I have the most amazing clients. And here’s one reason why I know this to be true: They say the most amazing things, completely unsolicited
A client of mine recently blurted out during a session “Well, we know that no body part is an island….”
I had to stop working and write that one down.
In my office, I have a collection of sticky notes with sayings just like this hanging from a shelf above my desk. Some of the quotes are mine and others are from clients. I keep them visible in my office to bring awareness to what they tell me.
So what does it mean that no body part is an island?
It means that when it comes to the structure of the human body (or any other living being, frankly), no part of the body can really be looked at in total isolation. The relationships between all the “parts” of our body are not to be overlooked. It’s how all these ‘parts’ relate to each other that make Rolfing so interesting, and so effective. It’s also a foundational element of how a Rolfer™ approaches their work.
“No body part is an island.” Now, this is a very Rolfer-like thing to say, which is funny considering it came from a client. But it happens to be a truth that most Western science and medicine has lost sight of. Yes, modern medicine has done and continues to do amazing things for the world. When it comes to how we relate to our bodies though, it’s lost something. The old spiritual song about “the knee bone connected to the thigh bone, thigh bone connected to the hip bone” had an element of truth to it, however unintended.
The Rolfing approach states that the body is a whole, integrated system. And evoking changes in that system happens best when we hold that idea front and center. That’s why I’m always looking at and sensing into a client’s structure through a lens that includes everything: body, structure, movement, function, awareness, thoughts, language, emotions, etc.
All of these elements make up who we are as humans. That pain or discomfort you’re experiencing? It might not be an isolated incident. Joints don’t operate in isolation; they are connected and function with other joints. Nerve inflammation and subsequent pain don’t happen in a vacuum. Strain in one area of the body is both a result and reflection of strain somewhere else in the body. What I love about Rolfing is that it takes into account the whole person and works to bring them to higher and higher levels of healing (‘integration’).
To paraphrase the seventeenth century English poet John Donne, “No man or woman is an island, entire of themselves; every man or woman is a piece of the continent.” He was referring to the connectedness of all human beings, but the same applies to each of us as individuals and our bodies.