Tuesday, August 21, 2012

The force of gravity is a prime ecological fact. We pay strict attention to it by following the laws of physics when we build things. We do like to play tricks with the eye in our architectural aesthetics with asymmetries and imbalances in the overall stylings. But, deep down, it's what any trade worker or architect would tell you: plumb and square. Level and square. Everything fitted to balance in the field of gravity.

Unlike static structures, the human body is dynamic, designed to move. And, it is segmented. feet, legs, pelvis, torso, shoulders, neck, head. The issue of balance in respect to the dictates of gravity is no less so with our bodies than with any physical structure.

Yet . . . When you look at the average individual in terms of the pattern of the body parts, you generally see a kind of randomness, or lack of organization according to how we know from the body's anatomical design things should go. It is so commonplace it is ignored. 

When I began my career in Rolf Structural Integration several years ago I thought it was an idea whose time had come. But, people resist. I don't think that people resist the idea of balancing the body with gravity as such. We all tend to not act unless the wolf is at the door. But, even then, the quick fix please.

If you are attempting to resolve symptoms of chronic pain and stress, please consider a regimen that works to bring order and balance into the structure of the body. Rolf Structural Integration is peerless and definitive. But, you may not want to take that step just now. So, pay more attention to how you use your body. Things like getting your workplace ergonomics right. Adjusting your walk so that both feet track directly forward. Bring your reading or computer monitor to eye level; not bend your head and stoop. If you are a big app user or texter, same thing. Bring your device to you, not you to the device.

The message of Rolf Structural Integration is simply that things work better physically when the body is balanced with the action of gravity. First subscribe to the idea that this is a value. I personally know it is a great value that could save a lot of time and expense in health care costs. A balanced body is a given if you seek to achieve top levels of physical performance, in athletics or on the stage. A body in balance is has less inner friction, less noise. With a body in balance you can really live!

Rolf Structural Integration is the definitive tool when you want to consciously engage in the process of bringing your life into a higher order of balance. It offers personalized assistance to foster and evolution in the makeup of the body to a balanced, symmetrical, effortlessly upright stance with full range of motion. Grace, presence, power, vitality. Can you imagine any of that without some measure of balance as the foundation?  
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Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
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Friday, August 17, 2012

“. . . the phrase ‘align with gravity’ doesn’t have a lot of impact for the average ear.”

Yet, When It Comes to Gravity . . . We’ve Just Scratched the Surface

I am in my thirty first year as a practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration.

And still every bit as enthusiastic about spreading the news that the force of gravity itself can be enlisted for optimum health, healing, top physical performance, and fullest creative expressiveness. Cutting edge ecology? You tell me!

What are we talking about? The quick definition: Rolf Structural Integration is an educational system developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf using movement and touch to align the body with gravity. This sort of true balance is easily within reach for most people; of all ages, varying physical abilities, and different life circumstances.

What also needs to come across is the point about that business of alignment with gravity, and so-called “true balance”. (True, as in correct, normal.) Probably the phrase “align with gravity” doesn’t have a lot of impact for the average ear. However, most individuals do not live up to the kind of balance that can meet the scientific definition of “aligned in gravity”. The simple fact that one can stand up on two feet is a passing grade for most people. The situation is so commonplace it goes unnoticed. Mostly we see rough approximations of what’s really possible.

The hallmarks of a body in correct normal balance are 1) verticality—the major segments comfortably stacked up one on top of the another, and 2) symmetry—right and left sides matching. Again, true symmetry: not just that there’s an arm on each side, or a leg; that’s a rudimentary symmetry. But, symmetry in terms of how those arms and legs are positioned in space relative to one another, and how they fit in relation to the entire body; what’s in between, above and below.

If you want to contest this definition of true/correct/normal balance, let me sell you my garage that is leaning precariously into the neighbor’s yard. Or, maybe you would like a free overnight stay on the upper level of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you are a taker on either of those two offers, stop reading immediately! This is not the kind of help you need.

When you look at the way average folks’ bodies are put together—how things actually fit in space and in their relationship to one another and in terms of how things should be to cooperate with the pull of gravity—you will see a lot of variation from the anatomy textbook; clearly in violation of the Law [of Gravity]. Under arrest, in fact. But, self-arrest. What we do see is mainly a seemingly passable rough approximation of the kind of balance that is in the body’s basic design potential and dictated by laws of physics.

