Sunday, April 12, 2020

P A U S E








"If we were not so single-minded about keeping our lives moving, and for once could do nothing, perhaps a huge silence might interrupt the sadness of never understanding ourselves."

- Pablo Neruda


Our hearts need to be open during this time of crisis.

I find myself shuttering my heart from time to time, and then re-opening it.  It's easy to physically and emotionally hunker down.  Each time I open my heart, I am reminded of how a more vulnerable heart fills me with vitality, aliveness and connectedness.  It is an exquisite reminder of how we can exasperate an already stressful situation when we close our hearts.

With this being said, and with an open heart, I'd like to share with you some insights that I have been having during this time.

 

P A U S E

When I use Visceral Manipulation I sometimes use what is called "motility" to address a lesional pattern in your body.  For example, I might use this approach to free up your liver.

Motility is the inherent and energetic movement of each organ in your body.  It follows an embryological imprint from when you first developed in utero.  It applies to not only organs, but from what I understand and feel, all tissues in your body.

With a healthy liver, this movement gently moves from the median axis of your body upward and outward, called "inspir,"  As it moves back down and towards the mid line of your body it is called "expir."

Let's say there is a restriction in the liver.  This rhythmic cycle might become frozen, interrupted, or thrown off course.

When I tap into it's inherent motion, or motility, I will gently coax it back on course by taking it even deeper into it's lesional pattern.  Think of a kid on a swing.  You might push the swing just a bit more forward, so it will come back towards you with even more velocity.

Slowly but surely, the motility of the organ, or liver, begins to correct itself.

Sometimes after softly coaxing the motility deeper into its dysfunctional pattern, to get a swing back, there is a . . . pause.

The motility comes to a stop.

I have always been fascinated by this phenomena.

Sometimes this pause will last for a few seconds.  Other times I feel as if I need to look at my watch.

Yet, there I wait.  Patiently.

From my perspective there doesn't seem to be a great deal going on.  It's not tangible.  Perhaps someday, when I am more sensitive and attuned, I will feel more.

During this pause, I have a hunch there is a lot going on, that is more intangible.

From my perspective, there is a pause.  Silence.  Stillness.

Within this silence, there is a song of deep intelligence and wisdom being sung.

A song of silence.

Within this stillness there is a great deal being re-negotiated and integrated.

A churning stillness.

Then, slowly but surely, there is movement again.  Then, wooooosh, the liver finds a healthier rhythm once again.

It feels as if we are all in that  P A U S E .

Even though it feels as if our world has become encapsulated in amber, under the surface, there is still a great deal going on.

This space is mind boggling.  We are holding STILLNESS and movement, SILENCE and sound all at the same time.

The world of more tangible, moving, felt and concrete things has shifted to the more intangible.

This deeper, intangible and quiet world has opened way up, while the more superficial, tangible and frenetic world has practically come to a stand still.

This new space is different for all of us.  We meet it in different ways.  There is no right way to navigate through this uncharted territory, other than to muddle through it one day at a time.

   

 Silence. 

"There is a voice that doesn't use words.  Listen."
- Rumi

In this seemingly quiet world we might begin to re-discover, re-awaken, and re-connect with forgotten friendships, old connections, neglected hurts, ancient anxieties, archaic anger, lingering love from those who have passed, and rythmic waves of grief.

That is if we listen.  Deeply and attentively.  In this seemingly silent place, a deep and ancient wisdom can now be heard.  Meet all that may arrive with gentle compassion and tenderness.

You might remember a dear friend who passed away decades ago, and grieve a bit more fully.

You might reach out to an old friend, who is still very much in your heart, even though time and space has seemingly separated you.

With the waves of anxiety that comes through us during this time, you might also revisit similar and vague places from years gone by.

Old unattended to hurts might reveal themselves and gently rumble through your body, finally finding release.

A kind benevolence might gently caress your body.

Lost memories of love might touch your heart.

A deeper sense of compassion might settle under your skin.

That is if we listen.


Stillness.


