Upright Dandelion

wellness, health and meaningful living

Are you ready for 2012?

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Are YOU ready?

This is the year that I remember hearing about in my hands-on healing classes way back in 2001. As the years passed by and more mainstream circles caught wind of the Mayan and Hopi Prophecies, I saw something so positive and uplifting tainted almost overnight by negativity and undercurrents of fear. Whatever beliefs your mind and body may harbor about the ushering of 2012, adaptability is crucial to weathering uncertain seas and storms of uncertainty.

Anyone who has learned how to swim or ride a bike understands the importance of yielding to the forces fighting against us. Only by relaxing into the water and softening will we find buoyancy. Only by settling into the bike—becoming it—and focusing on the horizon instead of what is directly in front of the wheel will we find a smooth straight ride. This is life. We don’t necessarily have to understand what is happening. If we allow ourselves to let go of rigidity, old fears, or preconceived notions…then we can truly be present to the wonderment and possibilities surrounding us.

How adaptable to change ARE you? Are there places of rigidity that you regularly encounter within yourself? Does this rigidity protect you in healthy ways or does it fracture you like glass at the moment of impact? In the physical sense, motion is lotion to the body. Areas of rigidity create immobility—a recipe for pain. From an emotional and spiritual perspective, rigidity in thought and feeling also contributes to stagnation. Just as stagnant water eventually loses it ability to nourish and support life, so too do stagnant ways of thinking affect your spirit and psyche. Without vibrancy and flow, movement ceases and ensnares you in old ruts and past patterns.

2011 has given us a glimpse of what is to come. The world is now a smaller place. With political revolutions and economic shifts all over the globe, we cannot help but be affected by change. What are you doing for yourself this year to assist YOU in becoming more resilient and adaptable? Do you need to turn off the television and get off the couch so that you can focus on your own world? Perhaps you would like to address your own rigidity and lack of embodiment with Yoga, Pilates, or Martial Arts classes. Do alignment or postural issues plague you with immobility and pain? You may want to explore Chiropractic or Rolfing® Structural Integration. Do you need more movement? Try your hand at dance, Zumba Fitness, or even Feldenkrais Method. How about flexibility within your thoughts? Life coaching, holistic counseling, hypnotherapy, or meditation can help you get past your blocks and obstacles. Does your overactive nervous system need calming?  Cranial Sacral Therapy and acupuncture have been known to help foster resilience. Perhaps your immune system needs support in the form of healthier foods and nutritional supplements; a nutritional assessment and skilled advice in this area could do wonders for your body and your life.

There are so many other equally wonderful and amazing healing methods and modalities with benefits too numerous to mention here. Whatever action you decide to take or explore….just know that it is important to the world that you do something for yourself this year. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” If you want to see a more peaceful and healed world, you must first seek peace and healing within yourself. Trust yourself. Trust in the healing potential of your body. Your conscious efforts to become more adaptable and move toward wholeness will eventually open other doors to grand adventures, fabulous journeys and shiny new possibilities!

Happy 2012!

It is going to be an AMAZING year!

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Alignment Problems are Not Just for Automobiles

With the fast pace of the highway of life, it is natural to rely on our built-in cruise control while taking a beating from the bumps and potholes along the way. Pressures and stress become like giant billboards or oncoming traffic competing for our attention. Our bodies and nervous systems do their best to fully process everything we experience as it happens. Nevertheless, it is common to slow down or experience unnecessary wear and tear because our bodies have lost proper alignment.

Anyone who has ever driven and maintained an automobile for an extended period of time has likely dealt with an alignment problem. The effects of a simple curb nudge, fender-bender or direct collision may create a misalignment that is not immediately obvious. We may notice that something is amiss only when the tires wear unevenly, the steering wheel pulls in a particular direction or the drag of worn tires decreases fuel efficiency. Our bodies are very much like automobiles—and we may not realize that our own alignment is off until an ankle sprain leads to knee trouble or the occasional ache develops into chronic pain or worse yet—we need a knee or hip replacement.

