Don Hazen: In memoriam and appreciation

Pages: 61-63
Year: 2012
IASI - International Association for Structural Integration

IASI Yearbook 2012


Don Hazen: In memoriam and appreciation

Don Hazen: In Memoriam and Appreciation
Libby Eason
Don Hazen, DC, Certified Advanced Rolfer™, passed away on August 2, 2011, after a threeyear ordeal with throat cancer, at the age of 67. He lived and practiced in El Cerrito, CA and
is survived by his wife of 32 years, Mollie Hazen. Don Hazen trained at the Rolf Institute in 1978 and became a chiropractor in 1994, specializing in cranial-sacral and peripheral nerve disorders. He also completed post-doctoral studies in chiropractic neurology. “Don was a renaissance man,” said Mollie of her husband. “He read and studied a great many topics, and continued to explore those areas of interest until he could master them.”
Don was accomplished at holding both the broad focus of whole-person integration and the very specific
focus on the nerves simultaneously. It is a talent that Don also exhibited in other areas of his life. Don’s
vision included both close and comprehensive focus, evidenced by his work in both evolutionary SI and
photographic composition. The two endeavors show parallels.
Hazen began an inquiry into what he later termed “the neurology of posture” after attending a class
with Jean-Pierre Barral, DO, on treating cranial and peripheral nerves. He brought that work into the
structural integration process, and became curious how structure, as we normally think of it, and the nerves interact. This led him to further postdoctoral study in chiropractic neurology and the synthesis of a new contribution to the field of SI. He called his work “neurofascial integration,” and taught it as continuing education to structural integrators.
“Don was an exceptional individual, generously sharing himself and his discoveries with those around him,” said Mollie Hazen.
In 2011, IASI awarded Don Hazen the organization’s first Lifetime Achievement Award for his contributions to the evolution of structural integration. When, at the 2010 IASI Symposium, Michael Kastris announced a Gratitude and Appreciation Award to Don Hazen, Hazen was making his way out of the conference, headed for the airport. He was located and asked to return to the meeting room for Kastris’ announcement. After a
sustained round of applause, Hazen, unprepared for this award, simply said, with characteristic modesty,
“Thank you.”
Don was ever downplaying his accomplishments in all areas—his work, research, teaching, and stunning
landscape photography. He had a sense of modesty and humility that was rare. His photos captured the beauty and dimension of the body of earth as testament to his capacity to see on many levels. His vision was unique and spectacular.
One of Hazen’s clients, Professor Sucheng Chen said, “He had an extraordinary ability to see and feel what’s going on inside other people’s bodies. He wasable to connect, at the deepest level, his own energy with that of his clients, a process that allowed his healing touch to palpate pain away even from bodies that have been in pain chronically for years.” Author and spiritual teacher Adyashanti called Hazen “a simply remarkable, incredible being who made a profound difference in the lives of all who met and knew him.”
Hazen talked about the genesis of his nerve work with Jan Sultan in a June 2010 interview published in the RISI journal, Structural Integration. “…[I]n ’04 I discovered, serendipitously, that Jean-Pierre Barral was teaching a class for the American Academy of Osteopathy on peripheral and cranial nerves. I managed to enroll. I discovered, to my surprise, that nerves were palpable and that they were treatable. I wasn’t sure how I would use my new information in my Rolfing® practice—except in those obvious cases where people had pain from inflamed nerves. One off my first clients had a hallux rigidus (rigid first toe), which resolved easily when I released the plantar nerve. I was hooked.” To read the entire interview, visit
Hazen’s 2005 article, “The Neurology of Posture,” explained his new insights into structure and structural integration, and illuminated how the nerves can restrict joint motion. He closed the article with this sentence: “So I live in mystery—and appreciation.”
This article and other articles by Hazen can be read in their entirety on Hazen’s website,
Don started out with a theory, and rather quickly found that there was much more to the story.
Characteristically for Don, he was not discouraged, but rather more intrigued and determined to find answers to the new puzzle that now presented itself. He also wrote about his illness on his Facebook page, called “The Cancer Chronicles.” “I call it my journey,” he wrote. “In desolation and fear it seems the burden is all mine. Yet I am being trained, ever so skillfully by a teacher I’ve never met, to move beyond the burden into a sense of light and peace. With the release of the burden goes the sense of possession. It’s not my journey. We’re all just passing through.” Late in his illness, he told Mollie, “The great way is easy when
you have no preferences.”
Together, Don and Mollie Hazen shared a mutual interest in photography, and she is now running their
photography business, Hazen Landscape Photography.
To see Don Hazen’s collected photographs, visit Photographs and cards are available for purchase. Proceeds will help pay his accumulated medical expenses. Contact info@dhazen.
com for more information.
Don’s journey has inspired many. Hopefully, it will inspire you to take your explorations further, and to share them with the rest of the SI community.
You, too, can contribute to the evolution of this work. Perhaps no one really sets out with that objective,
but being curious, keeping an open mind, following the inquiries that present themselves, and continuing
your education and self-study will make it possible.
This unique field of structural integration is fertile ground for transplantation from other professions and studies. And you would honor Don and countless others by bringing your contributions to your fellow practitioners.
Comments and Tributes
“Don did groundbreaking work and had a presence that was so welcoming and kind. I really appreciated the way he taught. … I have been able to help a lot of clients with what I learned from Don in his Neurology of Posture workshops. I use this work all the time. … I am really grateful to have learned from him.” Annie Wyman
Certified Advanced Rolfer™
Walpole, ME
“[Don’s] dedication to furthering an understanding of the human body led to [his] chiropractic study and
consequent filtering of that information through [his] primary lens—Rolfing®. … Together, we studied a
Biodynamic approach to craniosacral therapy. [His] sensitivity to the subtle and therapeutic tides [that] impact the resuscitation of health expanded [his] ability to touch multiple dimensions of wholeness. I was always taken further in my own perceptual development as I listened to [Don] generously share [his] discoveries.
Don, you will always have a place in my heart.”
Carol Agneessens
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Santa Cruz, CA
“It is impossible to guess how many people’s lives have been changed from meeting Don—and not just from
his skills as a Rolfer/chiropractor/teacher/photographer/ writer. I’m quite sure that all of us who have been
touched felt lucky to have known the generous heart behind the man. Don’s amazing vital energy came through best in one-to-one contact with his generosity and sincere interest in others. … Don’s legacy will
always be much more than his contribution to bodywork; it will be for his warmth, generosity of spirit, and his humanity.”
Art Riggs
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Oakland, CA
“Don was a mentor to me, and a source of inspiration to my work since the first time I met him. … Don taught me many things. All lessons were imbued with this paramount message: to discern what is real from that which is a projection. I have experienced the work of several gifted bodyworkers, but none who had developed their aptitudes further than Don Hazen.”
Ben Williams
Certified Rolfer
Oakland, CA
“Don was intensely aware of each moment. He chose to be doing his class, which gave me a renewed significance to our work, and an intense love and respect for Don. It just seemed it was our honor to be there with him, and we should let him know that.”
Michael Kastris
Hellerwork® Practitioner
Cedar City, Utah
“This was a person of great talent for using his camera as a vehicle for capturing the intimacy and breadth of
nature. And, although he was a master of technique with his camera and in the darkroom, it’s the expression
of his feelings concerning the beauty of nature that makes his art stand out. … He was keenly aware that in nature, life is a never-ending cycle of birth, growth, withering, dying, and then rebirth. …[T]hrough his gift
of photography his spirit lives on.”
Ronald Egherman
Former Director, Ansel Adams Art Center for
Carmel, CA

