Don’t let the coming earth polar shift
find you standing beside yourself.

I am not at all an expert on the subject of the predicted earth polar shift. I do, however, wonder what it would be like to wake up one day after the polar shift and find everything different; topsy turvy and leaning sideways. If that's what a polar shift would produce? Just saying.

For example... If you live in Scottsdale, Arizona, finding yourself looking down at Camelback Mountain from Scottsdale Road. Or, from the top of the Empire State Building looking up to New Jersey. No self respecting New Yorker looks up to New Jersey! But don't knock it; it isn't called the "Garden State" for nothing. I live there. And, occasionally glance at the Big Apple. 

Sort of like what I call the “Pisa Effect”. In Pisa where everyone would be going nuts since the Tower would be straight and everything else leaning.  What if all our familiar landmarks, large and small, became unexpectedly topsy-turvy, would we be able to find our balance? Or would we get dizzy and stumble around? Would we know where we were…who we are?

Here’s a concrete example of what I’m talking about: I was once visiting the town of Ayr in Scotland (where our dear Robby Burns was born). Not far is a local curiosity known as the ”electric brae” (hill). I was in an automobile and it looked like we were on an uphill road. My driver stopped the car, put it in neutral, and (wow-wee-wow!) the car slowly moved forward, up the hill! Click your heels three times if you believe in magic! As for me…my best scientific analysis is that we were really pointed downhill but the local features somehow made it appear otherwise. Search “electric brae” on the WWW if you want to learn more. But please read the rest of this. Okay?

We all implicitly know that because of gravity, our feet go toward the ground and the rest of us points upward. Just like we know that our nose is not 12 inches long or it would be a “foot”. The point I am gradually working to is this: are you centered within yourself or do you rely on outer references to such an extent that, were the familiar changed or taken away, would you be upset, lost, without bearing. This is not some idle issue I cooked up to crack wise with. I have personally been involved in serious bio-medical research on the subject of balance and you would be surprised at how much the visual reference is a factor in our sense of position and balance in three-dimensional space. And, let's not get into all the psychic connections that we tend to form. As in, "I can't live without you!" (That's a sure fire way to keep your loved one in your life. Not.) The point is that we live with expectations of relationships and connections both physical and mental/emotional. When they change or disappear or are taken away, then what. I'll tell you what. There you are. Period.
In my field of Rolf Structural Integration we are mainly concerned with fostering an evolution in the human structure to a place where the central vertical line of the body matches up with the line of gravity. If you take a look at your own body and of those around you, notice how you and others stack up in terms of the fundamentals of plumb and square. When the human body synchronizes in balance with gravity this is a place of deep centeredness, firm rootedness, being fully present. Your sense of who you are comes from an inner knowing rather than identification with circumstances, roles, and relationships.

When the boys from the hood*** ask you “wuzup?” you can give them a sly smile and point upwards. And that’s without having to figure out “up” from checking with the nearest palm tree, or sky scraper.

***[I am, like that fine fellow, Mr. Eminem, from Detroit, Michigan. During the day we make the cars. At night, we make the bars. I was recently at the White Castle at 8 Mile Road and Gratiot. I informed the local youth I encountered there that "I was the SCHIZNIT . . . before there even was a schiznit!" "Huh? Wha? Right! Ya." Youth today.]

An Educational Idea

A Lot of ?’s.

An Answer

Pay Attention

[Serious Digressions Bracketed for Short Attention Spans]

It seems that Education—educating the children in particular—is always a good, reliable political football. How to improve on it? Cut out the waste? Keep costs in line? Affordability? Evaluate results? Teacher evaluation? We’re gonna do better now that our people (insert your party of choice) are in office.

Currently, I am seeing the idea being floated to tie teacher compensation to student performance. Imagine being a teacher having your family’s bread and butter and very financial security strapped to the cooperation of some unmotivated juvee, who shows up in your class probably ill prepared from his last semester of underachievement. It’s not a bad idea on the surface. Provided the proper commitments and requisites are in place. Key things; probably ones that no one has been thinking about much; if, at all. You decide.

The magic word: “Commitment.” I would be very wary of a plan that presumes commitment on the part of the teacher, but extracts none from the student; or the student’s family, who presumably are the responsible parties for that little dear thing. And, when do our children become responsible human beings, anyway? In the Catholic Church where I was raised the age of reason is considered around seven years of age. That’s when you should know right from wrong. Or do we think our children become responsible adults, slam bang at the age of legal consent, only on their 18th birthday? Would that we could manufacture a pill that gets students to be as committed to their studies as they are to their Facebook. After all, we already have a drug to keep them quiet if they are prone to hyperactivity. [My stylist, the Great Richard of Scottsdale, predicted the universal drug of the future: Copacetic™ “It’s for… whenever”.]

But just what is a good education anyway? I am sure that is under discussion, but what is the consensus? Back to that in a second. And, with a really good idea to add to the mix. I thunk it up, after all. It’s got to be good!

