Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Shake Hands With Gravity

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Exploring the Many Sides of Gravity
Exploring the Many Sides of Gravity

Poetic / Prosaic —  

There is a mystical virtue in right angles. There is an unspoken morality in seeking the level and plumb. A house will hold together only if the joints are square and the members upright. When the bubble is lined up between two marks etched in the glass tube of a level, you have aligned yourself with the forces that hold the universe together. 

— Scott Russell Sanders, from THE PARADISE OF BOMBS

Prosaic-Poetic / Scientific —

Reconciling Gabriel Marcel and Ida Rolf

Life is not a problem to be solved, but a mystery to be lived.
— Gabriel Marcel

Consign your body to gravity.
— Ida P. Rolf

The force of gravity is always attractive.
— Isaac Newton

I like it. I’ll take it.
— David Wronski

 Indeed, gravity is that force which holds the universe together.
And yet, we observe that the universe is expanding.
Then, gravity must be an expansive force too.
Scientifically, we know that gravity on Earth has two operations.
Everyone is quite familiar with the one, the downward pull of gravity.
“Let go your cup of Joe, you know where it go.”
But there is the other side of gravity.
It is expansive and lifting.
Exquisitely so.
I know it is.
Not from a book.
Well, I also did read it in a book.*
But mainly and importantly from my own direct lived experience.
While learning how to live fully adapted with the gravity field of the Earth.
What is that experience?
Feet firmly rooted to the Earth.
A subtle yet definite and powerful liftedness toward the heavens.
In between . . . the great mystery of life, everything and nothing.



*Centripetal Force and Centrifugal Force

Centripetal force and centrifugal force [are the] action-reaction force pair associated with circular motion. According to Newton's first law of motion, a moving body travels along a straight path with constant speed (i.e., has constant velocity) unless it is acted on by an outside force. For circular motion to occur there must be a constant force acting on a body, pushing it toward the center of the circular path. This force is the centripetal ("center-seeking") force. For a planet orbiting the sun, the force is gravitational; for an object twirled on a string, the force is mechanical; for an electron orbiting an atom, it is electrical. The magnitude F of the centripetal force is equal to the mass m of the body times its velocity squared v  2 divided by the radius r of its path: F = mv 2/ r. According to Newton's third law of motion, for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The centripetal force, the action, is balanced by a reaction force, the centrifugal ("center-fleeing") force. The two forces are equal in magnitude and opposite in direction. The centrifugal force does not act on the body in motion; the only force acting on the body in motion is the centripetal force. The centrifugal force acts on the source of the centripetal force to displace it radially from the center of the path. Thus, in twirling a mass on a string, the centripetal force transmitted by the string pulls in on the mass to keep it in its circular path, while the centrifugal force transmitted by the string pulls outward on its point of attachment at the center of the path. The centrifugal force is often mistakenly thought to cause a body to fly out of its circular path when it is released; rather, it is the removal of the centripetal force that allows the body to travel in a straight line as required by Newton's first law. If there were in fact a force acting to force the body out of its circular path, its path when released would not be the straight tangential course that is always observed.  
Source: Infoplease®

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Thursday, November 1, 2012

An Initiative to Adapt Humans to the Gravitational Constant

 Role Models

Maybe it’s because I came from a background in marketing communications that throughout my professional career I’ve been searching for the best way to say what Rolf Structural Integration is about and why that is significant. That notwithstanding I love to write and the project helps my own understanding of what it is I have chosen for a service career.

Rolf Structural Integration is easy enough to define, yet it needs some elaboration. And, the marketing man in me wants to get it across in such a way that it gets attention, consideration, and action.

“Get Rolfed!” “Better Sex!” “Live Longer!” “Really Live!” “Better Golf!” “Faster Times” “Knock ‘Em Dead [on Stage]!” “Walk the Straight and Narrow!” “Stay Young!” “Teach Your Children Well!” “It’s the Fountain of Youth!”

