This is from Dr. Robert Schleip in Germany, a Rolfer who has been scientifically investigating fascia for many years:
Archive for the ‘Rolfing Movement’ Category
This PDF is the Client Handbook I wrote while completing basic training at the Guild for Structural Integration. It’s very thorough in its explanation of the process, and very earnest in tone. The file had to be broken into two pieces because it was BIG:
Client Handbook Part 1
Client Handbook Part 2
This is exciting (for a bodywork geek, anyway). Bruce Kubert is producing a film about Ida Rolf’s gift to us, interviewing all of the old-timers and pulling their collective wisdom into one clear message about what is possible for us as human beings willing to risk change. Here is a nice long clip that should answer some questions about how and why one might try the Rolf Method of Structural Integration:
This is a clip from a microscopic movie made by a French hand surgeon who was curious about the mobility and adaptability of the fascia of the wrist. This is live tissue, in all of its moist, adaptable glory!
Movement is life.
All bodywork is about movement.
Energy workers (reiki, acupuncture, Shiatsu) seek to move blockage or stagnation in your energetic lines or fields.
Swedish massage is about increasing blood and lymphatic circulation on a cellular, tissue, and then systemic level.
Structural Integration focuses on fascial freedom, restoring glide to the relationships between fascial layers.
Rolf Movement® takes a step towards the role of perception in our physical relationships, and Somatic Experiencing rides the waves of nervous system charge and discharge as they roll through our bodies and our lives.
We all know the feeling of being “stuck in a rut” or trapped by routine. My experience is that sometimes bodywork can help move us through those periods of sluggishness into a more dynamic relationship with life. Structural Integration and Somatic Experiencing provide moments of clarity in our being. Sometimes a slight shift in perspective or a slightly new experience of self is all we need to get going in a new direction, or in the direction we were headed when we got bogged down.
I am, of course, happy to help when there is just a need for maintenance– a rut can also be a groove we are digging for the time being– and that is why I practice massage therapy.
This article in the New York Times goes out of its way to stress the reputation of Rolfing® as being painful. It’s sort of a shame, since it seems like they only spoke with one practitioner, and I’ve watched a lot of excellent Rolfers do their work without any discomfort for the client at all. Some Rolfers lay it on pretty heavy, this is absolutely true, and I have been known to lean hard in order to try to get some change at times, but by and large, I find my clients are surprised at how NOT painful the experience is. It doesn’t have to hurt to get change to happen, and I am usually trying to find the easiest way to get movement, which is not to pin my client to the mat and watch them squirm.
I do like the way the article references the more metaphysical aspects of the process, even for the skeptical:
“Beau Buffier, a 35-year-old partner at a corporate law firm in New York, says he started Rolfing treatments after he injured his neck and shoulder in a fall. Despite three M.R.I.’s, surgery, physical therapy, a chiropractor, acupuncture and deep massage, the pain remained. Stress from his high-stakes job didn’t help.
But somehow Rolfing did the trick. “It’s dealing with the physical manifestations of something that’s kind of emotional or spiritual,” Mr. Buffier said.”
It’s pretty great when you can give someone the visceral experience of recognizing the mysterious ties between body, spirit, and mind, and have them report as much to the New York Times, and, really, it’s pretty great that there is mainstream media coverage for this truly helping profession.
One of the things I was taught in both massage school and my Structural Integration training was that when emotions come up for people during bodywork, the best thing that you can do for them is just to be with them, without judgment. This sounds so simple, but for the longest time I just had no idea what they were talking about. I wanted to make things better for people, not just “be” with them while they felt bad. I could see, when watching my teachers (Neal Powers, Peter Melchior) in S.I. training, that there was something going on beyond where they put their hands and how hard they pushed, and I got that it was their Presence that really helped move things for their models, but how to cultivate that presence? It seemed so elusive, and I was so distracted and restless.
Turns out, I needed to have a lot more of that kind of presence offered to ME first; I needed to experience the grace of someone just holding the energy of the room so that I could touch the edges of my own sensations without feeling like I was going to blow up the world with what I felt. Once I got comfortable with some of my own discomfort, this sense of Presence started to feel a lot more available to me.
In Brazil, Lael Keen really pushed that sense of Presence to the forefront of the Rolf Movement training– greatly assisted, I think, by her training in and experience with Somatic Experiencing. Perhaps it was just that I was ready, after all of my own personal work, to see how she did it, but I watched with fascination as she showed us how to use our own nervous systems to settle the clients’, how to drop in at a level where people can feel you there at a comfortable distance, one that allows for a sense of being gently held without any expectation or need. It was revelatory.