“Don Hazen was a consummate student, thirsty for knowledge, motivated by a strong desire to help relieve
suffering and optimize functioning of those he treated. I had shared in his enthusiasm with learning for over 14 years…. I appreciated his willingness to share his vast knowledge and years of experience during discussion, practicum, and session trades.
His inquiry into neural dynamics and his exploration in his office with clients and patients lead to developing his own style of neural work and contextualizing the neural fascial approach in the Structural Integration model.
Both my parents benefited from his careful, skillful demeanor and treatment as patients in his Berkeley
Don’s ability to synthesize and orient us to the potential for applying the neural fascial approach to Structural Integration is a consistent force in my practice and teaching. I feel his influence and passion in my office each day. His writing was technical and accessible. His true passion for aiding our collective work was obvious in every word that he spoke and wrote.”
Jonathan Martine
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Longmont, CO
“When I asked him several days before he died, ‘How are you?’ Don’s response was, ‘It’s very interesting.’ It was clear in his dream-like state that he was still studying and teaching and still fascinated. To be interested all the way home takes extraordinary clarity and courage.
It was also a teaching to be on his table. This was his gift: The ability to be interested in the smallest details while holding a large vision for the whole. This same quality showed in his photography. This is why Don had such masterful results. He held two ends equally with the detail and the larger whole.
It was easily a year-long process of trying to integrate my way of seeing and working with the material of his
class. … To understand that releasing a crucial nerve can effectively release a plane of connective tissue was now impossible to ignore. But this required a different touch and paying attention to a finer detail. I needed to know how to keep my vision of attending to the whole and also how to slow down and pay attention to the detail.
I am very appreciative of Don’s remarkable vision, teachings, and contribution to the work.”
Gael Ohlgren
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Continuum Instructor
Boulder, CO and Berkeley, CA
“As Don faced the grim prospects of a battle with cancer, it was apparent that he would manage his illness with the same intelligence and creativity with which he practiced as a healer. He continued to treat patients and to be open with them about his illness. Many say that his powers as a healer increased during this time.
Visiting him in the last weeks, his body’s weakness was evident, but talking to his wife, Mollie, it was clear
that Don’s vital spark continued to burn. We are all illuminated by his light.”
Michael J. Salveson
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Rolf Institute Faculty
Berkeley, CA
(published in Structural Integration: The Journal of
the Rolf Institute®, December, 2011)
“Don taught with generosity and emotion. He was not aloof or removed from his subject matter, ever. He was embodied in the true sense when he worked and when he taught.
Don’s contributions will last forever, working their way into our hands, our curriculum, and our understanding of the human body in gravity. Thank you, Don, for evolving our work and adding the delicate profound work you taught.”
Valerie Berg
Certified Advanced Rolfer
Rolf Institute Faculty
Albuquerque, NM
(published in Structural Integration: The Journal of
the Rolf Institute®, December, 2011)

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