My Journey as a Rolf Practitioner

The journey into my professional life began as a young gymnast. Years of training had left my body compromised. With an excessive sway back and externally rotated legs, sitting, standing, and kneeling were uncomfortable. I did not feel at home in my body, and gravity was not my friend.

Fortunately, during my training to become a licensed massage therapist in Hilo, Hawaii, I met my first Rolfing® Practitioner who was trained at the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration® and had studied the work of its founder, Dr. Ida P. Rolf.

Deciding to experience the ten session series of Structural Integration was a major turning point in my life! Injuries from gymnastics melted away as my body structure became balanced again. With my pelvis properly aligned, my clarity and confidence improved; I felt empowered to accomplish most anything I chose to do! During my second session of the Rolfing® series, I looked at my practitioner and declared, “I want to do this work!”

I was grateful to be taken under wing in that desire and by 1991 I completed my basic training with the Guild for Structural Integration. My teachers were phenomenal and I was introduced to a whole new world of interrelationships within the body. The work sang to me and I felt the gift within my hands. From then on, I became a full-time practitioner of Structural Integration and continued to be an appreciative recipient of the work. 

In 2006 I had the good fortune to attend the first International Association of Structural Integrators (IASI) Symposium in Bellevue, WA. It was there that I met biophysicist James L. Oschman, Ph.D. In his presentation, Oschman shared a new way of understanding the conductive qualities of connective tissue that radically transformed my ideas on fascia. His insights connected many dots that propelled me into a deep quest into the energetic aspects of Structural Integration and how gravity can be a beneficial force in the body.

Dr. Rolf referred to this when she stated:

“Rolfing postulates on the basis of observation that a human is basically an energy field operating in the greater energy of the earth; particularly significant is that energy known as the gravitational field. As such, the individual’s smaller field can be enhanced or depleted in accordance with the spatial relations of the two fields….

“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…. and gravity becomes the therapist.”

Little did I know that Dr. Oschman had studied with Dr. Rolf in the late 1970s and had been challenged by her to develop a scientific explanation of her work that anyone could understand. With Oschman’s ideas, I began to make the connection with the movement of electromagnetic life-force energy through my body via the Rolf Line.

At the core of Dr. Rolf’s teachings is the organization of the segments of the body around a central vertical axis or Line, that runs along the front of the body extending into the earth and spans above the head towards the heavens. This vertical axis, I realized, is also a functional energetic channel for the flow of beneficial life-force energy through the center of the electromagnetic field of the body.

Emmett Hutchins, a beloved Structural Integration teacher explained, “The Line extends through the top of the head and through the feet into the center of the earth…. When you are in touch with your Line, you are closer to your special gifts.” Access to an inner sense of knowing and greater psychic sensitivity may be enhanced through the interaction of the human energy field with the gravitational field of the earth; especially when the body is reinforced through bodywork like Structural integration and meditation. 

In 2007, I had the most unusual experience. I was lying in bed reading a particular paragraph in Betsy Sise’s excellent book, The Rolfing Experience. Sise had included an unpublished paper that our teacher Emmett Hutchins had written in 1989. Hutchins described the free flow of electric core energy through the body when blockages in the physical and energetic levels are removed.

“And what if one were to place the negative pole of this energized core, (root chakra) firmly into the earth while also spanning upward through the positive pole (crown chakra) toward infinity? Would the personal electromagnetic field be reinforced by the field of the earth? Could this not describe a transcendent state of energetic integration between human and cosmos? Could this correspond to awakening of kundalini and the appearance of super-normal powers of mind and body? Are chakras the vortices through which this highly empowered electromagnetic source communicates with matter?”

As I read those words, I was overtaken by great appreciation of Dr. Rolf and the work that she had accomplished in her life. Tears of intense gratitude streamed down my face as I stood up from my bed.

Then, to my great surprise, Dr. Rolf was standing right there in front of me! I was seeing her in her light body! Quickly, I asked, “Dr. Rolf, may I have your permission to speak and write about the energetic aspects of your work?” 

“Yes!” she replied. “Take it to the next level.” And she disappeared!

