Getting Rolfed often arouses emotional responses in clients that can be mild and practically unnoticeable as well as strong and cathartic. Changes in the body, through various neurobiological mechanisms, affect the functioning of the brain, with particular effect on the regions associated with emotions and feelings. The result is that clients often report feeling happier, uplifted, and more stable.
Research by Dr. Antonio Damasio, professor of neuroscience and director of the Brain and Creativity Institute at the University of Southern California, indicates that body states (with regard to the chemical, visceral, and musculoskeletal) are key factors in the formation of what we call feelings. Because Rolfing makes such profound changes to the musculoskeletal system, it is no wonder that changes in emotional states often result.
An illustration of this body-mind emotional link happens every single day a million times all over the world. Imagine, if you will, a toddler taking off at a clumsy run and catching his toe on an uneven bit of ground. Down he goes. As he raises himself up, his knee is scraped and bruised.
His reaction is one of tremendous emotional significance – crying. Over time, this reaction may be trained out of him by parents or elders, but the initial connection between mind/emotional states and body is obvious from the beginning.
If you’re interested in some more details and the specific brain research that is linking mind and body and implicitly showing how powerful structural integration can be, check out “What does structural integration have to do with emotions? (this time with detail!)”
For those interested in learning more about the neuroscience dealing with the old western philosophy of the mind/body split, Damasio’s the Feeling of What Happens and Looking for Spinoza are highly recommended reading. The post Mind-body medicine: Why is it so hard to believe? may also be of interest for those interested in the philosophical underpinnings of the mind-body split.
Post by Matt Hsu, Certified Rolfer™ – San Francisco