Just as automobiles have options for alignment correction at the mechanic’s shop, so do misaligned bodies at the hands of a Certified Rolfer™. A Certified Rolfer™ has completed a rigorous and intensive program considered ‘post graduate’ in nature at the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration. This training includes in-depth study of biological sciences, physiology, anatomy, structural body reading, the theory of Rolfing® and extensive clinical work under supervision. Rolfing® is a dynamic system of soft tissue manipulation and somatic education that restores the body’s healthiest and most efficient alignment. It is not a simple procedure that can be taught in a webinar or weekend continuing education workshop.

A Rolfer™ looks at the whole person and works to make the body more secure within the field of gravity by focusing on the fascia—the connective tissue that surrounds, supports and penetrates all of the muscles, bones, veins, nerves and organs of the body. Alignment problems are addressed by working different fascial segments of the body in sequential order and by facilitating perceptual changes in how a client relates to his or environment. By balancing the right side of the body against the left, the top with the bottom, the front side against the back, and finally, the inside of the body against the outside, the entire person is balanced around a vertical line.

Correcting alignment can positively affect a person on multiple levels. As bones and muscles can finally do their proper jobs, energy is freed up and the body can now move more efficiently. Functioning of respiration, digestion, circulation and the nervous system is enhanced and the ability to process stress improves. Better balance and body symmetry can shift posture so dramatically that chronic pain often eases or disappears entirely. A person who receives this work often finds that it takes less effort to sit and stand upright. Overall, many folks who have undergone a ten session series of Rolfing® Structural Integration have reported changes in their physical structure to also affect them on the energetic, emotional, and spiritual levels.

All the incidents, accidents and challenges on the highway of life are inevitably going to affect how you function in the present. Consider an alignment tune-up with a Certified Rolfer™ to ease years of wear and tear and restore efficiency to movement. Your automobile may not be able to thank you for all of the time and money spent on ‘maintenance’, but your body will!

Rolfing® and Rolfer™ are registered service marks of the Rolf Institute® of Structural Integration.

Examining Rolfing® SI: The transformative bodywork system with a funny name

When one hears the word “Rolfing,” all sorts of images, bodily sensations and noises may come to mind. Yes, it is an interesting name. No, it does not involve wretching, excruciating pain or visits to a bathroom south of the border. Rolfing is actually better known as Rolfing® Structural Integration (SI)— a dynamic and holistic system of soft tissue manipulation and somatic education that restores and balances the whole body to its natural, healthiest and most efficient alignment.

Rolfing® Structural Integration was developed by Ida P. Rolf, Ph.D. A biochemist interested in health and alternative healing, Dr. Rolf explored osteopathy, chiropractic medicine, homeopathy and yoga. Through her research, she saw clearly the correlation between body function and proper alignment. She discovered that she could achieve dramatic changes in posture and physical structure by manipulating and balancing the body’s densely woven web of connective tissue called “fascia.”

Fascia surrounds, supports and penetrates all muscles, bones, veins, nerves and organs and provides a network for the nervous system to communicate with the body. When one part of the body becomes injured or inflamed through poor posture, repetitive movement, emotional or physical trauma, surgery and life’s daily stresses, the nervous system tells fascia in that area to thicken or shorten. This constriction and armoring serves a great purpose as it protects the body from further injury; however, once the injury has healed or the danger of injury has passed, the holding pattern that remains often affects functioning of the entire body.

By the 1940s, Dr. Rolf developed a process of 10 sessions during which all major fascial segments of the body were attended to. The process became known as the “Ten Series” and the work itself became known as “Structural Integration.” Dr. Rolf’s fans would refer to her work as “getting rolfed over” and eventually, nicknamed it “Rolfing®.” The practitioners of this work soon became known as “Rolfers™”. The work gained a reputation for being highly effective but rather painful as it was believed that more pressure on the body’s tissues created more change.

More than 50 years later, the work is still highly effective but it is no longer nearly as painful. Research has shown that Rolfing® SI works on a neurobiological level and affects the autonomic nervous system by contacting extremely sensitive mechanoreceptors residing in fascia. These receptors react to far less pressure than previously thought. Rolfers™ have since adjusted their techniques and have created an experience of Structural Integration that is as comfortable as it is transformative.

