Alan's Response to a Request for a Description from someone Long Slow Cooked in the Work

Corey, I liked your phrase “long slow cooked”. It reminded me of the Passover dish brisket which I sometimes make this time of year. You take a relatively tough piece of meat and slow cook it in a crock pot and by the time it’s done, you have a tender and tasty dish. That could be a metaphor for the rug work in a way because for one, it’s a long slow process. Marvin Solit, our founder and my mentor taught us that our bodies become gristled and armored, and the awareness work is how we release that stuff and become more open and tender. I remember feeling his back once after years of practice, and I was amazed how deeply pliable it was. He used to call the process “unwinding”, and as I have practiced the work I’ve come to feel it in my body. Marvin gave few instructions on exactly how to do the work, but he practiced it every day at our various centers, and in joining him I was able to gradually absorb it.  

 When introducing someone to the work, Marvin would always say to them: ask yourself over and over “what am I aware of feeling?” It’s a deceptively simple question, but when you ask it of yourself in the right setting, the results and implications can run very deep. It’s kind of like Alice going through the looking glass or Neo in the Matrix taking the green pill. A whole new and rich interior world starts to gradually open up because we are changing our basic relationship with our body. Instead of the body being our silent servant expected to always do our bidding, now the body becomes empowered to “speak”, and the language of the body is all in feelings and sensory feedback and sensations whether they be pleasant or painful. The simple act of paying attention becomes a very powerful and evolutionary act; instead of suppressing the body we listen to and feel it. We begin to become aware of patterns and emotions and start to connect the dots, and this very awareness gradually subverts the patterns and starts the unwinding resulting in better emotional and physical health which are inextricable entwined.

 Unlike most meditation practices, there is no set position. Instead, the first task is to listen to your body and let it find the position it wants to be in, and then let it continually be in charge of changing its position. This can be hard to do at first as we are used to unconsciously controlling our body and directing its position whether it be standing sitting walking running etc. Often we find that people start in the standing position but end up lying down. The body seems to want to be horizontal. It is also not unusual for sleep to come after that for a period of time. I remember a young man once showed up, and he seemed quite harried; he quickly went horizontal and fell into a deep sleep from which he didn’t wake up from until the following day! Our bodies seem to be overworked and over tired and too wound up to get the proper sleep. The energy in our rug room seems to give the body permission for resting. There is still debate in the scientific world as to the purpose of sleep, but Marvin felt that it was the time when the body repairs itself. Nowadays,   for those of us practicing the work on a regular basis, napping seems to be an important part of the process!

 Well, I could go on and on, but let me know if these scribblings make any sense at all.




Marilyn's Story

My own experience with this leads me to believe that we have no idea of what normal is. I have one leg that has been shorter than the other for some reason. At age 8 I began ballet training and studied intensively for the next 22 years. It was not acceptable to have an uneven pelvis and unconsciously I put together a system of patterns that control the pelvic rotations and asymmetry so that I looked absolutely aligned. I didn't even realize that I have had uneven legs; I just thought I had tendonitis and a tight solar plexus. With Rolfing I began to understand that I had uneven legs, but because Rolfing theory at the time saw a competent structure as one you could draw horizontal and vertical lines through, there was no reason to see my pelvic structure as abnormal. And I felt much better, too, so this had to be okay. When I started practising Non-Directed Body Movement, the first thing my body did was to start playing around with how I was standing. Later I went into extreme pelvic rotations, which got quite tiresome. After a few months I found that, for the first time, I was standing with my weight evenly distributed over both feet and feeling very comfortable about it, but there was now a considerable asymmetry and rotation in my pelvis. It looked very odd. As I continued with this, many of the holding patterns I had put together to control this rotation came to light (and provided very interesting information and unpleasant sensations). After a couple more months and an odd assortment of symptoms, the tissue in my right hip began to stretch and unwind, so that now I have two legs that are nearly the same length. The way I stand and walk and move has changed, and I suspect will continue to change.

Now, it hasn't been all fun and games. There have been times when I spent weeks feeling nauseous as an old solar plexus pattern unwound. Sometimes the experience of standing gets more tedious and painful than I'd like to put up with. As these control patterns release I keep finding that those underneath tend to surface and unwind. Some of these are from childhood which means feeling like a young child again while simultaneously trying to deal with life as an adult. Interesting mix! But the more we unwind these patterns from the past, the more freely we move into the future, creating something new rather than rehashing what has already been done. NDBM is a way to explore what is normal for you without any preestablished theories of what that might be. It is a method of really letting your body define your structure and allow it to change as needed, and to keep changing for as long as you have a life.

David's Story

Hello all

Just to give some response: I'm supportive and glad to see the efforts at revamping the website of the work of Marvin his colleagues and associates. I'm flexible on URL. Either or standing could work, although NDBM is shorter and not sure if humor is appropriate?

