Rolfing and Structural Integration Blog

Insights and practices on the benefits of Rolfing Structural Integration and the powerful role that it plays in healing the body and the mind.

The Language of Pattern: How Patterned Behavior Shapes Our Experience

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It is possible to talk of Rolfing as an elegant language within which to address patterns that obstruct the optimal physical, perceptual, and emotional function of a person.

Strain patterns run through the body as a consequence of physical injuries, and the compensations that result.

These adaptations may be a good strategy at the time of the injury, but since most of their content is below the level of consciousness, they tend to persist long after they are useful. When compensations are both unconscious and long-standing, they can become mischievous - causing problems throughout the body. In an ankle injury for instance, a person might become over-involved through certain musculature to compensate for a lack of support.

This situation may lead to over-stabilized tissues in parts of the body, and under-stabilized tissues in other parts. This can then result in less than optimal movement patterns possibly leading to eventual limitation in movement, discomfort or pain.  

Importantly, physical injuries and compensation find expression in the subtle, and not so subtle shapes, gestures and orientations of the body. We can call this set of relationships, posture. How we are in our posture contextualizes how we experience the world. Compensations in our posture often involve limitations in how breath moves through the body, and of course visa-versa. Compensated breathing gives the nervous system certain information, contributing to anxiety. In the same way, a head or pelvis that is asserted (forward) or withheld (held back), greatly conditions how we form relationships to things, and to people. 

The language of pattern leads into a deep discussion about therapeutic intervention, which involves the whole person, and not just their symptoms.

Symptoms are almost always part of, and manifestations, of a more complex situation.

In my work as a Rolfer since 2004, I have been profoundly involved in working within this language. From my perspective, it is the most appropriate way to address chronic and acute situations of pain and discomfort with efficiency and clarity. It is also often appropriate to address symptoms. This is most directly done by working with the symptoms in the context of their pattern(s). So, whether it is the alleviation of symptoms, more systematic work, or deep emotional/perceptual work, my cultivation and skill-sets enable a well developed approach to moving forward in your life. 


I would love to share my work with you, and introduce you to the mind/body approach to healing that is Rolfing.