Whole Body Integration
The image of Leanardo Da Vinci's Vitruvian Man, perfectly embodies the quote by the late Tibetan sage Tsongkhapa, in which he states: "The great wisdom dwells in the body. Fully away from all thoughts.”
All philosophies are mental fabrications. There has never been a single doctrine by which one could enter the true essence of things.
It is only by grounding our awareness in the living sensation of our body that our true presence can awaken.
Our mind wanders incessantly, but our body and senses are always in the present. To investigate our embodied experience is to investigate the living present.
Rolfing ® -Structural Integration is an advanced ten session manual therapy focused on our bodies underlying matrix of connective tissue, also called fascia. This work is designed to release stress patterning that restricts movement, emotion and life energy, which helps bring our body into fluid, natural alignment with gravity.
This powerful form of bodywork can also be used for more specific problems such as chronic pain and movement limitation.
Rolfing works with the gross physical body and the descending force of the earth's gravitational energy field. Rolfing resembles a slow deep tissue massage, focusing on layers of restricted connective tissue in the entire body called fascia, rather than on isolated regions of contracted muscle tissue like during massage.
Rolfing treats the body as whole by systematically reshaping, reorganizing and integrating the physical structure into balance with gravity. Rolfing is interactive, self-empowering and more invigorating then massage.
Unlike massage or other forms of bodywork, Rolfing changes the structure of our body. The effects of this work are long-term and last many years. In addition to transforming our body, Rolfing empowers us to take charge of our own physical and emotional well-being, enabling us to rediscover our inherent inner beauty and body wisdom.
Most human beings are significantly out of alignment with gravity. Gravity is the basic shaper of the body. From birth until death gravity is always working on us. Over time, our bodies get pulled into unnatural positions which result in chronic patterns of tension, stress and pain. Mind and body are mutually sustaining and we can become rigid, inflexible and “set in our ways”. We function better when our bodies are aligned with the descending gravitational energy field of the earth.
To stand upright is to work against gravity. If this resistance to the pull of gravity is defined as the force of life, it can be said the those who spend the least amount of effort in holding a vertical posture have the greatest potential to direct their life energies toward some other activity.
- Shizuto Masunaga
Zen Shiatsu: How to Harmonize Yin and Yang for Better Health
In its optimal condition fascia (connective tissue) is a whole body matrix of white, loose, fibrous, moist tissue. Like a multi-layered stocking, fascia surrounds, supports and connects every muscle, organ, tendon and bone, giving our body shape and strength. Healthy fascia helps facilitate fluid movement between different parts of the body.
The link between connective tissue and neural tissue is one of the most critical relationships in the whole body. Fascia is organized and set into motion and function by the Breath of Life, our life force energy. Fascia tightens as a protective mechanism. Whenever it is disorganized by “self” contracted inertial forces, our relationship to the Breath of Life or “life force” can resolve these inertia’s and restore natural function to the fascial system, and everything else.
To Thine Own Self Be True
Fascia is our body's only universal tissue. We are myofascial beings, all the way through. Psychological and spiritual depth has a bodily component. A fully embodied human evokes movement in all depths of their bodily being. Our body reflects our current lifestyle. Our lifestyle represents our intentions, our life goals, our values. What we stand for.
The soul of man with all its pure living water seems to dwell in the fascia of his body.
--Andrew Taylor Still, MD D.O., Founder of Osteopathy
Our feelings and our bodies are like water flowing into water. We learn to swim within the energies of the [body] senses.
Much like a sculptor working with clay, Rolfing works with the body’s living matrix of malleable myofascial connective tissue, by lengthening and releasing age-old restrictions and fear based "self" contracted armoring, that inhibit fluid body movement and self expression.
Simply be present with your own shifting energies and with the unpredictability of life as it unfolds.
These blocks and restrictions can be related to our daily habitual psycho/physical posture and movement patterns, or the times in our lives when our sympathetic (fight & flight) branch of our autonomic nervous system responded to protect us like during an accident, injury, or intense emotional experience, resulting in long-term frozen holding patterns.
Body awareness gets us in touch with our inner world. Minimizing, or avoiding feeling our sensations in our body increases our vulnerability to being overwhelmed by them.
To Thine Own Self Be True
"Love can't be won or earned, for it is a spontaneous expression of affection and warmth in response to another person's being. It's “I love you,” not “I love what you are doing.” Love implies an acceptance that was denied the child. Once we give up our true self to play a role, we are fated to be rejected because we have already rejected ourselves."
-- Dr. Alexander Lowen
“Only by getting in touch with your body, by connecting viscerally with yourself, can you regain a sense of who you are, your priorities and values.
No matter how much insight and understanding we develop, the rational brain is basically impotent to talk the emotional brain out of its reality.”