An obvious place to look for balance/imbalance for yourself is the shoulders. Strip to the waist and look at your upper body in a mirror. Are the shoulders level, or is one side higher/lower than the other? Is one side larger/smaller? Closer to the torso? One side more forward, or back? Such differences become obvious when you look. It is probably becoming clear that we generally don’t look at our bodies that way, certainly not in such detail. Also, because the body parts are interrelated, what’s going on in the shoulders most certainly is reflected in the pelvis. Not to mention the head and neck. If you have a head ache, besides whatever else you may do, be sure to check on the tension in your shoulders and neck. Likely culprits.

Just saying . . . Since I am for natural remedies, it concerns me to see so many women spending so much money and enduring pain to have their breasts enlarged. You could have beautiful and satisfying results from simply having the body balanced to a higher, more natural order. Let’s be clear. I’m not referring to what some call having good posture. Yes, you can get a nice look just like the girls at the strip club know how to do by arching and pulling the shoulders back. That’s for models and photographers. (And first impressions at the cocktail lounge.) The kind of balance and corresponding upliftedness I am suggesting here comes from the inside out. When the body is stacked up vertically along its central axis, this automatically lifts the rib cage, and thus the bust line. In balance your breathing is free and full; the rib cage expands easily. That’s what I call stacked. But instead, its big breasts on top of sunken chests. Cosmetic plastic surgery, same issue; a pretty (?) surface fix over an underlying problematic issue(s), left unnoticed/unresolved. Only time will tell.

We mainly take the arrangement of our bodies as given and don’t consider how the ratio of balance/imbalance in the makeup of the body affects or vitality, health, and experience of living. Those who strive for excellence and top form in athletics and full creative expressiveness in the performing arts are already engaged in the process of cultivating bodily balance. The vast majority of humanity lives below the line. Better to say, “Off the line.” The line of gravity and the central vertical line of the body, when they match up, by definition that’s normal, healthy. Ever heard that before?

It’s important to understand that imbalances don’t live in isolation. Like a lot of therapeutic approaches often do, “Does it hurt there? OK, I’ll fix it there.” Perhaps this explains why therapeutic remedies that only address local symptoms often don’t seem to have lasting effect? Because with imbalances come compensations, complications. You can’t address just one. You have to treat the whole situation. Dr. Rolf’s genius was in coming up with a reliable system that gets at whole body balance gracefully over a rather short period of time.

These imbalanced fixations become set throughout the body in patterns unique to each individual. Why? Bad habits, unresolved accidents and traumas, lack of proper role models (“Isn’t it cute how Johnny swings his leg in an arc just like his daddy when he walks?”). Imbalances built into the fabric of the body over the years limit mobility and range of expression. They also play on the psychic-emotional level as well. It takes extra energy to live with unresolved imbalances in the makeup of the body. It’s an effort to hold yourself together. We put up with chronic pains and stress and fail to recognize how they are in a great majority of cases signals pointing to the simple fact that the body is out of balance. Think about this in terms of health care costs and lowered productivity.

Charlie Brown: “This is my depressed stance. [Standing with head down and shoulders drooped.] When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand.” Sister Sally: “The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.” Charlie: “If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.”

The idea that any average individual would do well to cultivate such structural order in the makeup of the body does not occur; and, when first exposed to it, most people seem to glaze over. It is news that still hasn’t been delivered. Off the radar, so to speak. Funny though, we wouldn’t tolerate such shoddy workmanship in even the backyard tool shed. Imbalance in the architectural arrangement of the body, however, not much purchase there.

Most of us generally only take action when problems show up. If you are lucky enough to seek the services of a qualified practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration to relieve chronic pains and stress—and that practitioner is able to enlist you in seeing how those problems are related to how your body relates to gravity—then you see for yourself first hand, unambiguously, the freedom and aliveness living with your body effortlessly upright, balanced, symmetrical and unstressed.

If you are dedicated to be tops in sports or a star of stage and screen, then you ought to already know that your instrument, your body, needs to be in top form, fine tune. And, if you really want to live, doesn’t it make sense that howsoever you may have that framed for yourself, you’ll be well served to cultivate tangible and lasting balance in the makeup of your body.

When you are ready to add “alignment with gravity” to your resume, Rolf Structural Integration will be a significant boost. But, first you gotta be thirsty, before we can really show you where the water is.

