Symmetry & Authenticity, Perfection & Deliciousness: What does Structural Integration Actually Mean?

“The goal of Rolfing® Structural Integration is integration of the structure.”

Clearly this tautology means almost nothing; I basically just repeated myself. Not only are such statements recursive, but they are also vague. But there is another important shortcoming of this first sentence less obvious than the vagueness (& ergo maybe more insidious): this description of Rolfing is conceptual. This is to say that it attempts to define a living process in the torpid terms of theory & intellect. Indeed any string of words appears relatively lifeless against the lived experience of actual embodiment in the world. Language is the finger, but the Moon….

The latter is an experience & it’s therefore ultimately ineffable. Chinese philosophy might call our goal tao, since integration means confluence with the natural “way” of things. And sure as day, the very first line of Taoism’s scriptural wellspring declares that:

“The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao.

Given that language can never completely convey an experience, we can let go of our expectation that it ever could. We can use words for what they’re worth & not expect more from them. Language is certainly quite a lot of fun, & it’s terribly useful, instrumentally: a proliferation of pointing fingers means better triangulation of their object, provided that we don’t get hung up on the indicators & miss the silver face of starry midnight herself.

We can also consider the quality of these indicators. Indeed a common shortcoming of descriptions of the Rolfing process is that they do so in the scientific terms of releasing connective tissue adhesions, aligning the structure in gravity, etc…. The trouble is, these descriptions are skeletal. They are the notes but not the music.

Materialistic descriptions are cold, conceptual, & objective—in short nothing like the perpetual peak experience of being alive. The latter is what Rolfing SI at its heart seeks to bolster. To get caught in intellectual stipulations is to miss the point entirely. At its best, what Rolfing Structural Integration truly strives for is nothing conceptual at all; nothing that could be reduced to a diagram in any textbook, even Grey’s Anatomy or Netter’s Nerve Atlas. Alignment should actually be seen an accident of our process & not the aim. We seek not structure that is symmetrical, but authentic. Symmetry is for park-benches; nature knows only balance. In Monica Caspari’s words,

don’t go for perfection; go rather for deliciousness.

To compliment this beautiful Brazilian encapsulation of the theme, we can add a Teutonic one:

“Take care lest in casting out your devils, you cast out the best part of yourself.”

—Nietzsche…who else?

In the quest for alignment, we suffer if we sacrifice our natural & intrinsic ease.

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