Sloganeering aside, after 31 years of practice I have boiled down the definition of Rolf Structural Integration to this:

Rolf Structural Integration was originated by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. You may know it by the nickname Rolfing®.

In a nutshell this work is distinguished in its single minded goal to evolve the architecture of the human body into an truly adapted relationship with earth’s gravity field. It manifests as an effortlessly upright, unstressed, vertical, symmetrical and level stance.

The natural plasticity of the body — its ability to change and adapt — is the prime mediating factor. The work is formatted in a multiple lesson series using movement and touch and guided by a progressing set of anatomical goals.

Rolf Structural Integration proposes that we become conscious to the easily in hand possibility of living fully adapted to the dictates of gravity. That we become actively engaged in cultivating a correct stance on this Earth, in life even. It is an initiative — also, an initiation —into becoming fully human in terms of living, not just in gravity, but with gravity.

It stands for unfolding our real potential to become fully human. To live with the makeup of the body fully adapted to earth’s energy field. To enjoy the many benefits of living with a balanced vertical, level and symmetrical stance on this earth.

So now, how about this . . . “10 [Straight] Toes in Front of 2 [Good] Feet”. The feet are the foundation after all. And, a look at the wear patterns on the soles of your shoes tell the true story. How you doin’? (High heel shoe wearers, stop reading now. There’s no way to get with gravity in high heels. You look pretty, though.)

Scientifically we know an upright vertical anatomical stance is our birthright. Also, it is dictated by the fundamental laws of nature. That is something every architect and trade worker knows: plumb and square (straight and level) . . . is the rule for all physical structures on Earth.

But, with the human body and how we learn to negotiate the medium of gravity, we are demonstrably living below our natural potential. We are mostly self-taught with a good measure of bad habits and accidents and traumas mixed in. The models we follow more often than not are not exemplars of any real healthy normal in respect to body makeup. Even more telling, we don't have any purchase in the culture that cultivating or encouraging a healthy stance in gravity has any recognized value. We deal in palliatives, ignoring the underlying cause. As Dr. Rolf plainly put it, "[We] are at war with gravity."

Rolf Structural Integration proposes that we become conscious to the possibility and actively engaged in cultivating a correct healthy stance with gravity. We go to school for so many things. Why not learn this? We research to a fare-thee-well into the causes and effects of poor health and low productivity. Why not investigate this?

This is significant in that if you bother to notice you will see that we humans individually, and as a species, are not living up to anywhere near our natural potential to live in harmony with the simple fact of the pull of gravity on our bodies. One reason is that gravity is such a constant and ever present force we are unconscious to its presence. Furthermore, the condition of being out of sorts with gravity is so widespread in human culture we are accustomed to it. Inured, if you will. We don't see it for what it is. Finally, there’s this business of leaving the matter of how we learn to use our bodies in the basic ways to happenstance. We do automatically grow bigger and stronger as we mature. Not the same with developing sound body structure. That is learned. It is in fact a central life issue — this business of operating under the influence of gravity. Our bodies don't get to be the way they are automatically without us giving it any thought. It does take some doing. 

Rolf Structural Integration works with a notion of healthy and normal which is based on well understood anatomical body-part relationships and what is also well understood in the science of Physics in terms of how structures must be arranged in relationship to the gravitational constant.

In sum you could say that the goal of Structural Integration is in fact structural integration. As applied it is a method which offers individualized assistance — training, really — to significantly raise the level of structural order in the body along the line of gravity. You feel it, and it shows. As a concept it is an initiative to awaken us to adopting a conscious and active relationship to that ecological fact, gravity. As a percept, an actual lived experience, it is the joy of living free and unencumbered, with a steady tangible guide for living well, staying healthy, and achieving your goals.

It should be obvious I recommend it highly.

Afterthought . . .

My interpretation of Rolf Structural Integration may not jibe with what you may already think about the subject; it may even contradict what some may have taken away from first hand experience with a qualified professional. 

