The Work of ‘The Work’: Supporting People Becoming Who They Are

Pages: 33-37
Year: 2016
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Structural Integration – Vol. 44 – Nº 1

Volume: 44

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Anne Hoff: How many years have you been practicing Rolfing Structural Integration (SI)? What inspired you to become a Rolfer in the first place?

Ray McCall: I?ve been practicing thirty-eight years. I trained in ?78. What inspired me was that I was interested in the transformational aspect of the work. That was back in the heyday of the human potential movement. I was a client model in one of the classes in Boulder that was taught out of a motel on 28th Street. Emmett Hutchins was the teacher. That was in 1975. So in that first session, within twenty minutes, I knew I wanted to be a Rolfer, and knew that I wanted to teach the work. It was a very powerful experience.

AH: What was it in those twenty minutes that made you know that? Was it experiential, or was it a direct knowing?

RM: I knew it directly. It was something to do with the way I was experiencing my body. So that was in 1975. There was no massage school in Boulder then, so I went to the San Francisco Bay area to get the anatomy, physiology, chemistry [which used to be a prerequisite], and massage certification. Then I did a year of Reichian breathwork training with Ed Jackson and a course taught by two graduates of the Berkeley Psychic Institute. In retrospect, all of that served me very well in preparing for the Rolfing work.

Then after I took that year off, I called up Anna Hydera [at the Rolf Institute®] and said ?Activate my file,? and she said, ?Well that?s interesting, I was just looking at it today.? I did my auditing (Phase 2) in Berkeley with Michael Salveson and then I did my practitioning (Phase 3) with Emmett, assisted by Tom Wing, here in Boulder. So Emmett was my primary teacher. I did my practitioning with him; I did workshops with him; I did an Advanced Training (AT) taught by Emmett and Jan Sultan. I think that was Jan?s first teaching of an AT. And then I audited the AT again the next year, taught by Jan and Peter Melchior.

AH: Did you ever meet Ida Rolf? Because she died in ?79, so there wouldn?t have been much time

RM: I expected that she wouldn?t be around for long, so when I was certified in ?78 I came back that summer to meet her. She was pretty much confined to a wheelchair by then. A bunch of us were standing around and Michael Salveson said, ?Would you like to meet Ida?? When I was introduced, she said, ?Young man, where is your practice?? and I said, ?In San Francisco,? and she said, ?There are too many Rolfers there already. You should go someplace where this work is needed.? So I moved to Boulder. She was an amazing presence. Someone would wheel her into the room and you would go, ?whoa!?

AH: Say more about that presence. What was it like?

RM: In today?s terms, ?field phenomena? is the best explanation.

AH: How did the field feel?

RM: Clear . . . and less room for nonsense would be the way I would say it today. It was at that meeting that she signed over the rights of the work to the Rolf Institute®.

AH: Speaking of fields, as a teacher, it?s quite a lot to hold the field of the classroom, both tracking the students didactically and with many people receiving work from students with various degrees of confidence.

RM: It?s very intense. I love doing demos, and doing demos is like being the ringmaster in a three-ring circus. First and foremost you have to be present with yourself, and then be present with your client, but you cannot focus solely on him or her because you also have to include the class; so there?s that ongoing negotiation of holding the space. If you?re going to transmit the knowledge and the skill set, you have to work on the client in an authentic way, where you are meeting his or her needs, and at the same time you have to be able to dialogue with the class about what?s going on. In some ways, it?s performance art.

AH: What caused you to teach? You said you knew at the same moment that you wanted to be a Rolfer and a teacher.

RM: It sounds conceited to say, at this point, but I felt that I had a view of the work that was important to be honored and maintained.

AH: Say more.

RM: Well, let me try it this way: when I teach classes, and this is even more true in advanced classes, but in basic classes, I?ll go around the room, and ask students what their motivation was that resulted in them receiving the Ten Series. What I?ve found is that people?s definition, understanding, belief about what Rolfing SI is, is shaped by their initial motivation for receiving the Ten Series. Many people are motivated because they have physical pain, or they want increased sports performance, etc. When I started in 1978, the human potential movement was en vogue, and there were many more people who would come in and say, ?I want what?s next in my life and I think Rolfing SI could help make that happen.? As I said, the reason I got the work was for the transformational aspect, and so that?s my bias, those are the kind of people I like most to work with. Even though I?m interested, I?m less interested in bad backs and bad knees. And you know, Ida herself said ?If people get better, that?s great, but that?s really not what the purpose of my work is. We?re trying to create order in a system.? So how do we keep that holistic view alive and well when we are teaching and also teach people how to make knees and backs better?

