Becoming Myself..(and oh yeah, a Rolfer, too)
When people ask me how I became a Rolfer, I‘m not sure if I should tell the truth. I recently said to a friend "Being different isn‘t the worst thing. Being known for being different is".
In 2021 I begin my 40th year as a Rolfer. In the blink of an eye, the last forty-odd years are over. I feel blessed on a daily basis to have work I love, to have made a success of myself, and to have clients who get better all the time. I jokingly told someone last summer that people come to me for a visit, we talk, I touch them with intention, they feel change, they pay me, they leave and come back for more.
This is a phenomenal line of work, this Rolfing®. As I have helped people get organized and integrated, I have gotten organized and integrated myself. I thank Dr. Rolf as I look at her photos in my office, never having met her. I came along to study Rolfing® the year after she died. I knew she would never have accepted me if she had met me. Rumor had it, she didn‘t like training young women to become Rolfers. She told them to go home and have babies.
I was young, an artist - a sculptor. I had gone to a prestigious art school where we studied the human form. Two years of anatomy along with two years to create both a life-sized standing figure and then a complicated seated figure. I built armatures (skeletal-like foundations) and then, did exact rendering of muscles rolled out of clay and placed in anatomically correct origins and insertions. It was a wonderful education - I learned how to see space and represent it.
In art school, the weirder you were, the cooler you were. Not so for me, I wasn‘t that weird, and I certainly was not that cool. I was just a girl from a small suburb outside of Hartford, making my way in Boston. I had a good eye, showed a lot of artistic talent and knew that college was not trade school, so I never thought about what would happen after college. There are no jobs for sculptors, but my parents supported my studies because they believed in education and believed in me. Thank goodness I had that base on which to grow and mature. Everything I am stands on the shoulders of what came before it. Even now, everything I see has spacial relationship and patterns - my gardens, the jewelry I design, the people I Rolf.
The human body had always intrigued me, but I was too young to know how much I really understood. Fast forward to several months after my graduation from Boston University in 1976, the body-mind-spirit movement was in full force. I read everything I could and absorbed that information like an old dried-up sponge falling into a water-filled sink. I started to get massaged, changed my diet and took workshops. I heard about Rolfing® - it sounded amazing, so I found the one Rolfer in my state and started getting Rolfed.
Now it gets interesting!
It was a gray, dreary, rainy day. I was having my second Rolfing® session. The room was a bit chilly, my Rolfer wore a sweater.
I remember lying on my back and work being done on my lower legs and feet. In a strange but clear moment, the ceiling parted, the roof rafters parted, the clouds parted and there was a blue sky emerging. As sunlight streamed down like in a rococo painting, I heard a booming male voice say You will be a Rolfer. In that instant, the clouds came back, the roof rafters came back, the ceiling came back. When the ceiling came back to solid, there was a slapping sound like two pieces of wet liver being slapped together. I shuddered. I asked my Rolfer Did you hear that?! She said Hear what?.
I was twenty-two years old. I didn‘t know my way, I didn‘t know myself. No one but me heard or experienced that Cecil B. DeMille parting-of-the-sea moment. I was not high, it was mid-morning as I recall. After I got up from the table and felt my new legs and feet, I remember feeling grounded, perhaps for the first time. What a different sensation - being supported and steady.
I zipped through my first seven Rolfing® sessions rather quickly and then took ten months to resume and finish the series. I worked a few jobs, tried to figure out how to live, found out about myself, studied with a yogi in New Mexico, traveled to California, hung out at Esalen and then entered graduate school. I left after my first year realizing the pull to become a Rolfer was stronger than another degree. During this time, I also found out that when encountering different planes of existence, when a portal closes, it makes a wet slapping sound. Rolfing® had found me, I never had to look, I just had to be open to listen.
My prerequisites took about a year and a half. I commuted to a massage school in the next state three nights a week for eight months, took college level courses in kinesiology and physiology, wrote six research papers on fascia and structure - it all took time. I had no hesitation and started my training when I was twenty-four years old. It was rough at first as I found it difficult to stay in the room with all that energy and chaos. I had to grow in so many ways and am so thankful for the guidance I received from Stacy Mills - my first mentor. She saw great potential in me and let me know it as she helped me harness my energy to move forward.
I mentioned in a seminar I took a few years ago that I was born to Rolf. I believe that in my cells and in my core. During my two days of interviews with the Selection Committee at the Rolf Institute®, I committed to my interviewers that I would do this for the rest of my life. So it has been and so it will continue to be!
To learn more about Sharon Sklar, please click here to visit her website.