So let me explain. Any practitioner trained by a recognized school of Structural Integration* should not have any quibble with the above description. I am confident Dr. Rolf herself would assent, but perhaps choose her own inimitable words. She, after all, said it best. (Search "Ida Rolf Quotes" and get a treasure of practical wisdom.)

But, there are practitioners who for one reason or another don't necessarily represent the work in its fullest and true expression. Most individuals coming to Structural Integration are seeking remedies for immediate problems; and, now please. It is the duty of any practitioner worth his or her salt to explain that any symptomatic relief is a byproduct of the global goal of balancing the entire body. To make it clear that symptoms of pain and stress will resolve themselves when the body gets working appropriately — aligned with gravity. Alas, some however may succumb to  pressures of convenience and provide the work by focusing mainly on manipulative techniques applied locally to areas of pain in a session or two. There is nothing preventing this and it is not a problem in itself. Except, when it is represented as Structural Integration, it does not serve the profession or the public's understanding of what the work is actually intended to do.

The work is more process than procedure. One session does not mean that you can say, as the expression goes, "I got Rolfed." Not is the same way that after a fifteen minute massage, you say, "I was massaged." In fact, even after the usual 10 session series it's not always a sure thing you can make that claim. "Rolfed" as understood in the field itself is a result. And, if by now from reading so far you don't know what that result is . . . well, I don't know. When I hear someone talk, boast even, about having many dozens of sessions, I wonder if the goal of alignment with gravity has been conveyed in the first place. There is such a thing as tune up work and the Advanced Series for refining. But, after a point there is no need for work to continue indefinitely. There is a point of diminishing returns. And, besides, the goal of Rolf Structural Integration is to get the client to a point where he or she is self-sufficient with enough physically ingrained knowledge to continue on their own to grow and evolve in cooperation with the supporting, uplifting, and nurturing effects of gravity. 

Also, not all students of the work understand the what it is in the same way. There are practitioners who come into the field of Structural Integration having first been trained in therapeutically oriented modalities; for example, the many types of Therapeutic Massage and Physical Therapy/Physiatry. Those may have a predisposition and preference for applying the work locally for symptomatic relief. Again, nothing wrong with that; but it doesn't represent the work accurately if the client isn't informed about what's going on.

Then, of course, there are those practitioners who are not trained, or improperly trained; those who may operate even with the best intentions who represent themselves as Structural Integrators. This further confuses the situation and the impression of the work in the general understanding. The identity of Rolf Structural Integration is not yet so firmly established in the public mind that there is a ready and clear understanding of what it is, what it's for, what one should expect, and how it looks to receive the work. Misperceptions abound.

Best to verify that any practitioner of Structural Integration you are considering working with is properly trained by a recognized school*. Also, if you want to receive the work in its traditional format for purposes of balancing the whole body with gravity as described above, be sure to establish that the chosen practitioner works with that orientation.

Rolfing® and Rolfer® are trademarks of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.

* As of this writing there are 19 schools of Structural Integration recognized by the International Association of Structural Integrators® (IASI).

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Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
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Friday, September 21, 2012

 Ask a fish, “How’s the water?” The fish replies, “What water?”

The question is, if land life emerged from the sea, imagine what that evolutionary step might look like when humans become fully acclimatized to their environment of gravity? 

“We don't know who discovered water, but we know it wasn't the fish.”
“One thing about which fish know exactly nothing is water, since they have no anti-environment which would enable them to perceive the element they live in.” 

― Marshall McLuhan

The great man once again makes a great point. You will recall, "The medium is the message." 

As far as we can tell fish indeed don’t know about their living medium: water. As such, anyway. And definitely not in an intellectual, conceptual way — in the way, for example, we humans know about gravity; it is, if you will, our environmental, living medium. But, like the fish, because gravity is for us so everpresent and constant we too are not aware of it, as such.

The creatures of the sea, however, do seem to have adapted quite thoroughly to their aqueous home. They clearly have a fully evolved proprioceptive relationship to it. A darn sight better that humans have with theirs.

