Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Questions 2: The Principles of Rolfing



Clients who have been working with me for quite some time have been very curious as of late. They feel wonderful changes taking place in their body. Before perhaps they would shrug and call it good. Yet, over time, I think many are wondering about how this Rolfing stuff really works.

Well, for now let me address some of the primary foundations of Rolfing. There are many, many attributes to this beautiful modality, and for this I will continue to post many a blog.

In my recent newsletter I briefly explored the primary principles of Rolfing. These being...

1. Wholism.

2. Support.

3. Adaptation.

4. Palintonicity.

5. Closure. (This one is still up for debate... More on that in just a second.)

As I mentioned in my newsletter, approaching my client with a wholistic intent allows me to work with the totality of the person. I try and understand their history, their cultural underpinnings, the psycho-spiritual makeup, and where did they get those new shoes anyway?

Within the context of wholism, I look at three major contributors to their structure: Coordination, Perception, and Expression.

Coordination may be lacking at various places throughout the body, or throughout the entire body. From a Rolfing perspective, often these inhibitions in coordination can be resolved through structural work. Over time the body simply begins to work better. However, movement work needs to be introduced from time to time if someone's coordination is still off. In this way the nervous system begins to find it's natural rhythm.

Perception has a profound affect on our structure. How we perceive the world shapes our dialogue and interaction with it. Where perception is closed off, our bodies follow suit. If, for example, you are unaware that there is actual space behind your head as you read this, you will be slumped forward. Bring awareness to where it is lacking, and by golly your posture will change.

Expression. Following perception is expression. How do we interact with our world. Relationship. Closed? Withdrawn? Gregarious? Joyous? Fearful? Often where perception is lacking, we cannot find expression there as well. First, open up perception, then MOVE into this new found space.

Support. Support is often found from below. Our feet carry ALLOT. Often, if our feet and lower legs are askew, they can throw your whole body out of whack. Try putting more weight on the outside of your feet. Notice what this does to your hips. Notice what this does to your breath. Now, try the reverse, bringing the arch of your foot downward. See what this does. . .

Adaptation. Sometimes shifts won't manifest fully until a variety of different relationships throughout the body are addressed. Early in Rolfing, allot of groundwork is covered, simply to prepare the body for changes that will begin to ensue on deeper levels. This is also called adaptive capacity.

Palintonicity. In the early days of Rolfing, Palintonicity was referred to as "The Line." The line is a metaphoric, and some would argue energetic, construct to which all of Rolfing is trying to help bring the body back to. This "line" starts from way above the head, goes through the top of your head, down through the base of your mouth, and down along the front of your spine, and leaves through the midline of your pelvis. This "line" is what I try to bring your body back to. In Rolfing it is assumed, and I believe rightfully so, that this "line" is the place our body naturally wishes to reside.

Two directional orientation, and two directional movement.

Closure. Well, we have to end the session at some point!

Closure is semantically misleading. Closure to many means END. I think what better describes this principle of Rolfing is resolution. Resolution on a fundamental level. There are varying levels of resolution. For some, this resolution may be found in the absence of pain in their left shoulder. This does not mean END however.

Healing is cyclical.

Perhaps this same client months down the road realizes that the pain has diminished in their left shoulder, yet it does re-appear from time to time under stress. Then, at this juncture, they may wish to explore this facet of their healing. Resolution at this crossroads may mean finding better ways to deal with stress, or perhaps re-examining the emotional damage that was done in a car wreck from years ago.

Well, there you have it my fellow rolfee's. All of these principles are fundamental signposts that I refer to as often as possible. They help ground the work, and they certainly help remind me that Rolfing is indeed radical in scope. As a Rolfer, I want to help move the sky, and not just a few stars.

Feel free to email me with any questions that you might have!