Our culture views the body as "something one has, rather than something one is doing."
This change in perception is crucial and perhaps radical to some: that the way we habitually move, which is in turn affected by our self-perception and relationships to the world, can change our bodies. The way we think (intention) can also affect the actual physical structure and physiological function of our bodies.
I was guided towards a few profound discoveries after receiving my most recent Rolfing session with a talented healer. I went in with a mild but nagging discomfort in my low spine, which had developed a tendency to compress and pop/crack when walking for extended periods of time. Daily yoga practice and giving/receiving bodywork has taught me that our bodies have the ability to change constantly, and this mild discomfort was a new one that I felt more curious than distressed about. My practitioner specializes in Rolf Movement™, so our session was a combination of education, experientials, and tissue work. I realized my tendency to "show up" in the world meant exaggeratively getting tall, opening my chest, opening my eyes, and contracting my diaphragms (horizontal structures in the body such as bottoms of feet, pelvic floor and jaw.) This was where I felt most "comfortable" because it was the image I was used to projecting into and interacting with the world. She had me do an experience where I walked toward her embodying this old pattern, then with a new pattern which we were able to introduce, in which I allowed my abdomen to rest, my feet to open to the floor, my gaze to soften.
Then she asked me what I perceive. I told her I liked the first way of being embodied, because that was what felt "normal" to me: I felt "like me," I felt ready to confidently engage with her, I felt safe. She smiled, "That's why you don't change."
It's a difficult realization for some, that the way they habitually perceive themselves and the world, how they think they "should" be in order to feel like themselves, can contribute to problems in the body (such as my low back issue and tightening my diaphragms.)
Then She told me, "You can experiment with both. You can decide some days, or with some people, to try the new pattern and see what happens."
So I did. Thus far I have noticed physical changes: Less bodily discomfort. Less jaw tension. Physiologically, my pelvic floor tension has disappeared and my breathing feels lighter, fuller, and easier. Psychologically, people started interacting with me differently. 5 strangers smiled at me in one day. One lovely human being started a conversation with me in the subway because I was singing and humming. The new pattern freed up my energy to feel socially uninhibited, expansive. It has been a healthy new option to balance my usual introversion with this comfortable, natural outgoingness that is becoming more accessible the more I practice it. Truly our bodies are not just inert mass that we have throughout our lives. Who knew you could practice "doing" your body in new ways that would change not only how you feel, but how the world feels you!
Rolfing® and Rolf Movement™ come together to create structural and functional changes that last. The fact is, I am a somatic practitioner. I deal with the body, and people do find relief from everything from poor posture to sciatica from my work. However, when I touch a body, I recognize that I am contacting more than skin and muscles and fascia. I am interfacing with a whole human being and the life they lead. My work is about so much more than the surface symptoms. My practice is about listening deeply, being present, and being of service. As a recipient of Rolfing, I continue to marvel at this journey in progress, this body that I am learning and "doing" every day.
Rolfing® and Rolf Movement™ may be able to help you if you are experiencing:
-back pain/disc displacement
-neck and shoulder tension
-restricted range of motion/flexibility
-work related/repetitive stress syndrome
-a desire to feel more embodied, light and powerful
-tightness in common areas like IT band, hamstrings, hip rotators, traps
...and much more