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A Personal Interpretation of Rolf Work

Pages: 39-42
Dr. Ida Rolf Institute

Bulletin of Structural Integration Ida P. Rolf

A man, never having seen water, is thrown blindfolded into it, and feels it. When the bandage is removed, he knows what it is. Until then he only knew it by its effect.(Rumi, Fihi Ma Fihi)

It is assumed that human perception of life and subsequent behavior can be changed by inner movement manifesting outward (decision to action) or by outward changes manifesting inward (action to feelings). Both are required, at appropriate times, in my opinion, to develop creative potential. My time spent with two analysts in 10 years was not fully integrated until my third analyst was brilliant enough to supplement her clinical work with Rolf body restructure and the subsequent losing of what I term negative body memories.

In my case, memories that mind and heart had forgotten and forgiven were apparently remembered by my body. Rolf treatments indicated to me my body still clung to old fears, hurts, and panics: painful childbirth, illegitimate physical punishment by parents, sexual relations with a partner who was emotionally damaging, rigid toilet training, punishment for walking in the wrong places or handling “wrong things” as a very young child, and a major blood transfusion and abdominal surgery at the age of 5.

A major basis of early childhood education is learning through “play” or body movement. Children act out their inner perceptions and desires to explore, as when they play house. Early experiences coded into muscle and tissue mold children’s perceptions of the environment and whether or not it can be trusted. It may be this coding can remain even after traumatic incidents are released from the unconscious by focus on remembering and discarding bad experiences and through the establishment of a new relationship with therapeutic “Mama” and/or “Papa”, the essence of traditional therapy.

As observed in five years with the office of Economic Opportunity on projects with minority children, there seems to be a direct relationship between physical experience and trust. Repression to unconscious levels of painful incidents in many cases seems to be retained in body areas outside the central nervous system, affecting movement, motor skill, and possibly ATTITUDE or feelings.

It seems logical that if negative body memories can be removed, it would contribute to personality change and improve human communication, as many human interactions may be based on individual psychic overlays at body levels.
For example, the body “thinks” that something about a person (boss, wife) reminds it of its mother who smacked it inappropriately. Intellect and emotion may conflict with the body memory, if the mind remembers the incident, has legitimately forgiven it, and does not make the conscious association as indicated. Communication between body and mind may become garbled and relationship hampered.

During a consultant session in a Girl Scout camp, I played “trust” with the children. This involved being in the middle of the circle and approaching members at a fast pace with eyes shut, knowing they would catch you and direct you across the diameter of the circle to someone who could catch you. I found myself approaching the circle with arms over my head, afraid to continue two or three feet more to someone who would catch me afraid to trust with my body.
There were children in the circle, and I did trust them intellectually and emotionally. My body did not trust them, remembering its experiences when situations were approached “blind”. My primary thought was “I could do this if my eyes were open.” I equate the “blind” feeling of not trusting in the game to my experiences as a sensitive child trying to trust neurotic parents. My body seems to remember what my intellect had long before drawn from the unconscious and analyzed.

Rolf treatments appear to have definite possibility for releasing past time body memories conflicting with present time perceptions and environment. No matter how much therapy releases past negative emotions and perceptions, if extended body areas remember, the total therapeutic goal is not achieved: mind/ intellect/body/ working as ONE.

The Rolf method releases body muscle and tissue areas. Inner feelings accompanying pressure at various points for me, range from anger, grief and fear, to more complex thoughts. For example, I experienced many thoughts about having children in so much pain and then seeing them go through much pain in life during pelvic area work, a long series of associational thought. Guilt attached to neurotic relationships procreating children was made acutely conscious during the period of treatment on the upper leg. I had worked them through in therapy years before. The problem was still “remembered” by my body. Body experiences must code somehow where verbalized therapy cannot reach.

Rolf treatment releases an energy flow which is physical in nature and appears similar to the Tibetian description of “psychic heat”, a specific body sensation. Descriptions of psychic energy “centers” have long been known in Zen, Yogi, and Sufi circles. (The human brain and heart do emanate a “halo” of electromagnetic energy, measured by magnetoencephalography by Dr. David Cohen, physicist at the University of Chicago.)

It seems Rolf treatment releases energy flow associated with the solar plexus, heart, top of head, middle forehead and naval areas. The result is that I need less sleep, feel lighter, create more, move more quickly, and am “in” my body now. Rolf treatment condense time, in my opinion, and allowed me to move through psychically repressed material in a very short time. I could not have achieved this without hostility discharge (yelling) as various points on the body were restructured. Jung says the psyche appears as a dynamic process which rests on a flow of energy between two poles.

There is a definite self concept enhancement as body really feels more energy, moves differently, and carries itself differently in my experience.

Through a radio signalling electrode in parts of the brain’s limbic lobe, psychologist, Jose Delegado, is researching possible cerebral “mechanisms” of peace and violence. It is possible perhaps that “peace” and “hate” centers operate on a measurable electro magnetic vibratory frequency. This area of psychological research is relatively new and much remains to be done. As the body, on one level, is a large mechanical machine, the analysis of energy flow and how to release additional amounts seems related directly to optimum human functioning. The Eastern world has stressed such centers for years. I believe research is urgent in this area, to integrate the body into our avant garde therapy endeavors in the western world on a “gut level.”

Mankind is infinitely perfectable, according to Sufi self introspection experts who can be traced to beginnings of recorded history. This perfection comes about through attunement with the whole of existence of life force. Physical, intellectual, and spiritual life meet, but only when there is complete balance between them. Physical manipulation and exercise is aligned with theoretical patterns, structure, and self scrutiny. The concept might be expressed as an intersection of body, mind, spirit, computer (intellect), emotions, and consciousness. I perceive the Rolf process as a crucial tool for this hypothetical intersection.

Traditional psychology has treated only verbalized emotions. The body has been ignored. However, the vehicle is not its contents as wine is not the glass. Newer innovations in therapy have included the body in the total therapy framework, but too often, on a superficial level.A Personal Interpretation of Rolf Work

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