- Bessel van der Kolk, The Body Keeps Score
"Feelings can move through us like the changing weather, and we can feel them and move on like the wind ... "Free" is not free of feelings, but free to feel each one and let it move on, unafraid of the movement of life."
-- Jack Kornfield, A Path With Heart
Feeling is the process of non-thinking, non-interfering attention to the emotional state of our body. Muscle contraction against feeling is a physiological form of self hatred. Westerners in particular are the most constipated people, both physically and emotionally. Overcoming our culturally induced, "self"-contracted, fear-based programming, by feeling an emotion, can be likened to slowly digesting it.
When you shut down emotion, you're also affecting your immune system, your nervous system. So the repression of emotion, which is a survival strategy, then becomes a source of physiological illness later on.
- Gabor Mate
When we relax into a feeling, we can gently absorb it into our experience. No matter how unreasonable our feelings may seem, we hurt ourselves by denying real experiences of them. Movement of emotion, like the ocean, has motion; it is a living process.
Neurosis is always a substitute for legitimate pain.
-- Carl Jung
“From my perspective as an existential psychologist, feeling is a form of intelligence. It’s the body’s direct, holistic, intuitive way of knowing and responding. It is highly attuned and intelligent. And it takes account of many factors all at once, unlike our conceptual mind, which can only process one thing at a time. Unlike emotionality, which is a reactivity that is directed outward, feeling often helps you contact deep inner truths.”
Proprioception, also referred to as kinaesthesia (or kinesthesia), is the sense of self-movement and body position. It is sometimes described as the "sixth sense". Knowing where our bodies are in space is critical for the control of our movements and for our sense of self. Our “sixth sense” not only enables us to control the movements we make, but provides us with the ability to perceive ourselves moving in space and acting in relation to our surroundings.
Freedom is Feeling
One of the good things about the pleasure of inhabiting the body — how we feel the body from within, what we now call proprioception, our sense of the body as we feel it from inside — is that it’s an inherent pleasure that doesn’t have many stories at all.
We think too much and feel too little.
- Charlie Chaplin
You have escaped the (mind) cage.
Your wings are stretched out.
Interoception is the awareness of our subtle sensory, body based feelings; the greater the awareness, the greater our potential to influence our lives. Tears for example are proof that emotions become physical. Imagine what stuck emotions can do to our body when they have spent years without being released or properly transmuted.
Think about what parts of your body constantly ache or are in pain. Tears and feeling our emotions stimulate the relaxation response of our parasympathetic nervous system which can awaken our developmentally arrested instinct of self-compassion and intimacy enhancing empathy and compassion for others.
“Crying is as vital to our well-being as sweating. The body must release tears to self-cleanse. Just as the ocean turns over waves to push all the grime to shore, we must too. It is part of the cycle of life — to wash away the energies that build up inside to make way for new ones. Showing emotion is as natural as the changing weather. A repressed being cannot flow freely with the cycle of life, if their energies are congested or stagnant — spiritually and mentally. From time to time, one must release the grime built up inside them to to free their emotions like the ocean.”
— Suzy Kassem, Author of Rise Up and Salute the Sun
The fundamental detail that makes a person beautiful is the soul: If you are not beautiful inside, you will never be outside.
Instead of following our own instincts, instead of discovering what it is that gives us joy, what makes our heart sing, we spend most of our lives trying to make other people happy, squeezing ourselves into their boxes, living from our head rather than our instinct for what is good and health. And following these conventions, living these lives of arid appropriateness, kills all that is alive and vibrant inside us. We can possess all the fine goods that our civilization has to offer us; we can have important jobs, and social status, and tone our bodies on all the latest machines – but without a sense of belonging to the world, we feel empty and our lives lack meaning.
Sharon Blackie, Author of If Women Rose Rooted: A Life-Changing Journey to Authenticity and Belonging
In order to love who you are,
you cannot hate or deny the experiences that shaped you.
"In order to change, people need to become aware of their sensations and the way that their bodies interact with the world around them. Physical self-awareness is the first step in releasing the tyranny of the past."
~ Bessel A. van der Kolk
Self Regulation depends on having a friendly relationship with our body, without it we have to rely on external regulation from medication, drugs like alcohol, constant reassurance, social validation, busyness, overspending, control, frozen dissociation, spaciness, hypervigilance, or boundaryless, compulsive, people pleasing compliance with the wishes of others.
We can only be fully in charge of our lives when we can acknowledge the reality of our body, in all it's visceral dimensions. When feelings are not allowed to flow freely, they condense into stagnant quagmires of dense emotional suffering.
