Postcard #3 – Gathering in the Redwood Valley, California

Contributed by Jetta Van Hemert

Yes, it happened again!

Last week for the seventh year in a row at the Frey Vineyards in the Redwood Valley near the Northern California city of Ukiah, Rosen Method Movement teachers, practitioners, aficionados, friends and loved ones came together to share, practice and discuss the beauty of Rosen movement and bodywork.

IMG_9974Over a four-day period people gathered at Luke and Emily Frey’s warm and comforting home in the middle of the redwoods surrounded by vineyards, enchanted canyons, and sacred springs. Recently born farm animals only served to enhance the beauty around us. People camped, stayed at the Big House (Luke’s childhood home) or bunked at Luke and Emily’s residence. Most were able to stay for at least one or two nights and some visited for a few hours as their schedules allowed (Thank you, Grace Wu and Valerie Luoto for your gracious visit.)


The usually warm Redwood Valley was alive with rain, causing us to improvise and conduct most of our activities indoors. Undeterred by the needed rain (As Jeannie said, “We celebrate in Santa Fe when it rains.”) we celebrated days of catered delicious meals, provocative thought, Rosen practicums, and Rosen Movement classes. The keynote, done this year by me, Jetta Van Hemert, focused on the concept of Flow and its relation to Rosen work.  Flow is a way of experiencing the universe and is based on the work of Jeanne Nakamura and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi.

Six key concepts on Flow were shared during the gathering. Flow involves: 1. Intense and focused concentration on the present moment; 2. Merging of action and awareness; 3. A loss of reflective self consciousness; 4. A sense of personal control or agency over the situation or activity; 5. A distortion of temporal experience, one’s subjective experience of time is altered and 6. Experience of activity as intrinsically rewarding.

During the circle to discuss the keynote I asked people to identify definitions of Flow and situations in which they believed they experienced Flow. The Flow Concept in Rosen Movement permeated our event because of the willingness of participants to integrate Flow into the gathering.   For example, the theme of Flow seamlessly integrated into Charlie Metzler’s presentation on attachment theory. Charlie conducted an exercise that was simple on its face but amazingly deep in its impact. The partnered exercise had participants repeat a series of statements to a simple question like “How are you?” The responses, stated to a face-to-face partner, made one feel how a specific answer can evoke feelings of agreeability, avoidance or rejection.

Charlie’s exercise was followed by a “Hands on Shoulders” exercise which was spontaneously suggested by Jeanie Williams as a way of experiencing how the concepts in attachment theory could manifest themselves in the reality of a Rosen practitioner who may vacillate between intentional or disinterested touch, or one who is distracted, and then comes back. For me the big “Aha!” feeling came because of how free, safe, and provocative the discussion became. One could definitely tell it flowed!

The Gathering was also filled with all the community building fun things that make the May gathering a wonderful event. We spent evenings, dancin’ with Benson, or admiring the full moon around the campfire, telling tall tales, short stories, or just maybe a bawdy joke or two. On Saturday night Daniel, Luke’s son, led us in a rousing round of sing along, later joined by Sally.

Saturday was a bit wet so we scrambled and with the easiest of improvisation we had our sharing circle, lunch, practicum and continuing keynote address inside.

Saturday night we held our silent auction, which pays for speakers, food and other necessities. Everyone was exceedingly generous in their gifts and purchases. As a result we have a small budget to support the planning of next year’s event.

This is the first time we made space for a practicum exchange on Friday and Saturday afternoon. Everyone who asked got sessions or was able to give one. We organizers often tend to miss out on these experiences as we supervise activities, but this year it felt good to have time to nurture ourselves, enjoy exchanges and savor the wonderfully catered meals prepared by Mimi, Luke’s sister.

On Sunday four teachers led Rosen Movement class: Catherine, Beata, Helen, and Paula. This followed Saturday morning’s indoor class with Sarah leading the class from the stairs and people moving throughout the living room and kitchen area. Sarah’s teaching was a shining example Flow at work regardless of the weather.

The May Gathering continues to grow.   Each year our planning, structure and organization creates an evolving combination of generous intent and a safe, beautiful environment, which makes it clear what a Rosen Community might look like. Thank you to Luke, Emily, Sally, Lucia, Jeanie, Charlie, Maria, Benson, Sarah, Beata, Catherine, Helen, Paula, Patricia, Beverly, Amber, Carlos, Biba, Daniel, Molly, Osiris, Deborah, Greg, Joe, Sunshine and her family, and all the other participants who joined us in once again creating a supportive Rosen gathering/community in May.