[Just like in the so called Health Care debate, the focus is mainly on costs and delivery. Not, what is health in the first place? Or, what constitutes proper health care? And, the best question ever, how is what we are doing actually delivering, measured on the same kind of metrics that any even half-witted business person would employ? (Donald Trump comes to mind.) The statistics have been well known for some time. The USA spends more on health care with poorer results than most of the rest of the world. Did anybody say… the fix is in? Chris Rock said it good, he said that there ain’t no money in the cure, the money’s in the medicine. Word! With all those smart folks running things, it would seem that someone would apply the same critical evaluation to the American health care system as they would any old business venture. There is talk already that the cost of health care in America is taking us down the tubes. As the vogue puts it, “not sustainable.”]

[I just read a rather lengthy piece in Time Magazine on the subject of Singularity. That’s when (projected to occur in the year 2045 by one very smart technologist Raymond “Ray” Kurzweil ) electronic technology will make humans superfluous, insofar as having to be smart about what to do and probably not have to do very much either to get it done. There’s more to it than that, but the unstated and possibly unnoticed assumption as far as I can see is that all the troubles of the world are just because we haven’t been smart enough. Yet. And, that technology and science will see us through. What do you expect a technocrat to say? Pray? Go to a neurosurgeon with a headache, and you get your skull cracked. I wonder just how aware that guy is about what he doesn’t know? Of course he isn’t. Who could be? It is only upon awaking that we are aware of having been asleep. Or, as the great R.D. Laing* has said, it is only after having emerged from our delusion that we realize that we were crazy. I paraphrase. Better, does he even wonder that there may be underlying assumptions in his worldview that are the Ozymandian** sands upon which he has built his life work? (** Excellent poem.) Take Jack Kervorkian (please!), a fellow Detroiter; Dr. Jack… “My dear fellow, there’s nothing in my medical-scientific knowledge that can save you, so let me kill you. And... you’re welcome.”

Smart rules the day is a pillar of the prevailing myth of progress. (I see recently that The Donald Trump is sniffing at a possible 2012 President bid. Now there's a smart one for you.) And don’t get me started on how all those wise guys who are projecting all this techno-utopia—dystopia?—remain unaware of how they are conjuring all this heady stuff in the bubble of Cartesian dualism. You know René Descartes… “I think, therefore I am.” You think? Just who, or what is doing all that thinking? Where and when? Oh, in the purely conceptual (illusory) framework of space and time where all this universe in unfolding? Think about that! It may not be generally well known, but the Cartesian bubble, in fact, did burst. At some undisclosed place and time in recent history. [[If you happen to know those details, please enter into Wikipedia, search: "We're Not in Kansas Any More."]] History is dead too, if you haven’t been paying attention. As if we still live in a world where the only thing is this and that, right and left, right and wrong, yes and no, 0’s and 1’s. Well, we do. There’s more though. Or, less, depending on the kind of Vedantist you may be. Or the notion from scientism that thought is merely an epiphenomenon of the aggregate of material of the human body. We separate body and mind for conversation sake. Just try doing that for real. That we can think our way out of this mess. Maybe there will be intelligent computers someday, even more intelligent than humans. Intelligent enough to render every thing fully explained, interconnected, completely buttoned up; past, present, and future. Every possibility covered. Hurry the day! But, so who plugs it in in the morning?]

But just what is a good education in the first place? Hear a voice of wisdom…

Where the mind is without fear
and the head is held high,
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken
up into fragments by narrow domestic walls;
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving
stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason
has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward
by thee into ever-widening thought and action–
into that heaven of freedom, my Father,
Let my country awake.
Rabindranath Tagore

We have come to this world to accept it, not merely to know it. We may become powerful by knowledge, but we attain fullness by sympathy. The highest education is that which does not merely give us information but makes our life in harmony with all existence. But we find that this education of sympathy is not only systematically ignored in schools, but it is severely repressed. From our very childhood habits are formed and knowledge is imparted in such a manner that our life is weaned away from nature and our mind and the world are set in opposition from the beginning of our days. Thus the greatest of educations for which we came prepared is neglected, and we are made to lose our world to find a bagful of information instead. We rob the child of his earth to teach him geography, of language to teach him grammar. His hunger is for the Epic, but he is supplied with chronicles of facts and dates...Child-nature protests against such calamity with all its power of suffering, subdued at last into silence by punishment. (Rabindranath Tagore, Personality, 1917: 116-17)

NB: That was from way back in 1917! Still fresh.