I haven't replied earlier on the more substantive writings and trying to verbalize the years working with Marvin and others seems a difficult task.

I should say I learned a tremendous amount on all fronts working with, Marvin, Jean, Barry, Grant, Alan, Anya, Charles, Greg and many others. The time spent woodworking and designing with the polyhedral geometry was really one of the highlights of my life. The notion that there was an 'uptight' 90 degree world and a more 'relaxed' 60 degree world was intriguing and enabling. It enabled us perhaps to avoid or beware of trying to fit a circular Rhombic peg into a square hole and taught us how to attempt to avoid this in our lives.

Not everyone fits into society's 90 degree system. This often gives me the image of energetic, creative and 'unruly' school children being given drugs like Ritalin so they will sit upright in a square desk in a rectangular room in a rectangular building. It's just not their natural inclination. Of course, sooner or later, we all have to learn how to adapt ourselves to the '90 degree world,' but maybe in the process, we can soften some of those angles.

Rhoma, the puzzle in the shape of a Rhombic Hexahedron, started as a cube shape which was pushed over until it's diameter was the same length as it's edges. This shape had balance, and four of them made up a Rhombic Dodecahedron. The Rhoma Puzzle had only one solution, compared to the 211? of the Rubik's Cube puzzle.

I will never forget working with Grant Phipps making wooden lamps in the shape of a Rhombic Dodecahedra and various Puzzle Sculptures. We had a very accurate wood shaper and the struts we used for building were cut to within two or three thousandths of an inch, tolerances virtually unheard of in woodworking! Grant would often object if we went over two thousandths.

Our woodshop was in our community center in an old mill building next to the Charles River in Watertown, MA. Ironically, after a day of 60 degree accuracy, our night job was cleaning out ash trays and vacuuming dirty rugs in the adjoining landscape architect's space next door. Talk about fitting back into the 90 degree world.

Of course, nearby was a meditation 'rug room.' This was where Marvin held forth, leading or initiating demonstrations and the practice of Non Directed Body Work. One might start in a standing opposition, being aware of the body. After awhile, as awareness increased, one might bend or 'fall' to the floor, where awareness and unwinding might continue.

One theory was that as one continued awareness, and put their focus on certain parts of the body; stressed, strained or painful parts of the body might 'unwind.' This unwinding might lead to the release of difficult fears, feelings or emotions; restoring balance to the body. Watching or being aware of these feelings as they are released might lead to increased awareness of stresses that are affecting us more than we realize. Ultimately, the body might unwind into better balance or harmony, allowing for better health and self-healing to take place.

In the process, some might explore and unwind their relationships, providing insight and eventually a better way to deal with others.

Writing this is making me hungry and reminds me that every Tuesday evening since the 1960s, we/the group have had a potluck supper at the center. There is never any planning. Everyone brings what they are inspired to bring and the universe seems to provide a balanced meal.


David Pap

A Great Love Affair Just standing Around

A great love affair Just standing around

Posted on January 17, 2014 by corey ichigen hess Tagged Marvin Solit, meditation, Non-Directed Body Movement, Shodo Harada, zenEdit

Originally published in:

I have been involved in a great secret love affair for fifteen years!  I am very much in love with Non-Directed Body Movement, or just “Standing around”.

Non-Directed Body Movement (NDMB) began with an Osteopathic doctor and Rolfer, Marvin Solit, who in the late sixties decided to give up all of his medical equipment.

“I’m through with it; it’s no longer relevant. What I’m interested in now is self-determination, not treatment; examining how the doctor-patient relationship is connected to what goes on; getting behind and underneath roles, and giving up control”

I first discovered this practice one night in college in Missoula, Montana.  Aside from climbing rock and mountains, I was attempting to live a life which would overflow into the next On the Road.  We were having a great time pushing ourselves in the outdoors and bars and streets of that beautiful rugged irreverently reverent Montana energy, and being really full of ourselves!  But aside from my romantic eagerness to live a worthy life I was somehow plagued by pain in my body, and one night everything just seemed to seize up on me.  In a yoga class I was attending at the University, I heard about a practice of just standing around to heal.  It was going to be demonstrated that evening at the local Buddhist center.

Twenty-five people or so walked into an open hardwood floored room that evening.  The woman leading it said something about just standing there and letting our bodies unwind.  Bound tissues would naturally unwind if given the chance.  Not trying to do it “right” but letting the body lead the way.   Not correcting the body if it starts to do something strange, and really not creating anything from an idea. The movement must come from the body, not from a good idea or even a creative impulse.  Somehow this made sense to me.

I stood there and immediately my body started moving. I was terrified.  My neck twisted and turned for maybe fifteen minutes.  I later realized this was from the chord being wrapped around my neck at birth!  But at the moment it was very painful and mostly scary.  I felt as if my body was going to explode.  Standing there, out of control, the hour just flew by.