"You must go in quest of yourself, and you will find yourself again only in the simple and forgotten things."
- Carl Jung

One phenomenon that we rarely see, sense or embody is stillness.  We certainly can now.

Take note of how much less frenetic movement there is now.

When going for a walk, instead of being distracted by a car, your eyes can linger on a cherry blossom tree.

Instead of hearing the roar of a passing jet, you can more fully hear the flapping wings of a crow.

Instead of running around for this or that errand, your soul can be touched by the leaves of a tree rustling in the wind.

Painting, gardening, writing, meditating, cooking, etc. might all be gently beckoning you.  These deeply nourishing tasks, often neglected or unheard, beckon us now with their transcendent and quiet allure.

See if you can embody this stillness that now surrounds you.

Just remember, this time will pass.  In the meanwhile, take a look around you and relish this quiet stillness.

Conclusion.


I want to emphasize that this still and quiet world is not happening for all of us.  It would be absurd to assume it is.  For those of you on the front lines, your world is anything but.  Yet, I hope you find these spaces and places when you can.  For those of you with kids and work to attend to, I also hope you find the time to feel these more vulnerable and tender truths.

Regardless, I hope you are muddling through this crisis/opportunity being mindfully aware of your safety and others, keeping and open heart, and finding beauty in this great and mighty P A U S E .

Friday, March 13, 2020

Self Care.





 I am someone who considers caring, in all of its forms, to be absolutely essential. As someone who has committed themselves to healing, for myself and others, I am here to tell you that self care can be much deeper than what we generally perceive it to be. 

Let's explore this further . . .


Self Care is Self Reverence.

Self care can be more than paying homage to your body, spirit and mind.  It can also be paying deep respect to a being, you, which is a miracle of existence in it's own right.

Here you are, some how and some way the breath of life fills you.  You exist and are alive which is inherently beautiful.  Some how and some way after billions of years of evolution, and countless ancestors, you are allowed to explore and be on this plane for an infinitesimally short period of time.  It is a gift and one that should be treated with reverence and gratitude.

Who you are, at this very moment in time, is deeply complex, vast and rich.

Tend to yourself in a way that honors this miracle, this mortal coil.  Be conscious, rather than unconscious, of your precious existence.

Rather than treat your existence with anxiety, shame, guilt and or self condemnation, treat it with reverence and the deep respect that it deserves.


Self Care is Love of Community.

You are needed and loved.

We forget this far too often.

No matter what community or family you are a part of...whether it be a dance troupe, yoga class, catholic family, martial arts dojo, healing circle, neighborhood, political organization, or work group, you are a part of a larger whole.

There are friends, family and loved ones who need you.  They need you to be happy and whole.  Fully functioning and quintessentially authentic in every way you can be.

They need you to be healthy, not burned out, exhausted and running on fumes.

To tend to yourself is to tend to yourself not in a vacuum but in the context of a larger whole.  You are a colorful and beautiful thread in a very very large tapestry.  This tapestry, this community needs you to be healthy and whole.

Yes, self care is care for the self, but it is also with the understanding that in tending to yourself, you are acknowledging a greater responsibility and connection to a larger community...who needs you, all of you at your very best.


Self Care is Self Attunement.

We often learn how to regulate our nervous system from our primary caregivers.  They were, for better or worst, the sun we revolved around for nourishment and warmth.  Unfortunately, this light or warmth may have been distorted or dimmed from time to time.

Attuning to your needs and wants, your own light, on a moment to moment basis sounds easy, but it can be quite challenging.  What you need and want can be usurped by unconscious forces formed early on in our development.

I have to check in with myself often, to make sure my needs and wants are being tended to in a compassionate and thorough way, rather than being ignored or pushed away.

This takes tenderness and patience.

Self care and self attunement entails listening deeply to yourself.

To start with, our most biological needs should be addressed.  If you are tired, rest.  If you are hungry, eat.

Then there are more subtle and nuanced wants and needs.  These can be easily lost if there is a disconnect in our listening.

Instead of attuning into ourselves, we might unconsciously push through and away from more vulnerable wants and needs.