I am in a field of education—Rolf Structural Integration—that often is fit into the so called CAM health care domain; Complementary and Alternative Medicine. Health care modalities in that category include many more holistic approaches than in conventional medical health care and bring in a range of other, often more natural based/sourced methods, tools, and prescriptions outside the mainstream reliance in conventional medicine on pharmaceuticals, invasive surgeries, and high tech machines and appliances. (Not that there is anything wrong with that. Some of my friends are doctors.) The Rolf Method is used very successfully in medical conditions where the balance of the body architecturally in causative or implicated to some extent. Sort of like, “Hey, my tomatoes aren’t so good… Did you think about staking them properly?” Or, “I have these terrible headaches… Of course you do, hunched over that computer all day the way you are. Sit up straight!”

Beyond therapeutics, Rolf Structural Integration fosters the kind of whole body balance that is essential for top physical performance and full creative self-expression. It is truly speaking an essential life lesson—how to live a balanced life, based on an imminent ingrained knowing from down deep to the bone.

Being a long time committed practitioner of this educative craft, I've  been following the current conversation on education in general.

You can lead a horse to water, but… well, you know. So too, with the kids. Or, anybody else for that matter. You present them with the best, easiest to grasp, clearest, most complete body of knowledge and what do you need to have for them to take it in. There are many factors. I just want to suggest one to focus on for now. Let’s see that they are paying attention. And one way to at least guarantee that there is even a possibility that that can happen is proper posture. Sit up straight, like momma say. Simple, but I wonder how many teachers just slog along in class not noticing their charges slouching at their seats.

I am not proposing a solution to a problem that I just happen to have a solution for. I do. My first question before President Obama makes me the Czar of Proper Posture is simply, just where did the kids learn to sit in the first place? What, you say? Learn to sit? Everybody knows how to sit. Well, just because you sit, doesn’t mean that you know how. As they say, just because you have the equipment, doesn’t mean you know how to handle the funk. Regarding those seemingly automatic things like standing, walking, sitting, even breathing, we are mostly self-taught. Trial and error, mostly.

So I am suggesting that we add into the required curriculum some basic education on proper sitting. Maybe after a positive track record with that we can expand to standing, walking, breathing, and the other basics on how to properly use the body. After we get those little devils to sit up straight, we then add in the rule that the class doesn’t proceed without 100% attention. Here!, teacher… body and soul.

[I once wrote then President Clinton with basically the same idea. I got back a nice form letter with boilerplate on how as a small business person I would certainly be interested to know that he is working diligently to make sure that there was affordable health care. Or, something roughly like that. The point is, just like for little Ralphie in A Christmas Story. After waiting on pins and needles for his Little Orphan Annie decoder ring, it arrives at long last, and he’s listening to the radio broadcast one evening to get the secret message to decode. And the message… “Drink more Ovaltine.” Rip off. Hey, Bill, give me a call sometime. We’ll go for a beer. Since we’re on such close terms.]


*R. D. Laing…

It is of fundamental importance not to make the positivist mistake of assuming that because a group’s members are in formation this means that they’re necessarily on course.

Children do not give up their innate imagination, curiosity, dreaminess easily. You have to love them to get them to do that.

The range of what we think and do is limited by what we fail to notice. And because we fail to notice that we fail to notice, there is little we can do to change; until we notice how failing to notice shapes our thoughts and deeds.

The Sheeny Man

Photo Credit: Sarabeth Turnbull Samoray from Detroit Memories

This is about being green in my neighborhood in Detroit in the 1950’s when the only thing about green was the grass, colorful characters no longer on the scene, and the creativity of a mother to keep her wild child son (that would be me) under control.

First off, I really wasn’t a wild child. If anything, as I like to say, my downfall was that I was a good boy. You know there are times in even a young life when you have to honor your inner voice and do what others may not understand or agree with or approve of. As a man I have had my share of those kinds of transactions. Being good is good. But, don’t confuse being good with doing the right thing. What others may think of me is none of my business.

I just grew up in a time and place where children “should be seen and not heard” and where the good Dominican Sisters at my grade school in Detroit, Immaculate Conception, mainly looked upon the youth in their charge as born devils first, who what need to be strictly and sternly shaped into God fearing little Catholic boys and girls. Those were not spare the rod times. I very clearly remember a certain nun in my first grade class who was given to regular tirades on our misbehaving ways. She made it plain that had she not gone into the convent she would most certainly have been a movie star. I still feel guilty over having her sacrifice such an illustrious career to find herself spending her energy trying to keep kids like me out of juvenile detention.

Enough about that, just to also recount how one day the good Sister was holding forth—apparently we were talking when we shouldn’t have… again!—literally daring us to talk. Of course, we daren’t. When, all of a sudden, her dentures—uppers and lowers—dropped onto the desk. Honest to God! If we were silent before, the sight of that... froze. It was a laughable sight, but with some consequences if you did. My good mom one day hovered outside our classroom window to get a firsthand for herself on my report of the verbal abuse. She got it for herself and took the matter to Sister Superior. Thanks for having my back, mom.

