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Rolfing® definition in 72 words (The official definition)

  • Rolfing® Structural Integration is the theory and practice of organizing the human being in the field of gravity. Its goal is to enhance the person’s structural integrity, which is manifest in the person’s ability to function economically in relation to the environment. Rolfing accomplishes this by addressing imbalances in the body’s connective tissue matrix, as well as by helping the client find more functional options regarding patterns of movement, perception and cognition.
This definition was crafted by a group of Rolfers™ last year as part of a new Rolf Institute of Structural Integration (RISI) Standards of Practice document, which was voted to be accepted by a majority of members of RISI. I like it: for 72 words, it is about as good as it gets. The above is tough for some to take, though. One old-timer connected with a prestigious institution of higher learning whined that most of the words mean nothing to his real world, which happens to be scientific.
There is a lot to Rolfing SI, and a lot of the words we use are unfamiliar to those outside of the field, although becoming better known. This happens in other fields, too. At the time I was learning the vocabulary of Rolfing, in 1982-1984, there was also a lot for me to learn about computers.
In my free time, I caught up on some of the new words of computerdom, and hardly “understood” them at all. Take that stuff about “bits” and “bytes”. Please, I said, just speak English. Finally I found someone who said, “A bit is a bit is a bit. A byte is a byte is a byte. Don’t try to translate bits and bytes into something else, not into words you think you like better.”
This made sense to me. When I came to “operating systems”, I got it, and just tried to imagine what OS was, rather than translate the “systems” badly to something I sort of understood.
I realized, the bits and bytes and operating systems are outside of proofings, they just are in the world, and have that name attached to them.
Structural Integration has some names attached to it, also. When Ida Pauline Rolf made the big leap to what she called integration, she just saw it in the world of the body as a possibility, and went for it, began to create that possibility in the “random” bodies of human beings who showed up for her.
These Randoms hardly knew what it was that she was doing, as most folks who come in for Rolfing hardly can know that organization which we call integration in gravity.  As far as IPR thought though, I believe that as individuals with all kinds of problems of integration began to show up, she always took the integrative idea as far as she could with that particular human being.
Every time that place was a little different, but still….there is an operating system of structure and movement in the body.
I loved what one of my fellow Rolfers recently said in part about the limitations of the above definition: when the person stands up toward the end and gets that goofy look of happiness and you ask them if they could have predicted this outcome, and they say, “No!” how can we explain that outcome to someone who has not had that experience?  
The answer, we can’t. And that outcome often happens, when you get a real Rolfer and a real person who both show up and go for integration in gravity.
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