For example...

There might be a tendency to push through pain and discomfort, when a deeper need is beckoning, perhaps allowing yourself to feel rest and pleasure.

We might push through fear, rather than allowing a deeper need to unfold, perhaps finding compassion and tenderness for yourself.

We might become swept away in anxiety when a deeper need to feel and express grief is ignored.

Instead of pushing for productivity and success, allow a more profound want to manifest, perhaps seeking out simplicity, silence and beauty.


Self Care is the Creation of Healthy Boundaries.

You can choose who and what you want in your life, and who and what you don't want in your life.

This is not only essential for our survival, but for our quality of life as well.

This form of self care is very similar to the care of self attunement.  This requires listening deeply to yourself.  Being mindful.

When our boundaries are ignored or crossed, self care is paramount.  It is important to re-establish and be clear with what our boundaries are.

These boundaries are, of course physical, but also psychological.  They do not need to be militant or hard, but sturdy and pliable none the less.

They don't need to be explained away or justified.   They are simply an expression of who you are and what makes you feel safe.  This is quintessential self care.

Never be afraid to express what your boundaries are, especially while doing the work we do together.  It is an inherent part of our healing process.

For example:  You might be thinking, "The pressure feels a bit much, (insert subverting thought here) but I can take it!  Besides, I don't want to interrupt his process." Nope!

Instead, listen deeply to yourself and assert what your boundaries are.
"The pressure feels a bit much, (being clear with your boundaries) I should tell Jim.  He's cool.  He will get it!"
Yup!


In Conclusion.

I wanted to present to you more the intentions of self care rather than the what of Self Care.

What kinds of self care are abundant.  Rolfing (hint hint), yoga, tai chi, a good diet, meditation, spending time with good friends, being with nature, pedi and mani (I still haven't tried it!), gardening, and or going for a walk.  All of these are viable and good.

Yet, when we tend to ourselves in a deeper way, it is more of a moment by moment, day by day practice.

I hope this blog post has helped you re-discover the beauty and necessity of deep self care.



Tuesday, March 10, 2020

COVID-19




     Updated 5/22/2020



Hello there.

I hope this message finds you and your loved ones safe and well.


My practice is still temporarily closed.

I do not know when I will re-open at this time.

I do this for the safety of my clients and myself.  

I do, however, want to remain connected with you.

One way to do this is to subscribe to my newsletter. 

Newsletter Subscription. 


If you have any questions, please let me know.

I wish you the very best.

Be Safe.  Be Well.

Regards,

Jim Allbaugh - Rolfing since 2003.



“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”

- Frank Herbert






















Saturday, February 01, 2020

Exploring a Session.


 
 
 The Where.

If you have noticed after I do a visual assessment of how your body is doing, as you stand and or walk, I will put my hand gently on your head.

Why do I do this?

Well, I am feeling for lines of tension in your body.  All of which, generally speaking, can be felt through and on top of your cranium.  Sometimes these lines of tension are obvious, and other times more subtle.  Sometimes there is only one line of tension that I can feel, and at other times multiple ones, radiating from various points in the body.

Hypothetically, let's say you have come in with an aching lower back and a great deal of pain and stiffness in your left shoulder.

So, I put my hand on the top of your head and feel a line of tension radiating from just below the left side of your rib cage.  This is where your stomach resides.  Interestingly enough, at the beginning of the session I noticed your left shoulder and thorax bending forward and down a bit.  Another clue.

Now, I put one hand around the area I felt the line of tension coming from.  I take my other hand and check the top of the head again.  Interesting!  The pull left and downward is less, the body as a whole is more stable.  We are on to something here...

This area of tension we have discovered is considered a "Primary Lesion."  It sounds scary, but it's really not.  It's just an area of tissue that is perhaps adhered to another structure, is too tight, or perhaps too lax.  Either way, it needs tending to, for it has affected not just the area discovered, but your entire structural integrity.

So...now that we have discovered where we are going to work, onto another question, what is it exactly we will be working on?

The What.

