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The Structural Integration Perspective
September 26, 2019
by Jason DeFilippis
Why do we experience pain and discomfort? What are some of the reasons we live with limitations in our bodies? The answers to these questions are broad and span the realms of perception, pre-disposition, physical and emotional tendencies, and how we habituate with respect to trauma.
All of these factors can enhance or obstruct the flow of health through our bodies and minds. Many of these factors relate to how we shape ourselves around our lived history.
From the Rolfing®/Structural Integration perspective, pain and discomfort are addressed by bringing the body to a higher level of order and balance, so that we can let go of habits that may be causing compression, lack of complexity, and hypermobility, and replace them with habits that support appropriate length, space, and activation in the body.
The work consists of precise hands-on contact with the body, and the intention of clarifying relationships within it, thereby allowing more choice in how we respond to environmental conditions when sitting, standing, and moving. Being as present as possible in the body with stability, adaptability and balance is a condition for a healthy mind and body, and for the ability to be clearly in relationship to what is being experienced at any given moment.
We don’t totally understand the mechanisms involved in the process of healing. This is true with all healing modalities. Rolfing/Structural Integration is based on the theory, and practice, that habits of movement born from trauma can lead to conscious and unconscious limitations in movement choices, which can result in the uneven distribution of strain throughout the body. This may manifest as pain, limited motion, compression/tightness or lack of complexity in certain parts of the body. It may also be expressed in tissues that are too loose, and not able to be used well.
Both over-stability and hyper-mobility are often occurring simultaneously, in most of us. Because the body and mind are to some degree formed in reaction to events in our lives, we are bound to unconsciously repeat our history through our posture, movement habits and other repetitive physical patterns. However, embodied habitual organization around past trauma can change.
Therapies such as Rolfing/ Structural Integration can help us come out of our history, into the present moment, where there are more choices in how to move, breath, think and live. When the body is not negotiating major imbalances, it is free to function more optimally. The Rolfing/Structural Integration approach works with the body systematically, to relieve strain patterns that limit movement and introduce more conscious choice into a person’s movement choices.
Techniques may include manually separating tissues in order to clarify relationships that affect how movement manifests. For instance, we would like for the arm to not drag the head, neck and ribs with it, the thousands of times a day that it moves. We would like for the spine not to shorten and become compressed because of a lack of good function in the legs, or some other part of the body.
When the primary strain patterns in a body are relieved, the body takes on easier, more correct, and integrated patterns of organizing itself. These qualities have correlative effects on the mind.