Quality & Quantity of Life: Featuring the Penumbral Peacock

When a client comes in to The Way of the Elbow Headquarters, we enter into a cooperative relationship in which his or her flourishing is our shared aim. Ultimately, Rolfing® Structural Integration benefits the client by increasing both the quality & quantity of her life. How? I will address the latter component of this claim first, since it probably appears the more outrageous.

Most of us have more important things to do than consider what “life” actually is. And even among those souls who do choose to navel-gaze & engage in other such contemplative pastimes, we surely still find a diverse selection of understandings.

If life is health, vigour, or vitality, then Rolfing increases the quantity of life because it augments these physiological energies. We may experience this as improved circulation, suppleness of sinew, balance in alignment, increased energy & sense of well-being, ease of movement, etc…. As we release tension in the body, we are concomitantly freeing up resources that were erstwhile bound, & the enumerated biological benefits represent a natural consequence of this process.

A germination of vital energies is one perspective we might consider. But we might also adopt a more subjective measure of life. If life is the aggregate of our experience,* Rolfing likewise increases the quantity of life because we gradually broaden our spectrum of perception (see Refined Perception in the Context of Rolfing post)! Our senses are, as it were, fivefold porticos into this existential treasure-trove (i. e. the summation of our experience) & perception the final portal. So sense-stimuli beget perceptions of them beget our experience which is also our life.

Naturally, experience consists of more than germinated sense-impressions. But most of us have no difficulty including thoughts & other mental processes in the phenomenal smørgåsbord of our experience. And (robots so far, at the time of this post, notwithstanding) all of us likewise spontaneously incorporate our emotional reactions to the particular conditions that confront us into our experience/lives as well. But she is actually quite rare the individual who consistently integrates unadulterated sensory experience into this mix. Though most of us understand intellectually that we live as bodies, we often fail to experience this condition directly. Rather we often relate to our bodies only conceptually (i. e. mediated by our mental processes). Here’s a test: if you think “my knee hurts” counts as direct experience, I’m afraid you’ve missed the point. Here’s why: sensory experience does not discriminate between body-parts the way a textbook does. “Knee” is not an experience, it’s a concept.

We live as though unalloyed sensory experience were a distraction from more meaningful concerns, & as though former’s value were found only in those occasions that direct sensory experience instrumentally served some further end. As a consequence, our brains filter out those pure sense-data from our consciousness altogether & we subsequently lose connection with our bodies. Unfortunately, the result of this process is that we forfeit an entire avenue of experience & by extension an entire “kingdom” of our lives (See Ye Three Kingdoms posts)!

Furthermore, the body is the medium through which we interact with the world. It is the foundation of all of our relationships—it literally informs them. Embodiment is foundation of presence in the world—without it we are mere talking heads, doomed to haunt about like poor old Muley Graves in The Grapes of Wrath:

jus’ an ol’ graveyard ghost.

In this way, the degree to which we embody ourselves is the degree to which we move into the future & participate in life. Gaze long enough at your navel, & it will gaze back at you.

Rolfing SI represents a direct path towards embodiment. Through the Rolfing process, clients invariably establish closer, clearer, & more intimate relationships to their bodies. Through this process, Rolfing SI increases quantity of life by (1) augmenting vital energies, & (2) increasing the bandwidth of our experience.

*One thing life is not is conventional “objective” measures of material, financial, & social status or success. This is because since these “objective” accumulations never make it into our experience, it would be incongruous to claim them as part of our lives. For example, even if there is a peacock under my chair, it is not part of my life until I perceive it (i. e. it enters into my field of experience). Or if I have a golden bust of Pallas just above my basement door, but I never go down there, that doesn’t count either. Likewise with fame, fortune, & friendships for that matter—there’s nobody upstairs keeping track of these things & their value is therefore the degree to which they inform our living experience. Experience is life’s final measure & Rolfing SI deepens it.

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