Ok, so what we do know is that we have found an area just below the left side of your rib cage, towards the front that needs some work.

Now we need to figure out what it is exactly we will be working on.  This will help ascertain a more exact location and what kind of treatment is indicated.

So...believe it or not I will begin to, without speaking, ask your body some questions.  Yup, you heard that right.  Now, I am not a woo woo kind of guy.  Well ok, I do have some woo woo tendencies.  What or who we are asking questions to is a mystery.  All I know, and as many other practitioners have discovered, is that it's pay dirt.  It helps immensely.

Ok body/entity/deeper wisdom/all of the above, what do we have here?  I will put my hand near the area we are going to work on (for best results I put my hand on the right side of your cranium), and start asking questions.

Which direction is "yes"?  My hand will get pulled gently up and forward a bit.

Which direction is "no"?  My hand gets pulled down and back a bit.

Now that we have that figured out...

Is the affected tissue a nerve?  "No."  Is it a blood vessel?  "No."  Is it a bone?  "No."  Is it an organ?  "Yes!"

Bingo.

Ok then, knowing my hand is right on the stomach but also knowing I could be totally wrong, is it the stomach?  "Yes!"

Yet, before we move on, I check around the area again just in case.  Lo and behold there is another lesion just below the stomach.

Hmmmmmm...

I ask some more questions, and also palpate the area, and come to realize that it is an organ as well, the Transverse Colon.

I have two to choose from.  How do I decide which one to work on?

I put my hand on the stomach lesion, and something beautiful happens, your body will gently glide my hand showing me the shape and contour of the lesion.  Let's say the stomach lesion is shaped like an inverted Nike swoop.

I then put my hand on the colon lesion.  My hand is gently moved again.  This lesion is shaped like a circle, moving clockwise.

After doing this I notice that the stomach lesion did not move.

The plot thickens.

This time I reverse the order.

I put my hand on the colon first, clock wise circle, and hand moves.  I put my hand on the stomach, Nike swoop, the hand moves AND the hand on the colon moves again.

We have now found which is primary.  The stomach.

Why is this important?  When we find the lesion which is most primary, and treat it, it tends to resolve other lesions with it.  More bang for your buck.

Now that we have decided what we will be working on, how shall we work on it?

The How.

Alright body/deeper wisdom/alien essence how shall we work on this stomach?

Should I take the affected tissue into effort?  "No."  Taking the tissue into effort means taking the tissue into slightly tighter direction.

Should I take the tissue into ease?  "No."  Taking the tissue into ease means taking the tissue into a slightly looser direction.

Shall I Listen and Follow?  "Yes."

So we know the pattern and contour of the lesion, now it's time to kick back and let your body do most of the work.  My job at this point is to allow my hands to be as receptive and sensitive as possible.

I put my hands gently on your stomach and ... something remarkable happens. Your body will gently draw my hand deeper into the pattern that it presented earlier.  I listen and follow, adjusting pressure and sensitivity as we go.

Sloooowly it goes a bit deeper and I follow until it has taken me fully into the shape of the lesion.  My hands follow the full shape of the Nike swoop and my hands come to a rest.

We have landed, and there I wait.

After a bit the tissue starts to move.  This is where I come in.  "Nope, no can do fussy tissue, stay put."  I don't let it go into the direction it is taking me.  There ensues a gentle game of tug of war, and then there is a release.  I follow the release.

Then we wait.  Again there is a pull in a slightly different direction.  I hold the line, and then there is another release.  Again, I follow.  Hold.  Release.  Follow.

This will happen a few times, some times more, and then voila!  The lesion has been resolved and the tissue gently releases my hand.

I double check to make sure.  I ask your body a few more questions.  I palpate the area.  There is more movement, the tissue is warmer.  The thorax is a bit easier to move.  I check the left shoulder that was pulled down and it is further back as well.  I check the shoulder for better range of motion, which there now is.

I also check the colon from earlier.  That lesion is no longer there.

Client's might sigh after a release like this.  They tend to feel much more relaxed as well.  Some of these lesions might be decades old.

