As I said earlier, we consider our first mission is turning our Rolfers who are really qualified to tackle community problems and to move toward their solution. In this area, some of you may remember a session now quite a while ago when I discussed an old yogic idea, essentially an idea that we have been teaching throughout our teaching experience. My talk stressed the relation of behavior to physical structure in the body, a premise to which I think all of you will unqualifiedly subscribe. You have reason to do so, for you see this every day of your Rolfing lives. The development of the old yoga physical systems was based on the same underlying idea. The old yogis who, for the most part, were the upper class caste wanted to develop a class of superior individuals. They wanted their children to be superior, and they wanted their culture to be superior. In support of this goal, so called Hatha or Yathustha yoga was developed.
Rolfing is, after all, the modern successor of the old ideas of Hatha yoga. We share with them the premise that structure gives rise to behavior and determines its direction. This premise, in fact, is “inherited” from old Yathustha yoga. Our mechanism differs from that found effective at that time; but it must be remembered that the hot, humid climate of India, as well as the persons of a caste which did all the more energetic work of the day gave rise to a pattern of body among the upper classes which was soft and somewhat slack in its joints, differing radically from the body-pattern developed from the colder climate and more energetic cultures of northern European nations and their descendants, the Americans. These old teachers found it ineffective to compress the joints of the body. While the immediate goal of Rolfing is to extend these joints, to give them a much greater freedom of movement, thus allowing them to fulfill one of the first laws of Rolfing, namely that when flexors flex, extensors extend, they do not contract as in yogic exercise. This is what Rolfing can and does contribute to the body of the Rolfee. The contribution to his physiological manifestation can appear to be much more apparently significant. It is interesting to note that some osteopathic researchers believed that the health of the joints reflects the well or ill being of the autonomic nervous system rather than the newer central system. The different balance between these two systems will manifest in behavior and offers one clue to the change in behavior patterns elicited by Rolfing. For in this extension, pressure and compressions are released, points of irritation which inhibit circulation of various sorts are removed; and as a result, the individual can afford to behave in a manner more acceptable to the community of his peers. In other words, asocial behavior is lessened. Does this mean that all community crime is lessened? No. There are, as you know, conditions, aberrations so deeply imbedded in individual structures that a system of this sort will not reach them. But there is no doubt the improvement of a man’s or woman’s self-image will help his behavior vastly and in so doing lessen the extent of asocial behavior in the community.
For several years now I have been preaching the need of Rolfers accepting responsibility to do some work “pro bono publico”: as our lawyer friends say, “For the public good”. I would like to see this idea attain to some manifestation during the next year. I would like to see Rolfers devote some time in the week, some energy to raising the standard not merely of public health, but of public psychological health through working with underprivileged and deprived human beings and through developing techniques for reaching such individuals in detention institutions and underprivileged districts. It seems to me that the American world has been very good to Rolfers. It is incredible the fashion in which we have been accepted. And we’re growing up and hopefully are willing to start paying our debts to the communities who have supported us so generously. What I have said up to this point applies not only to correctional efforts and institutions, but also to schools and to all those places where young people congregated to confound their confusion.
This is one of the projects which is dear to my heart. I would like to see it dear enough to yours to warrant some of you doing something about it. I do strongly recommend it to your good offices as one means of solidifying the position of Rolfers in the community, of letting the community understand that they have an absolutely priceless asset available.For the Public Good