Rosen Method Bodywork: Marion Rosen's Gift To The World

January 18th, 2012, Marion Rosen, the founder of Rosen Method bodywork passed away in her home in Berkley, California. She had been seeing clients and teaching out of her home until December 8th, 2011, when she suffered a small stroke at the age of 96. Marion's passing was with the same grace, courage, wisdom and insight that she lived with.

Marion's daughter, Tina, arranged her mother's care so there was always someone in the room with her day and night. Sometimes three or four friends were sitting with Marion attending to what she needed, talking with her, singing/humming to her, gently stroking her head or hand, listening in silence as she rested or slept. Whenever she could, Marion loved to hear the worldwide messages of gratitude and appreciation. After all, she had touched a lot of people internationally with her work.

Even in her final days she was the teacher, sharing new insights about the body, saying, "I have realized that it is when we really relax and let go that we can access our true power and aliveness." As she took her final breath, she was peaceful, surrounded by those who loved her and the love and prayers from around the globe. Her true hope was that all who had gained something from the Rosen Method would share this in the world to do good, to work for peace.

I personally feel an enormous gratitude for what I gained from Marion Rosen's offering to the world. Without Marion's gift, I know I would be a different, less open person today. I have learned that trying to be anything or anybody other than what I really am eats up a lot of energy that could be used more creatively.

Resisting what is or what was, numbs us out and builds walls that isolate us from others. Those walls show up in the body as chronic tension. When we relax and accept our humanity, that tension melts and we get in touch with what is possible. We find the unique person that is us. We discover what we can create and express and how deeply we can love.

Snuggled Bunnies

Marion Rosen once said that when she met a new client she did not always like them right away, but as soon as she put her hands on them she felt a love for them. The main component of Rosen Method bodywork is touch. Rosen workers touch with curiosity, presence and a willingness to meet the client in whatever is coming up for them. There is this delicate balance of showing up fully for the client and simultaneously getting out of the way. What is emphasized is empathy, spaciousness, authenticity. More than anything else it is about creating a safe space where unexpressed human emotions and unmet human needs, long ago buried under physical tension, can surface.

We touch and are touched by each other in so many ways. In the late 1970's, researcher Robert Nerem stumbled by chance upon information where the power of human touch was revealed to him. Never intending to document the effects of touch, Nerem was investigating to what extent high cholesterol diets cause arterial blockage around the heart. To this end, he took a large group of genetically similar rabbits and housed them one to a cage in rows along a wall. After feeding them all the same high-fat, toxic diet throughout the duration of the study, he confirmed upon autopsy that most of the rabbits had what he expected to find — a significant amount of blockage.

However, one particular group of rabbits showed virtually no blockage: rabbits housed in the bottom row of cages. Upon further investigation Nerem discovered that his lab assistant, a short woman, loved rabbits and would pet and cuddle the ones in the lower cages when she was feeding them because she could reach them. When she fed the rabbits in the top cages she could only reach high enough to give them their food and water, so they remained isolated and relatively touch deprived.

Tuning Forks For Each Other

Nerem was skeptical about the supposed cause of the difference in disease so he repeated the study, this time making sure the only difference between the groups was touch. He reproduced the same results and reported in Science, 1980, (208:1475) more than 60 percent less blockage and significantly less arterial damage in the rabbits that were touched and cuddled compared to those that were not, confirming the power of compassionate, loving touch as a powerful healing agent.

Swedish researcher Kerstin Uvnas-Moberg published The Oxytocin Factor: Tapping the Hormone of Calm, Love and Healing. Oxytocin is commonly referred to as the love hormone and is well known for its function of bonding mother and child. Because oxytocin is stimulated by touch, Moberg used massage practitioners in her research to document that oxytocin levels are elevated after only one session of gentle touch therapy. After four sessions, levels tend to go up and can stay elevated. After seven sessions, oxytocin levels stay elevated for even longer periods.

I find this fascinating. It has also been my experience, both in giving and receiving Rosen work, that there is a cumulative effect of coming to peace and acceptance, and that we can eventually hold onto this peace for increasingly longer periods after a session is over. Eventually we can take this inner freedom with us out of the treatment room and into our other relationships and our world.

There is something very grounding about conscious touch for both the giver and the receiver. We live in an era where many people get caught up in the appearance of things and run at top speed much of the time to the point that there is no time for our human emotions. We humans do not know what we feel until we slow down and inquire into the deeper layers of our being and take time to listen to the language and melody of the body.

The most healing moments tend to take place when we manage to go beyond any rigid grips on our own egos and flawed personalities and give ourselves space to just be people together. Then we enter that wonderful space of connection where we are like tuning forks for each other.

Kerstin Zettmar, a Swedish/American citizen, lives and works as an artist, yoga teacher and holistic bodywork practitioner in Newport, RI. She can be contacted at or 401-848-0288. Please visit