Structural Elements' Philosophy
we meet you where you are WITHOUT JUDGEMENT OR EMPTY PRAISE
We work with you without judging where you are or dictating where you "should" be with your body or fitness level.
Rumi said, "out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field, I will meet you there." As Structural and Functional Integrators we work with clients coming from every level of fitness. We begin our work with you by meeting you wherever you are. We are not interested in ideas about "right" movement or body shape. We see this sort of right/wrong judgment as an impediment to good integrative work. Here is why: When we hear that something about us is "wrong" we are halted. Obviously there are times we need to halt or stop behavior that harms us or those around us. But as we learn to use our bodies, this stopping, this arresting, this judging can create "snags" in the fabric of our structure (Think of the tension or holding pattern that is created in a tiny chest as a frustrated parent harshly hushes a crying baby). If we adopt these holding patterns from so much halting, our communication with our bodies is hushed. Our work may be less enjoyable or fluid. It may even be painful or uncomfortable to play or perform.
We LOOk, with you, in the mirror | discovering WHAT'S REALLY GOING ON
Looking at shape and structural behavior is an essential part of our work at every level.
Some patterns are inimical to your movement or performance. When you become aware of what is really going on in your body then you are more open to change. Another result of this kind of discovery is increased awareness of your abilities. As we work and look, you may see some of your perceived limitations melt away. When you struggle with pain or restriction; when you are interested in performing with more power or flexibility, our job is to look with you at what's really going on in your body. We shine the light of awareness on patterns in your tissue that are affecting the way you move. Some patterns are very helpful to you.
We focus on Behavior relationships
We look for relationships in your structure. We are much less interested in cause and effect.
We believe judgement blights curiosity. Why is that important to us? As SI and FI practitioners we want to stay curious about what we see and feel in your structure. If we become dogmatic we stop discovering and can over-focus. So we trend away from a Newtonian approach to bodywork. Our search is about discovery and relationships. We don't assume we know the cause and effect. When we focus on cause and effect our viewpoint about what's really going on with your body hastily narrows. This could lead to ineffective or even harmful bodywork.
As a practical example, let's imagine a very typical scenario: A client presents with very sharp and irritating pain around the superior angle of the Right Scapula (the top part of your shoulder blade you can feel by reaching over your right shoulder with your left hand). If we focus on cause and effect we could assume that this tissue is overstretched and that we need to focus on balancing it by "opening your chest." This might work. But if we haven't looked at the alliance between the Scapula, rib cage and Humerus we could miss a relationship that really needs our attention.
Perhaps, for an example, the client's Right Serratus Anterior is shortened and medially rotating the client's Scapula. If this is the case and we focus too much on the "cause" we see in the chest, we could create more imbalances and more discomfort at, near or distantly related to the painful site. Can you see our point? We need to stay curious about relationships. You will find that we talk a lot about what we call "structural behavior," what we see and feel going on in your connecting tissue and skeleton. A discussion about behavior seems more helpful to us than making assumptions or judgements about cause.
We focus on fascia
Fascia is our playground. We work hard to balance the slings, strings and lashings of connecting tissue that support you.
SI and FI (functional integrative) practitioners are openly nerdy about fascia. This pervading tissue is our playground. What is fascia? You can click here to read the latest definition from the Fascial Research Congress. There is much forward movement in fascial research. We cannot begin to be comprehensive in our explanation here. But to be more laconic, we could say that fascia is all your connecting tissue. It includes: the tissue that surrounds and supports your brain and spinal cord; the slings, strong strings, and tunics associated with your abdominal viscera; your tendons; your ligaments; and all the tissue that "invests" your muscles. This tissue is what makes you a "tensegrity" structure; a combination of tensile and compressive forces. In this arrangement your bones float as compression struts inside the balancing forces provided by your muscle and fascia . For more on tensegrity, click here. Our job is to balance those forces to provide you with relief from aberrant fascial patterns or to facilitate flexibility, stability, strength, power and agility.
we are not focused on posture
We are not here to "place" your body in a predetermined position that someone has decided to call "posture."
Has someone ever commanded you to "sit up straight" or "pull your shoulders back?" These directives are just a couple of many pedantic postural prescriptions we have all heard from our superiors. The mother of Structural Integrative Bodywork, Dr. Ida Rolf made some powerful clarifications about this word in her book "Rolfing." She pointed out that the the Latin root of the word "posture" contains an element of "placement." As Structural and Functional Integrative practitioners we are adamantly not interested in positioning your body in a way that some postural authority deems correct. So we cringe at the use of that word and all the images couched in its stiff syllables.
Working toward posture seems counterproductive to us for two main reasons. First, as is indicated by the meaning of the word, adopting a posture creates rigidity in a body. If tissue becomes rigid it's ability to store and release energy, especially energy from forces generated by using our bodies to move as we work, play, or perform, is compromised. Second, we just don't want you to get in a fight with your body. Wouldn't you agree that most of us have to deal with enough frustration as we try to shrink our lives to fit the demands associated with time, money, and energy? We don't want our work with your body to become just another demand, a predetermined space that you must fit into. Frankly we are afraid that this kind of demand will anger the three year old that resides within all of us, creating resistance in your body and to our work rather than the ease and flow we are aiming for.
We work with intention
We work with great intention. We hone our intention with a deep understanding of fascial anatomy.
In our discipline, intention is paramount. If our intention is sharp; if we can accurately visualize what we are palpating under the skin, then we can be effective therapists. Conversely, if a therapist works without intention they are less effective at best and harmful at worst. We have found that we can hone our intention by growing our knowledge. If there is any one thing that stands out about our work it's our avid pursuit of knowledge of human anatomy. We don't pursue this knowledge to tickle our intellect. For us, this anatomical knowing is an extension of our hands, essential to manual therapy and hands-on Functional Integrative Training.