I learned my trade at the Guild for Structural Integration. I chose the Guild for several reasons. One reason was simply that it was where my practitioner had studied. Another was that the faculty included the first two teachers whom Ida Rolf chose to provide training on her method.
The Guild recently revamped its website. Updated sections on the “about us” tab include a summary of Dr. Rolf’s career. Here is a nugget from the page about the process of structural integration that I hope you will also find a useful reminder about the work we do together.
While Structural Integration is primarily concerned with physical changes in the body, it affects the whole person. We are made up of emotions, attitudes, belief systems and behavior patterns as well as the physical being. All are related. Align the physical structure and it will open up the individual’s potential.
Saucha (or sometimes, sauca) is one of the Niyamas in the Yoga Sutra of Patanjali. It is often translated as purification or cleanliness. In the sutras, we learn that both the body and mind need to be made clean and ready for the practice of yoga.
Off the mat, there are also a number of benefits to cultivating saucha, in the sense of self care. People often put themselves last when they are busy when the opposite approach would likely serve them better. If you take good care of yourself, that’s when you will have enough physical, mental and emotional reserves to also be able to manage your responsibilities. Receiving bodywork, either on an as-needed basis or on a regular schedule, is an important way to take care of your body.
Here are some thoughts by Rolf Gates about sauca, from his wonderful book Meditations from the Mat.
The people I admired seemed to be treating their bodies well … I had a sense that these habits were an extension of the love these individuals felt toward themselves and others … Our body is the home of our spirit. It is the means by which we enact our beliefs. Therefore, the maintenance of the body is a spiritual duty, an act of love not only toward ourselves but toward all humanity.
I had lunch with friends today, some whom have plans this year for major life overhauls related to their diet and health. January 1st is a popular time to start new, healthy habits. I’ve done it, myself.
At home afterwards, I was browsing the archives of Zen Habits. As you may know, Leo Babauta has made many significant changes in his life over the course of time. However, he wrote a post last February called “You’re Not Doing Life Wrong.” I thought it was a nice reminder to be gentle with ourselves. Maybe all those resolutions are not strictly necessary. He says:
There’s an everpresent underlying feeling that most of us have that we could be doing things better. That we’re not sure how to live life. That we’re doing things wrong. … Now see how you are enough. Just as you are. Without any need for improvement. You are also a wonder, exactly enough.
I hope 2016 will be a year in which you will see the wonder in yourself and truly flourish!
Here are two quotations from a book I’ve mentioned previously. It’s by Mayo Clinic doctor Amit Sood and is called Train Your Brain, Engage Your Heart, Transform Your Life. He calls it a course in Attention and Interpretation Therapy or cultivating heartfulness. More commonly, it’s mindfulness.
Most people who are happy do not look at happiness as a primary goal. They are happy because they enjoy what they do (pre- or post-retirement), are closely bonded with their loved ones, and have a general sense of who they are and what is the purpose of their lives. Happiness is a byproduct of the choices you make.
Do not postpone joy waiting for a day when life will be perfect and all your stressors will be gone. Your opportunity to live the best life you can is in this very moment.
This book seems to have now been republished in two parts, The Mayo Clinic Guide to Stress-Free Living and The Mayo Clinic Handbook for Happiness.
Resilient Living website – Dr Sood’s online program and blog
Several months ago, a friend recommended a book called “The Upside of Stress.” I finally picked it up at the library. I learned a number of new ideas on what science says about the role of stress in our lives. Lots of times, and I’m somewhat embarrassed to admit this, I feel stressed about the stress in my life. No need for that! Research shows that embracing stress is the way to go. Here are highlights that I found useful.
There are more kinds of stress states than just fight or flight. Another type of stress condition is a beneficial one. That’s when you rise to a challenge or are in a state of flow. Your heart can benefit from certain chemicals released in such times. These types of experiences also help build resiliency and confidence.
Having a meaningful life generally includes stress because stress arises when you deeply care about something.
Stress is harmful mainly when you think it is. Re-framing an issue (changing your mindset) really does work as a stress-management tool. One example is to understand that stress can help by giving you energy. Another approach is to think about your core values, priorities, long-term goals or what other people are experiencing. When put into a larger context, daily hassles become less irksome. People suffer less after a stressful event if they are able to find a way to learn or grow from it.
Stanford News Article on Embracing Stress
TED talk by Dr Kelly McGonigal: How to Make Stress Your Friend
Washington Post interview with Dr Kelly McGonigal
At some point in our lives, almost all of us will experience a challenging event. One friend had a tree fall on his house. I see clients who have been in car accidents or undergone major surgeries. In the face of hardship, some people cope well and some just can’t manage to pull it together afterwards. What can make the difference? Resilience.
The Mayo Clinic’s page on resilience defines it this way:
When you have resilience, you harness inner strength that helps you rebound from a setback or challenge, such as a job loss, an illness, a disaster or the death of a loved one. If you lack resilience, you might dwell on problems, feel victimized, become overwhelmed or turn to unhealthy coping mechanisms, such as substance abuse.
Resilience won’t make your problems go away — but resilience can give you the ability to see past them, find enjoyment in life and better handle stress.
What makes a person more resilient? A recent NIH study reveals two key characteristics:
- They have good social support.
- They feel like they have mastery over their lives.
What is mastery? It’s a sense the hard work counts and that you’re in control of your situation despite adverse events. A Psychology Today blog article from earlier this year, Why Some People are More Resilient than Others, defines mastery like this:
Mastery refers to the degree to which individuals perceive themselves as having control and influence over life circumstances.
Resilience is a skill that can be learned. To build more resilience, here are a few tips to use as starting points. For more ideas, see articles from the Mayo Clinic and WebMD.
ACL surgery – resilience can help with recovery and rehabilitation.
- Stay Flexible
- Stay Connected
- Learn lessons
- Take Action
- Take care of yourself
A conversation about resilience on The Friday Roundtable, from Minnesota Public Radio
Psychology Today’s resilience page
If you follow the news, there have been disasters, sad and scary events lately. Not to mention the day-to-day stresses many of us encounter. It can be a challenge to remain upbeat. However, being more positive and happy can provide significant health benefits. While about half of our disposition is innate, that leaves a lot of room for us to take steps to improve our outlook. If you need motivation to work on being happier, here are reasons to make the effort.
Harvard researcher Laura Kubzansky found:
… that optimism cuts the risk of coronary heart disease by half… (full article from HPH Magazine)
More recently, researchers at UCLA discovered a link between types of happiness and immune function (UCLA newsletter).
People who have high levels of what is known as eudaimonic well-being — the kind of happiness that comes from having a deep sense of purpose and meaning in life (think Mother Teresa) — showed very favorable gene-expression profiles in their immune cells. They had low levels of inflammatory gene expression and strong expression of antiviral and antibody genes.
What are things you can do to be happier?
- Try something new
- Practice gratitude; what are 3 good things that happened today?
- Do an activity you enjoy
- See your friends
- Smile and laugh more (even if you don’t really feel like it)
This TED talk by Guy Winch is on a related topic, “Why we all need to practice emotional first aid” when we experience problems. He says:
By taking action when you’re lonely, by changing your responses to failure, by protecting your self-esteem, by battling negative thinking, you won’t just heal your psychological wounds, you will build emotional resilience, you will thrive.