Even though we might work on a particular area, client's have reported feeling other areas in their body release that they didn't even know held tension.  "That was weird, I could feel a release in both of my shoulders." Or, "My lower back released and my whole right leg feels longer!"

Resolution.

After we have resolved this particular lesion, your stomach, there is a good chance we will find more.

By the end of our hypothetical session, we have found and treated a total of 6 lesions.

1.  The Stomach.

2.  The Visceral Pleura of the Lung.  This is a membrane that wraps around your lung.  Adhesions here are quite common.  Lo and behold it was just below your left shoulder, drawing it and your neck forward and down.  We found this restriction with general listening and released it like we did your stomach.

3.  A blood vessel to the Longissimus Muscle in your left lower back.  We found this by having you sit as I gently tapped on your head.  Another technique I use to find a primary lesion.  Think of this as a type of sonar where after a tap, I can feel a sort of blockage that keeps the tap from reverberating through your body.  We released this artery by taking it's tissue into ease.

4.  A loop of the small intestine.  This was below your stomach.  We found this by just asking your body where the lesion was.  This time you didn't have to get off the table.  We released it the same way we treated your stomach.

5.  The Thyroid Gland.  We found a small restriction here by having you sit while using gentle tapping.  We remedied this by taking the issue into ease.  After the release you reported a substantial release in your lower back and left side of your jaw.  Good stuff!

6.  Skin.  Here we found a patch of skin that was far too tight on the right side of your neck.  We treated this adhesion by taking the tissue into effort.

After the session, we discover that your shoulder pain has lessened a great deal.  There is still some tension, but much better than when you came in.  Your lower back pain is almost completely gone.

You are standing more upright, noticing less pain, and feeling much more relaxed.

Success!


Conclusion.

I have been utilizing this approach to Rolfing for over 10 years now and have discovered it to be highly effective.

For the purpose of this newsletter, I have laid out for you some of the more basic formulas for assessing and treating.  There are many more.  It is a continuous process of learning and discovery.

I would also like to emphasize that the beauty and effectiveness of this work lies not entirely on what I am doing, but what your body is doing.

My job is to listen and provide additional input and support that your body cannot do on it's own.  For the most part, your body is directing the show.  Your body has the innate wisdom and brilliance to heal.  It just needs some help from time to time to get there.

Also, always feel free to ask me any questions you might have about the work I do.
 

Wednesday, November 06, 2019




When the Pain Goes Away.

As chronic pain begins to dissipate, it seems to follow a familiar path.
  Over the years I have noticed a similar pattern that reveals itself during the Rolfing process.  Each person has their own unique experience, yet similar patterns do emerge.

A client may initially come in for back pain, neck pain, shoulder pain etc., and after their first session, they may feel many different sensations.  Client's have reported feeling lighter, expansive and more relaxed.  Sometimes they seem pleasantly surprised by these results, perplexed even.

They feel different, better even, but can't quite describe how.

Also, the pain they came in with has diminished.

After the session we make sure that this is true.  Has the pain increased?  Decreased?  Lo and behold it isn't quite as intense.  It's still there, but less.  Not as pronounced.  Not as sharp.  Quieter.

That's what we are looking for, overt and tantalizingly subtle changes.  Cracks in the concrete.  Everything is in motion now.  Things that have been stuck for months, years even, are starting to shift and let go.

Even though we are done with our initial session, your body is not.  Changes will continue to happen.  Your nervous system has taken in a new and rich blueprint of how it has been aching to become, yet just needed some help getting there.  It will take this new information and run with it.

Between sessions you may feel the discomfort and pain move around.  Become big and then smaller.  Some of the pain will come back, then go away again.  Sometimes new aches come and go as well.  Your body is integrating this new information, negotiating with the new and the old.

It's important to have time between sessions for this integration to take hold, to really ground itself.

New Options.

At the next session clients have reported feeling really good after the first session.  Sometimes the pain is gone completely for a few days.  It usually comes back, but not quite as intense.