Unlike the fish we have the ability to differentiate the world we inhabit. Though we still don’t know what gravity is in the full scientific sense, we do have knowledge about its workings. Every architect and building trades worker knows that things have to be put together so at their center it's “plumb and square”; in ordinary terms, straight and level. It doesn’t take long before the child knows the blocks have to be stacked up nicely in a straight line in order to stay upright in a tall high stack.

From birth, humans too, have a proprioceptive relationship to their medium, the field of gravity. In our infant years the pull of gravity may not be recognized as such, but it certainly factors into our first attempts to sit up and stand up. Then on throughout our lives as a constant factor  in all our movements and designs. To put a point on it: no gravity, no Soap Box Derby.

But, in a very real sense the creatures of the sea have something to teach us. We can plainly see, whatever we may have to say about what they know, the swimming things know how to get around in their habitat. On the other hand, if you look at humans with even a simple textbook understanding of anatomical design and the laws of physics you will plainly see that us walking folk are not anywhere near our full potential to be adapted to the dictates of gravity.

The average human being manifests only a rough approximation of uprightness in the makeup of their body that we know is possible (essential?) from anatomy and physics. Sure, the Leaning Tower of Pisa is a charming sight, but a similar situation in the culture of humans is so commonplace it goes unnoticed. Oh we see it alright, but don't register a firm grasp of the obvious, there is a fight with gravity going on.

What price do we pay for not noticing? In this instance, we are discussing the way gravity works on the human body. Plumb and square is the core design for every structure on earth; perhaps it’s time for us to recognize the dictates of gravity, not just as a concept, but as a percept. Something to be inculcated into the fabric of our tissues. Straight and level.

The simplest way is to start using your body correctly. The pattern will adjust itself accordingly. For personalized assistance, Rolf Structural Integration is definitive and peerless.

Since I am a dedicated lifelong practitioner of this approach to human health and well being naturally I would like everyone to, as they say, "Come on down!" But an essential part of the contract we have with our clients is to foster independence and self-reliance. So, since I know you have all that you need at your fingertips, let me tell you that I am not attempting to convince you to do anything other than what your inner prompting tell you. Take this as encouragement to become conscious of the very direct signals your body is sending that tell you when you are with gravity and when you are against it. Keep doing the former, adjust the latter.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

“. . . the phrase ‘align with gravity’ doesn’t have a lot of impact for the average ear.”

Yet, When It Comes to Gravity . . . We’ve Just Scratched the Surface.

I am in my thirtysecond year as a practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration. And still every bit as enthusiastic about spreading the news that the force of gravity itself can be enlisted for optimum health, healing, top physical performance, and fullest creative expressiveness. Cutting edge ecology? You tell me!

What are we talking about? The quick definition: Rolf Structural Integration is an educational system developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf using movement and touch to align the body with gravity. This sort of true balance is easily within reach for most people; of all ages, varying physical abilities, and different life circumstances.

What also needs to come across is the point about that business of alignment with gravity, and so-called “true balance”. (True, as in correct, normal.) Probably the phrase “align with gravity” doesn’t have a lot of impact for the average ear. However, most individuals do not live up to the kind of balance that can meet the scientific definition of “aligned in gravity”. The simple fact that one can stand up on two feet is a passing grade for most people. The situation is so commonplace it goes unnoticed. Mostly we see rough approximations of what’s really possible.

The hallmarks of a body in correct normal balance are 1) verticality—the major segments comfortably stacked up one on top of the another, and 2) symmetry—right and left sides matching. Again, true symmetry: not just that there’s an arm on each side, or a leg; that’s a rudimentary symmetry. But, symmetry in terms of how those arms and legs are positioned in space relative to one another, and how they fit in relation to the entire body; what’s in between, above and below.

If you want to contest this definition of true/correct/normal balance, let me sell you my garage that is leaning precariously into the neighbor’s yard. Or, maybe you would like a free overnight stay on the upper level of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. If you are a taker on either of those two offers, stop reading immediately! This is not the kind of help you need.

