By Session 8 & 9 in the Structural Integration progression, the core is finished being unraveled, and it is time to begin integrating all the information the client’s body has received over the past seven sessions. While some integration was started in previous sessions, 8,9, and 10 make a point of it. Many questions are asked, and the resultant work of the sessions seeks to answer them. First, it is important to decide upon postural analysis, gait analysis, and other movement analysis if session 8 will be an “upper” or a “lower” (upper body or lower body). Session 9 will be the opposite of what session 8 turns out to be; i.e. if session 8 is a lower, session 9 will be an upper and vice versa. At this point, the analysis is global, taking into account the client’s entire body system and asking the question, where is there still a hang up, and what is the root of it? Which regions or parts still look like they are not communicating with the whole? Where is the client not moving with integrity, that is, from the core? By session 8, more often then not, it is the client’s lower body (below the lumbar-dorsal hinge) that still needs attention, especially when working from the understanding that it may need to be more integrated if anything above it is to hold. Once this is decided, the rest of the sessions seek to answer the question, what needs to be done to allow the client to live more fully in the body they were intended to have? What’s possible? It is important to note that perfection is not the point, but rather, the emphasis is on speaking to the way a client lives and moves in the world, and helping him/her to do this more fully. Because of this, the sessions involve a good deal of education regarding what integrated movement looks like and feels like in the body. It is imperative that the client be very engaged and present in his/her body during this session (as in all) so, with the help of the practitioner, he/she can become aware of aberrated movement, better understand the relationship of limbs to core in movement, and work to re-educate the body on what integrated movement feels like. The hope is that, now that the (superficial fascial) sleeve and core of the body have been unraveled, the client has a greater capacity for this integrated movement, whereas before, it may not have been possible because his/her structure was literally obstructing this. It is interesting to note that often integrated movement will feel strange or almost “wrong” at first when a client takes it on, as the body is still used to aberrated posture and movement. It takes a bit of faith and an adventurous spirit to keep experimenting with and seeking out this new balance.
Ultimately, though the previous sessions’ work is not any less profound, it is the last three sessions that set Structural Integration apart from other bodywork modalities. This is because it truly takes the deep tissue work to the next level in helping to foster a new consciousness within the client. Structural Integration doesn’t just create a new capacity within the body, it also assists the client in using this capacity. It assists the client in learning to own and independently further his/her intrinsic inquiry into what it means to be more aware and conscious within the body. The last three sessions, moreso than the previous seven, really bring it home how 50/50 this work is; success is half reliant on how well the practitioner executes the session work, while the other half is reliant on how aware the client chooses to become in the process.
My experience giving and receiving these sessions felt very exploratory; playful at times, intuitive at others. The sessions are very free-form in that one can start with a plan and then ditch it for a new one once discoveries are made. There is a way in which the practitioner is like an artist developing an eye for what integrated movement is, what is possible, and then helping to “sculpt” the body into alignment. A lot of these sessions tend to involve brief work on the table, and then getting up so the practitioner can look at how the work effected posture/movement. It can also involve the client sitting and/or standing while the practitioner works on two joints at a time, and asks the client to experience what certain movements felt like. If movement is not coming from the core, it is important to gain awareness and then practice movement until it is. All of my practice partners, and myself, ended up being “lowers” for session 8- so much of the work focused on relating pelvis/core to legs and then pelvis/core to the upper body. Session 9, then, resulted in being “uppers”, which focused more on how the arms and head related to the core, and vice versa. Part of the fun was in using any number of techniques to accomplish these goals of relating.
Lastly, it was really brought home to me, that in order to teach others what integrated movement is, I would have to continue my own journey with it. While some of the psychophysical work has already been interwoven into our coursework, I have decided to take the work deeper and attend additional continuing education in May and July. In the meantime, I will also be learning the in-depth five-body system (developed by Robert Masters and evolved by my course instructor Althea Northage-Orr) the psychophysical work came from. It is my hope and excitement that this additional work will deeply inform my Structural work as I go along.