Dr Rolf discovered that she could change the shape, structure, and function of the body with her bare hands.
This idea is still radical.
This idea is helping in the transition of world consciousness from the industrial era to the quantum physics and information era.
In the former era the world, our bodies, even to some extent our minds and psyches, were looked at as machines – collections of parts attached together to make a functioning machine. The machines followed simple physical laws that could predict how they would function. If a part was damaged, it could be replaced or repaired.
This viewpoint is still widespread. Modern medicine is based on it. Even many “alternative” therapies are also. That doesn’t mean that they are not effective, yet I am making some distinctions in the way I see that our understanding of our world is evolving.
Dr Rolf’s work is pointing to the understanding that our body, and along with it, our minds, consciousness, and perhaps even our world and universe can be seen as functioning with intelligence above that of machines.
She found that she could change a person’s body shape, structure, and functioning with her hands. She was a scientist, curious investigator, philosopher, and explorer, with a gift to be able to see structure in the body.
She gave an explanation for how she could make these changes in the body that could on the surface, be accepted by the prevailing machine like view. She said she was changing the fascia or connective tissue of the body. It makes a lot of sense and it seems to be true. In recent years fascia is getting more attention in the scientific community – inspired in a large part by the practitioners of Dr Rolf’s work.
It’s also true that even in our practitioner community – the Structural Integration community- which is what at one time Dr Rolf called her work – there is a lot of discussion of why our work is so effective and how and why it does work. I think most of us would agree that while working with the fascia is an important part of what we do, there is a lot more going on.
Dr Rolf discovered a way of working that is powerful and effective. The understanding of why it works is evolving as our understanding of anatomy and physiology, our minds and emotions, our consciousness, evolve.
Some practitioners and researchers are looking at how our work affects the proprioceptors in the body – the sensory nerves that give us feedback on where our body is, what it is doing, and how the parts of it are relating to each other. Others are looking at how our mind relates to the sense of the physical space we are moving in and how that affects our structure and movement. One Rolfer/DC worked only with nerves and found that he could accomplish all his structural integration goals through that work. Practitioners are looking at how important the homunculus is- the parts of the brain that maps the sensory and motor nerves in the body and creates corresponding body representations in the brain. Our work in part is working on affecting that part of the brain and the mind-body connection. Some practitioners are finding that they can change the shape of bones and the function of joints through direct pressure.
I think that we are working at all those levels and more.
For myself, I see the body-mind system of my client as very intelligent and sensitive. Sometimes I compare it to a wild animal – very perceptive and reactive, wary.
Much less touching – even being in the same space with a client is already having profound effects. The first touch is like putting a finger in a bathtub of water – a slight touch sends ripples reverberating and criss crossing all around the surface of the bath water – or the client’s system.
I see that this intelligent system has often gotten confused and has trouble restoring itself to its natural, healthy, balanced state.
Various experiences, traumas, learned patterns, stress, input overload, and such have left the body/mind system in a place where it could use some help to restore itself.
I see my work as communicating with the system through touch, words, presence, and other levels to help the system find its natural place of alignment and well being. In Rolfing we are particularly looking at how the system aligns with itself and its environment, and how it supports itself and connects all its parts with the wholeness of itself.
As our understanding comes to new levels of awareness of how the physical, mental, and consciousness all interplay, Dr Rolf’s work leads the way as a therapeutic modality that holds a space and structure where these dimensions can interact and transform. It holds a structure that allows new understandings to exist and grow. A big reason for this is that Rolfing isn’t a set of techniques but a vision of wholeness and integration that allows for myriads of techniques.