When you look at the way average folks’ bodies are put together—how things actually fit in space and in their relationship to one another and in terms of how things should be to cooperate with the pull of gravity—you will see a lot of variation from the anatomy textbook; clearly in violation of the Law [of Gravity]. Under arrest, in fact. But, self-arrest. What we do see is mainly a seemingly passable rough approximation of the kind of balance that is in the body’s basic design potential and dictated by laws of physics.

An obvious place to look for balance/imbalance for yourself is the shoulders. Strip to the waist and look at your upper body in a mirror. Are the shoulders level, or is one side higher/lower than the other? Is one side larger/smaller? Closer to the torso? One side more forward, or back? Such differences become obvious when you look. It is probably becoming clear that we generally don’t look at our bodies that way, certainly not in such detail. Also, because the body parts are interrelated, what’s going on in the shoulders most certainly is reflected in the pelvis. Not to mention the head and neck. If you have a head ache, besides whatever else you may do, be sure to check on the tension in your shoulders and neck. Likely culprits.

Just saying . . . Since I am for natural remedies, it concerns me to see so many women spending so much money and enduring pain to have their breasts enlarged. You could have beautiful and satisfying results from simply having the body balanced to a higher, more natural order. Let’s be clear. I’m not referring to what some call having good posture. Yes, you can get a nice look just like the girls at the strip club know how to do by arching and pulling the shoulders back. That’s for models and photographers. (And first impressions at the cocktail lounge.) The kind of balance and corresponding upliftedness I am suggesting here comes from the inside out. When the body is stacked up vertically along its central axis, this automatically lifts the rib cage, and thus the bust line. In balance your breathing is free and full; the rib cage expands easily. That’s what I call stacked. But instead, its big breasts on top of sunken chests. Cosmetic plastic surgery, same issue; a pretty (?) surface fix over an underlying problematic issue(s), left unnoticed/unresolved. Only time will tell.

We mainly take the arrangement of our bodies as given and don’t consider how the ratio of balance/imbalance in the makeup of the body affects or vitality, health, and experience of living. Those who strive for excellence and top form in athletics and full creative expressiveness in the performing arts are already engaged in the process of cultivating bodily balance. The vast majority of humanity lives below the line. Better to say, “Off the line.” The line of gravity and the central vertical line of the body, when they match up, by definition that’s normal, healthy. Ever heard that before?

It’s important to understand that imbalances don’t live in isolation. Like a lot of therapeutic approaches often do, “Does it hurt there? OK, I’ll fix it there.” Perhaps this explains why therapeutic remedies that only address local symptoms often don’t seem to have lasting effect? Because with imbalances come compensations, complications. You can’t address just one. You have to treat the whole situation. Dr. Rolf’s genius was in coming up with a reliable system that gets at whole body balance gracefully over a rather short period of time.

These imbalanced fixations become set throughout the body in patterns unique to each individual. Why? Bad habits, unresolved accidents and traumas, lack of proper role models (“Isn’t it cute how Johnny swings his leg in an arc just like his daddy when he walks?”). Imbalances built into the fabric of the body over the years limit mobility and range of expression. They also play on the psychic-emotional level as well. It takes extra energy to live with unresolved imbalances in the makeup of the body. It’s an effort to hold yourself together. We put up with chronic pains and stress and fail to recognize how they are in a great majority of cases signals pointing to the simple fact that the body is out of balance. Think about this in terms of health care costs and lowered productivity.

Charlie Brown: “This is my depressed stance. [Standing with head down and shoulders drooped.] When you’re depressed, it makes a lot of difference how you stand.” Sister Sally: “The worst thing you can do is straighten up and hold your head high because then you’ll start to feel better.” Charlie: “If you’re going to get any joy out of being depressed, you’ve got to stand like this.”

The idea that any average individual would do well to cultivate such structural order in the makeup of the body does not occur; and, when first exposed to it, most people seem to glaze over. It is news that still hasn’t been delivered. Off the radar, so to speak. Funny though, we wouldn’t tolerate such shoddy workmanship in even the backyard tool shed. Imbalance in the architectural arrangement of the body, however, not much purchase there.

