Section ii :: Theory Continued Scroll Down >>>
How Did My Body Get This Way?
If you have lived even an hour, your body has experienced the aging process. Most of us have experienced years and years of this process. There is nothing inherently wrong with the progression of years - many things actually ripen with age. But what is it that causes people to physically shorten over time, that makes people get twisted and compressed into postures that cannot change by themselves, and that makes people move more and more slowly and with less and less comfort as they age?
Connective tissue - specifically fascia - holds our bodies in their contracted form, and movement patterns determine the particular form in which they get stuck. There are three main factors that cause our movement patterns to become unbalanced. They are (1) ongoing physical stresses, (2) ongoing attitudes and emotions, and (3) incidents of physical trauma.
Continually carrying a briefcase on one side of the body is an example of on-going physical stress
Gravity pulls the briefcase down, and the shoulder with it. With repetition, the connective tissue layers begin to get stiff and to stick to one another, like ironing two thin sheets of plastic together.
As a result, the body becomes stuck in that position and, even when the briefcase is not being carried, the shoulder still remains lower. The whole body will adjust to this imbalance, and soon the impact of the briefcase will be reflected throughout the entire body.
An example of one's emotional attitude causing imbalance in the body can be seen when we are depressed, which is often characterized by a sunken chest. If this feeling and the bodily substance become a continual pattern, the body becomes glued in this posture.
Imbalance is also caused through physical trauma. For example, if you were to injure your leg, you would be likely to walk in an imbalanced and even awkward way to protect the injury. After a time, that movement pattern might become a part of your body's way of moving, even though the injury had been healed long ago. An injury also directly traumatizes the connective tissue at the site of the injury; scarring and inflexibility may result from this. As described in the discussion of connective tissue, this tension is then reflected through the body and further influences our movement patterns. As life goes on and aging continues, more and more of these patterns become embedded in our connective tissue simply because we don't move freely. In our misalignment, gravity becomes the enemy, compounding and magnifying any stress that is there. As the body accumulates these patterns, it begins to shorten and shrink. People get shorter and stiffer. This is what people identify as aging. This is what makes the body "average" but not normal.
The Foundational Principles of Hellerwork
We recognize the existence of a greater field in which we live, interact and express.
Our purpose is to enhance the individual's awareness of and relationship to that field.
Within the context of a healing relationship, we work with structure, psyche, and movement to improve function and well-being.
Our process follows an ordered sequence organizing the body along the line of gravity, through guided touch and education, introducing change towards a more functional pattern.
The Three Main Components
Reconditioning the body after it has gone through this process of aging requires not only releasing the rigidity from the connective tissue, but also bringing awareness to and changing the patterns that caused the tissue to rigidify in the first place. The three components of Hellerwork - deep connective tissue bodywork, movement education, and verbal dialogue - aim to do just that.
Deep Connective Tissue Bodywork
Deep connective tissue body work is designed to release the tension that currently exists in the connective tissue, and to return the body systematically to an aligned position. This aspect of Hellerwork is a "hands on" process, in which the Practitioner works with his or her hands to release tension in the fascia and to stretch it back into its normal position. Bodywork accounts for about 60 minutes of the session period.
To the client, this is felt as a great release of tension throughout the body. Releasing chronic tension allows the body to feel free and rested, producing what might be an uncommon (but truly normal) state of wellbeing.
If the bodywork aspect of Hellerwork is like taking the dents out of a car's bumper after the car has run into a tree, then movement education can be likened to reeducating the driver so that he won't continue to destroy his vehicle. No amount of removing dents will keep a car beautiful if the driver is continually hitting trees!
Through the Hellerwork movement education program, you become profoundly aware of your body and your movement patterns, and as a result discover easier, fuller ways of moving. Simple and easy to remember suggestions and visualizations are used to rebalance your movement for optimal alignment and fluidity.
In movement education, we focus on the use of your body in daily activities. With all clients we work with sitting, standing, walking, and movement patterns that are common to everyone. Additionally, your particular movement interests, like your favorite sports, or your job activity, will become the focus of some movement lessons. Video feedback is often used to assist the movement education process, and to allow you to get a picture of how your body is moving from the outside.