Internally, I was guided to lie back down on my bed with my head to the east, in a way I had never lain before. I was aware that there were two other beings present with me above the top of my head. As I lay on my back, what appeared to be a download of information began to occur. A glorious blue light the color of the oceans of Hawaii, began to pour into me. It gushed in through the top of my head in a very wide diameter.

I began to be afraid. “Relax,” I was told. “This is another level of enlivening and it will help you write your book!”  At that time, I didn’t even know that I was supposed to write a book!

As I lay there on my back, eyes wide open, the magnificent blue light poured into me through the top of my head.  “Oh, oh, OH!”  I exclaimed as the blue light streamed down my spine, hit my tailbone and burst out into my energy field. At that moment, I sensed relief on the part of my two companions. The download was successfully completed and they disappeared! 

I was left with a three-day period of integration; my language and mental processes had some catching up to do. After that experience, I found myself speaking with clients about the energetic aspects of Structural Integration in a knowing manner that surprised even me!

From this time forward, I began developing my understanding of how organization of fascial tissues supports the flow of life-force energy in the body. By 2012, I shared the idea of the Line being the center of the toroidal electromagnetic field of the body with Emmett. He concurred. From 2012 to 2016, I began writing about these ideas, studying Oschman’s books, connecting the dots… writing, working and meditating.

By early 2016, I requested permission from Dr. Oschman to use some of his material in my manuscript. He had read one of my articles about the Line that was published in our local healing arts journal, The Lotus Guide. Oschman said that he was preparing a presentation on the “resonant frequencies of the human body” and wanted to include information on the Line in his presentation. I was quite pleased with that. He asked me to send the manuscript of my book to him, which I did. And then there was a lag time before we communicated again.

When we finally spoke, I asked him, “Dr. Oschman, has this manuscript even been worth your time and effort?” 

He replied, “You didn’t get my email?”

“No,” I said. “I have been travelling.”

“Jean Louise,” he said, “You are a very good writer. You have expressed some very difficult concepts in a way better than anything I have seen. This is an important book with very important information. I am going to read this very closely!”

By the next month, his first written response arrived.  “First, I really like what I am reading. You have captured the essence of Rolfing/SI in a clear way that I have not seen before. I have needed this book for a very long time. It is delicious!”

In May of 2016, when Oschman completed looking over the entire manuscript, he wrote, “I really love what you have done. You have integrated more than structure—you have integrated structure, mind, body, and spirit. This is a true and advanced and inspired perception of what Ida P. Rolf was working to accomplish. The bodywork community has needed this book. Thanks for the great work you have done.” 

Signed, “Smiles from Jim.”

After my novice experience of moving into the world of publishing, I signed a contract with Inner Traditions, a fine publishing company. By March of 2019, my devoted team of helpers and I launched a beautiful book release party in Chico, California. Then I went on to complete my Advanced Structural Integration Training with the Guild for Structural Integration in May-June of 2019.

I have my clients to thank for inspiring me to write Structural Integration and Energy Medicine: A Handbook of Advanced Bodywork. I wanted my clients to have a guide to accompany them through their ten-series. I love seeing how their use of the book in conjunction with their series is enhancing their integration of the work.

My illustrated handbook, which was seven years in the making, is a great introduction to the principles of Structural Integration. The energetics of the Line and the conductivity of the connective tissue are well explained, along with rotation patterns and how they affect the body. Each of the ten sessions of Structural Integration is detailed and each includes Joseph Heller’s psycho-emotional themes, movement and awareness exercises, self-care recommendations, and explanations of optimal body mechanics for moving, sitting and standing. At the end of the book there are support tools that include the yogic exercises of the Five Tibetan Rites, nutrition, meditation, essential oils, and gratitude practices to help people avoid putting stress and strain back into their body after they have completed their series.

In the words of my client, “This is a reference guide I can go back to. It’s not a read it once book. It’s like an owner’s manual for the body.”—KL

I continue to grow in my love for the work of Structural Integration. It is my strong desire to get my book out in service to people of the world so they may enjoy the many benefits of Structural Integration. To that end, I am always delighted to speak with groups of people and do podcast radio interviews. If you can help connect me with others in this regard, it would be most appreciated!

May all beings be happy and at home in their bodies, peaceful and connected with Mother Earth.