Friday, May 16, 2008

Structural Integration for Children

(Excellent video at end of article.)

Finding one’s balance in the world is part and parcel to growing up healthy, being effective, and enjoying life. There is an ineluctable relationship between the architectural balance of the body in gravity and the quality of one’s life. Simple bodily balance has a profound, yet underappreciated effect on one’s health, experience of living, well being, and effectiveness. The balance of your body, its verticality and symmetry, determines whether gravity is friend or foe. Even so, this fundamental consideration for such balance—how well the body stacks up in gravity—goes mostly overlooked. 

Most of us do not enjoy living at anywhere near our natural potential for the kind of simple balance necessary to live in harmony with this constant force. The human body is just like any other structure on this Earth. It is subject to the downward pull of gravity. To ignore this or leave it to chance is to place oneself in default for putting up with chronic pain and stress and living below your potential, having vital energy needlessly expended just to keep upright and hold together.

Structural Integration is a individualized training to foster a significantly more balanced arrangement in the makeup of the body along the lines of gravity. Chronic pains and stress melt away as the body becomes more vertical, symmetrical, and effortlessly upright. Properly understood, Structural Integration is not a therapy. It is educational, a training in living with the foundation of being balanced according to the body’s anatomical design and the dictates of the laws of physics.

Children need to be given an adequate education in the basic workings and correct uses of their bodies. It is obvious that we automatically get bigger and stronger as we grow up. However, balance in how the parts of the body come to fit together doesn’t come about spontaneously. That is learned. In this regard we are mostly self-taught. We find our way in this respect by trial and error and by modeling those around us. Add in a unique personal history of accidents and traumas not fully resolved, bad habits that become ingrained, and improper and/or limited training. We are shaped by our experience. The resulting random arrangement of the body with its complex of compensations rooted firmly throughout the fabric of the body is what the average individual takes for granted and reports as “who I am.”

Youngsters have youth on their side. For the most part they are healthy. Consequently, we don’t usually give too much attention to their structure or how it will affect them later in life. Structural Integration looked at only as a preventative measure is wholly worthwhile. Yet, it is far more that that. It is a lesson on how to stay young, to become all that you have in you to be. It offers a tangible understanding for living a balanced life. This tangible balance is an ingrained knowledge that colors everything you do. It lasts and further develops over time.

If you have children in your care, you surely spend a good deal of time, energy, and money to provide the best education and give them every opportunity. Not even in what are considered to be the finest schools or in all the other special classes children receive, is there much enlightened teaching of the basic physical skills—correct standing, sitting, walking, how to use the body in ways that continue to foster balance, ease, efficiency and effectiveness. “Head up, chin down, shoulders back, chest up, stomach in is what usually suffices. That idea is not consistent with the dictates of proper structure. What’s more, it is a pattern that is “put on” and totally fails at having good structure and posture developed as an innate experience coming from deep down inside oneself.

Correct bodily balance translates to improved overall physical performance in basic motor skills and in athletics. The body moves with authenticity, ease, grace, and self evident power. Inner frictions are reduced lessening the potential for injuries. Recovery from injury and trauma is faster and residual effects minimized. The body in tune is an instrument ready for fluent and full artistic expression. Psychologically, living with a truly balanced body supports being present and attentive. Think inner strength, self-confidence, self reliance. It’s about literally standing on one’s own two feet, having a trusty compass for finding one’s way effectively and creatively.

Having an early on sense of vertical alignment and true balance is a reference with which children can grow up unimpeded. It is a pivotal advantage enabling them to excel in life in general and in whatever fields they may choose to enter and explore. They take away an unambiguous engrained sense of true balance to support them to grow up unimpeded, to stay healthy, to live fully, and to reach whatever goals they choose for themselves.

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