AH: So do you try to meet those needs? Do you teach to what students think Rolfing SI is, or do you try to broaden their view to a wider perspective?

RM: One of my goals is for students to leave class with a bigger vision of what Rolfing SI is than when they arrived. I also find it interesting that when Dr. Rolf sold the rights of the work to the Rolf Institute, part of the contractual agreement was that three schools of Rolfing SI would be established in X number of years ? I don?t remember the number. I was told by Emmett that her vision was that the East Coast school would be medically oriented, the West Coast school would be psychologically oriented, and the Boulder school would be esoterically oriented. And if you get a room full of Rolfers together, they pretty much fall into those three groups ? not equal numbers in each group but those three orientations.

AH: What is your educational background, and what was your work history before Rolfing SI?

RM: I have an MA in structural linguistics, specializing in teaching English as a second language. My undergraduate degree was a distributed major in Russian, English, and speech. I wanted to travel, and I figured linguistics would allow me to do that. I was not particularly interested in analyzing language. I was interested in psycholinguistics: how people perceive reality, encode it, and transmit to another person who decodes it. So in terms of practical use, after I got my Master?s, I went into the Peace Corps in Western Samoa, and after that went to Saudi Arabia and worked for a year for the Institute of Modern Languages (IML) which was subcontracted to Raytheon. Raytheon had a defense contract with the Saudi government. After that I worked for IML in Washington DC for three years as a coordinator of a language-teaching program and as an editor in the publications department.

A work colleague and I did a lot of backpacking. We wanted to see wilderness before it was gone, so we took a leave of absence and six of us spent the whole summer going down the Yukon River in two-person kayaks. When I was hitchhiking back from Alaska I got a ride in a car that had Ram Das? Be Here Now in the back seat. I started reading it, and realized that having been out in nature that long, I?d been spontaneously dropping into meditative states without even knowing it. So when I got back there was no way I could go work in an office again. So I house-sat up in Maine and thought I was going to do a subsistence thing there, but realized that I was a Westerner, and returned to Colorado and did carpentry. Then the money dried up, so I went up into Wyoming and worked for a year on an oil-drilling rig. After that I came back to Boulder with a pocket full of money, experienced Rolfing SI, moved to the Bay Area, was certified as a Rolfer, and here we are back in Boulder since 1982.

AH: It sounds like your life got hijacked by the human potential movement.

RM: I wouldn?t say ?hijacked.? [laughs]

AH: Related to that, how has Rolfing SI influenced your body-mind?

RM: Well Rolfing work has not been the only thing that has changed my body, my mind. I did Rechian breathwork, which was instrumental. I think in our society, we are so disembodied and estranged from our physicality that we pretty much have an adversarial relationship to our body. You know, the extreme sports, endless distractions. So certainly one of the things that Rolfing sessions did was allow me to relate to my body as a resource ? a resource that I could trust to give me guidance in my life. And I would say I was more influenced by meditation, because when I discovered meditation it was just this incredible relief, because what I used to do to still my very busy mind were things like riding motorcycles and rock climbing, and things that people die doing. So it was wonderful to find a practice and activity where I could focus my mind without risking dying. In addition to that, I?m a big fan of therapy. After I started my practice in San Francisco in ?78, within that year, I started working with a therapist because I could see how doing ?The Work? evoked my own issues. When I teach the ethics day [in Rolfing trainings], I tell people, ?in my opinion, if you?re really doing this work, you will encounter all your dragons.? To be responsible, you need to do your work, so you can hold space for people. When I moved back to Colorado in ?82, I went into Jungian Analysis for three years. So to think that we have this rugged individualism, to think that somehow we can do it all ourselves, is simply not realistic.

AH: Like you, I?ve done lots of different things, but I?m younger than you so I didn?t catch that ?60s wave. Say that Rolfing SI is just one entry point, you?re talking about these many entry points to . . .

RM: Awareness? Consciousness?

AH: Yes, and transformation. So you did Jungian analysis, Reichian work, meditation . . . I?m imagining this sort of background was quite common, like at Esalen,

RM: It wasn?t uncommon. Yeah, not uncommon in that people were in a field, a culture, where there was this momentum, this wave of a huge desire for transformation, and people were working at it through many angles.

