Maupin Structural Integration
My teacher, Dr. Ida, developed a method of manual therapy which is unique in that it puts central importance on the relation of the body to gravity. When standing in gravity, the body reflexively expands downward against the ground and upward, toward the sky. Her work is designed to free this mechanism from acquired distortions caused by injury or bad habit.
She was a natural scientist, with a doctorate, extremely rare in her generation; so she proceeded to develop her personal gift for therapeutic contact into a general, teachable method with predictable results. She devised the ten session series as a systematic way to release and organize the outer and inner layers of the body so that they can be integrated into a well-functioning whole. Her fundamental technique was to hold the body in appropriate position and ask for correct, geometric movement. She called it “Structural Integration”.
Awareness: what makes the change?
Dr. Ida expected that different ‘schools’ would evolve from her work, based on differences in emphasis. Her own approach to the body was objective, rather like a surgeon. Her hands went accurately to where the distortions lay and she fixed them. It was often very painful. She expected you not to resist.
However, two of her first seven “practitioners” (1968) were psychiatrists and I was a psychologist. Body awareness was a major topic at Esalen, where the classes began.
Dr. Ida theorized that the structural change of her work was brought about by a characteristic of the connective tissue matrix (fascia) which became somewhat fluid under mechanical pressure. This theory has not been borne out by subsequent research on fascia. It is clear, though, that fascia shifts to support habitual movement.
An alternative is to focus on the communication taking place between the hands of the practitioner and the body. The soft tissue ‘melts’ because the body ‘lets go’.
It is useful to recognize a difference between the conceptual consciousness of the ego and the deeper, non-verbal awareness of the body. Arguably, the profound experience of satori in Zen Buddhism is an immediate encounter with this body mind.
In our method of Structural Integration a great deal of attention is paid to developing communication with this deeper mind. It probably does not matter how the fascia changes so much as how the body accepts the bodyworker’s contact and allows the change
The method of holding structure and getting it to move remains the same. The soft-tissue evolves to support the habitual movement of the body. By guiding the body through balanced movement we make use of that principle. Structural Integration is retraining in movement. If the body adopts the new, more balanced pattern, then the structure will continue to evolve in a positive direction.