STEM FROM PHYSICAL
& STRESS REMOVAL BENEFITS
Integration Bodywork - Section 1
I’ll start with some general statements about how improving the
physical structure shows up as improvements in mental behavior.
It’s been found that the body and
mind are actually one thing, especially in the way we think of
ourselves psychologically. So whatever changes we can create
physically will have the same kind of effect psychologically and
by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator
27 years successful experience
information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083
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#1: Better Body Organization.
Bodyworkers of all kinds, and their clients, know that a relaxed body
creates a relaxed mind, and a tense body creates a tense and easily
But with Structural Integration we can do
more than just create looseness and a release of tension. A physical
structure that has all its muscles and bones working together in a
cooperative and articulate manner reflects itself in a mind with the same
qualities: more articulation in the thought process and a desire to be
cooperative instead of confrontational.
A person who’s had the chronic
tension released from his or her body has a more harmonious internal
structure. In fact, it’s actually a quieter body. It has less noise,
just as a harmonious group of people make less noise than a group of
“confronters” all trying to do opposing things. The mind will thus be
quieter, and have fewer conflicting thoughts. With this kind of lessened
noise and distraction the ability to concentrate and be aware will be
A body whose different parts are
in balance with each other and with the force of gravity has its center of
weight transmission down through its middle. We find that a person like
this also has a more balanced and centered mental outlook and demeanor.
An engineer I used to work on
told me how things changed for him. His mind stayed a lot calmer in the
midst of a chaotic situation. And he found he could stay better focused
on the facts of a problem and the method to solve it. At the same time,
he was aware that the people around him, also working on the problem,
would lose sight of the facts. They’d get distracted in discussing
peripheral concepts or concerns, and would also respond back and forth to
each other’s comments. They would get lost in their own emotionally
In addition, his relationship to time changed. He
said he was much less concerned with trying to solve everything at once,
and much more focused on doing the step by step process of what was
necessary to do the job. He saw that his mind was more focused in the
present activity. And so he was more effective.
#2: Chronic and Acute Pain
and Tension Removal. It’s easy to understand how the release from
physical pain alone can change a person’s demeanor greatly. The relief of
chronic tension always helps. The improvement of a person’s ability to
walk and to balance upright helps their mental clarity and presence of
mind because they no longer have to put so much of their attention into
just walking and standing. Just getting around is not such a strain
anymore and there’s room in the brain to think and chat. In addition,
when a person sees there’s really a way out of chronic pain and
disability, the hopelessness and emotional stress that went on for months
and even years can also stop.
Many people in our society
believe chronic and debilitating pain are unavoidable facts of life,
especially as we get older. Even doctors and psychological counselors
think that people must struggle in the face of it, because they believe
there is no cure. That’s only because they, like many other folks, have
never heard of nor experienced Structural Integration Bodywork. This
method actually fixes many pain and stiffness conditions, even where many
other treatments are at a loss.
#3: Stress Relief: How
we’re feeling physically in other ways also affects our demeanor. Our
brains receive signals from sensory nerves all over the body and
automatically translate that data into an overall “sense” of what we are
and how we can function. So, for instance, it relates physical
contraction with the inability to receive any more input; we feel “boxed
in” or overloaded. And this mind-body connection will occur even if we
aren’t consciously aware of the tension in our structure. It’s still
there and the brain still gets the signals.
Tightness also means, “I’m
not flexible and I can’t extend myself, even if I want to.” This is often
frustrating. When our structures are opened and re-lengthened, not only
do physical tightness and pain diminish, but mentally, we feel more open
to the world, more available, more “in touch.” Many people who are often
defensive or uptight find they become more relaxed and easier going and
accepting. They can definitely stay more relaxed, and kind, even in the
midst of a stressful, hurried situation.
Stress accumulates, and we carry a lot of it
with us wherever we go, even after the stressful circumstance is over.
