The Four Pillars of Postural Integration®
Postural Integration® is a unique approach in that it works simultaneously with body, emotions and thought. This allows to work with complexity beyond the traditional paradigms. The method is a rigorously structured frame of transformative work that helps the individual by a direct deep softening and reorganization of the connective tissue which envelopes and coordinates the entire muscular system.
Postural Integration® is unique and revolutionary in that it not only assists the release of deep and chronic muscular tension but also helps to harmonise our unbalanced or "armoured" emotions, thoughts and in such our blocked breathing and energy flow. It definitely helps you to master your body, your movements, your feelings, emotions and thoughts. As such you become more attuned to your spiritual destiny, autonomy and humanity.
Below you find a description of what is known as the "Four Pillars of Postural Integration®", defining the work.
- DEEP BODYWORK
Postural Integration® is based on the insights stemming from pioneers of the beginning of the 20th century like Szandor Ferenczi, Georg Groddeck, Wilhelm Reich and others who found that emotional relief and integration can be obtained through massage and other forms of touch, play and symbolic interaction. For a more elaborate explanation of backgrounds go here. The specialised deep tissue touching, as developed by Jack Painter, Ph.D. is partly based on the innovations of Ida Rolf,PhD, the creator of "Structural Integration" (also known as the Rolfing-method). The layers of myofascia (a connective tissue surrounding muscular tissue) in the body are envisioned in three depths/layers of work: superficial, intermediary deep, and deep work.
The body’s network of fascia is obvious in anatomical dissection as the fibrous muscle envelopes which merge into tendons and bone. It goes all the way down to the subcellular level, appearing as integrins, which are thin, long rodlike structures that are in constant interplay with the forces of expansion and contraction, communicating on the intra- and extra-cellular web. At that level, integrins let us know where we are in space and time and all that this entails—encounters with stairs and chairs, friend or foe, weather systems, and even the cosmos as a whole.
The work with the network of fascia is organized around the release of segmental armouring (7 segments as described by W. Reich) in twelve paradigm sessions
(more than one session is needed for one paradigm session). Seven are for release of the network and five at the end of the process have a focus on integration. What differentiates PI from other fascial intervention series is the integration of the physical work on muscles with raised energy (through breathwork), emotional work (through a range of expression, called the "out stroke- process" and the deep inner-listening of emotional processes, which we call "in stroke-techniques"), and mental work (through gestalt awareness dialogue) and fine energy work (see further)
2. EMOTIONAL WORK
Like most other systems of body psychotherapy, Postural Integration® works with a concept of somatic memory; the idea that, as Wilhelm Reich put it, ‘every muscular rigidity’ – or, indeed, every other bodily restriction – ‘contains the history and meaning of its origin’; and that by releasing the restriction and reowning the memory, most importantly the emotional memory, a person can dissolve a corresponding pattern of psychological constraint. Emotional memories are stored subcortically, via the amygdala and other related brain areas and also in the tissue itself. PI-practitioners have experienced over the years that special emotional patterns are being fixated in special areas, known as the seven segments of embodied experiences. There is considerable evidence that traumatic memories can be stored, and expressed, unconsciously and non-verbally. In other words, emotional memories are unconscious – they appear as feelings, not as memories of feelings – and persistent. Postural Integrators will tend in practice to encourage and support spontaneous bodily impulses and experiences, in the expectation that these will lead to some form of completion, re-enactment and/or discharge. They will support your process of self-regulation in different stages of your "affect-cycle", in order for you to learn to charge your emotions in such a way that communication with yourself and with your relatives improves, as well as the discharge of your emotions in such a way that your bodymind has no need to create psychosomatic conditions in order to regulate your emotional needs, wants and desires.
The body is a sensitive unit full of stored memory and the way to tap into feeling and memory differs from person to person and from therapeutic style to the other.
