The last three hours of the 10-session series are integration hours – the work of the previous sessions is wrapped up in a coherent way. Again, the framework below provides the general idea for each session – your session may be somewhat different based on your individual needs.
Eighth and ninth hours
Focus area(s): One session will focus on the lower half of the body and the other will focus on the upper body.
These sessions are more big picture – we look at relating the top and bottom halves of the body at the middle. Continue working toward movement coming from the core. Develop a sense of expansiveness or a feeling of extension in movement.
Focus area(s): Work broadly over torso and legs
Balance and stabilize the system so the body is ready to go out into the world.
Optional post-10 work
You may find the ten sessions are all you need and your body feels good on an ongoing basis. However, if you place a lot of demands on your body at work or play, it can be useful to get SI sessions now and then. Post-10 sessions maintain the benefits of the series and help prevent new issues from getting worse. Some people like to come in on a regular schedule; others make an appointment only when they feel it’s necessary. See also my previous post on this topic.
Another option after some time has gone by is to repeat the entire series of ten sessions. The starting point is different and the experience of the series will be, too.
In my last post, I discussed the first three sessions in the ten sessions of structural integration. The next four sessions in the series are “core” sessions that consider a deeper level in the tissues. These sessions typically include work to differentiate muscle groups so that the groups can perform their own functions appropriately and also that we learn to avoid recruiting them when they are not needed.
The framework below provides the general idea for each session – your session may be somewhat different based on your individual needs.
Focus area(s): Inner side of leg, back of thigh
Improve length of functioning of inner side of leg, especially the adductor muscles. Continue to work to improve the position of the pelvis, the stability of low back, and the knee and ankle joints.
Focus area(s): Front torso: abdomen, chest/shoulder, neck.
Look for balance and ease in the upper, front torso. Work with the rectus abdominus muscle (“abs”) and psoas muscle. Continue to work to improve the position of the pelvis and the stability of low back.
Focus area(s): Back side of leg, low back
Continue to work to remove strains from legs and low back. Think of the relationship of the tissue from the bottom of the feet all the way to the head.
Focus area(s): Arms, upper torso, head, neck
Ease strains in neck, head and face. Want the head to turn freely on its axis.
Clients sometimes ask me whether a particular technique “works.” Often, I have to say that there is limited science on massage and bodywork. On the other hand, there is anecdotal information that people find bodywork to be beneficial. I entered this field because Structural Integration helped me when conventional medicine and PT had not resolved my issues after an injury. Like me, many people are willing to invest time and money in bodywork because they feel better when they receive it.
If you want to explore more about scientific research into massage and bodywork, here are a few sources.
We all have a preferred learning style. Do you tend to understand and retain information better when you experience something visually, by hearing it, or when you’re moving?
Structural Integration sessions often include verbal cues and movement. To improve the visual aspect of the ten series, I will add a posture grid to my office.
How will we use the grid? We can document the changes in your body by taking before and after photos in front of the grid. This seems to really help people recognize how manual therapy helps their bodies shift to a more balanced and aligned structure.
Mindfulness has benefits like reducing stress and increasing contentment. Often, meditation is the recommended way to learn to be more mindful during the rest of your day. But what if meditation just isn’t your thing? There are ways to experience the benefits through other mechanisms. Here are a few ideas:
- Notice new things; look for growth – by actively noticing new things, the familiar becomes interesting again.
- Reframe negatives – that person is “stable” rather than “rigid” or maybe “spontaneous” instead of “impulsive.”
- Be responsive not reactive – take a moment to be still and notice an event or remark before you respond to it.
For more details:
On Being interview with Dr. Ellen Langer
The Langer Mindfulness Institute
Many of us have to deal with changes all the time, at work and at home. A friend recently recommended the book Switch by Chip Heath and Dan Heath. It’s about making changes when change is hard.
Their premise is that there are 3 parts that have to align for a change to happen. Your rational mind, emotional mind, and environment all have to go in the same direction. This easy-to-read book provides background on the brain and psychology, inspiring examples, and a summary of their tips to overcome obstacles.
A few of the nuggets that I took away from this book:
- People tend to look for a complicated solution to complex problems. It’s better to start with a simple, small action step. Early success builds motivation to keep working on the change.
- When people are not changing, it’s often because they either need more clarity on what to do or the circumstances make doing the new thing hard.
- Look for an existing success (bright spot) and use that as a model to build on.
- You don’t have to understand the whole past history of how you got to this point. You can identify an action, however small, that moves you toward the goal and start doing it.
Does your brain produce a lot of negative internal chatter? If so, it may be because the part of our brain that is the center for emotions, the amygdala, uses about two-thirds of its neurons to detect negative experiences or threats. This can result in our focusing more on the negative, even if we are experiencing as many – or more – positive things. This tendency is part of the human condition. While it still has usefulness in modern life, for many of us this system is over-active.
Our inner critic is looking for problems. However, we don’t need to listen to it. Being nicer to ourselves is a good strategy to improve our well-being and reduce stress. We can learn how to do this even if it is not our natural tendency.
Dr. Kristin Neff, a researcher who specializes in self-compassion, says it has three parts:
- Self-kindness: “Self-compassionate people recognize that being imperfect, failing, and experiencing life difficulties is inevitable, so they tend to be gentle with themselves when confronted with painful experiences rather than getting angry when life falls short of set ideals.”
- Recognizing our experiences are part of the shared human experience
- Being mindful or non-judgemental
Learn more tips, watch videos and find additional resources at Dr. Neff’s Self Compassion website.
Negativity also has an impact on the people around us. For tips on how to counter this in the workplace, see this blog post from Psychology Today: Are We Hardwired to be Positive or Negative?