A friend once asked me, “What is Rolfing anyway?”
“That’s actually really simple,” I said. “But to answer your question, I have to ask you a question. How important to you are your health, your sense of happiness, your sense of presence, and your sense of self-confidence?”
“Those are all important,” replied my friend. “Why?
“Well, how about your ability to concentrate and your sense of direction in life?”
“Yeah, those are important to me. So what?”
“Well, you can only improve all those things when you feel good in your body and when your body functions the way it’s supposed to. Over the course of our lives — with the accidents, tumbles, and assorted slings and arrows of outrageous fortune and the reality that often we just plain don’t move our bodies enough — our bodies change. They move from equilibrium and stop functioning the way they should. We end up with generalized pain or tiredness or listlessness or any of a number of other things that make our lives that much more unpleasant.”
“I already have all those symptoms,” replied my friend with a gentle undertone of suffering in his voice. “My back hurts all the time, and I can’t sleep well anymore. But that’s just what happens when you age.”
“No, it isn’t,” I interjected. “That’s the biggest mistake people make when thinking about their health, and it leads to pain and suffering. It doesn’t have to be that way. You can, even in old age, enjoy your life without those problems.”
The idea rattled his brains. He seemed a bit irritated by my conviction, but he was still curious. “Okay, then tell me how this all works. It’d be nice if it were actually true.”
“Okay, let me give you an example. When you build a house, how important is the underlying structure — the frame?”
“Really important,” my friend answered. “Otherwise you end up with all kinds of problems with the house.”
“Okay, so why is the frame so important? What force acts on the house all the time to make the frame so important?”
My friend thought for a little while then answered with a bit of pride, “Gravity’s always acting on the house. If the frame isn’t set right, the house will eventually collapse.”
“Bingo! And is that so different from the body? The body’s always under the force of gravity, right? How do you feel about the state of your frame? Is it set right?”
My friend looked a little puzzled, but he started to get it. “I’ve thought about that. My frame is definitely not in the best shape. I can see that in the mirror. Plus, I sit way too much in front of a computer at work, and three years ago I tore my ACL skiing. I still limp a little because of that little beauty. So I think I get it now. I don’t move around enough, my frame is out of whack, and gravity’s doing me in!”
“That’s it!” I said.
“So what can I do about it? I don’t want to get anymore problems with my body, and I’d like to stay happy and healthy for as long as possible. What am I supposed to do?”
“You pretty much answered it yourself. Get in touch with your own body and get your frame back in order!”
“And who’s gonna show me how to do that?”
“Me, since I’m a Rolfer. Rolfing helps put you back in touch with your body, gets your frame back in order, and teaches you how to move around efficiently in gravity. Which brings us back to what I was asking you about earlier. If your body’s frame were in good shape and you could move efficiently and easily, can you imagine what it would do to your health, your sense of happiness, your sense of presence, and your sense of self-confidence?
“Yeah, I guess I can,” answered my friend.
“Well, that’s Rolfing. Simple, right?”
Original text in German by Markus Rossmann, Certified Rolfer – Bavaria
Translated by Matt Hsu, Certified Rolfer™ – San Francisco, California with gracious assistance from Joachim Dietiker