Postural Integrators help the client with a conception of character – a name for the larger pattern of psychosomatic holdings which in part define each individual: our ‘conditioned tendency’. This is why we will often encourage clients to stay with and fully experience unpleasant, painful bodily states. But we are also interested in positive, pleasurable states, that support the realisation of your inner potential, more than old character-fixated limitations of your life-force do . Basically, we seek to help to displace the client 's 'focus from his body as a source of pain to his body as a source of pleasure and comfort, the physical relaxation which diminishes emotional anxiety, and the restoration of the possibility of self-awareness and of a sense of self-control of the situation’.
3. ENERGETIC WORK
Here lies the question of what energy means in the lexicons of both common sense and science. In Postural Integration®, this discussion permeates both realms. As a method to achieve structural integration and bodymind functional economy, Postural Integration® induces biological changes that the client senses and describes as improved vitality and well-being. Sometimes, this vitality and well-being is referred to as having/feeling more or less energy. The energetic work in Bodymind Integration is very elaborated. We talk about work with "coarse" and "subtle" energy. We work with acupressure points and the system of 5-elements of traditional Chinese medicine. We work with bio-energetic movements and positions in ways that resemble other Reichian or post-Reichian methods, we work with breath and "awareness through movement"-exercises. We also need to recognize that all our activities go in cycles or waves. Each movement, thought or feeling has a beginning, middle and end. This is a flow of energy, a process of charging, discharging and finishing any given activity of our bodyminds. This idea has been worked out in what is known as "the Energetic Cycle" with its 9 "Stages in Natural Energy Flow" and 9 "Blockages of the Natural Flow of Energy" that can be seen in breathing patterns, posture, myofascial composition etc.. This cycle as described by Jack Painter is a unique description of energy levels within our human potential and in the center of the Bodymind Integration process. A lot of time is taken to explore the depths of the wave, through breathwork, imagery, movement, emotional expression, etc. In different steps one can explore ones capacity to feel secure with one’s own energies building up towards feeling safe within excitement, climax and up a plateau to surrender completely and let go of all voluntary efforts to control life. Childhood developmental themes can be worked through and new states of energetic life can be explored and integrated.
One meaning of "integration" in Postural Integration® is that the experiences one has during sessions are helped to fall into place or are given a conscious place and meaning. Depending on the stage of therapy one is in, integration is different. Integration is written down in "new memory". The practitioner many time uses fine energy techniques, work with images and symbols, etc. to help the client integrate the experience of the session. In the beginning of the PI process a lot of work needs to be done to soften the character-related fixations of life-force in the different body segments (armoring), to let go of the held emotions, and to work on the mental level in order to understand the deeper meaning of the holding of defense pattern. After enough release-work has been done, the body has become more free, the emotions fuller, thoughts clearer. Once the myofascial network has been treated and claimed in its natural energy flow state, all parts of the body want to come together in a new way. A whole organismic body is preparing itself to be born. Integration sessions have as goal to help the body find it’s unified state and to support the deeper trust of clients in their body wisdom. If we say body, it is always also emotions and thoughts. „Integration means that old dimensions of the self are being transformed into this unity and unrealised potential becomes actualised. We found there are these fundamental dimensions: top-bottom, left-right, front-back, inside-outside. In an armored bodymind these divisions are still in stubborn conflict (some more than others, depending on the individual). After release these, previously mostly unconscious, parts begin to coordinate with each other, and our hands help this coming together with a kind of specialised integrating strokes. We look at horizontal integration, as well as vertical integration. And we can say that it is important to connect our egocentric and anthropocentric (vertical) with our biocentric or ecocentric (horizontal) dimension.
The extraordinary power of Postural Integration lies in the willingness of client and practitioner to work on many levels simultaneously in order to reach these goals. To conclude, this process resembles less a technique and more a dance between the practitioner and the client; between inner sensations and outer relations...more a continuous process of becoming who we really are through the symbolic interactive experiences in the process.