So, here I am, writing from the depths of winter in Australia, where today it will reach a sunny 19 degrees (70 something Fahrenheit). I have been based here in Sydney for most of my career of almost twenty years, and feel fortunate in still having some of those early clients on my books. Many of my clients have been coming for years, and it is a mix of delight and struggle, some having whole new issues to deal with as their life progresses, some still working with lifelong patterns –scoliosis, major trauma from car crashes etc. Some, happily, now come just to see what can happen next in this journey of living in a body. I have a really diverse range of clients from all over the world (thanks to those of you who have referred people to me as they come and go from this now truly grown up city). The Eastern suburbs of Sydney are a widely multicultural area, and I regularly work with people from the Brazilian, South African, German, French, Italian and Eastern European communities based here. My clients range from single mums, business executives, and tradesmen to athletes – right across the spectrum. I have worked quite a bit with local Gestalt teachers, yoga teachers and personal trainers, and many of my clients are actively involved in some sort of health practice or discipline. This has been a great source of referrals for me, and now my only advertising is my website (www.sydneyrolfing.com.au).
My original training took a roundabout route. Having studied massage therapy in Boulder in the mid Eighties, I explored many therapies – Hakomi, Alexander Technique, Feldenkrais, and Aston Patterning – without having a single Rolfing session! After coming back to Australia, I commuted up to Sydney from my home in the mountains to receive the Ten Series from Clyde Denton and Ann Cole, the foundation Rolfing practitioners here in Australia. Then in 1987 I did the first Rolfing pre-training in Australia with Rolfing instructors Robert Schleip and Barkha Wolf in beautiful Byron Bay. Many adventures later, after auditing with Stacey Mills in Hawaii, and again with the huge support Robert and Barkha, we managed to put on Australia’s first Rolfing training. This was in Adelaide with Jan Sultan and Annie Duggan and with Robert Schleip assisting. Fourteen students – eight practitioners and six auditors, from England, the U.S., Canada and Australia – studied in the old-style class format. Since then Rolfing has been my profession and my vocation.
Dhyaana with a painting by Aboriginal artist Gloria Petyarre
These days I am focusing a lot on the whole question of integration. As is true for many Rolfing practitioners, I’m sure, I still find most of my clients have an issue with pain and dysfunction that brings them to Rolfing in the first place. While that definitely needs addressing, more and more I find that integration is the key to both their pain and the ongoing recovery process. It is exciting to see how much relief can be gained with not a lot of pain or struggle, and how they come to see ways they can help themselves by changing some minor things in their daily lives. This still happens very much within the Ten Series, and my clients create an ongoing source of study and learning for me. I still refer to Dr. Rolf’s book (Rolfing: The Integration of Human Structures), as well as other reference texts, on a regular basis. Sometimes just a short piece somewhere ignites a new line of inquiry, or reminds me of tools I can put into practice. The articles in Structural Integration have also been useful, so thanks to those contributors who have kept me thinking and looking at ways of developing this amazing work.
Very few of the private health funds here cover Rolfing structural integration specifically. Some apparently now cover structural integration, so that will include Certified Rolfers, provided the practitioner is a member of the Australian Traditional Medicine Society. (This alternative health organization, to which most of us belong, also gives access to insurance for ourselves and our practices.) The paperwork for Workers’ Compensation payments is complex, slow, and also limited to just a few sessions, and for the most part, I get very few requests for this kind of work. I find that when people get relief, they turn up anyway, and figure out how to pay for it.
For some years now I have been helping out my partner in her business, a picture framing and art gallery, where I have my session room as well. This has meant a constant negotiation between my practice and the framing work. These days we have come to a good balance with the two, and I regularly see ten to fourteen clients a week. Having a separate entrance to the building for my clients allows them to come and go without having to come through the gallery. Although my days are full, they are rewarding and it has created a way for us both to have successful businesses. On occasion we actually share clients!
Recently I have begun running again after a long break, and am really enjoying the rediscovery of aerobic work for the body. I have reached the stage where I can explore the mechanics and movement, not just being out of breath and the muscle soreness! It is a great opportunity for being in the present, in the body, and in the greenery of Sydney’s Centennial Park, a huge expanse of green, lakes and trees close to my home.
So, that’s my “snapshot” – just one view from among the twenty some Rolfing practitioners widely scattered through Australia, which has a population of around twenty million in about the same land area as the U.S.Rolfing Down Under[:]