AH: The culture has changed, and I think the type of people who come to us as clients has changed because the culture has changed. I?m wondering how much can Rolfing SI do on its own to interface this mind-body piece, if people are not open to other avenues, not open to working their stuff psychologically. Maybe we are working their bodies, but if their body armor ? to use the Reichian term ? is so engrained in who they are that they?re not willing to have a different perspective of themselves, how far can you get with Rolfing sessions?

RM: I understand the question, but it assumes that there is a certain place where people should ?get to?. So, early on in my practice, I tried to figure out what the common factor was among people who chose to go through the Ten Series. After holding the question for about six months to a year, the conclusion that I came to was that the only thing the people had in common is that they
wanted to change. For some people, that was physical, for some people that was emotional, some people spiritual. So when people would ask, ?What does Rolfing SI do?? I would say, ?It is a catalyst.? And in chemistry terms, a catalyst is something that speeds up a process, but it?s not used up. So I have always been very much ?client-centered? in my work.
In terms of your other question, I think that in the early days, people did believe that if they [went through Rolfing sessions], that took care of everything. And obviously, it didn?t ? it doesn?t. So when I teach classes, I draw three intersecting circles, a Venn diagram, and you have the psychological, the mental/emotional, and the spiritual. To be integrated it?s necessary to do our work in all three areas.

AH: Is there anything you say to new clients to orient them to this holistic paradigm?

RM: Well, on the old Rolf Forum, someone asked, ?When people come in and say ?I?ve got this knee and I want it fixed?, what do I say?? A recently certified Rolfer on the Forum said she asked them, ?If we do the Ten Series, and your knee does not get any better, do you still want to do the Ten Series?? I thought that was skillful and brilliant, because it provided the opportunity for the prospective client [to see] that the process is bigger than just the knee. And sometimes you just do the Series and clients catch on by themselves.

AH: Say more about how Rolfing sessions influenced your own body-mind?

RM:What drew me to Rolfing SI was that the word on the street was that it was the next hot ticket on the human potential movement. It also had very practical results. After I [had Rolfing sessions] I went skiing and realized it was easy to turn in both directions. I think more than any of that, my body became a resource, like a litmus test, a source of what I should or shouldn?t do, just from my felt sense. I remember walking down a shopping mall one day and just the experience of walking was ecstatic. The Buddhist phrase from the Heart Sutra is ?Emptiness is form and form is emptiness? ? so I see the body as a continuation of the mind and the mind as a continuation of the body.

AH: I have often felt that, too, that the way Rolfing sessions open up the fascia allows the perception that the body is more formless than we think it is.

RM: For sure.

AH: What inspired you to join the Advanced Faculty?

RM: It was still partially an overachieving thing. I thought that the AT was the top of the Rolfing mountain, and I wanted to get there and see what the view looked like.

AH: And you still teach Basic Trainings (BT) as well, right?

RM: I teach at least one Phase 2 or 3 a year. I have certainly taught many, many more BTs than I have Advanced.

AH: What are the different challenges and rewards of teaching Basic versus Advanced?

RM: By definition its always more challenging to teach an Advanced because people come in with pretty established ideas of what the work is, and how it?s done. So the challenge is holding those disparate points of view and trying to find a common enough denominator that you meet varying people?s needs in terms of them doing the work. Also by definition the purpose of the AT is to teach non-formulaic work. Dr. Rolf said, ?It?s much easier to work on the things that are the same in people than it is to address their radical individuality.? So to do truly skillful advanced work, beyond the Ten Series, you have to be able to see better, or have better, greater discrimination with your seeing. And you have to be able to determine when you?re done. Again, Jeff Maitland?s questions, ?What do you do first??, ?What do you do next??, and ?When are you done?? In the Ten Series, you?re done when you?ve finished the pelvic lift in session ten. When you?re doing a non-formulaic series, you have to increase your ability to see, to assess, to strategize, and to see what is the beginning, middle, and end for a piece of work for a person at that point in time.

Someone once asked Peter Melchior, ?What do you do in an advanced session on someone?? and Peter?s comment was, ?Well, you do what?s next.? We?ve all experienced that there are people you need to do ongoing maintenance on, that they need work all the time, but it?s not the same as a coherent series that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. And you let them go off and percolate, have their time for assimilation and manifestation, so that when they?re ready to work again, you?re able to see what?s next. To not give people that amount of time does not serve them, because we want people to be able to learn to organize their own structure and not be dependent upon a Rolfer. We want to be able to put ourselves out of a job.

AH: Did you originally learn and practice the advanced work when there was a formula?

