Maybe you are considering trying a Rolfing Session with Aidan, in London, here’s how to MAKE AN ENQUIRY OR BOOK A SESSION

If you want the list of UK Rolfers, take a look here

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