Rolfing is a hands-on, systematic process of unwinding or releasing the tissues of the body, and consequentially the mental and emotional processes (all aspects of the psyche) from fixated holding patterns.
Humans imitate each other via mirror neurons. This is valuable, allowing for communication and acceptance. We consciously and unconsciously learn how to physically be in the world by imitating first our primary families, and later on our peers.
However, moving how a parent moves, you adopt not necessarily the most efficient, effective, or authentically expressive walk, but you borrow expression that worked for someone else, for reasons that may or may not still be true (their own body language, an injury, or mental / emotional inhibition). Likewise, in body language, when a parent or sibling holds their shoulders high, puts their head forward, rounds their chest, crosses their arms, and many other large expressions and subtleties, these are messages being communicated. When we borrow messages through imitation, we are borrowing someone else's messages. If we borrow these messages for a long period of time, they become our message, in part because of the way others read us and respond to us. Both functional movement and physical expression shape the way we come to understand ourselves and fixates us in behavioral patterns. It's important to note that your parents' messages are not necessarily yours (they may not have even been theirs) and separating yourself in this way is part of what it means to differentiate. First through differentiation, and then integration, we are allowed into the present, and more fully aware.
Patterns are fixated through behavior, habits, beliefs, impact traumas, repetitive physical function (i.e. the way you work at your job, or the way you exercise), as well as ancestral structural patterns. Rolfers assume that many of these fixations are no longer, in this new moment, useful, relevant or representative of you. We work with the idea that the body is uniquely intelligent and that the patterns that are still serving you well will not be lost. In this way, we believe we only add nuance, and do not subtract ability.
Integration, in a Rolfing context, is a way of adopting a manageable amount of change – each session or each week – and then experiencing yourself with this change throughout the week, allowing it to fully realize. Changes from Rolfing are often felt as freer range of movement in a specific area of the body, or more overall economy.
The Ten Hours of Rolfing asks for 10 hours of work over the course of 10 or 20 weeks. The experience continues with assimilation and manifestation, over time.