I do have to say that it wasn’t all whips and chains with the Sisters. I would sometimes with another boy have to do some chore in the convent. Usually, carrying something. The Sisters had this little electric Eucharist maker that they made the hosts for communion at mass. Since the hosts were cut into circles, there were scraps. That was a treat they gave us. Really a treat. To a Catholic, a most heavenly flavor. If you want to try it for yourself, convert to Catholicism, and then receive Holy Communion. For those who don’t give a literal damn about the future of their immortal souls come the end of your days, just go down to you neighborhood Polish store and ask for opłatekTo be fair and balanced, there was also a nun who to me as a kindergarten child was an absolute saint. I was totally in love with her. She looked like an angel and treated me with the utmost kindness and respect. Rare, however, not the usual. Mostly . . . strict. But, as I myself said to my own daughters when they would complain about their teachers, there is something there to learn from the way the teacher interacts with you. On the upside and on the down. It’s not just about the three R’s. The world is fool of fulls. Yes, I did that on purpose.

My neighborhood was in a section of Detroit known a Poletown.  Lots of Poles. You should know that the entire neighborhood was razed in 1981 to make way for a Cadillac factory. This was not taken too well by a lot of folks. Read this good commentary on the razing of Poletown. In that neighborhood each block had an alley onto which garage doors would open. Since the alleys were paved (and clean… these were Polish people, remember) the alley was a playground for the kids.

Also, coming down the alley on a regular weekly basis was the Sheeny Man. Now, the term was originally a pejorative. But, in the time of my youth in the mid-1900 Detroit, it just meant the fellow (this was men’s work in those times, so don’t write me with any feminist issues) who came along to pick up the hard trash you couldn’t bag up for the regular garbage. The sheeny man I remember drove a wreck of an old lorry pulled by a wreck of an old horse. He pretty much looked like a wreck himself.

He would announce himself with the sound of the toot of a simple tin whistle. My mother would be on the lookout for the sheeny man if she had an old iron or bedspring, lamp or anything metal, heavy, and junk.

I do also remember that one of the motivators she used with me when I was being bad (who, me?): “I’m going to give you to the sheeny man!” OMG. Then, of course, as you can imagine from what I have said about my Catholic school education, there was the eternal fires of Hell or the seemingly unending penance of Purgatory. Truly motivating. But being tossed out to go with the sheeny man is right up there, threat-wise.

What more can I say. Just, behave yourself! Or...

Actually, the sheeny man was a pretty friendly fellow. There were times when I was lamenting my fate with the parents that I was given (even wondering if I might have been adopted... who are these people?) that going with the sheeny man might have seemed like an option.


Here's HistoryMike with more on the Sheeny Man. Especially, read the comments for further elaborations.


Soup You Can Count On




[Wherein our dearly beloved go-to guy, David D. Wronski, introduces his Unified Theory of Soup.]

Who doesn’t like a nice bowl of soup? I most certainly do (like soup, that is). How about you, soup-wise?

Like Jerry Seinfeld, did you ever think about soup? Or wonder about soup?

Just look at the word “soup” itself. Soup, soup, soup, soup, soup, soup. Who came up with that spelling— “s” “o” “u” “p”. Look at “soup” long enough and those four little letters lose all their meaning. Same for a rose; I wonder if there is a rose soup?

To define “soup”: my simplest— a food made with a liquid into which a flavor is added. 

Soups always have a liquid component, be they thin or thick, and regardless of the amount and types of solid type ingredients. A soup becomes a stew when it is really thick, but still mama could call it soup. EAT YOUR SOUP!, you ungrateful little …! Also, there’s hot and cold soups, and savory and sweet. Also, soup is always served in a bowl and eaten with a spoon. A soup with a lot of things cooked into it may also require a fork. My dad and I are old school soupers; we drink it directly from the bowl. Not all of it. But, the very last of ti. Only Soup at home, though. Which reminds me, do you eat soup or drink it? Give that to the debate club next time the category of soup is suggested.

The history of soup is long. In fact, the first soup ever remembered is shrouded in myth and comes down from before recorded history; from the mists of pre-history as they say. And, speaking of mists, isn’t that steam arising from that glorious bowl of soup just such a welcome and comforting sight? 

Stone Soup. It is arguably the first soup ever. I did my doctoral thesis on this soup and you can read it online at (If you are looking for a domain name with “soup” in it, look no further.)

I don’t want to get into the particulars and highways and byways of the elemental, mineral rich Stone Soup. Enough for now to know that Stone Soup is made with stones.

A little later in time — but not that much later down the historical pike — is the Polish mainstay, Duck Soup. Duck Soup (you guessed it) is made with a duck. (Take the children away from the screen for a moment for this next soupy detail.) Polish Duck Soup — CZARNINA — is made with the blood of the duck; usually the same lucky fellow what’s in the soup itself. 

