Work with the individual is done through manual manipulation of the tissue to uncover the pattern that exists and then through intentionality allow the body to find a place where there is ease. To do this Dr. Rolf designed a series of sessions called the ten series to assist the body in healing itself and regaining its ability to adapt. According to Dr Rolf’s ten series “we expect to give a cycle of 10 sessions. There is a reason for this. We are not dealing with local problems. We are not dealing with the kind of thing that you can say, ‘Well, I fixed that, that’s all.’ We are dealing with an intent to make a body more secure, more adequate within the field of gravity. This requires that muscles be balanced, and need to be balanced around a vertical line. And when I talk about balancing muscles, I’m talking about balancing the right side against the left side. About balancing the front of the body against the back of the body and, finally, about balancing the innermost muscles against the outermost, the inside against the outside, this is the most important of these balances, and we start from the outside working in, and it takes ten hours before we can get to the place where we can really balance the outside against the inside” (Rolf). It is important to start from the outside and work in because the body is made of layers like an onion. We must work through each layer before moving to the next or the work will not be as effective. It will be blocked by the layer that is still stiff and dehydrated. Through the ten series the layers will go from disorganized to progressively more organized.
As the tissue becomes more organized the body is able to embody the principles of structural integration. Support, adaptability, palintonicity, and closure are four principles that make up the framework of the main principle wholism. The whole being is taken into consideration not just the parts. Each principle offers its own benefit to the session. Support creates a sense of gravity lifting as well as grounding. Adaptability allows for the ability to change as well as perceive change. Palintonicity is the idea of length in both the sky and ground directions. Closure allows for there to be an ending so that a new beginning can start. Each of these principles plays an important role in the transformation.
When working with the body it is never just one thing that must be “fixed.” Instead a transformation happens within four themes: inside/outside, left/right, front/back, up/down. Everything in the body is connected and changing one element can alter the whole being. Picture an undisturbed spider web and how intricately each part is woven into each other. If one part of the web is pulled, it distorts the entire web changing its ability to move and respond to outside forces. It causes the web to react to the tension and then adapt with compensations. As Dr Rolf put it, “I am dealing with problems in the body where there is never just one cause. I’d like you to have more reality on the circular processes that do not act in the body, but that are the body. The body process is not linear, it is circular; always, it is circular. One thing goes awry, and its effects go on and on and on and on. A body is a web, connecting everything with everything else” (Rolf 69).
This image depicts how much a body can change during the ten series.
This image is courtesy of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.
Lauren Gee Certified Rolfer™
Rolfing ® Structural Integration Longmont and Denver Colorado