RM: My first AT was with Emmett and Jan in 1981. The next year I repeated the training, as an auditor, with Peter Melchior and Jan. At that time, in both classes, that five-session protocol was still being taught, and I used that for a number of years. I don?t know when I was introduced to the non-formulaic work, that may have been as part of my preparation to become a BT teacher. I went through another AT, in which non-formulaic work was taught, with Jan in Laguna Beach, I don?t recall the year.

AH: What are the qualities students need to have when they do the AT, to be able to move into that understanding and recognition of radical individuality and client-centered work?

RM: First and foremost, they need to have enough experience, either in time/years or numbers of clients, in their hands. Ideally, we define it that people should do their AT I think it?s three to seven years after their BT. When a person has been out there practicing, and has kind of hit a wall, and is ready, hungry for something else . . . . When what the Rolfer is doing produces good results, but s/he knows there are things missing.

AH: Some people don?t think they need the AT. There?s other considerations that come into play, the cost of it, not wanting to lose money by missing the time in their practice.

RM: Ida Rolf was clear that she thought people needed more training beyond the BT. I don?t think we have done good enough job of communicating that from the beginning.

AH: Isn?t it also a question of integrity ? because the master agreement students make with the Rolf Institute clearly says you?re agreeing to do this. So how can someone say, ?I?m not going to do it,? when they?ve agreed that they?re going to do it?

RM: Good question.

AH: What would you say to a student who said to you, ?I don?t need the AT because I?m doing all these workshops? ? how would you help the person qualitatively to appreciate the AT?

RM: It?s not my nature to try and convince anyone of anything! [laughs] I think the difference is, in none of those courses is a non-formulaic approach of our work taught. For me, that is the essence of the AT, and that?s the only place you?re going to get that point of view, instruction, and practice.

AH: Going into an AT requires a certain surrender. Of course a surrender of money and time but also a surrender to not knowing. Like you were saying, to a sense of ?I really don?t know what?s next in my practice.? You could approach that with curiosity, or you could approach that with fear. And there?s that something different that can arise within a longer format than can arise in a short workshop. I think the AT format is a crucible that has the potential for that to arise.

RM: Well that?s one of the things that?s always been discussed/debated when we?ve talked about it. Would we have made the AT more accessible if we broke it into shorter format modules, and then when people take enough of those, accrue enough of those credits, then they become advanced? The AT is twenty-four days; we used to do six four-day weeks, Monday through Thursday for six weeks in a row. Then there came the point where the Advanced instructors experimented with the split format, which is three weeks, usually but not always the first week is five days, the second week is four days, the third week is five days, then there?s a three- to six-month break [before students] come back and do two weeks, five days each week. And I think pedagogically that format works, because people can go home, get practice, and they come back with a higher skill level and better questions, and you can really take the learning to the next level. Whereas when you do the six weeks straight, those intensive classes, people are full before the class is over.

You?re talking about surrender, I say as the advanced class starts, ?Can you participate in this with a beginner?s mind?? And some can, some can?t. With the split format these three weeks, there is some immersion, let?s call it, and some shift, and you?re not together, you know like in BT, eight weeks, or like the old AT, six weeks, so the interpersonal dynamics aren?t usually brought to a point of constellation ? which is a Jungian term for when things get edgy. So that split format seems to work very well. How will it be going forward? I think Tessy has done some of ATs in what?s called a modular format ? three- or four-day weekends every other week, or once a month, or whatever. I think that was probably a longer answer than you may have wanted for that question.

AH: Well, it was a good answer. As a teacher, who or what were you formal influences, both in the Institute and outside?

RM: In my year-long Reichian breathwork training with Ed Jackson I was introduced to the whole phenomena of ?charge, discharge, activation?, working at that level with people. The course at the Berkeley Psychic Institute gave me some understanding about ways I?d been perceiving all my life; I thought I was just good at reading kinesthetic cues but realized that I did have the ability to see in other ways, and so those things prepared me to do the Rolfing training. My primary teacher at the Rolf Institute was Emmett Hutchins; I did my Basic with him, most of my workshops, and my first AT. So Emmett was certainly my strongest influence at the Rolf Institute.

AH: And how do you see that influence?

RM: That I?m interested in the transformative aspect of the work, and always was. It wasn?t like I did research and picked him to train with. It was just that I ended up in his class, and he had that orientation and it was a good fit.

AH: You had taught before, English as a second language. What different skills did you have to develop to be a Rolfing teacher, and then an Advanced teacher.

RM: In some ways, it was just continuation and refinement, because teaching language, you?re teaching a performance skill. And when you?re teaching Rolfing SI, you are also teaching a performance skill.