Here’s what you do for this soup. If you want to make this soup you go down to your local live poultry place, hold your nose, pick out a nice looking duck, pinch it’s nose (to test for tenderness; also known as the “pinch of death” in Polish), have the creature summarily executed, and the blood collected in some container. My mother very often took me along for such preparations for duck soup. She would always bring a scrupulously clean jar, what to collect the blood for the soup in. The next day, usually a Sunday, delicious CZARNINA! A deep dark chocolate brown soup and enriched with raisins, dried prunes and dried apricots accompanied with homemade egg noodles, faintly sweet and sour (there’s some vinegar in there). My mother always boasted about the number of eggs she used for her soup noodles. Hand cut, but of course. Or sometimes the Polish competitor to the sublime Matzo Ball, big globby "drop" noodles. Spaetzle to you foodies.

At our house we have recently perfected a superlative soup recipe. You will notice a distinct Latin flavor in the soup recipe below. It's the Sofrito in my soup; and, the Sofrito in me. For the vegetables for this soup also, you could mosey over to your neighborhood Oriental or even Indian (Curry-Indian) market.

You will also notice that the THE SOUP soup recipe below is composed for the knowledgeable cook. I don't want to teach you how to boil water for soup.

[If you have read the recently, ahem, revamped March 6, 2011 New York Times Magazine you will have seen Mr. Mark Bittman's article on soup; he's that toss-it-in-the-pot and lick your fingers while you are passing the kitchen on your way to the veranda how to cook "easy" guy. Well, easy yourself, Mr. "Biteman"; your article gives recipes for the so called four basic soups. Actually there are five soups. (What's more, I have the distinction of creating herein the Unified Theory of Soup. I boiled it down to one soup! Ha!) So you forgot the fifth class in your smarty article on soups, one that even my eight year old grand daughter knows... blood soup. I am, however, a keen fan and will overlook your omission(s) on soup.]

And, also — and following up on the previous — you can even leave out the Sofrito and flavor the soup to your taste. But don't stray too far from this soup recipe; try it the way it is presented first, then go your own creative ways. I don't want to leave you with the idea that the only thing of any significance in this soup recipe is the water itself. We live in post-modern relativistic times; but, hey, a good bowl of soup is something everybody can agree on. Soup the world!


Soup Base

Made with Chicken, turkey, duck(?), beef, lamb, a nicely smoked pork cut, cured or smoked sausage, fish and/or shellfish. If you must ... water. Don't forget Mama's little flavor secret: a Bouillon cube. (There's something on the grocer's shelf called Better Than Bouillon. Get that. Good product.) Also, to "beef" up the Beef flavor, Maggi Liquid Seasoning. Click here for more on the latter.

The meat/fish-seafood used what to make your soup can be served in with the soup or not, as you prefer. Vegetarians of all stripes, this soup can be made with vegetables and the broth of your desire (Don't even think about it, we're talking soup I know; but "Broth of Your Desire" also just happens to be the title of my upcoming potboiler romance novel. We're bringing Favio back from the dead for the cover: picture him in a cauldron of soup, scantily claid (That is no typo, it's a souped up conflation of "clad" and "laid".) female Amazons dancing around in a circle by the firelight, and drums, and moonlight. Just like the time when I was in a similar soup ... But, never mind.) Miso might be a good vegetarian soup base, but careful to keep it "blond" so it doesn't fight the essential kale and beans.
Enrich with a can of broth and a bouillon cube.

Sofrito (mas sabor!)

-Annato (achiote) seeds boiled in a small amount of olive oil to render the color and flavor (remove and discard afterwards).
-Minced garlic (lots), onion, cilantro, aji dulce, tomato, long mild frying pepper. Fried briefly in scented oil, then added to soup pot. This is not an ironclad recipe. "Sofrito is what you make of it."

Other Ingredients

-Potatoes, cubed.
-White beans. Your choice.
-Fresh Kale, chiffonade/ribbon cut
-Additional vegetables (your choice and imagination): Bite size cuts of carrot, zucchini, chayote, and any of the many Hispanic market tubers (e.g., yucca), even green plantain. Go nuts. Simple is good too.
-Salt and pepper to taste.
-A small amount of dried pepperoncini flakes, optional and to taste.

As our mentor Jacques Pépin always says ... "That's It."

* And, lastly, you can count on soup. Really. Yes, friend, count the “soup” mentions in this article and the winner gets to have me come to your very own home to make the fabled CZARNINA. You and your family and friends will get the full duck soup experience. 

We’ll start the soup-traganza with a visit to a neighborhood live poultry market, or I can personally dispatch that pet duck that you got for Easter and is now just a total nuisance anyway. (But, pleeeeze, spare the children! this part of the soup.) We’ll finish up the soup meal — and adjourn to the family room and/or bedroom for the traditional post CZARNINA orgy. (Just being a little like Soupy. Soupy Sales that is: a Detroit original who had a kids show I watched religiously at lunch time at home.) Click on that and maybe get to know where my sense of humor comes from.