The verbal dialogue component of Hellerwork focuses on allowing you to become aware of the relationship between your emotions and attitudes and your body. As you become aware of these relationships, you are able to become responsible for your attitudes so that they are less likely to limit your body and your self expression.The focus of the dialogue begins - with but is not limited to - the theme of each section. The theme highlights the more common attitudes and emotions that are associated with the area of the body that is worked on in each session. In Section 1, where we work on the chest, the theme is "Inspiration.". Your Practitioner will inquire into your experience of inspiration: Do you feel inspired? What inspires you? What affects your ability to feel inspired? Through this process you can begin to understand some of the attitudinal and emotional forces that impact your body. Simply becoming aware of them begins the process of change. As the tension that is associated with these emotional patterns is released, some of the pattern itself may be released. Your awareness facilitates the process of change in your body and mind.
The Structure Of The Hellerwork Series
Hellerwork is like peeling an onion - the first layer must he gone through before we can go to the next layer. The series is divided into three groups of sections to facilitate this layer-by-layer release: (1) the superficial sections, (2) the core sections, and (3) the integrative sections. Your practitioner will determine in consultation with you how many sessions are needed to release each of these layers in your particular body. The sections described in this handbook are a general plan of action which in many cases can be accomplished in one session but sometimes requires more. In this way you and your practitioner can customize the Hellerwork series to your own needs.
The Superficial Sections
Sections one through three focus on the surface, or "superficial" layers of the body's connective tissue, which are associated with those muscles that are near the surface of the body, also called the sleeve muscles. Developmentally, the superficial sections deal with issues of infancy and childhood: breathing, standing up, and reaching out.
The Core Sections
Sections four through seven are the core sections. When we talk about the core, we mean the deeper musculature and connective tissue of the body. The concept of core tissue is demonstrated in the picture of the apple, which also has core and superficial tissue. The nature of the core muscles - also called intrinsic muscles - is that they assist us in fine motor movement.
These muscles must be used in order to produce graceful and fluid movement. For instance, Tai Chi Chuan relies on the refined movement of the intrinsic muscles. Prior to Hellerwork, these muscles are often under utilized, tight and immobile. The core sections focus on development issues of adolescence: control and surrender, gut feelings, holding back feelings and intellectual development.
The Integrative Sections
Sections eight through eleven are designed to integrate the core and sleeve during these sessions, the Practitioner balances and aligns the unique patterns of each client's body. In the earlier sections a clear map existed to guide the flow of each section. Because each body is so unique, the integrative sections have no general map. The specific focus of these sections is on rotational patterns in the body. The eleventh section is unique in that it does not necessarily include bodywork and it integrates the Hellerwork series with your entire life. Developmentally, the integrative sections focus on issues of maturity: masculine and feminine styles and values, integration and coming out into the world.
Follow Up For the Hellerwork Series
When you complete the Hellerwork series your body is in a new state of alignment. It is much more balanced and much freer in movement. You are more aware of your body and able to determined its needs.
Your body will continue to change for some time as a result of the Hellerwork series, perhaps for as long as a year. If you continue using the movement education lessons the changes will continue indefinitely.
Your should talk with your Practitioner at the end of your Hellerwork series to determine your optimal followup program. We also recommend that you have a session after any kind of trauma, physical or emotional. In that session, your Practitioner can focus on rebalancing your entire body. (Remember that Hellerwork is not a treatment for your injury. Consult your physician for proper treatment.)
Of course, it is all up to you. You are in touch with your body and are in the best position to know its needs.
Your Hellerwork Practitioner
Hellerwork Practitioners are a unique group of health educators. They have all received extensive training in Hellerwork. They are individuals who are committed to actualizing the principles of Hellerwork, not only in their Hellerwork sessions, but in their personal lives.
These principles include the results easily visible in the Hellerwork series: body alignment, fluid movement, and the free flow of energy in the body. Practitioners are equally committed to less visible principles - relationships that are filled with true rapport, self-expression, and free flowing communication. Hellerwork Practitioners practice the true meaning of responsibility - the ability to respond. It is these characteristics that make your Practitioner unique.