You Know the Truth by the Way it Feels
Learning how to honestly express "yes" and “no” is the cornerstone and fundamental foundation of developing positive self esteem and true intimacy. As a culture we are trained to cut ourselves off from the truth of what we are feeling. Only by getting in touch with our body, by connecting viscerally with our true self, can we gain a sense of who we really are, our priorities and true values.
One of the clearest lessons from contemporary neuroscience is that our sense of ourselves is anchored in a vital connection with our bodies. We do not truly know ourselves unless we can feel and interpret our physical sensations; we need to register and act on these sensations to navigate safely through life. While numbing (or compensatory sensation seeking) may make life tolerable, the price you pay is that you lose awareness of what is going on inside your body and, with that, the sense of being fully, sensually alive.
From the The Body Keeps Score by Bessel Van Der Kolk, M.D.
“Finding the center of strength within ourselves is in the long run the best contribution we can make to our fellow men. ... One person with indigenous inner strength exercises a great calming effect on panic among people around him. This is what our society needs — not new ideas and inventions; important as these are, and not geniuses and supermen, but persons who can "be", that is, persons who have a center of strength within themselves.”
― Rollo May
Embodied alignment is the balance between the descending gross physical and ascending subtle spiritual forces of manifest existence. An inner “line” expressed within the constant relational field of earth's gravity and the unknown infinite space of sky. In Indias esoteric tradition, it’s called Shiva/Shakti: The union of masculine and feminine.
Over a series of sessions, both client and therapist work to “lift” head, shoulder, thorax, pelvis and legs, into vertical alignment. Each session builds on the cumulative results of the previous one. Chronic discomforts often disappear immediately, or soon after the series are completed. A sense of lightness and fluid internal “rightness,” along with more energy and greater mobility are often the result.
Rolfing® creates long-lasting change by addressing the underlying cause of psycho/physical tension and pain. The goal of Rolfing goes beyond relieving tension in isolated body regions, instead, the entire body is integrated in gravity so the body as a whole functions more efficiently. People who have received this work move with more surety and grace and often report positive changes in their outlook on life. Benefits include improved posture, self-confidence and body awareness. Increased vitality, mental clarity and relief from chronic pain.
I have worked with thousands of individuals from all walks of life including many world class athletes, extreme sports enthusiasts, students of yoga and meditation, professional dancers, supermodels, artists, actors, writers, business people. Physicians, musicians, Roshis, Rabbis & Rinpoches. As well as many ’ordinary’ people, riddled with everyday tension and pain, who are seeking relief and improved performance in their professions and daily activities.
Rolfing ® is offered in a series of ten sessions, which are usually spaced one week apart, in a mainstream environment.
Individual non-series sessions are also available.
People of all ages and backgrounds use Rolfing to optimize the experience of living in their body and to come into a more personal and profound, intimate relationship with earth, spirit -- self and other.
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The body stores the trauma of our lives in muscular rigidity, thereby keeping us stuck in the past. When we release tension in the body and align ourselves with gravity, we take a new stand in life. This allows us to be at ease with ourselves and in harmony in our relationship to others and to our planet. ~ Joseph Heller
Health is not merely of the body, It is the natural expression of the body, mind and soul when they are in rhythm with the One Life. It is not merely a question of physical fitness, but rather is a result of the soul finding free expression through the mind and body of the individual. ~ Dr. Randolph Stone
"If you can imagine how it feels to have a fluid, light, balanced body free of pain, stiffness and chronic stress, at ease with itself and the earth’s gravitational field, then you will understand the goals of Structural Integration." - Dr. Ida P. Rolf
Open the breath and align the rib cage over the pelvis.
(The outer shell)
Align the legs the knee and ankle joints and help distribute the weight of the body over the arches of the feet.
(Stability and support)
Release tension in the shoulders, arms and sides and help bring vertical alignment to the sides of the torso.
(Let the arms hang)
Release the bottom of the core and bring alignment to the middle of the inside of the legs.
Lengthen the front of the core and release the deep muscles of the pelvis.
(Relaxed graceful gait)
Lengthen the back of the core, spine and sacrum.
Release and lengthen the top of the core, align the head over the torso, and release tension in the face, head and neck.
(Free the head)
Lower half 8
Release rotations in the lower half of the body – legs, hips, pelvis, and balance the deep and superficial muscles of this area.
(Connect to earth/feminine)
Upper half 9
Release rotations in the upper half of the body – the arms, shoulders, chest, back and neck and balance the deep and superficial muscles of this area.
(Connect to sky/masculine)
Establishing the overall integrity of the body.
(Whole Body Integration)
Ida Rolf had a vision of human potential that went beyond effective symptomatic pain relief and “good posture”. Better alignment was not an end in itself but a means of coming into a more personal and profound relationship with earth, spirit, self and other.