If you really want things hot ... Click on this.

And, if you are the winner of today’s soup contest, this is something like what I would suggest for my welcome …

Since we're in the Polish category, thought you might like a listing of the traditional Polish soups. Click this for more information on the "top 17 soups from Poland".

All this about duck soup reminds me too of my dear old uncle Jaworski. At a family picnic we found him at the side of the duck pond, dipping bread into it as if it was soup. In fact, when we asked him what he was doing, he happily announced that he was enjoying some fresh duck soup.

On a totally unrelated note to soup, did you know how Donald Duck met his maker? Donald Duck had a reputation for never getting it right. On that fateful day, dear Donald was a-walking down the boulevard, when he stepped under the path of a falling piano. Grand as it was, a fellow across the street saw what was about to happen and yelled, Donald! Duck! Well, true to form our pal just stopped and turned around to see which one of his fans was greeting him.

Spinning in Ida's Grave

The story-with-a-message below was written for practitioners of Structural Integration. A humorous satire on how things seem to "have to" changed. So much so that the original thing is no longer recognizable. Also, even in the face of the original thing being — arguably —sufficient, complete and effective.

There have developed over the years quite the number of variants on Dr. Rolf's peerless and definitive approach. The following was sent as a jibe on the predictable tendency to better the teacher. And, to not leave well enough alone. And, in more than a little exasperation over introducing “improvements” (?) before even the basic original identity is established in the world.

Some history . . .

At one point in time the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration was the first and only school teaching the unique approach to health and wellness originated by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. In a nutshell, the work Dr. Rolf named Structural Integration is based on the idea that the human body works best when it is [structurally] adapted to [integrated] Gravity. If you look around for this simple architectural requisite in the human population, you will see that the humanity has a bit to go in this respect. And, if you contemplate how being at odds with gravity has impacts on health, performance, and general quality of life, you will appreciate Dr. Rolf's contribution.

Since Dr. Rolf's time things have, ahem, progressed.

Typically, and as too often happens after the founder leaves, schisms develop. First, there was only one school, the one founded by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. The Rolf Institute of Structural Integration. My school. In 1981, my school anyway. During her time there, Ida called the shots. After her passing a core group held sway for a short time, carrying on with a traditional approach to the work. They essentially managed the organization in much the same way as the founder; that is, autocratically, by their best lights. And justifiably, in their minds anyway — since, as I have it from the horse's mouth, Dr. Rolf took those few people aside and made a covenant with them to protect her legacy and keep it intact after she would depart these shores.

Not surprising there were those with other, better ideas. In fact, judging from my own first day after certification at a member meeting, many others; and loudly vocal and divergent ideas. Mainly on the other side of the spectrum from the traditional. Looking for improvements in the general realm of "more, better, and different". After all, who would argue with trying to make things better? And, who could argue with windy rationales using five dollar words from bright fellows with high academic credentials?

The argument/conversation along these lines continues to this day. Witness now around 20 or so separate schools of Structural Integration recognized by the International Association of Structural Integrators, the professional accrediting organization in the field of Structural Integration. Some are traditional, others open to innovations/mixing in other modalities, one based on unique proprietary anatomical models, another blending in psychological considerations, yet another focusing on offering trainings in underserved locations worldwide. Within each, depending on what teachers are giving the class, besides whatever core curriculum points which are covered which link to Dr. Rolf's original approach, there can be a wide range of emphasis along the spectrum of art versus science, intuition versus technique.

All that leaves me flummoxed still by how [my take] the traditional teaching of Dr. Ida P. Rolf resides somewhere other than the very school she herself founded. So it goes. All I can say is that it is a good thing to have a repository of the original, unalloyed teaching. Of course, now the philosophers will jump in to disabuse us of the notion that there can be any such thing. Sort of like how you can't put your oar in the same place in the river. Yah? Tell that to the Coca-Cola Company though. Existentially, no can of Coke is the same as any other. At the consumer pop-the-seal level, however, pretty much the same thing can to can. When you go to McDonald's, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt that what you're going to get no matter where you are in the good old US of A is going to taste and look the same. Overseas, the game changes. But, I'll bet, consistent within countries and regions where those permutations exist.

And I won't even get into how the school bearing Dr. Rolf's good name has never done anything to secure the brand identity other than through threat of legal action against anyone using the service marks without authorization. That much is well and good. But not sufficient in any way in terms of brand management. Put simply, you gotta let people know what's in the box. And, the folks have a reasonable expectation that what's in this box of Cracker Jack is going to be in their next box. Alright, but even with Cracker Jack the tacit expectation is that there will be a surprise inside. And, hopefully, different from the one you got last time. You don't however want to pack Rice Crispy Treats inside a box of Cracker Jack. Especially, when you're at the introductory phase of the product/service life cycle and people are forming opinions and expectations for what you're putting on the shelf. In the case of Structural Integration ... that would be into the public discussion and marketplace for health and wellness services.

