There is more wisdom in your body than in your deepest philosophy.
We lose this center line, our "I," when enough structural deterioration has occurred through shortening and global tensioning, and other situations like repetitive strain injuries, impacts, illness, scars and surgeries. These events disorganize the fascial network in random directions, and sometimes our body cannot return to a normal arrangement because competing injured areas create force vectors that collectively pull our fascial network away from this invisible unifying line.
Dr. Rolf differentiated between the words random and normal in her terminology. Normal, to her, meant balanced, aligned, and organized. Normal set the body onto a trajectory in which all parts placed themselves coherently in relationship to the central axis of the body. Unfortunately, as she looked at people through her lens at the time, she saw that normal was not the usual. She called it her "uncomfortable reality." Random, to her, meant disorganized and continuing on the pathway set in motion by the slings and arrows of life; that is tissue damage, aggregate tension, impact injuries, disease, emotional distress, and other events that create structural distortions.
In a Q&A session, someone asked her, "Is Rolfing natural?" She replied, "No. What's natural is to keep on going in the way that life has knocked you about." Structural Integration aims to restore the "I" and return the body to a normal arrangement. In this way, a new trajectory of coherence throughout the structure of a body can begin to establish itself normally. The random relationship among parts can begin to coalesce in organizing around the central line. This line develops before birth, before we're on our own in gravity. Using the line to anchor the organization of the fascial network brings resilience to the body as a biological system in relationship to gravity.
Back to Normal
A lot of wonderful phenomena starts to happen when a body can once again find its "I." When the fascial matrix remembers its blueprint, it brings the structures that float in it back to a normal alignment. Many practitioners decide they wanted to become Structural Integrators when they first have a felt sense of this line. Rolfers call this "being on your line," and many schools refer to it as "The Line." Many describe the sensation of "being on your line" as effortless balance, floating and simultaneously rooted, aligned and free. When someone has this plumb line established, or reestablished, the body as a system can use energy more efficiently.
The theory behind the line comes from Dr. Rolf's understanding of how gravity flows through the body. Ida Rolf studied biochemistry, metaphysics, yoga, acupuncture, osteopathy, religion, and philosophy to create her work. The biological model of tensegrity that would better ground her work in a modern understanding came about from Steven Levine in 1980, less than a year after she died. Steven Levine published his conception of biotensegrity, and he focused on all mammals. He discovered the new model from the necks of dinosaurs and called it Biotensegrity to give credit to Buckminster Fuller and Kenneth Nelson who first created a 3D model of this concept in architecture. The long necks of dinosaurs, that soared high above their body and could move like a snake in the air, had similarly shaped vertebrae as primates only much larger. Dinosaur bodies, however, needed different laws of physics than the current model provided to explain how the neck and head could sail through the air like they did. The new model to describe physical movement in all animals became biotensegrity. Dr. Levin and others have since built upon the model of biotensegrity to expand to all organic material. It has become clear that people abide by soft matter physical laws in this model, just as dinosaurs did. With this in mind, Dr. Rolf's view has become more tangible as well. She saw that people have an invisible central axis that unifies the liquidness of the fascial network.
Dr. Rolf must have seen through her microscope that different tissue types resist gravity at varying degrees. Through her work with clients and students, she perceived that when gravity can flow through the body without extra resistance, the body exudes an optimal state of energetic resonance. She proposed that the body works like an electromagnetic battery. When the feet and head, or the lower and upper poles, have the maximum distance between them, the voltage of the body increases. In other words, she offered the idea, and the foundation of a therapeutic process, to bring the upper and lower poles of the body into a structural balance along a central vertical line in order to alleviate many somatic issues.