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Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
Structural Integration Montclair, New Jersey

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Body Holding Patterns

This is about a new, self-empowering way to look at human health and performance. A basic part of which is to understand body holding patterns and how they influence our life experience.

Who wouldn't agree that balance is the thing. When you look at balance in the human body—that is, structural order in the the arrangement of the body, how the parts fit together—such balance is defined in terms of vertical alignment and symmetry. This is basic Anatomy and basic Physics.

As you probably know, Rolf Structural Integration is principally concerned with training an effective human stance in the world, based on having the body balanced in respect to the dictates of gravity. This just means that the human beings by design and potential can live with bodies structured to align with the constant pull of the gravitational force. There's the line of gravity; there's the vertical line of the body. When these two are in sync, you're really alive. Just basic science, folks. It's been around a long time. Mostly ignored, however.

Again, this is not a new idea. It's the same basic understanding every architect and trades worker takes as given. In their jargon, "plumb and square." It's as old, in fact, as the pyramids; even earlier, for as long as human beings have lived and been building on the Earth. 

But, it may be new to most people in terms of something to look at concerning their own individual level of health and well being. 

As I write this the 30th Olympiad is being staged in London. What a glorious demonstration of what potentials and capacities humans can bring forth. Certainly it should be easily apparent that balance of the body is a fundamental necessity for such athletic accomplishment.

Here now, however, we are addressing the question of human balance as an everyday option for average men and women; people of all ages, varying levels of physical ability, and life circumstances. Simply put, doesn't it make plain sense that you live better with balance in the makeup of the body? We suffer unnecessarily for having imbalances and, sadly, for not recognizing how these holding patterns are prime culprits. And, this continues for not being informed that these issues are easily resolved. 

I am not just making a case to call your nearest Practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration. (That would be me.) It's how I earn a living, so I must admit a certain natural bias. But, as an educator committed to training human self reliance, I am duty bound to inform you that there are things you can do yourself. Just look at some of the other items on this website for self-help tips. But, of course, Rolf Structural Integration is peerless and definitive if and when you would choose to speed things along and get some expert assistance. (Again, that would be me.)

It is rather easy to get that imbalances in the makeup of the body are prime contributors to chronic pains and stress. What is not so commonly recognizedcould it be simply because it is so widespread throughout the general population that it is ignoredis that the average individual is at odds with gravity, living with imbalances and their compensations, below their natural potential; further, unaware of how these holding patterns themselves are a drain on energy, limiting not only general health, but effective performance and expression.

Another way of looking at imbalances in the makeup of the body is to call them "holding patterns." Simply defined, they are ineffective and inefficient ways of moving the body that have become ingrained into the body's fabric with repeated use over a period of time. Add in reactions to accidents and traumas that have not been resolved, and you can  begin to understand how the average individual arrives at adulthood with a life history showing a random set of unique imbalances in how the body fits together along with an equally unique pattern of compensations to maintain some semblance of normality. The tendency is to identify with this complicated situation; we say, "That's me!"

But, let it be stressed, while this may be the usual, it should not be confused with normal. Normal in structural terms—again, think pyramids—has been established from the dawn of creation to be vertical and symmetrical. This is solid science and practice worldwide, but now to apply it to the human condition itself. That would be new.

As was stated, the peerless and definitive approach to balance in the makeup of the human body is Rolf Structural Integration. It defines the category.

Naturally, I would love to keep you reading for several more pages so that I could fully educate you on the subject. There is plenty of information here and on my other websites and through an Internet search.

For now, I would like to make one point. About those imbalances, holding patterns. There are a lot of fine treatments and therapies that address such things. Many apply their techniques to local symptomatic areas. Others work more generally, taking into account broader sets of relationships. So many wonderful choices.

Rolf Structural Integration does not address imbalances and holding patterns per se. This doesn't mean that in the process such issues don't get handled. The main idea, however, and what makes this approach unique, is in how it cultivates verticality and symmetry as the first order of business. Resolution of chronic pains and stress due to bodily imbalances then resolve automatically as a by-product of having inculcated a more global framework of order. This may appear to some as a purely semantic distinction. The difference, however, is one of goals and intentions. The result of having head to toe balance introduced into the makeup of the body, is relief of symptoms of chronic pain and stress, and—very significantly—long term retention of those resolutions. And, a lasting ingrained foundation for self-evolution to higher levels of potential. Rolfing New Jersey
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Rolfing Montclair, New Jersey
Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
Structural Integration Montclair, New Jersey