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What is Rolfing anyway?

When I get done with this post, I am hoping that you will know some. I am not holding out a lot of hope, though, as one person recently said about my blog, “I don’t know what you are talking about a lot of the time”.

Exposition: one reason I may have gone to be a student at the Rolf Institute in 1983 was just so that I would know what happened during my original 10 series with Paul Gordon in Boston in 1981.

How did I feel so much better?  Integration?  In gravity?  That one totally lost me.  Now I know that all it means is that the gravity centers of the 3 major body blocks do better if they are at rest over each other when we are just “hanging out”, just sitting around, just standing around.

In other words, doing something, those gravity centers of the major body blocks (hips, chest, head) can be congruent without fighting amongst themselves.  Most think it is better Posture…but it is the foundation of better Structure that makes the house have better Posture.  And…have better posture without “Get those shoulders back!”

At that time of wanting to know more, I read Ida Rolf’s book “Rolfing, the Integration of Human Structures” front to back several times.  I had no clue from the words of the book, to speak of, although as I went on in reading, I came to have good-grades college-level anatomy and physiology.  I could just as well have tried to understand Rolfing from the words of:

Mind you, no sprechen ze Deutsch, or whatever.  Most folks no sprechen the words of structural integration, either, and one reason is the circuitous nature of how we have to speak of the work.  It would be really really nice to be able to define it ‘blam’ ‘ blam’ and have it over.

“Take a wooden body, put a motor on it, put 4 wheels and a steering mechanism on it, and call it an automobile”.  Well, that is really misleading in the “auto” part, I mean so far there is not an automatic mobile/car.  Someone has to drive it.  Oh, a motor, no one has to pull or push, that makes it “auto-matic”.   I see.  There are lots of word problems like that in Rolfing.

There is a technique out there, a hands-on technique, by which someone trained in Rolfing can work with someone to change their structure.  One can’t really do the hands-on technique on oneself that well, although you will often see Rolfers fidgeting around with their hands or necks.

That hands-on technique isn’t really Rolfing, because the technique is not “IT”, “IT” (Rolfing) is the vision and way of organizing the body for certain goals.

Another confusion about that technique:  the technique is adaptable, and can be changed from a butterfly touch to a goodly amount of pressure, depending on the sensory capacity of the Rolfer to exert appropriate touch at appropriate layers of structure/function for each certain person to change and take on the goals of “IT”.

So what are these goals?  I once knew an M.D. who sent me his wife and his son but didn’t come himself because he had heard that John Denver said he got two inches taller and had a better sex life.  The M.D. just could.not. get .past. that.frivolity.

The goals are better structure, better function, and that may be different than what is out there in Wikipedia etc. about the body.  There will be grounding and lift, there will be organization of a supportive core and appropriate workings of the arms, legs and head/neck so that they don’t impinge on that core.  This is a tall order, for example, the neuro/myo/fascial bundles of the arms cover the whole front, back and sides of the upper torso.  And…there are fibers that go down and up past the upper torso.

Another of the goals is to have the 3 arches of each foot working.  Most think of the arch as the arch we all know, the medial arch, but there are 2 others, the lateral longitudinal arch and the transverse arch.  (I didn’t make this up!)

And on and on.  It is not easy, but it is not rocket science or brain surgery either.

Students learn how to do this all the time at the Rolf Institute.

Did this clear anything up for you?  Please let me know…

This Post Has 2 Comments
  1. Oh my Grace! I’m here, at almost 1am in the morning crying! LOL! So, still on my “research” weeks after completing the basic training, I find myself scratching my head, questioning if I’m slow or just plain retarded… “Why can’t I just put a few words together, get an elevator pitch, something!!” And then reading some others’ websites, it’s left me more in a frantic state – no one seems to know how to put “IT” into words! But thanks to your blog, I am getting more than good solid insight and reassurance, I’m getting comic relief!! I can’t wait for Saturday!!

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