It’s not too far from the truth to say that there are probably as many variants of Rolfing® as there are Rolfers®Maybe not so much due to the teaching itself, but more to do with how the origin school's embrace of so-called innovation and improvement undoubtedly may have led its practitioners to conclude or feel justified to have carte blanche to do whatever they please. Best intentions assumed, of course. 

It still rings in my ears hearing a Rolfer colleague confidently assert: "I am a Rolfer, and anything I do is Rolfing." It's no wonder that no one really has any clear core idea what is Rolfing or — to use Dr. Rolf's own original name — what is Structural Integration. What's more, there is no clear takeaway among its recipients. All this is further exacerbated by a lack of agreement within the community of practitioners after all these years since Dr. Rolf introduced her brilliant ideas and peerless approach. 

Even that most well intentioned IASI has yet to put out a formal definition of what makes Structural Integration what it is. Meanwhile, Structural Integration in the minds of recipients is whatever their experience may happen to be. I have on some occasions worked with clients who have been to other qualified practitioners. No doubt they like what they got. But, I was amazed to discover that work specified in the training for a particular session(s) — work which would also be indicated even by common sense — was omitted.

No danger of the work itself from being modified out existence, however. Ida Rolf “buried her seed deep.” Maybe not blossoming fast enough to suit some, but the idea that Gravity itself can be enlisted as a potent force for health and well-being, that is still news that hasn’t arrived on most doorsteps.

And, so ... Here's my little parable:

Dear Friends,

I recently discovered yet another branching in our fascinating field. This is in no way a recommendation and I don’t vouch for the efficacy of the method being described. Just a humble reporter, at your service.

Here’s a brief recount of the four w’s: (Who, What, Where, When, Why) Alright, that’s five. OK?

Recently at the mall I spotted this fine young fellow who had the kind of posture and bearing that we professionals would instantly recognize as “structurally integrated.” I approached and introduced myself and asked, “Who is your Rolfer?” Well, first he chided me for using the term without the requisite legal qualifiers; for which lapse I apologized. Then he told me what at first seemed to be a total shaggy dog story; but, it gets more interesting, so read on.

He said that he wasn’t “Rolfed,” but in fact was “Besomed.”

Before telling me all about what I am about to share with you, he counseled me that the terms “Besom®” (proper noun and verb usages) and “Besomer®” (trained/certified practitioner) were privileged terms, there being huge legal and karmic repercussions to use these words even in ordinary speech, even in the privacy of one’s own home. It seems that the name came about as a nickname based on the name of the developer of this unique approach, who is seen here: 

Joe Besom

I may be going out on a limb to share all this with the group, but I am a professional after all and therewith comes responsibility to my fellows (used in the gender neutral sense). I’m not going to tempt fate, however, so the reference to “Besom” (just then) is the last time I will use the term. Next time I hack into the akashic record files I’ll try to erase any evidence that I’ve violated anyone’s rights in this matter.

Pray for me. And, while your at it, excuuuuse me! too.

Anyway, it seems that this approach that I discovered by happenstance seems to have some parallels with our own beloved craft. And, since there is a growing interest in gadgets and other things to do in the group, I also thought this new approach being built as it is around an electro/mechanical device, there would be some interest, particularly among those advanced practitioners working at the leading edge in our field. You know who you are.

The device in question is worn on the body, in the back. It is composed of a long hardwood dowel with some sort of stiff flexible fibers attached to the bottom. The closest I can come to telling you what it’s like is to have you imagine . . . a broom.

The original way this worked was by strapping the thing onto one’s back with the shoulder of the business end of good old fashioned hand made broom right over the sacrum. The handle was positioned to align with the spine. In the early days they used good old duct tape to attach the broom to the pelvis, around the chest, and around the head. Evidently wearing this contraption over a prescribed number of weeks (10 was originally recommended. Can you believe it! Talk about synchronicity!) showed some remarkable improvements in posture among many of whom are called— as we used to say in my old marketing days — “early adopters.” As near as I can discern the core concept has to do with some sort of resonance at the level of the parasympathetic nervous system and the causal body with the vertical arrangement of the wood fibers in the dowel itself. No “spare the rod” in this crowd — tough love if you ask me.

It seems that this is not a new field at all and that there are now several schisms developing out there, each with a slightly different spin on the basic technique. There are, naturally, the traditionalists who hew to the old man’s original ways — old fashioned, hand made broom and duck tape and off you go.

Some thought there could be room for improvement. Obviously, the one thing that always seemed to come up was the issue of pain. Getting that duck tape off was painful and no amount of pussyfooting around that fact seemed to dissuade anyone.

There is naturally the group of young turks who feel there is plenty of room in the field for experimentation/improvements. They now say it’s gentle. In fact, they talk about how it is also "new and improved." (Now, as a former marketing guru, I don’t get the wisdom of saying that something is new and improved when the people who you are offering it to don’t have any clue what the heck the thing is in the first place. I’m just not enough of a philosopher to understand that.)

