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of Structural 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 emotionally.


by Lou Gross, School Certified Master Postural Integrator
27 years successful experience
For more information & free consultations, call 321-726-9083

This article is highlighted in bold for "Fast Scan-ability"


#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 overwhelmed mind.

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 better.

            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 generated thoughts.
            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 disposition.

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 lengthened.


#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 him.

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 manner.

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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