Publication: Structural Integration / Language: English
Date: 12-2009 / Vol: 37 / Issue #: 4 / Page: 9-10
Editor’s Note: In this issue, we profile two U.S. Rolfers who are also instructors for the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration.
My practice is a constant source of inspiration. I was first drawn to this work in 1971, hearing about it from a therapist. Then, in 1975, I received the Ten Series from a Rolfer who was traveling to Columbia, South Carolina to work. My boyfriend at the time and I also traveled to Atlanta for some sessions. That same year, we embarked on a wild adventure – a cross-country trip with that Rolfer and her client Roberta, whose five-hundred-fifty-pound iron lung was bolted into the back of a Dodge Maxi Van for the trip. Roberta had polio as a child, and had to sleep in the iron lung every night. She wanted to see the country on her way to be a class model for Dr. Rolf in San Francisco in the summer of 1975. I saw Dr. Rolf across a hotel lobby. Even in my thoroughly unenlightened state at the age of twenty-one, I saw ten feet of white light around her.
Jump ahead a decade and I found myself leaving a corporate job to follow what had previously been an unacknowledged dream. I attended the Atlanta School of Massage in 1986, and began my career. In a few years, I was eager to have more tools to address what I saw in people’s structures. I was accepted and trained at The Rolf Institute, and graduated in March 1992. In those early days, balancing my practice meant keeping up my massage practice while beginning to develop a Rolfing practice. After six years I went full-time as a Rolfer. I’ve now been doing this work for seventeen years. It’s hard to believe it’s been that long. I still passionately love this work. I am amazed by the endless opportunities to learn that surface every day.
Now for the nitty gritty: how I maintain some semblance of balance while teaching, being fifteen hundred miles from home for two months at a time, being on a faculty committee the past four years, and being on the board of the International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI). In addition to tracking legislative matters that affect the field of structural integration, I was recently elected to be president of the IASI Board of Directors. Of course, there is even some time for a personal life. I am, of necessity, protective of that. Besides, the cats get ornery if I don’t pay them enough attention.
My typical workweek includes five clients on Monday and Wednesday, and three clients Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday. That schedule allows me to recharge so that I can give the first and last client of the week the same kind of attention. For me, the soul of the work is realized in present time. Being present requires adequate rest and self-care. All the techniques of structural integration (SI), while potentially powerful, do not convey the depth of the work. Gifting another with recognition of their being is healing by itself, and calls to the self-healing capacity of the person. The techniques are in support of that. This is what I have learned from my teachers, along with some fantastic tools.
I began the process of learning to teach this work in 1998, assisting classes. If you have ever considered assisting a class, do it! I learned so much! I also learned that I knew more than I thought I did and became able to better articulate that knowledge. I taught my first class as lead instructor in 2004. Each class, just like each client, presents new opportunities to learn. It is an honor to help future colleagues get grounded in the work and prepare to start a practice. I’ve seen many of those students later and it is a delight. I am touched by all of them.
As it nears time to teach again each year, I begin to think constantly (perhaps “obsess” would be a better term) about how I will teach what I am doing and how to put it in the context of the principles of Rolfing Structural Integration. Having two months away from home every year is somewhat challenging, but these last few years, my practice has remained fairly steady even with those absences. I do miss seeing clients during that time.
I let clients know a few months ahead of time that I will be leaving and try to schedule their sessions so that the pause falls after session three or after session seven. I offer them referrals to other practitioners, in case they would like to continue while I am gone. Most of the time clients prefer to stay with the same practitioner, but sometimes they will go to another.
I attend workshops as regularly as I can, usually at least once or twice a year. I took two workshops with Tessy Brungardt last year that covered the same material as classes I took with her and Carol Agneessens over twelve years ago. This time, I absorbed new layers of understanding, not just anatomy and techniques, but ways of being – with clients, with myself, and with students. It was very instructive to see so directly that there continue to be more and more layers to this work; that the depth and breadth of possible understanding is virtually limitless.
Our Atlanta SI community has grown. Having those local connections is fantastic. We have been fortunate to have several teachers visit in the past few years including Jan Sultan, Tessy Brungardt, Tom Wing, Sharon Hancoff, Monica Caspari, Robert Schleip, and Jim Asher.
In my practice, I am curious about structure-function-energy. I see them as part of a continuum, rather than separate events. I wonder, what is in the field of the session or series of sessions with a particular client? What perceptual structure does that person bring to the sessions and how can I interface in a way that facilitates the person’s process, without imposing an outside agenda? What is present energetically in me as I approach the client? Can I acknowledge and set it aside in order to be more fully present for the client’s process? Can I forgive my own imperfections and not stand in judgment of others?
I have heard it said that you don’t learn to do Rolfing Structural Integration – you become a Rolfer. And according to Ida Rolf, you also have more instantaneous karma. On some level, I believe this is true. Not out of some kind of magic but because it becomes more imperative to be true to oneself, and more difficult to tolerate internal dissonance when you become more attuned to your self. This doesn’t make the road smoother – but it does make life more satisfying and real. I hope it makes us all better practitioners.
Libby Eason has a Rolfing practice in Atlanta, Georgia. Besides her teaching work for the Rolf Institute, she is Board President for the International Association of Structural Integrators.