Because the soft connective tissue accumulates more and more shortness
over time, the muscles it surrounds also get tighter and tighter. So a
lot of the tension from everyday stress and strain tends to stay in our
bodies, and we end up relating to today’s affairs with the additional
burden of the tightness we accumulated during the past weeks, months and
even years. As time goes on, in the more stressful periods of our lives,
it becomes more and more difficult to maintain an alert mind and an even
Regular re-lengthening of the accumulated
shortness however, will allow us to stay alert and nowhere near as
stressed. We can then maintain both aliveness and relaxation in the midst
of an activity that would otherwise create more and more tension.
If you have received benefits like these
from massage, you will most likely receive even greater benefits from the
Structural Integration treatments, and especially from a series of
sessions which covers the whole body and improves even the very deep
muscles. The lengthening lasts a lot longer than massage, and the
benefits accumulate from session to session in the series, because
releasing each part of the body further releases all the other parts.
Even from just one or two sessions, people can feel the relaxation last
for weeks instead of hours or days, and many of the long term benefits
last for months and even years.
Because this Bodywork softens the tissue and
removes years of tightness, when you have your next massage, that
treatment will be able to access more of your body and do more for you.
And people can maintain the benefits more easily with self-help
stretching, that also lengthens easier, and with Bodywork “tune-ups.”
These work much faster and easier than the first time the tissue was
#4: Improved Expression and
“Receptiveness.” Structural Integration
manipulations go much deeper than massage and actually change the
consistency of our muscles. They “un-harden” them and “harmonize” their
energies, even one to four inches into the body, below the skin. This
softening improves the blood and lymph circulation, cell respiration and
even helps the organs work better. Even the frequency of the muscle
tissue changes for the better. It becomes more like the natural frequency
of the earth, and the energies from head to toe become stronger and more
coherent. It’s more pleasant for both the person and the people around
This all manifests as psychological
improvements. And it is these changes in the tissue to such depths that
makes a big improvement in our receptivity and expression. We now don’t
directly receive input on the hard surface of the body. Instead, the
energy goes down through the now softer tissue. And our point of
receiving the input shifts deeper inside us, more toward the spine and
internal organs. (People actually sense it physically. They even feel
they’re seeing from “behind their eyes” and perceiving things from inside
their torso.) You can even say we “live” deeper inside ourselves.
The outer layers of muscle and fascia have
now become a transmitting “buffer” for the energy coming in. This buffer
will absorb and transform even the harshest emotional input, because it
is softer and more relaxed, and even has a better energy vibration and
physiological quality. So what we perceive inside is a softer, more
relaxed and “healthier” energy around “us.” In fact, the more complete
the Bodywork processing, the deeper we get released, and the more
comfortable and centered we become.
In the “reverse” direction, when
we respond to other people, our energy goes out through this same, more
harmonious tissue. We don’t react so sharply any more. People even
respond better to our more “likeable energy.” And since the Bodywork
makes our bodies more flexible and the muscles have a greater range of
movement, our expressions can be more varied and animated. We say that we
have more “choices” in the way we express ourselves than we had before.
#5: Improving Balance, Stance and
Posture. We are also always relating to the
continuous force of gravity. The human brain gets signals from the body
about our physical “stance.” The information about this stance describes
what we call an ongoing “attitude;” it’s always there, in the physical.
And this attitude combines with all the other attitudes we make mentally
during the day. The attitude may be a brace against falling down, it may
be a collapse into shortness, or it may be a set of zig-zags. It is
caused by our overall life’s experience, in which the soft connective
tissue in our muscles has accumulated tightness, from both physical and
emotional causes. It could also have a pattern of contracting in, as from
pulling away from repeated abuse or yelling. The soft connective tissue
grew that way. And it could include an ongoing expansive outward-ness,
caused by always having to take care of others.
