Reflections on Visiting my Roots

I’ve returned from a really fine time on Kauai, primarily to see and receive instruction and work from my premier mentor, Emmett Hutchins, currently both President and Senior Instructor for the Guild for Structural Integration.  I’d not been to a workshop with Emmett since 1992, I believe.  He was my basic Rolf instructor in 1986 with Pedro Prado of Brazil as assistant; in 1991 I took advanced training with Emmett and Peter Melchior, which was a fantastic learning experience.  In 1992 I was one of only four who signed up for a six day workshop that was therefore held at his house in Boulder…really a primo experience to have 1/4 of Emmett for a whole week!

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The class was full of fine folks representing most of the Hawaiian Islands, continental US, Japan, Australia, Germany, Israel and Brazil–quite a following from the world for only 18 people in total!  Assistant was Isaac Osborne from California, a fairly young and quite gifted rolfer.  Pictured are Margaret Mills from New Jersey who trained with SOMA Institute, Isaac, Emmett, me, and John Bowley from Melbourne, Australia, who trained at the Rolf Institute.  John and Margaret were my partners for the main amount of bodywork I gave and received.  In six days we watched Emmett and Isaac take a model through a three session series; took each other in four hands on partnership through a similar series, and worked with one partner to take a model through a series also…so we kept quite busy.  My partner for work on a model was Shayna Alexander of Israel, so I had a great international experience.

So, it was indeed a chance to revisit my roots.  I’ve got to say, Emmett does an amazing job of holding the Ida Rolf torch; he’s been dedicated for 45 years to perpetuating her ideas and work.  I salute his amazing longevity and ability to continue to deliver the best of Ida to the rest of us.  While I think I’ve grown and evolved in a different, not necessarily better, direction, it was intriguing to observe him working–and to feel it–and to compare who I’ve become in my own bodywork world with where I started.  Generally, when in doubt, Grandma was right.  There are things I’ve changed in my practice, and ideas I learned that no longer resonate for me; but in general, Ida remains the genius and Emmett remains the best way to rub elbows with that genius.

I find I’m getting more intrigued by the idea of movement with the work….in watching the video Strolling Under the Skin, which is a great look at microscopic fascia, I see the fractility of connective tissue.  This is to say there’s often not a clear sense of direction in the small fibers of connectors; they just seem to grow wherever they want, or think they might lay down another line of transmission.  This has got me thinking more and more about learning to move and stretch in every direction, both when receiving bodywork and when remembering to stretch my body in general.  It’s got me asking clients for more movement in more directions more of the time.

The other great gift of this class:  in the last two years, several things in life haven’t been a lot of fun; there was a rather severe illness, some family challenges, etc, etc.  All of us have these challenges; they set me back and caused me to forget to practice what I preach!  My body was hurting, my posture was fading, I was feeling old, and I came away both with some good work and also with a resolve to pay attention again.  So what a blessing to be with Emmett, who at 80 reminds us all that you can get better and feel better in every year, if you only pay attention and continue to move and expand.

So thanks, Emmett…see you in 21 years!


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