My Somatic Experiencing training adds depth to this notion of Presence by acknowledging subconscious nervous system activation. In S.E. we parse out the sensations of the body from their associated emotions, and beliefs so that one has the opportunity to experience them all as discrete strings instead of giant knots of overwhelm. The role of the practitioner in this process is, more than anything else, to be Present with the client and to hold the space for them so that they don’t feel overwhelmed again– it is incredibly helpful to feel the edges of a container when you are testing your own sense of what IS, and to have that container be a compassionate, resonant human is a real gift.
I have a long way to go to master this fine art, but I am grateful to have been shown at last where I can start, and grateful for the odd opportunities (such as appendicitis) to experience my own need for another person’s Presence.
I just returned from Denver, CO, site of the latest International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI) Symposium. This is the third event of its kind, a chance for all of the various practitioners of Structural Integration from all of the various schools to come together and share ideas, rub elbows, make contacts, and feel common cause. Once again, I came away with fresh perspectives, new friends, deeper knowledge, and a healthy amount of gratitude for this meaningful work.
Highlights include presentations by Thomas Findley and Robert Schleip on scientific research being done with fascia, a stern talking-to from Serge Gracovetsky regarding getting our work into objective scientific studies if we want to be taken seriously, and a lovely session of stories about Ida Rolf from Tom Wing, Sharon Hancoff, and Jim Asher. Monica Caspari gently reminded us that though unity is the goal, when we honor diversity (specifically cultural) we preserve some of the richness of our embodied existence.
It is at once entirely humbling and infinitely inspiring to know that there is no end to the learning that is possible in this field. I’m grateful to have had a chance to mingle with my colleagues, and am looking forward to trying to gather some of the local SI practitioners together to get more of this juice on a regular basis!
Last week I spent three days as a doula, helping a friend give birth. It was exhausting, extremely challenging, at times demoralizing, and ultimately hugely rewarding when baby finally made it out.
I’m left with a loud echo in the chamber of my think tank: How do we empower without calling up shame? If I am told that I have the power to change, or to affect change, or that I can have a different experience, and I don’t know how to change or embrace that experience, I’m left feeling like the inability to change is somehow my fault or choice.
My Rolf Movement training tells me that our beliefs, often shaped in formative experiences long ago, guide our current experience in a profound way, and that our beliefs also limit our experience. As a Structural Integration Practitioner, it’s my job to help you hold those beliefs gently while opening up to the possibility that new experiences are also attainable– that while your beliefs are not wrong, there are other truths to be held as well. This can be as simple as learning to use an ankle that was once twisted badly and then favored unconsciously ever after, and as challenging as re-evaluating and nourishing your entire self-image. From personal experience, I can tell you that opening into new truths is extremely challenging, and when accomplished, extremely gratifying.
I notice that for me, I can be conscious of that ankle when I’m well rested, can be kind to my self most easily when general circumstances are mild and I’m feeling physically well– these are naturally expansive situations. When things start to get a little rougher, when sleep is at a premium and the situation is more demanding, I revert to what I know and tend to dig in, to contract.
These days I notice the contraction from a relatively neutral place, a place where I can generally be kind enough to know that I’m doing the best I can, and that I will learn from this experience if I am open to learning later.
Birth is one of the most powerful experiences of opening into pain that I know of. You are literally contracting so that you will expand, a confusing and difficult trial that takes a great deal of faith to withstand. If your basic trust in the rightness of the universe has been deeply shaken, this is a faith that may be out of your reach. If you have withdrawn from your body as a means of basic survival, then dropping back in to allow it to take over might be next to impossible. Birth is the crucible of belief systems, burning away intellectual impositions and getting down to what you REALLY hold true. It will transform or reinforce your personal truth like few other things, a uniquely awe-inspiring and reductive grind that puts you in communication with your elemental self: step forward, hunker down, or both.
Thankfully, in my office, it’s nice and warm but there’s no fire under you. You can choose to engage in this dialogue or not, and to take all the time you need to get the results you desire. Change is hard, but satisfying, and I’m here to help as best I can.
Here’s a video of Caryn McHose doing Hubert Godard’s “Flight of the Eagle” exercise– which looks like regular yoga, but takes on a lot more meaning when you receive some Rolf Movement® work.
John Barton in Dallas, TX has made quite a few videos demonstrating the Movement work, which he calls Rolfing® Functional Movement. Check out his Functional Breath video and his Rolfing® Spinal Six video.