Our stance is always influencing our
thoughts and feelings. Our attitude today is thus significantly
influenced by what we’ve done and what we’ve experienced, physically. We
all develop some sort of disorganization, or misalignment, in our
structures and posture. It’s an “overlay” that adds its own “tone” to
whatever we now mentally want to do. If we’re braced, that’s how we’ll
behave, and it’s because we learned to relate in a bracing manner when we
were younger. If we’re collapsed, we’ll relate in a collapsed manner.
And when we’re zig-zagged we may go back and forth in two directions, or
feel as if it’s a strain within ourselves to go forward in a balanced
As the Bodywork sessions properly realign
the bone and muscle structure, we stand more balanced and centered with
relationship to gravity. This improves both our physical and
psychological attitudes, and our behaviors, in all situations.
In her book, Ida P. Rolf, the developer of
Structural Integration, gives the example of a boy who falls and distorts
his leg and pelvic structure. The pain goes away in a short time, but the
shortness and misalignment of his structure throws off his stance so he
regularly feels “insecure,” even mentally, even though everything else
about him and his life is encouraging security. He doesn’t know it’s
coming out of his distorted leg condition. When the Bodywork then corrects
the physical misalignment that resulted from his accident, the boy’s
insecurity goes away. It’s replaced by a more confident stance, and a
more confident feeling about himself in the world.
#6: Relaxing Tight Heads and Faces.
Tight heads are a special problem, and almost everyone develops them. All
by themselves they manifest as emotional overwhelm and the inability to
handle and comprehend lots of input during very busy situations. They
also perpetuate the disorientation from falls and slaps in the face or
head during childhood abuse. And all this tightness keeps a tension on
the spine and a tense pull into other muscles of the chest, back and
abdomen. Tight heads create a very significant tension throughout the
entire person and even cause emotions to stay stuck in the belly.
Most people’s heads, and faces, are very
tight, even when they don’t get headaches and they don’t “feel” it’s
tight. And massages don’t release this kind of shortened condition.
About 30 bones make up the skull. They’re supposed to be able to move
slightly as we breathe, speak, make facial expressions, and move the rest
of our bodies. Accumulated stress, fear, lots of worry or analytic
thinking, too much psychic analysis, and structural imbalance of the whole
body all create shortness and make the head and face tight.
Whenever I loosen the neck and head
structure, my clients feel more kindly and happily open, more mentally
aware and alert, and more relaxed in their whole bodies as well as their
heads. Many people feel more energy and blood flow in their feet.
Releasing backs and shoulders after that makes people feel lighter, freer
and less tense all over.
Emotionally generated everyday tension often
gets stuck in the head, even if the torso remains relaxed or we stretch it
out. So treating the head can be as helpful a tune-up for executives and
other business people as treating the legs and pelvis is for runners.
A physical therapist once related to me that
autistic children have extremely tight heads and when they were loosened
with a bone and connective tissue manipulation, the children became
significantly more outgoing. I never confirmed her comment, but I mention
it because what she said agrees with the experience of my expert
teachers. It also agrees with my own continuous experience with
non-autistic adults. Everyone gets more alert, gets released from past
stress and trauma, and can handle more input in current daily life. Their
body-mind “mechanisms” become more open and better organized.
This aspect of the treatment is also very
helpful for patients who’ve been in the hospital for traumatic injuries
and sickness. It removes disorientation and overwhelm. I’ve also noticed
it helps elderly people in general, including those confined to
wheelchairs in nursing homes. It does not reverse internal tissue damage;
but rather, it reverses “external” tissue and energy constriction.
Besides the fact that the loosening relaxes
the whole body, it also increases sensory reception. The softer fascia
and looser muscles allow a better energy flow to the pituitary and pineal
glands and other “energy receptors” in the body. And decompressing the
fascia also takes tight pressure off of the nerves.
The head also contains many acupuncture and
“reflex” points to other muscles and internal organs throughout the body.
So when the head is made less tight, the rest of the body relaxes and
works better, too, because these points are less tense and congested.
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Postural Integrator Lou Gross
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