So, Why Are You Working On My Feet When It Is My Neck That Hurts?

 

rolfingNine years ago I was diagnosed with a herniation at C5/6 in my neck. I was told I would need surgery after the physical therapists could not help. I had done my research and surgery was not going to be an option. I found a well known yoga instructor who did work with back issues and the first thing he said was “I can’t help you. You need to go get Rolfed (R)!” Even though I never had heard of Rolfing, I managed to find someone who did and my journey began.

During the second session, the Rolfer was working on my feet in a way that was not very soothing! I finally had to ask her what she was doing down there when the problem was in my neck. She responded by telling me that the problem was in my feet, that I had no foundation and it was showing itself up through my spine, all the way to my head!

I have related this story to many of the people who have come to see me for various issues since I became a Rolfer. Dr. Ida Rolf, the originator of Structural Integration, best known as Rolfing, developed a way of working through the body in a systematic way. We refer to this system as the Ten Series. What can happen in other modalities is that you feel pain in some area and you have a therapist work on that area and it feels better…. for a while. Then the pain comes back and off you go for another adjustment. With the Ten Series, we don’t chase pain. We work with principles that guide us. First we start with better breath, then we work on grounding, and so on; constantly keeping in mind why you came to our office in the first place.

What really sets what I do apart from other area therapists is once things are opened up and balanced, I work with you to change your movement patterns so you don’t continue to do the things that started the pain in the first place. You don’t come to get Rolfed so that I can give that “Magic Pill”. You come so that you can change patterns that were at one time helpful, but now are tearing you down. To find BALANCE!

I have come to understand why my body revolted years ago. Every step I took caused my spine to move ever so slightly in an unnatural way. Eventually, the result was pain and then nerve damage. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been very rewarding to find balance and help others to do the same.  

Jeff Castle, Rolfer 

Jeff’s website is www.castlerolfing.com

Misnomer Alert: Alternative Medicine

We find the phrase alternative medicine problematic when describing what we do here. The phrase already brings to mind very specific ideas about who and what we are. None of which fit us.

 

First, let’s define the word alternative:

something available as another possibility where each option is mutually exclusive

 

– a behavior that is considered unconventional and seen as a challenge to traditional norms

 

We do not view ourselves as the other possibility that must be signed up for in lieu of something else. We view ourselves as complimentary to many paths and disciplines. We do not want you to quit going to see other people in deference for us. We view ourselves as a compliment to the care you find in many places and offices. We definitely do not consider ourselves mutually exclusive.

 

As far as the second definition, any of the modalities offered at our location are no longer classified in the unconventional or challenge to traditional norms category. All of our modalities have been in this country for quite some time and are accepted modes used by many people. More and more people know what acupuncture and Rolfing ™ are; not only know what they are, but use them as well.

alternative medicine 

Second, the word medicine:

  • the science or practice of the diagnosis, treatment, or prevention of disease

 

We do not prevent, cure, treat, or diagnosis any western diseases. The practitioners here, by law, are not allowed. None of them are M.D.s, the only people who can do the things listed. We do talk about the body in terms of energetics and have our own method for interfacing with the body in these terms.

 

So, what are we, if not alternative medicine?

 

We are advocates for health and longevity; we are visionaries who see the body and mind working together in one totality; we are complimentary care. Come and visit and tell us what your definition is!

Body of Knowledge

I had an epiphany the other day.  I realized I knew me more than I thought.

self awarenessSomeone asked how Oriental medicine worked.  I began talking about my own experience with the modality.

I have received Oriental medicine since 2009.  I originally came to this path because of numbness in my hands and feet.  

That issue has passed.  Why was I still going?  I am sure they were looking for a one or two word “problem.”  Instead, I started telling them this whole “crazy” list of symptoms:

  • a feeling that I have in my midsection, a feeling of uncomfortable fullness
  • this feeling always mirrors my mind being too full; it gets worse when I am closer to my monthly cycle  
  • this feeling of fullness affects my breathing, which creates a particularly painful feeling right underneath my diaphragm  
  • my clothing feels tight even though I have not gained any weight
  • everything feels heavy, as if my stomach is going to fall into the earth
  • my eating is irregular and so is my digestion when these symptoms are present
  • when I feel this way, I want to disassociate, use anything to get away from how it feels to “be in my skin”
  • this feeling is worsened by lack of movement, and alleviated by movement

And then I realized: I was learning pattern discrimination.

Pattern discrimination is how Oriental medicine diagnoses.  What I was doing was not just pattern discrimination in general Oriental medical terms, but my pattern discrimination.  I was learning my body and learning how to read my body’s cues.  

We are not taught how to read our own body’s cues; at least I certainly wasn’t.  I was taught that I could not understand anything about myself without the help of some intermediary; and this intermediary came in many forms:  physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual.  I was taught that I needed this intercession in order for me to gain any “knowledge” about myself.  

For most of my life I have discredited my own self knowledge in deference for everyone else’s expertise.  

All of our practitioners here ask for something different.  They ask that I be aware of my body and be able to voice that awareness to them.  They have taught me that various signs that I say are “silly” or are “just a peculiarity with me” are important for just that reason: because they have to do with me in particular, not what someone else says I should feel or experience.

The practitioners here have helped me to learn my language.  They have also given me the tools to navigate my own terrain.  This has taken time and effort on my part; however, this not only empowers me but allows them to treat me better.  The more that I have self awareness and voice that to them, the more they can really shine as practitioners.

And you know what?  All of this self awareness allows me to not only feel better in general but function better in my life.  I will take that body knowledge any day.