Rosen Living and Dying
2007 Rosen Method Professional Magazine By Kato Wittich
In the winter edition of the RMPA magazine, my New Year’s intention was quoted. It was to learn how to live with my heart open, in the face of the incredible pain of my sister Hannah’s battle with ovarian cancer. Somehow, stating that intention had the same effect as speaking your truth in a Rosen session. It brought it to the surface and made it my reality.
Hannah died on Feb 10th, 2007, in our arms, surrounded by family and friends. My younger sister Julia and I were with her every step of her journey, and through that journey I learned how it was to live with pain and joy that I could never have imagined.
Julia and I are both Rosen practitioners, and after Hannah died, Julia said to me that she wondered if the purpose of our years of studying and practicing Rosen was to prepare for this time, to prepare to accompany Hannah in her death and dying with our hearts open, without shutting down because of the pain.
Rosen has become for us a way of living, rather than a way of earning a living, or something you do.
When Julia had her second child, we were both Rosen interns. It was a home birth, and it was very much shaped by the ways in which Julia had learned to be with herself and allow pain in without fighting it. It was also deepened by my Rosen training in how to support someone in being with their feelings without trying to change them. There was a moment when Julia was in the water tub and I was behind her, and I put my hand on her heart, just listening in a Rosen way. Julia says that in that moment her focus entirely shifted, as I supported her in sinking beyond the pain into the quiet space of her heart where she was able to be fully with her daughter in their dance, in the push and pull of labor. And then she was able to allow her daughter to make her way out.
It was one of the most perfect Rosen moments I have ever experienced.
And now it is joined by the exquisite joyful painful moment of holding Hannah as she took her last breath, and learning how when you don’t fight the pain, what you get to experience is not pain as you imagined it, but rather something much much larger. What I experienced was loss and sorrow and joy and huge love all rolled into one. It wasn’t an emotion or feeling that I recognized or have ever felt before, because I was always too busy fighting the pain to be able to feel all the other feelings that come along with it. But now, every moment that I miss my sister is a moment of as much joy and love as it is sorrow.
I don’t know if pain as I used to know it will come back. But for now I celebrate every day this feeling of expansion, this knowing that pain is just pain and is not to be avoided because it carries so much beauty and joy and love with it.
I even feel that fullness with my own physical pain, which I have fought all my life, contracting and trying to make it go away. Now, my pain reminds me that I am alive and I can feel. I am swept with feelings of love for my body, rather than the judgmental anger toward it that I used to feel. Right now, I know in my core that my body is not separate from me and that I love it. Right now, I know in my core that I am not separate from the people I love and even from people I don’t love or know. Right now, I know that love is the only solid and concrete thing that I have experienced. Everything else feels fleeting and permeable.
Once, when I was a student, I asked one of my favorite Rosen practitioners what the key to her approach to Rosen was. And she said to me – “I put my hands on people and I see if I can love them”. She didn’t mean it in a mushy way. She meant it in a curious, deep, willing to look with eyes open way. She meant that she opened her heart and looked with her heart at her client, instead of with her head.
To do that, you have to be willing to feel whatever is there, whether you like it or not.
I am so grateful for this Rosen training that continues to teach me about being with whatever is there, not trying to control it. With being deeply, lovingly curious about all experiences, even what it feels like to hold my sister in my arms as she stops breathing. I am so grateful for having had the years of learning how to let in pain so that I could truly let in the pain and the joy of loving Hannah.
In truth, this is a thank you letter to Marion, for having the courage to lead us into this new world where it is possible to feel things we could never have imagined. Thank you, Marion.