What is Integration?
What is Integration? As many people know, Ida Rolf originally named her system Structural Integration. The structral aspect should be clear to most people. We are working on posture, movement, restrictions…we are working on structure. What about integration? This is what makes Rolfing different than massage and other forms of manual therapy. When working for integration, we are working to make changes part of the individual’s being. This is how they are adopted and maintained.
When I eat a piece of bread the bread becomes a piece of me, I do not become a piece of bread. Even if I eat a lot of bread, I do not become bread, I do not even become more bread-like. There is an organizing principle that maintains my Me-ness, that assimilates bread into my structure while maintaining my structure. The bread become integrated into my structure. Likewise we are looking for changes in posture and movement to be integrated into my structure and ways of moving. But for this to happen we have to make it possible.
If I am dealing with restriction, injuries, and compensation patterns I may not be able to adopt more functional ways of going about my life. Restrictions need to be addressed and support needs to be arrived at for injuries to have time to heal, instead of being under constant strain. Even if these things are achieved, the compensation patterns also need to be addressed. There is a principle often mentioned in Rolfing, “put it where it belongs and ask for movement”. If someone’s shoulder or hip is not where it is typically supposed to be, hold it in a better position and have them move it around. In this way the person feels what more efficient movement is like in this area, if restrictions have been addressed they may feel better range of motion. Better movement becomes adopted when it feels good, it become a part of the individual’s way of moving, it becomes integrated.