Structural Integration- Session 3 (12/2011)
If you want to reclaim an inch of your height- session three in the Structural Integration progression may be your remedy! 🙂 With its focus on pulling the ribcage up and off the pelvis and lengthening the “lateral seam”- or the sides of body, rather- many of my classmates literally reclaimed an inch of their height. Session three also acknowledges the body as three dimensional- not just back and front- and focuses on integrating this lateral aspect into the whole being before going deeper in later sessions. The integration accomplished in the first three sessions (though they only engage mostly superficial fascial structures) is a completion on its own for this reason.
Due to increased height and length in the body, the emotional component of this session can sometimes deal with whether or not we fill up our own space or shrink into ourselves. Funny enough, looking back, I did engage with this issue. Often, I don’t like to disrupt harmony between myself and others and will sometimes sacrifice my own needs or desires to maintain it. I think, well, as long as I am the one taking the brunt (silently suffering), I don’t have to worry or feel bad about anyone else’s discomfort. I had a revelation that I am included in what we call “harmony”; if I am part of a group, my well being is part of the harmony of the group; I matter and deserve to take up my own space. The issue came up loud and clear in two separate arenas of my life and continues to knock on the door of my awareness.
This personal experience really brought home to me again that the psycho-physical relationship (mind-body) is a reality and once we start to change our bodies, our minds and spirits inevitably follow suit. Fascinating. It is why I have fallen in love with this work. Ida Rolf’s book Rolfing illuminates this relationship from the very first page. I want to include an excerpt that exemplifies my meaning- bear with me; its long but worth it:
“At the age of ten, Johnny roller-skated down a flight of concrete steps, bumping down the last six on his derriere. Since he broke no bones, Mama thought no damage was done. But at eleven, Johnny could no longer keep up with his contemporaries in athletics. He couldn’t even sit cross-legged. By fifteen, his knees were hurting; by sixteen, he was getting very heavy-hipped; by seventeen, he was sent to a doctor to find out what ‘disease’ was affecting his knees and his walking. Eventually, the doctor obliged and gave it a name. At thirty-five, Johnny was trying to get rid of the ‘disease’ by psychotherapy. Pity the poor psychotherapist.
In the meantime, what has happened to Johnny’s personality? When a boy can no longer challenge his peers physically…what happens to his self-image? When he feels inadequate and insecure, both consciously and unconsciously, what kind of compensation does he make down through the years?
Endless psychological problems have been blamed on insecurity. Unnumbered mothers have wept on being told, ‘Johnny feels insecure; you didn’t give him enough love as a baby.’ This means that Mama must shoulder the guilt. But Johnnies without number have felt insecure because they were insecure, and no mama appeared in the picture at all, nor did any guilt. To Johnny, one leg felt longer than the other, not because the bones were longer, but because the time he fell down the stairs… he rotated his pelvis. One hipbone therefore is slightly forward of the other and/or slightly higher; one leg seems longer. In addition to the primary problem, compensatory distortions have occurred throughout the body- he is round-shouldered and knock-kneed. Papa’s communications to him are predominantly ‘For god’s sake, boy, can’t you stand up straight?’ In point of fact, Johnny can’t. He only knows that he doesn’t feel right. The psychiatrist will call him insecure, and that’s precisely what he is. For when your two legs are not properly under your body, you are insecure, and you’ll act like it and feel like it.
Inevitably, the bedeviled individual will cope with this insecurity by some kind of compensation. Whether he becomes brash, loud-mouthed, and resentful, or apathetic, withdrawn, and timid depends on other factors. In either case, the family may well send him to a gym or in some way try to build up his body. And he does get sturdier. He weighs more; quite possibly he can wrestle or box, though not very well. Perhaps the weight settles around his hips, as though the flesh wanted to splint the insecurity at the joint. Nonetheless, gym or no gym, at the deep level the joint is still no more secure than it was. Johnny’s dividend from the hated gym- his new potential for wrestling another kid down- does not change his subconscious realization of his own insecure stance. On many planes, his ‘I’ senses this.
Is the remedy for this particular Johnny to be found in psychotherapy? No, not at this time. The remedy can be found only at the level of the insecurity, namely in the structural deviation of the pelvis. New security accompanies a restorted balance in the pelvis. Nothing else does the job. When this has been done, Johnny within minutes reports, ‘Gee, I feel different.’ And within hours, the relaxation of his emotional personality becomes apparent even to the neighbors.” (Rolf, 25-26)