Now that the client has the full capacity for alignment, session 10 in the Structural Integration progression is about helping the client to find his/her vertical and own it. As a culmination of the work, session 10 addresses the body from the ground up, focusing on the multiple diaphragms and joints of the body. Yes, we have more than one diaphragm. 🙂 The diaphragms addressed in this session are the arches of the feet, the pelvic floor, the thoracic diaphragm (the one we breathe with), the hyoids (the chin), and the top of the head. The joints are put through tracking techniques to observe, educate, and get the body to feel what proper flow of movement in alignment feels like. The idea is to get the client’s energy moving freely through these diaphragms and joints. Lastly, if there is any small “clean-up” work to do, or any last little hold-up in the system, that can also be addressed in this session. It is interesting to note that emotional releases are still possible in this session, as sometimes, the one last little thing that is holding up the system is discovered- that which is not serving the whole- and is hopefully freed.
The movement of energy through the diaphragms especially seems to be what ultimately gives the vertical lift once all else is released (I would wager a guess that this is because the body is hydrostatic). Conscious, full breath, now has the capacity to expand into our pelvic floor and up into the top of our head. Upon inhalation, all of the diaphragms pull down, while the diaphragm at the top of the head pulls up. It follows that the vertical created upon inhalation, from pole to pole, nicely corresponds and/or creates an appropriate visual as to what our spine should be doing upon inhalation, and perhaps in general. I have noticed now that if I can’t get a full breath, it is usually because some part of my spine and/or pelvis and head are not in alignment. There truly is an ease of standing upright and breathing once this vertical is found- this ease, and feeling that everything has just “let go” being an indicator that the vertical has been acheived.
The word “found” is used because not all people know what standing vertically feels like, as the habit has possibly been quite the opposite. Again, part of the 10th session is education so the client can feel what “vertical” is in the body. Again, the fact that the client has to choose to truly seek out this verticality and to own/take up the work of the 10 sessions becomes very apparent. I realized that some people may not ultimately be ready to (or want to) inhabit this new way of being, as it means stepping, not only into an unknown space, but perhaps a more empowered way of being. There can be frustration and resistance. There is no judgement in this as all people must make journeys at their own pace, and maybe the Structural path is ultimately not the one to be chosen. Others, on the other hand, will be more ready or certain, and so will consciously continue the process of integrating a new posture and way of moving in the world into the nervous system. This usually takes the form of being able to better catch when out of alignment and to be able to find the way back to vertical again, and again, until hopefully, it becomes the default way of being. Either way, it is a personal process, one in which we should be gentle with ourselves. There can be a tendency toward wanting to be perfect and getting upset with ourselves when we aren’t. My teacher has often encouraged a sense of humor and curiosity in this process, as it goes a long way.
A few classes back, my teacher stated something to the effect that maturity is expressed through order. As the sessions progressed, I understood what she meant as I began to see/feel a beautiful maturity expressed in my classmates and myself- a wholeness perhaps, or a container, through and upon which deeper inner work could be expressed and grounded. In her book, Ida Rolf mirrors this sentiment saying, “Evolution is matter moving toward more effective order.” She goes on to say “True verticality, the goal of Structural Integration, is more than a figment of the imagination. Indeed, it is very real; it is a functional phenomenon, a line around which the body’s energy force fields balance. Again, these energy forces are not abstract; they manifest in real myofascial material structures. Through its vertical stance, the organism is no longer earth-bound; the vertical expresses an energy relation between earth and sun. In its own way, the vegetative world also glorifies the polarized vertical; its upward striving is material evidence of vital polarity. Whenever life differentiates toward a greater, more complex degree of order, the upward thrust becomes more apparent and more significant. As order evolves, a gravity/antigravity structural organization defines itself, and this basic polarity, rooted in the earth, expresses in terms of vertical lift. (Rolfing, 285-289)”
It seems that through the work of Structural Integration, we learn, energetically, how to be more grounded, while we reach toward the heavens, or rather, our true potential. It is helpful to have a solid foundation in our physicality as we strive to experience our life in subtler forms. The power of the ten sessions, therefore, lies in its invitation, and its ability to support whatever it is that we reach for.