Most of us generally only take action when problems show up. If you are lucky enough to seek the services of a qualified practitioner of Rolf Structural Integration to relieve chronic pains and stress—and that practitioner is able to enlist you in seeing how those problems are related to how your body relates to gravity—then you see for yourself first hand, unambiguously, the freedom and aliveness living with your body effortlessly upright, balanced, symmetrical and unstressed.

If you are dedicated to be tops in sports or a star of stage and screen, then you ought to already know that your instrument, your body, needs to be in top form, fine tune. And, if you really want to live, doesn’t it make sense that howsoever you may have that framed for yourself, you’ll be well served to cultivate tangible and lasting balance in the makeup of your body.

When you are ready to add “alignment with gravity” to your resume, Rolf Structural Integration will be a significant boost. But, first you gotta be thirsty, before we can really show you where the water is.

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Friday, April 13, 2012

There is an ineluctable relationship between how your body is arranged and the pull of gravity. Dr. Ida P. Rolf, the originator of Structural Integration, said, "This is the gospel of Rolfing: When the body gets working appropriately, the force of gravity can flow through. Then, spontaneously, the body heals itself. "
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Rolfing Montclair, New Jersey
Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
Structural Integration Montclair, New Jersey
Rolfing New Jersey
Rolfer New Jersey
Structural Integration New Jersey
Rolfing Montclair, New Jersey
Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
Structural Integration Montclair, New Jersey

Thursday, April 12, 2012


The force of gravity is a prime ecological fact.

Its constant downward pull is so ever present it goes unnoticed.

The demands of gravity on the human body are the same as for any physical structure on Earth.

Plumb and square.

Gravity is definitely with you.

The question is, are you with it?

The answer: cum se cum sa.

As a species humankind has yet to fully live into its design potential for verticality/uprightness in the makeup of the body.

This usual condition is also so widespread and common, it too goes unnoticed.

We often mistake what’s normal for what’s usual.

Nevertheless, there is an ineluctable relationship between the organization of the human body and the action of gravity.

Gravity is not going away.

We ignore the message of gravity to our own limitation and detriment.

The vertical line of the body and the vertical line of gravity are meant to match up.

It is obvious from basic Anatomical science and Physics that it is in the cards for humans to realize the call of its species to cooperate with the dictates of the gravitational force.

In a very real sense we are, every one of use, constantly and daily throughout our lifetimes engaged in a learning realationship to gravity.

Dr. Ida P. Rolf orginated Structural Integration.

It is a transformation to a consciously engaged relationship to the energy field of the earth.

Dr. Rolf saw this unique approach to health and well-being as a step in the evolutionary process, for humans to become fully adapted to earth’s energy field and living in harmony with the dictates of that gravitational force.

She exhorted, “Consign your body to gravity.”

In other words, consciously decide to realize the possibility of living with your body surrendered to the support of the gravity environment.

No holding on. Fully supported. Energized. Easy. Present. Powerful. Graceful. Capable.

Imagine human beings adapted ecologically to the force of gravity much in the same way fish are adapted to their watery environment.

Imagine, if land life emerged from the sea, what great evolutionary leap is possible for humankind from the constraints of gravity?

This is nothing more than a firm grasp of the obvious.

It should make sense.

But, it takes some doing to get there.

There is choice in this matter.

Hear the wake-up call to put yourself on the growth track to live into your natural potential for truly balanced living.

Balance in the arrangement of the body is a foundation.

Balance means top physical performance.

Balance means full creative expressiveness.

Balance means just plain living well.

Balance is its own reward.

Balance is self evident.

Rolf Structural Integration is not at all necessary.

It does, however, represent peerless and definitive assistance to speed your progress.

Decide for balance.

Get with gravity.


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Rolfing Montclair, New Jersey
Rolfer Montclair, New Jersey
Structural Integration Montclair, New Jersey