Structural Integration- Session 7 (2/2012)
Session 7 in the Structural Integration progression focuses on aligning the upper body, bringing about a second completion within the 10 sessions- that of the core. The upper body within this session consists of the shoulder girdle, which is made up of our clavicles and scapulas (shoulder blades as most people know them), our arms, the sternum to which the clavicles attach, and then the neck and head. The shoulder girdle is literally like a yoke placed over our ribcage and imbalance here not only greatly affects our upper back and chest, but also moves up to the neck and head. For example, some people are very “glued” down in the pectoral muscles, which are attached at the clavicles. This drags the clavicles down, which then in turn drags the anterior neck, and the rest follows. The neck and head placement is also greatly affected by our thoracic (the spinal section where our ribs attach) spine, as many neck/head muscles attach here- some going all the way down to the pelvis (the erector spinae longissimus). If there is an aberrated curve in the thoracic spine, it is bound to aberrate the cervical curve, putting lots of strain on the neck muscles. Also, it is important to note that the cervical curve mimics the lumbar (low back) curve- aberration here translates through the whole spine. So, in earlier sessions, the lumbar back was addressed, bringing it more into alignment and changing the relationships between the spinal curves- oftentimes clients will start to feel discomfort in their necks between sessions because their lumbar spine has been moved into alignment, while the cervical spine is still hanging out there. Session 7 completes the work, bringing the head (the top of the vertical column) into alignment with the pelvis (the bottom of the vertebral column).
Perhaps the most fascinating (and perhaps notorious) hallmark of this session is the inner mouth and nose work. There are many important muscles within the skull, affecting the alignment of the head/neck, that cannot be released other than from the inner skull outward. For example, releasing the root of the tongue effects the hyoid muscles under our jaw, which is closely related with our cervical vertebrae. Building on that, there are muscles on either side of our jaws called the pterygoid, which, if they are too tight, can pull the jaw out of alignment and cause TMJ. We can release the pterygoid through manual manipulation within the mouth, but can only release the other end by entering the nose and releasing it indirectly via the sphenoid cranial bone. Entering the nose in this way also releases our third diaphragm (the first is within our pelvis, second is the one we breathe with), which then allows the head to “float” up into alignment. Lastly, after the oral and nose work, the facial muscles in general just have a new energy about them and are allowed to express more freely.
It is hard to avoid how personal this session was for me, as it has been the most revealing. I am not sure if it is due to the culmination of the other sessions it represents, revealing the depth and profundity of the work, or the fact that it was the most healing for me to receive it. During this session, I had an emotional release, which allowed me to go deeper into healing an old trauma I had experienced. It was profound to me that not only did my partner sense and know what the trauma was (intuitively/energetically) way before I did, but also that my body knew- way before my mind caught up. It wasn’t until I was standing up after the session for postural analysis did I start to cry and at that moment had no idea why. Afterward, I was struck by the accuracy of my partners insight, that she picked this message up from my body, and that my body spoke this truth in the first place. It was as if my body got in the drivers seat in that moment and said, I know its scary to speak this verbally, so let me; I will tell the truth. It seems the truth of our wounds are in our bodies, and in one way or another, they will find a way out. I guess we choose if it will be in a healing way or a destructive way. Later on, as I processed the content of the release, I felt a supreme gratitude to my body for, again, restoring my faith that it is on my side. It was right there for me, ready to help me heal, keep me on that trajectory, reminding me that always, always we move toward healing if we just let ourselves. It is as natural a trajectory as a plant moving toward the light. It is part of our make up; it is in our cellular intelligence. And for me, this is profound. I feel blessed to be learning a modality that can bring people into such deep healing.
To weave in another piece, I had also just read a chapter in Ida Rolf’s book that reinforces this idea of a healing trajectory, as it discusses why and how this work seems to shift people into a deeper state of being. In it, she posits that perhaps we have an indestructible blueprint of an energy body in addition to our physical body, around which our matter can be organized and draws its intelligence from. When our bodies are misaligned and disorganized, there is a confusion that expresses itself on a molecular, energetic level in our bodies and translates into how we hold ourselves in space (and it seems to be relational- that how we hold ourselves also translates to the molecular level). She posits further that, Structural Integration, in releasing the fascia to return to its natural place of balance, seems to allow our matter to re-organize itself around this energy body- blueprint, thereby allowing us to come more deeply into balance or beingness. I have found that my experiences (and many of the experiences of my classmates and practice partners) speak directly to this hypothesis and confirm not only the depth of this truth, but also brings forth the question of what is made possible through harnessing this great capacity of ours to heal, grow, and live more fully. In closing this note, I thought this quote appropriate:
“If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you”- Gnostic Gospel