For the next few visits,  we are looking for a similar pattern but with ever increasing positive results.  A trajectory towards health and wholeness...and becoming pain free.

With each session, the pain lessens and lessens.  Sometimes it comes back with a brief vengeance, and then dissipates again.  Eventually new and spacious possibilities reveal themselves in a client's body.  This is a rich and beautiful place to be.

As the pain lessens, and new options become a reality, our ever vigilant mind will start to "look" for the pain.  Our minds can become hardwired for so long to be vigilant, it perpetuates the cycle of pain unconsciously.

It is important to look for and genuinely feel the NEW.  Less pain, more space, more mobility, more at ease etc.  To let our nervous system know that it is now ok to feel a bit more relaxed, less vigilant, more comfortable in our bodies.

These qualities represent a new and viable option for your body to live in, not just visit.

Resolution.

After a while, the initial pain a client came in with becomes less and less intense.  An echo of what it once was.

Other aches and pains a client almost forgot they had, begin to reveal themselves.  They too are tended to and resolved.

Then, eventually and ideally, the pain and discomfort a client initially came in with disappears, or at least greatly diminishes.  As we go through the Rolfing process, I will check in to make sure the goals of a client are being reached.  There are times when I ask them about, say, the lower back pain they originally came in with.

It is delightful and deeply satisfying to see a client respond, "Oh my god!  I totally forgot I even had that!"

We have finally arrived.

In Conclusion.

This process is organic.  We are looking for a healthy trajectory, yet it is not always a straight and linear one.  It also takes time.  Our poor bodies.  Evolutionarily speaking, they still think they should be hunting and gathering in the Serengeti.  Alas, in our lightning fast digital age, we assume and hope healing can be just as fast.  Be patient and eternally kind to yourself during any healing process.  The irony is, by going slow and steady, you will get there faster.

Also, there are a myriad of other factors that can contribute to chronic pain.  As we work together, and address much needed structural issues, there may be times when we feel as if we might be just spinning our wheels.  At this juncture you might need to look more deeply at other factors that could be contributing to your discomfort.  Some of these factors being:  diet, exercise, unresolved trauma, social isolation, and sleep patterns to name a few.

I may be your Rolfer, but I am also very much your advocate.  If you ever need a referral to explore some of these other factors, please let me know.  That way, it will help the work you and I do together become even more effective.

Either way, remember that our bodies want to heal.  Every day at every moment.  Sometimes we just need some help getting there.

Saturday, September 21, 2019


In all the years I have been Rolfing, one of the most frustrating things I encounter, are the misconceptions about Rolfing.  Either you have heard of it, tried it and loved it, or have avoided it due to the myths that surround Rolfing.

The later is unfortunate.  Rolfing is a powerful and effective modality.  I would like to address and deconstruct some of these myths with you.

Myth #1:  It Hurts.

This one...well...it hurts.

Rolfing really came into stride during the 70's.  It was a time of intense exploration and the human potential movement was in full swing.  Rolfing was still being developed by Ida Rolf, and was in a continuous state of evolution.  It still is.  During this time Rolfing often did hurt.  Most new modalities that were coming into form weren't perceived as being "real" unless it was INTENSE.

"Man, I was ROLFED the other day and it was intense.  It hurt like hell, man, but wow I feel totally aligned and one with the universe.  It was worth it man, totally worth it!"

Rolfing did help many people.  Yet, fortunately, it has evolved over the decades.  During this time, it has become more sensitive, intelligent and attuned.

Now, there is a great deal of science supporting and emphasis on working with a client's nervous system and not against it.

There have also been an influx of other modalities that help us achieve the goals of Rolfing.  Visceral Manipulation, cranial work, movement work, and neural work to name a few.  All of these modalities look at ways in which to intervene in the most gentle and intelligent ways possible.

More often than not, I utilize Visceral Manipulation to achieve the goals of Rolfing.  This is a very gentle yet highly effective modality.  Even when I do more direct work, I work with the client's nervous system in a methodical and mindful fashion.

