In our experience, Ida Rolf was a scientist, a philosopher, and a poet. With her hands she put “Ideas of Order” into human bodies. As Rollers, these Ideas have been placed deep into the contours of our minds. In 1978, Ida Rolf again worked her way through an entire cycle of teaching through the Children?s Project and then the Advanced Class.
Throughout her last year she was teaching us to See the entire life span expressed In a person’s body: its past, present, and future. We saw Infants, children, and adolescents whose development had been detoured or short-circuited. Their hodles were too round, too heavy, too flat, collapsed, or simply “in trouble” somehow. Again and again. Rolling allowed them to catch up to their appropriate place in time, to their level of maturity.
Dr. Rolf would turn and say. “There-do you see how those two legs are like one unit, how they have traces of a fish’s tail? The backs of those legs belie the chronological age. Here is a case of immaturity, of arrested development. Now go and change It.”
During one such session, Dr. Rolf worked with a young woman who exhibited a marked spinal rotation. She appeared to be fourteen years old at the beginning. She trembled. Releasing a great deal of emotional energy with no explicit content, as well as undergoing dramatic auric changes. In minutes she seemed to have been set free, ready to assume her full length and the mature form of her nineteen years. For ten-year old R., his lumbars came back, and his dorsal kyphosis eased. As this physical change took place, his slouching and sullenness also eased. In fact, the previously edgy child seemed to become a sweet young man. Here again a great leap in structural maturity occurred in a very short time. She was another young man, mentally retarded, with an erratic and potentially violent manner. With Rolling, even he seemed to slow down lie kept asking,” Why are you doing these things to me? I feel better.”
In the Advanced Class, so-called “grown-ups” underwent similar travels through time, particularly in the fourth session of Rolling. As Dr. Rolf said, “it’s always being that seven year old. The Rolfing trip takes her back to childhood patterns and lets her be there and look at them for a while.” These emotionally charged developmental patterns were anchored in the soft tissue. “What we are doing is the job of an educator, not a doctor. We free something, not fix it. Educate is a-dux: we draw and lead it out. We reorganize it and discharge it through physical means. It is like teaching someone to read. They can learn only once. So we lead out the personality through changes in its physical structure.” Infants, children, adults-all of them carry flesh waiting for release. All of them were minds, ready to learn from Dr. Rolf the new patterns of free and balanced movement. So it goes Ida’s gospel of the evolution of human beings.
To educate, first we ourselves had to be learning. “You Rolfers have to keep learning to SEE,” she said. And we did. We started to see the ideal pattern of form, as if rediscovering relativity itself. In this case, it was the relativity of past and future, expressed by a body in the present. “See the lateral line. It reflects the vertical line of gravity inside in the center. As it lengthens, the weight begins to pass through the spine. The body becomes lighter. The legs are the last to mature. Once this child’s legs lengthen, his upper back can relax and change. His neck will be freed to come up.
Along with the scientist and the philosopher poet was the everyday woman, the humanitarian. As she reminded us time and again, she often held the theories of energy fields, gravity, and time, as useful hypotheses. Her goal was always to restore function. especially in children whose bodies were distorted by injury and contracted by pain. She put bodies where they belonged and left them to heal and develop. By looking at children and adults, we learned from Ida to see the body as a context of a person’s life history. Family, and prospects. At the same time, we could measure their congruency with a template, an ideal form of future development. This context included our own evolution.
At the outset, each child had a developmental “problem,” with familial, traumatic, characterological, and genetic origins. The adults brought developmental histories, battles with gravity, and personalities, all expressed in unique ways. All had resistances. All were eager to discover new space and light, the potential they sensed Jay ahead. “We are starting with a random body of whatever age, and we are changing it from the outside. We are always bringing a body toward the normal, the appropriate pattern for its place in life. That is our outstanding service to assist maturation.” Fortunately for us, the old lady was teaching us to see. In each child and adult a realized human being, a template of Order and ideal Form, began to emerge.1978 Children’s Project and Advanced Class