Rolf Little Boy Logo

Our posture and structure display our collection of holding patterns, limitations, accidents, injuries and not-so-pleasant life experiences. When we are held in the past by our fascia, we may find it difficult for our minds and spirits to function fully and optimally in the present. By systematically and gently releasing chronic stress, dissolving armoring and unwinding tension patterns, the body naturally finds alignment in gravity. Posture improves, chronic pain eases, bodily awareness and perception are heightened. Energy levels increase as the body no longer automatically resorts to inefficient movement patterns or guards against traumas of long ago. Transformation occurs and new possibilities of moving, standing and being suddenly become available!

Rolfing®, Rolfer™, Rolf Movement® and the Little Boy Logo are service marks of The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration®, Boulder, CO.

My Rolfing® Structural Integration Journey

I remember vividly that day in 2001 that I sat in the exam room in my grubby construction clothes. I had been swinging a hammer for eight hours every day as a laborer on a bridge-building crew. Two months into the job, my hands had stopped functioning properly. I was terrified. This was only supposed to be a transition job until I saved up enough funds to return to school to figure out what it was that I truly wanted in life. Through tears, I begged the doctor to help me—I needed my hands. A child of a dairy farmer, I grew up knowing my value through hard work. If I could not work, I was nothing.

I continued on…plugging through life and not listening to my body. I switched from a job in the field to a job at a desk. I squinted for long hours under fluorescent lights in a windowless office. I wore uncomfortable shoes and scratchy clothes that suffocated me on the drive home on a hot summer’s day. I had it all: job security, retirement savings, full health care coverage, three weeks of paid vacation and sick leave. I even had respect in my job. But no benefit nor status insured against the loss of my soul. I was dying on the inside while waiting for my life’s calling.

My body screamed for attention. The tension in my neck and shoulders and pain in my lower back sidelined me from dancing and moving freely. I could no longer…work. Depression set in.

I did what I was supposed to. I used the benefits that were supposed to take care of my health. I listened to my doctor as well as I could through the recommendations of my health insurance plan. I did physical therapy. I tried chiropractic. I swallowed pain pills. I scoffed at surgery. The conventional route to finding a cure for my pain failed me, and I was a partially disabled and fully miserable 32 year-old woman.

It was a fluke that I discovered Rolfing® Structural Integration. I had heard rumors that it hurt but that it was helpful for hopeless cases like mine. I decided to give it a try. Before my first session, my Rolfer™ asked me if I was ready for change. My pain was forcing me to change. But little did I know what ‘change’ actually meant.

The first session was really interesting. It wasn’t as painful as I thought and I found that I could breathe with more ease. After the second session, I found my feet and began to relax into my body instead of struggling to hold it up. By the third session, I knew I was on to something. My back pain eased and I found greater flexibility, bodily awareness and increased mobility. I finished the rest of the ten sessions and aligned my body. In the process, I transformed my life.

It is three years later from the day that I realized that I had to change. I am now a Certified Rolfer™ and have found my calling. I now work in a sunny window-filled office. I can open a window for access to fresh air. I work barefoot and wear comfortable clothes. I listen to my body and I positively affect people who choose to heal their bodies naturally outside the institution of conventional medicine. I work with my hands. I am joyful. I am forever changed.

What change are you ready for?

Pain as a Catalyst for Change

Many of us have learned that pain is very much a part of life. Pain can either gently nudge us or it can forcefully blind-side us. Whether we like it or not, pain is actually an indication that something is right. It is the body’s built-in alarm system that warns when systems are not functioning properly. The body is literally begging for change. How we react to pain is a choice. We might respond to pain by ignoring it, by attacking it or by becoming a victim of it. We may also choose to transform it – turn it into gold.

The wise 13th century poet Rumi wrote:

These pains that you feel are messengers. Listen to them. Turn them to sweetness.

When we seek to transform our pain, we set out on a journey to learn more about ourselves. We grow. Along the way, we learn how to better care for our bodies, nurture our minds and enliven our spirits. When we realize that we can release what we no longer need, we unclutter. With renewed clarity and focus, we give ourselves permission to live more fully in the present. We become accustomed to feeling integrated and whole. Because we have become lighter and more spacious, we become available to new possibilities all around us.

This blog is about creating spaciousness and exploring new possibilities.