I am always dialoguing with a client as well.  To make sure they feel as if they and their body are being heard.  If at any point something feels too intense or even painful, I encourage clients to speak up and please let me know.  This is a very important part of the healing process.

There are, at times, moments of discomfort even with the more gentle forms of Rolfing.  This is a rich area loaded with potential.  This could be an area that has been "stuck" for a very long time and is finally finding motility and vitality again.  Any discomfort should be temporary, your boundaries respected, and your nervous system titrated, not overwhelmed.

I wouldn't be doing this work if I was "hurting" clients.  This is in direct contradiction to who I am.

Myth #2:  Rolfing is like Massage.

Nope, not at all.

Even though Rolfing is a type of body work, it is not a type of massage.  Deep tissue massage is not Rolfing. The goals of Rolfing and massage are very different.

Massage is a manual manipulation of soft body tissues (muscle, connective tissue, tendons and ligaments) to enhance a person’s health and well-being.  With massage, and their are many different forms of massage, the intention is to help a client find relief from pain and become more relaxed.

With Rolfing, the intention is to change a client's structure, so they are in unison with gravity, rather than fighting against it.  Thus, Rolfing should be better known as Structural Integration, rather than massage.  Massage might change a person's structure, but as an unintended result.

Myth #3:  Rolfing is only for pain relief.

Rolfing is meant to help restore a person's entire health, not just alleviate pain.  It is therefore holistic.  Rolfing, again, is meant to bring your body back into alignment.  Because of this, it just so happens that pain and discomfort tend to dissipate.  Which is, of course, a wonderful result.

Yet, what other benefits can be gleamed from Rolfing?

Better range of motion, a greater sense of ease, healthier boundaries, better athletic performance, a deeper sense of peace, feeling more grounded, less anxiety,  There are many more...

Even though client's often come in for pain relief, as your Rolfer, it is my job to keep an eye out for the bigger prize, and not just chase around pain.  We are looking for structural integrity for your whole body, not just the parts that hurt.  Therefore, when we achieve the goals of Rolfing, a wide spectrum of other benefits may arise, not just pain relief.

Quite simply, client's just feel better.

Friday, April 26, 2019



As I write this blog entry I am sipping on some tea, and occasionally looking out the window as Spring rain begins to gently fall.  It is a ritual I do most every day.  I spend at least a half an hour to an hour each a.m. and just watch nature unfold as I drink my tea.  Everything can wait.  Emails.  Bank statements.  This.  That.  The other thing.  I try and sooth myself.  Remind myself that everything this day will be ok.  I allow my body to feel safe.  That I am secure and cared for.

When I am successful in the endeavor, I feel more relaxed and at ease.  I am able to tend to those responsibilities of the day not from a place of fear and subtle panic, but from a place that is more grounded and assured.

Feeling safe in life is important.

Feeling safe in the work that you and I do together is essential.

Let us explore this further . . .

Safety.

From the moment you walk through the door to the moment you leave, I want you to feel as safe as humanly possible.

Why is this so important?  The work we do is inherently vulnerable.  You are trusting me with your body and psyche.  This is an honor and a responsibility I do not take lightly.  In every way I can, and on many different levels, I want you to know that you are secure.

We all have our respective histories.  Our relationship with our bodies are complex, multi-layered and deep.  Depending on our childhood, and the various challenges of life, there are perhaps layers and epochs in our body that were never tended to with the care that was needed.

We need to feel safe in order to fully allow ourselves access to these forgotten spaces.  To allow our bodies to open up to new possibilities.  To feel lighter.  Less pain.  Freer.  Peaceful.

First I would like to explore the science and anatomy of what it means to feel safe.  Then, let us explore how this translates during a session.


The Science of Safety.

Our need to feel and be safe is a primal and ancient need.

There is a theory, developed by Stephen Porges PhD, called the Polyvagal Theory.  This theory describes how our autonomic nervous system is constantly attuned to ascertain and asses possible threats. It distinguishes if we are safe or in danger.  It is also hard wired for more pleasurable, and biologically needed, pursuits such as trust, safety and intimacy.