AH: I would have thought it would have been quite different, in that in Rolfing training there?s so many things students have to learn: how to palpate, how to see, how to find their own channels for that.

RM: Well, people do have to learn all those things, for sure. But in its simplest form, I think what served my teaching most was a week-long retreat at the Rocky Mountain Dharma Center. I realized in retrospect that that was the best preparation I could have done. Because all of these things that you?re talking about require the person to be present with himself and other. And certainly meditation is a way to hone or work on that skill.

AH: How close do you feel to Ida Rolf and her teaching as you first heard it? And how has anything changed over the years with you since she?s not been around, guiding the ship?

RM: Well, I feel very much connected with the lineage ? with her concept of the Line. I think that what has changed, not only for me, but for others, is our view/belief about the body: that it was smart about contracting and protecting itself when it experienced an assault, a blow, an injury; that it would contain that, and then the other side would have to contract to balance it; and that the only way to restore it to its original length and plasticity was to apply mechanical pressure (finger, elbows, fist) to get it to lengthen. Then Judith Aston split off and started her school. Judith?s point of view of support and ease and not forcing things was a contrast to the more direct approach that I certainly learned when I trained in ?78. And then, around ?82, the influences of craniosacral work through John Upledger, and shortly after that the visceral work with Jean-Pierre Barral, was that we were introduced to the whole concept of inherent motion. That there was this whole symphony of phenomena, motion that was going on if we slowed down and lightened up and listened with our touch.

AH: What can you say about your unique style of Rolfing SI?

RM: I don?t think there?s any way anyone can really answer that. Again, it depends on who I?m working on. You know, I can grind gristle with the best of them. And I can also work off body and see the physical body change. So I guess the best answer, and this is what I tell students, is that there are as many ways to do this work as there are people doing it. And what you have to do is to find your way of doing the work. And I think that?s probably a lifelong process.

AH: I heard Liz Gaggini describe your work in terms of the three-dimensionality and depth of your contact; does that speak to you?

RM: Yeah. One European who set up an AT over there was talking about her experience of my work, that I work very deep without pushing hard. So this whole thing about affecting the 3D space is what I?m doing. I?m not just trying to work on layers, although I can do layers. But I?m trying to affect the volume.

AH: You?ve taught in Japan, in Europe, and in the U.S.. Any comments on how Rolfing SI is, or is not, different between regions? Do any unique flavors come out of different cultures, or is it still completely individual and nothing cultural?

RM: Well, I think it is cultural. One of the things they teach you in the Peace Corps is that when you go into a country on assignment, you shut up and you listen for the first six months. So it would be rather presumptuous of me to try to describe the differences in the cultures.

AH: Do you find you teach differently?

RM: In some ways. I enjoy teaching in Europe. I feel more at home in Europe than I do in the States. So I appreciate the European rigor, respect for knowledge, etc. In Japan there is a very strong tradition of respect for the teacher, and so I?m very mindful of that, to not abuse or take advantage of that. I am even more aware of wanting to ?deliver the goods? as a respectful response to their respect. And Jeff Maitland said that when Rolfing SI goes to Japan, it will develop differently. So it?s a long-term project.

AH: You and I were just in a class with Will Johnson. His books all seem to speak to the idea that when a person is present, aware of his or her Line, something ?spiritual? can happen, a change in state.

RM: It certainly is a change in state of conscious. And if in fact (which I do believe) the Line is the energetic structure, out of which the form arises, if you relate back to that primal beginning, you?re going to have access to that out of which the Line arose. Wow. I?ve never said that before. That?s interesting!

AH: I think that?s a good place to stop!

RM: Okay.

<i>Ray McCall has a Master?s degree in structural linguistics. He completed his basic Rolfing certification in 1978 and his advanced certification in 1981. He joined the Rolf Institute faculty in 1997. He teaches Basic and Advanced Trainings and continuing education workshops both in the U.S. and overseas. He has served on the Board of Directors of the Rolf Institute and numerous faculty committees. He is currently on the Faculty Development and Review Board. Ray has also trained to instructor level in biodynamic craniosacral therapy. He is interested in how change happens and how form manifests out of the formless. He is also interested in making really old cars look realy good and go really, really fast.

Anne Hoff is a Certified Advanced Rolfer in Seattle, Washington, a teacher of the Diamond Approach® to inner work, and the Editor-in- Chief of this Journal. </i>[:fr]<img src=’https://novo.pedroprado.com.br/imgs/2016/1454-01.jpg’>

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