Monday, September 29, 2014

Third Paradigm.

I recently came across an article I read years ago.  It was great to read it again and get re-acquainted.  The article is called, "Rolfing:  a Third Paradigm Approach to Body-Structure" by Rolfer Jeffrey Maitland.

There are many and varied types of body work to be found in our contemporary world, especially here in Seattle!  Some of them are relaxing, some corrective, and others are more holistic.

Each one of these practices on the spectrum from relaxation to holistic are, in of themselves, no better or no worse than any other healing modality.  This applies to Rolfing as well.

Also, each approach has their own inherent limitations.  As a Rolfer I am untrained to, with any expertise or effectiveness, provide lymphatic drainage for my clients.  And, those trained in lymphatic massage might be hard pressed to diagnose and treat structural anomalies in their clients.

That said, I wold like to explore this continuum, and where Rolfing fits in . . .

We have all found and needed body work that is simply . . . relaxing. Every so often, this is what my body craves, to get a full body massage and leave feeling oh so blissed out and relaxed.

Different forms of body work that help create a sense of relaxation and well being enhances healing on various levels.

This approach does not, however, treat and correct structural problems and associated chronic pain.  Some of these might be addressed, but by accident and chance, unless a practitioner has such training.

Corrective body work modalities, seek to enhance a client's health by assessing and treating pain, functional problems, and somatic dysfunction.  Assessment as well as treatment with these types of approaches can be quite refined.  Symptom or pain relief is of great importance.  Certain types of physical therapy and chiropractic are just some examples of this approach. 

Corrective types of body work tend to be, but not always, more specialized in their approach as well.

Those practices that fall under the umbrella of "Holistic" tend to seek and encourage optimal health and well being for their client.  Not just the abatement of pain, but a state of being that embodies peak physical, spiritual and emotional balance.

Here is the kicker.  A holistic approach does not seek to alleviate symptoms, disease,  and dysfunction per se.  Rather, it seeks an all encompassing approach to a client's well being.  It seeks a way to organize and create balance for the totality of a client.  Consequently, more often than not, various symptoms of pain and dysfunction tend to fall to the way side.  A very welcome side note for the now balanced and healthier client. 

It may come as a surprise to you, my dear client, but when I work with you I am not seeking just symptom or pain relief. That is not my intention. Rather, I truly am looking for the best strategy to help you find better posture and balance.  Oh, and as a result, lo and behold, long held pain and discomfort begins to fade away. . .

With Rolfing, which is a holistic modality, it is important to remember that I am working with the totality of the human body.  I don't specialize in just one area of the body.  Pain is a symptom, and not a cause.  Sometimes they do overlap.  Yet, as your practitioner, I am seeking balance for the whole, and not just associated parts.

"The body is a living unified system in which no one system is more fundamental to the make-up and organization of the whole itself."  Jeffrey Maitland.

In other words, as your Rolfer, I am working with systems and not just anatomical parts.  For example, I may at some point be working with an artery in your abdomen, even though you are experiencing pain in your foot.  As I work on this artery, I am touching and affecting a whole system, and in this particular case, a cardiovascular system.  And, it just so happens that there is an associated artery related to the artery in your viscera that is in your foot.  Lo and behold, both ends of this system are released, and pain begins to diminish in your foot.

At times, during a session, you might experience this sensation yourself.  Perhaps you come in for some work because of pain in your back.  I may end up working near the front of your rib cage, and you might feel it in the exact spot in your back where you have been feeling discomfort.

All of these systems throughout your body are also very much in relationship with one another.  No one system is of paramount importance than another. 

Indeed, as your Rolfing practitioner, I am constantly educating myself to learn and explore the endless intricacy and beauty of human anatomy.  Even within the Rolfing community, there is disagreement to what it is we are and should work on.  Some believe we should remain focused primarily on muscles and fascia.  I disagree.  Rolfing is inherently a holistic modality.  No one system takes precedence over another. 


Aligning your body with gravity is, in essence, what Rolfing is all about.  Finding alignment with gravity is truly what makes Rolfing a holistic modality. 

With Rolfing, we are addressing and working with whole systems to help bring your body into vertical alignment with gravity, the end goal.  Gravity is one of the primary forces of nature, along with electromagnetism and nuclear strong force/weak force.  Generally speaking, we are oblivious to gravity's power day in and day out.  We are born into the field of gravity like a fish is born into the waters of the ocean.

We become acutely aware of it's force when we are fighting it; misaligned with gravity's powerful field.  Again, another reason that makes Rolfing such a powerful holistic modality, is that we bring your body back into alignment with this field, this primary force of nature.  The totality of your being resonates with gravity rather than being burdened by it.

One of the reasons I am hesitant to discuss gravity as it relates to Rolfing is that it can seem so damn theoretical, that is, until you experience aligning with gravity yourself.

Ahhhhhh, but when you finally do, you realize, wow, this is good stuff...and it works!