This later autonomic quest is called the social engagement system.  When we feel safe, this system is running the show.  When we feel as if we are in danger, it is immediately turned off.

When we feel safe, this subsystem allows us to engage in life not from a place of survival, but from a place of intimacy and trust.  It enables us to be more creative and innovative as well as connect with others on a deeper level.

This neurological feat is accomplished by a phenomenon called neuroception.  It is happening systematically and constantly beyond our conscious thought.

So, when feel safe our social engagement system comes online.  When we feel or perceive danger, the social engagement system shuts down, and all of our attention and resources goes to how best to defend ourselves.  The social engagement system asks the question, "Is it safe to engage the world and connect with others?"

The Anatomy of Safety.

Ok, so what exactly is the "vagal" in Polyvagal Theory?  The "vagal" refers to the Vagus Nerve.  A fascinating, long and complex nerve that originates from the medulla oblongata of the brain.  It also considered the Tenth Cranial Nerve.  It is the longest nerve of the autonomic nervous system and has parasympathetic reign over the heart, lungs, digestive tract and various visceral organs.  In other words, it's a big deal!

What about the "Poly" in Polyvagal?  There are many branches of the vagus nerve.  From the base of your cranium to the base of your viscera, it touches and innervates with a sleuth of organs.  There are, however, two distinct branches of the vagus nerve that either encourages us to seek warmth and intimacy, or repel and remain vigilant.

The Dorsal Vagal Complex, or DVC is considered the older more archaic branch.  It is unmyelinated and exists in most vertebrates.  It is much more primal and rudimentary.  It is associated with more ancient survival strategies.

The Ventral Vagal Complex, or VVC, is a bit newer in the evolutionary scheme of things.  It evolved over time to contend with more complex environments.  This branch is myelinated to provide more speed and control.  Here is the main distinction, it is considered the "smart vagus" for it regulates the more sympathetic responses (fight or flight) in order to make room for more socially engaging behaviors.  i.e.  The Social Engagement System.  Intimacy, communication, self soothing and trust are all made possible by this branch.

Safety and Healing

When the Social Engagement System is engaged, we are more at peace and feel safe.  I will add here an assumption.  When we feel safe, deeper healing can take place.  Deeper aches and pains seem to reveal themselves to be tended to with care.

When we do not feel safe, and are guarded, our attention become split.  The Social Engagement System breaks down.  Our focus does not revolve around self care and curiosity, but towards survival.

Again, with each session, it is my hope for you to feel safe.  In geek speak, I hope to illicit this Social Engagement System and awaken the Ventral Vagal Complex.  :)

How can we do this?

When we talk at the beginning of a session to touch base on how you are and what progress we are making, I want to make sure that you are heard.  Your concerns and questions are valid and real.  When we are heard and seen we feel safer and more at ease.  If at any point you think I missed something, please let me know.

Also, during a session, there are a sleuth of non-verbal ways in which we ascertain if we are safe or not.  They all happen on a mostly unconscious level.   We are communicating this through perhaps a handshake, eye contact, a smile, a gesture, how we hold our bodies, how we breathe, how we are speaking etc.  These are cues and information I am tracking as often as I can to better assess where you are at.  You may or not be aware of these many nuanced expressions, but your unconscious mind certainly is, with one particular question in mind:  "Am I safe?"

When we begin to work, this task becomes even more rich.  As you may know I am not only talking with you from time to time, but I am dialoguing with your body as well.

On the other hand, your body is tracking sensations both consciously and unconsciously to make sure all is well.  During a session it is essential that you let me know what your needs are.  If the pressure is too much, please let me know.  If you feel as if you are uncomfortable on any level, please speak up.  If you feel unique and new sensations begin to arise, please inform me.  This way the Social Engagement System remains very much on board.

We need to have our needs and boundaries respected in order to feel safe.  I am usually very fine tuned to where my clients are in their process, yet I still will miss various clues.  Never feel as if "you are gumming up the work" when you make your boundaries known.  This is part of the work you and I do together.  When our boundaries are honored, we know we are cared for and secure.