The "gentle" technique seems to involve wrapping the areas of the body where the duct tape goes with some soft felt straps. This, even to me is an obvious improvement for any number of reasons which I won’t get into at this time. It may even be the precursor to the technique going around now called, "Fascial Wrapping". Just saying.

(There is an intense debate within the group of professionals practicing this approach. The traditionalists feel that the direct tape-on-skin makes for what they call the experience of “purchase.” But the innovators aren’t buying it. The “trads” subject the "new-bees" to stinging mockery and call them “kid glovers.” You could say that the gloves are off on this one. Let the marketplace of ideas decide.)

It doesn’t end there; even if you decide to stop reading this report. The originator did his homework and learned a few things from the experiences within our SI community. He anticipated that some folks would want to put a few new spins on the old man’s basic approach. For instance, if you wonder whether there might be sufficient attention paid to the psychological factors, suffice it to say, and, as you could imagine, walking around with what for all practical purposes looks like a broom strapped to your butt sure does bring up some embarrassing issues.

As far as the 10 weeks that you’re supposed to wear the device, the original instructions suggest 10 weeks but leave it to the wearer to decide. Less or more, depending on results and/or peer pressure factors. This way the newly minted practitioners would be spared splintering off into a new school(s) every time someone decided that the system wasn’t sufficiently holistic or that this or that many weeks were just right or that the old man was, as it is put, "characteristically" full of it. This guy made sure that the path was swept clean for as far as anyone could see.

There have been some new developments in the field which portend to raise this work into the truly holistic dimension. This is where we leave your basic physics and enter the realm of your metaphysics. (My mother told me every time I got cranky that what I needed was a good “physic.” I only mention this.)

The very latest method uses your basic broom. Store bought is fine. (See here for the best, and perhaps, only, broom you will ever need to own. That link goes to Lehman’s, a good source of all kinds of good stuff. Check it out.) Size and type of broom should be determined depending on height and build. Just under the shoulders of the broom bristles are wrapped three layers of medium steel wool each sandwiched between layers of wool felt. This produces an Orgone effect at the base of the spine. Around this two copper wires are wound in opposite directions and the winding continues up to the very top of the broom handle. At the approximate points of each of the chakras the wires are wound three times. Also at the broom shoulders where the wire is started there are attached two copper wire leads that affix to copper bracelets on each wrist. Please get your copy of The Eating Gorilla Comes in Peace off the shelf and look up “Eemen Screen”. This is a devise for balancing the energetic polarity of the body, also referred to as a harmonizing bio-circuit screen.

Sounds like they’ve done their homework to get this concept together. The theory is that there is a phase coherent sine wave generated at the base of the spine which resonates in sympathy with the Sushumna Nadi along its entire length integrating with the Idala and Pingala via the left/right sympathy (their term) evoked (our term) by the connection to the wrist bracelets and the corresponding phase shift, especially when walking. I’m not going to even hint at what kind of effects are possible when walking fast and/or running. You must be certified to even hear about it, and they never write it down. Heady stuff, huh? Kind of makes you want to go and reread someone's* massive missives [name removed to protect the guilty] just to clear your head. (That was a little ribbing. Sort of like the kind he gave me — literally — in a workshop we did together. Simmer! Whoa, boy! *You should know** who you are.) **Actually, that is recommended for everyone; knowing who you are, that is.

There also seem to be a few other refinements. Like using some sections of tissue paper tube encircling the broom handle as a better way of connecting the tape. This supposedly offers more mobility. And then there’s the radical idea of cutting off most of the bristles to enable the wearer to also sit comfortably. Both these ideas are being strenuously debated in their professional journal. Seems the bristles on the buttocks was originally meant to stimulate cranial-sacral respiration. For many it’s a sore point, however. A real pain in the butt. Makes some folks bristle. Literally.

Like you are probably thinking right now, I thought this guy was putting me on. I asked him how well this rather, ahem!, folksy/new-agey approach was making it with the scientific/medical community. “Of course there is the usual resistance to new technology,” he said. “Just remember though, those are the guys who sew metal rods to your spine.” He had his point.

There is obviously much more than what’s in this cursory report. I have the fellow’s name and he has assured me that any sincere inquiries will be addressed when he gets around to it. And then, of course, there’s the next workshop. I’m told that bona fide practitioners from the other schools, after some refresher classes and a peer group review, will be able to be trained and certified, at a price.

Yours as always,


*In some elite circles, yours truly, David D. Wronski, is known affectionately as GravityAce . . ."Ace" to his friends.

Please, don't get cute and offer alternative spellings.

CLICK to read the Standards of Practice I submitted to the International Association of Structural Integrators. It's lengthy, but organized in outline for the reader to scroll to the section(s) of particular interest.

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