I talked to the person who led the night and found out she was a Rolfer.  Her name is Marilyn Beech, and she is still a good friend and mentor.  I went through the Rolfing Series with her and that started a process, planted a seed, which I am still exploring today.  But that night was just the beginning of my wild love affair with NDBM.

While living in Seattle and then Whidbey Island, my body was still in a lot of pain.  I was like a pressure cooker, about to blow a gasket.  An acupuncturist and Sangha member who I knew told me that I needed to do internal energy work.  I intuitively knew this was true, and so for several reasons I went to live with who I thought was the greatest energy master on the planet, Shodo Harada Roshi.  Off to Japan, ancient clothes, lots of brown rice, and a great opportunity to do what I had always wanted, training.

In between Zazen meditation and physical labor, I found time to explore NDBM in the little spare time at the monastery.  I would run back after lunch, lean against the wall for a quick snooze, and then go stand in the garden.  And in the evenings after the final ceremonies, I would go out to stand by the beautiful koi pond where generations of monks and nuns had done Yaza, or night sitting.   It was there that a huge internal world opened up to me, and where I fell in love with a great process.

For a while this was a dangerous ugly process, like learning to breath underwater.  I would do the standing and open up and then go to the kitchen for a rice ball and kind of freak out from all of the energy.  I was an out of control energetic problem.  But I felt that this process was my only way to find peace in body and mind, and so I would continue.

At first, I had two styles of practice.  First was my zazen meditation, trying to sit properly and have good posture.  This was incredibly difficult at first for me.   My second style of practice was the standing around, and was completely informal!  There were no rules!  Just stand there.  No technique.  It does not matter what you think or don’t think.  Just standing there without an expectation is the whole practice.  The only rule is to not have an intention!  These practices were a great balance for me at the time.

Just to have an hour to see what would happen if I let go of control.  Each time it was something new, and if I tried to plan how my body would open up it always backfired.  In fact, instead of the movement coming from my brain, the movement began to come from receiving.  Receiving from my body, receiving from the trees, receiving from the air around me.  It was as if my awareness would fold inside out, or that I was just melting into the environment.  If I really got into it, if I really let go into this process, the healing energy would pour through me.  This grew and grew, and each time it had to be new or it would not be at all.  In fact, the only way to really have the energy be there is to have no idea how it is happening.

But then something strange started to happen. The more I found the energy flowing through me in the NDBM,  I also found my zazen really take off energetically.  And in fact, the distinction began to dissolve.  I started to see that a really good organic zazen posture was really trying to happen if I let go into this great energy.  And the more I gave into this great energy,  I slowly fell in love more and more with this process.    No longer was I fighting against reality, but I began more and more to be nourished by it, guided.   As the process deepened, my entire everyday way of being shifted on a cellular level.

Now I am just doing it all the time sitting, standing, walking.  In my work with clients, the standing work is with me all along, as I pause for a moment and receive guidance from the situation.  At times, it is the client and me in the room, and at other times, all there is is the guidance from the standing.  My work is a medium to explore this process with others, and it is the secret language that I am speaking with the tissue.

For a newcomer, it is especially nice to start with a group with this practice.  There is a certain focus that a group can help facilitate. I have heard of long time illnesses go away in this standing, like eczema.  I have also heard of people remembering past lives.  But I have to stress that it is okay if nothing happens at first.  The important thing is to be truly honest standing there, and slowly things will rise to the surface, perhaps having waited years for the opportunity.  I am writing this post because maybe one or two people out there will try this practice and possibly have the temperament (possibly desperation!) to make it his/her own and run with it!  Maybe there is some sensitive person out there who is waiting, like I was, to hear that this is possible.

Some words and thoughts that have come through the standing, and I think might be helpful to others:

  • What is trying to happen?
  • What is real?
  • It’s okay to lose control
  • What is holding me up?
  • Fall in love with this process
  • What is guiding me?
  • Say yes
  • Get out of the way
  • melt into
  • no technique
  • relax
  • no idea
  • innate
  • unskillful
  • What am I relaxing into?
  • Give up
  • No technique
  • What is it?
  • Jump off the cliff
  • what is natural?
  • How can I let go?
  • Kufu (creative spontaneous problem solving)
  • Don’t do anything
  • Don’t create anything
  • Give up
  • remove the barrier between inside and outside
  • fall in love with reality
  • transparency
  • float on the wings of the dharma
  • courage

I am greatly indebted to Marilyn Beech for introducing me to the standing work and to Marvin Solit for having the big mind to break out of the form.  The reason I am doing SOMA Neuromuscular Integration® is Marvin.  For more information about Marvin Solit and his work, and some very interesting articles, please go to:

I am also so thankful to Shodo Harada Roshi for allowing me the space to explore reality in my own way.  I loved life in the monastery.  He is never far from my consciousness.

I am very happy to hear any comments!