I seem to have left behind this series, describing the progression of the so-called Classic Sequence of moves in Rubenfeld Synergy, quite some time ago, and I’m not entirely sure why. Therefore, I am taking this moment to continue it. Please click the above link for a list of moves that I’ve written about thus far: the first touch at the head, and the head roll.
The next place (or, at times, the first place) the Synergist makes contact with the client in this sequence is at their feet. The client is lying face-up on the table, and there is a wealth of information to be gained just by the position of the client’s feet while lying in that position. Many people’s feet tend to fall away from each other to the side, due to the natural rotation of the hip. However, sometimes one foot will be farther over than the other, or one will be pointing straight up while the other falls out to the left. Sometimes, both feet will be sticking straight up, and some people keep their legs very close together. Occasionally a person’s feet will be very pointed, with the toes pointing toward the opposite wall rather than toward the ceiling. In these opening moves of a session, a Synergist will often walk around the table, observing body position and making a mental note of it.
Again, these things don’t necessarily “mean something;” the point of RSM is not to diagnose illness or present a rigid framework for bodily signifiers. Rather, this scan prior to contact is a way of seeing what sense comes up for us. People’s feet can be very expressive: is this person nervous and tentative? Open and free? Do their legs and feet give the impression of strength, or fragility? Are the feet relaxed or tense? Is the client holding them in place or letting them fall where they will?
My teacher Noël Wight loves feet, because to her they provide so much data. I’ve watched her spend nearly an entire session at someone’s feet, while that person, wrung with emotion and remembered trauma, found her emotional footing. This is a huge part of how we work with feet: our feet are where we make contact with the earth, and say volumes about how we stand in the world. Our language reflects this: we speak of getting swept off our feet, getting back on our feet, standing on our own two feet, and having cold feet. We stand up for ourselves and stand down from a conflict. We take a stand and won’t stand for it any longer; we can’t stand it when someone pushes us too far. We decide when we’re going to walk out, and when to run away. We dance around issues and jump for joy. Our heads may be in the clouds, but it’s important to know we have our feet on the ground.
And so the first contact here is as important as the first contact at the head, and I often will start there with a client, if the first touch at the head feels too invasive. We use a light touch on the tops of the feet, often called a “butterfly touch.” This is a second hello: connecting the highest point of the human body to the lowest point, and getting a sense of how connected the client is to their own full length.
There tends to be much to be noticed in the feet during this contact. On the physical level, it is a chance to get a somatic sense of the client’s feet: are they dense? heavy? fragile? strong? Small or large? Relaxed or tight? Energetically, I also tend to get a lot of sensation here: I feel a sense of the client subtly pulling their legs up toward themselves, or I feel a wave of relaxation, or alertness. Sometimes it will feel like a pulse starts in the legs, or a tingling, or some other things that I can only describe as the client “turning on,” their awareness heightening. Sometimes the client feels that my hands are very warm, sometimes, cool. Sometimes the touch brings up memories, like one client who warmly remembered her father rubbing her feet when she was little. Some clients notice sensation differences, like the feeling of one leg being longer, or heavier, or “stuck,” or wanting to dance.
The feet, in short, tend to be the place where the conversation with the body really picks up.
Next time: the “windshield wiper” move.