Getting back to this series, after this weird couple of weeks made it difficult to write about normal things. Now, though, to continue with the progression of moves in the so-called “classic sequence” of a Rubenfeld Synergy session.
After the first touch at the head, the Synergist will often attempt a head roll. The point of this, as with so many things in Synergy, is not to get the head to roll back and forth. Rather, it is to get a sense of the current level of movement available in the client’s neck. The Synergist places her fingertips on the occipital ridge, near the client’s ears, and more encourages than pushes the client’s head in one direction and then the other.
The point of this is several-fold. First, giving the client a baseline for how easily – or not – his head rolls on his neck is a good metric for when you reach the end of the session: the hope is that there will be more freedom in the neck once the shoulders have had some release, and after any release of emotion. Second, the neck is a place where many people hold a lot of tension. The head roll is the first opportunity to increase awareness in the client of how tight or loose she is, how much tension she’s holding, and to begin a conversation with her body.
Finally, the amount of movement available in the neck can serve as a powerful metaphor for a client’s ability to give or withhold consent. I’ve seen several instances of clients getting greater freedom in their neck, particularly to move it back and forth, and comment that they got their ‘no’ back. Often, trauma survivors have experienced repeated disempowerment, and in some sense have had their ability to say ‘no’ taken away from them. Choice is critical to agency, and freeing the neck can be a powerful physical basis for restoring a client’s ‘yes’ and ‘no’ to them.
Increasing range of motion in the neck also increases perspective, as it literally allows a person to look around more freely and in a broader visual range. Having a broader perspective – in both the literal and figurative senses – increases possibility for all aspects of a person’s life. It allows a person to see more choices, rather than the fight/flight/freeze that are the only options available at moments of extreme stress. It can offer a broader range of opinions on a topic, a more fluid and adaptable mindset, and a more relaxed, less guarded, and therefore more responsive (as opposed to reactive) emotional state.
In the next phase, we’ll move down to the feet, to connect both ends of the body to one another.