The Gravity of Your Situation: Rolfing® Structural Integration

“Gravity is the river we never step out of.”
– Unknown

by Chris Hayden

From the very beginning of our lives, and of life on Earth, gravity has played a powerful role in shaping us. Leaving our aquatic homes for dry land, then making the leap to standing upright, we contended against this unseen current. Having long learned to negotiate it, it is only when we return to the water for a swim that we remember how much power it normally has over us!

For most of us, this fundamental relationship with gravity is an uneasy one beneath the surface. The twists and turns of life, along with our own habits of body and mind, have over time unbalanced our body structures. This means that we use more effort to stand, walk, and sit upright, causing strain and pain in various parts of our bodies. Our imbalances quickly become so much a part of us that we don’t even recognize them as a cause of our suffering.

The patterns of imbalance often show up as constrictions and thickening in our connective tissue, which includes fascia and myofascia and holds our body together. Fascia also provides a barrier against injury and infection, as well as a gateway for cells to receive nutrition, detoxify, and communicate with each other, so when fascia doesn’t flow freely it means that these other functions are impeded.

On an emotional level, when the body is fundamentally unbalanced, we may experience greater tension, ungroundedness, and insecurity, which in turn makes our relationships with others more difficult. Our bodies seem to “lock” tension and emotions within them, inhibiting the free flow of our emotional lives as well as our physical ones.

Considering all this, it’s not surprising that a healing art was created entirely around restoring our balance with gravity. Ida Rolf, a Ph. D. biochemist at the Rockefeller Institute in the 1930s, developed Rolfing Structural Integration (SI) after mainstream medicine failed to help her and her children with their health problems, including scoliosis and spinal arthritis. She embarked on a personal quest, studying healing modalities such as yoga and osteopathy, and learned to view the body holistically. This led her to realize the overwhelming importance of gravity, and to the remarkable discovery that she could align a body with gravity by moving its connective tissue around with her hands and arms. Soon, she began teaching others what she had learned.

Since then, Rolfing SI has evolved into a sophisticated system of bodywork, movement explorations, and awareness exercises, which are all used as tools to create and maintain this alignment. For example, a Certified Rolfer™, as practitioners are called, might release fascial restrictions around the muscles of your spine with his hands, and then help you engage your muscles in a more balanced way, by coaching you through a combination of breathing techniques, visualization, and movement. This way, the fascia around your spine is less likely to become restricted again over time, and less likely to pull your body out of alignment. Another time, your Rolfer might help you gain more awareness and movement in your toes, to help you stand with more support and walk more smoothly. A Rolfer’s job is to see where and how to work to organize your overall structure, so that it can function with greater ease, freedom, and power.

The benefits of an integrated body include reduced pain and discomfort, fewer work-related injuries, enhanced athletic or music performance, improved posture, deepened yoga or martial arts practice, and emotional freedom. Perhaps most importantly, you gain a truer awareness of your own body, which you can take with you in whatever you do.

Chris Hayden, Certified Rolfer, practices at the Helios Center in Menomonie. For more information on Rolfing Structural Integration, visit his website at

Sneezy, Itchy, Runny Spring Allergies

by Marybeth Buchele HMC

Sneezy, weepy eyes, runny nose, itchy eyes, nose or skin — does this sound like you in the spring?  Then read on for some suggestions that could help you feel better.

Spring allergies can be reactions to mold or to pollens.  With homeopathy, we don’t really care what you are reacting to, we just need to observe your reactions to find a remedy that matches those reactions — and then cancel out those reactions.
So your first task is to sit down and write out, as completely as possible, with lots and lots of details, what you experience when you have spring or other allergies.

For example, make sure you include what your weepy eyes feel like:  Do they sting, do they burn, do they itch, do they itch like crazy?  Do the tears make your eyelids and cheeks tender if the tears run down your cheeks?  Are your eyes gummy or crusty when you wake up in the morning?  Are there times of day you feel better or worse?

Do this with each area of your body that is bothered by your allergies.

If there are symptoms that seem to repeat from one part of the body to the other, that is particularly important.  For example, if your eyes really itch, your ears really itch and your skin really itches, pay close attention to the itchiness you experience.

Then look at the remedy statements below to find a remedy that most closely fits your symptoms.  You might want to buy the relevant remedies before allergy season so you have them on hand. Remedies can be purchased at Menomonie Market Food Co-op, Mother Nature’s Foods in Eau Claire or ordered from Main Street Market in Rice Lake and online.

Directions for taking remedies are at the end of this article.

Allium cepa:  the symptoms this remedy helps closely resemble the symptoms you might experience if you chopped up a lot of onions, which makes sense — this remedy is made from the common red onion.  So for this remedy to work, you would have to have weepy, sore eyes and a runny nose where under your nose is sore because the nasal mucus is irritating.  You might be sneezing too.

Euphrasia:  is another remedy that can work well for allergies. With this remedy, you need to have a runny nose where your nose does NOT get sore (the nasal mucus is bland or non-irritating) but your eyes are extremely sore, they may even be quite bloodshot. You may also wake with crusty eyes and have a tickling cough.

Gelsemium:  for this remedy to help your allergies, you would need to experience weakness and drowsiness with your symptoms even though you haven’t taken a decongestant. You may have really bad sneezing attacks in the morning and may be exhausted by your sneezing.

Natrum muriaticum:  with this remedy you would need to have thick mucus from your nose, almost like egg-whites. You may also have episodes of sneezing and chapped lips.

Nux vomica:  this remedy works on nasal mucus that is fluent and very runny in the morning and daytime with a very stuffy, raw nose at night. Terrible sneezing and coughing in the morning, generally worse in the morning and after eating.

Pulsatilla:  awful, itchy, drippy eyes that are better if you put a cool cloth on them. The person who does well on this remedy will prefer being chilly rather than warm and they may cough if they lie down.

To take a homeopathic remedy successfully, take two to three doses (check the label) separated by 60 to 90 minutes.  Make sure you haven’t eaten anything for at least 30 minutes before taking the remedy.  If your symptoms haven’t changed at all after these doses, stop this remedy and look for another one.

If the remedy works and then seems to wear off, if your symptoms are the same you can successfully repeat it. If the remedy wears off and your symptoms come back and are different, find a different remedy.

Repeating a remedy that no longer seems to work will not work — the remedy won’t “kick in” because it is now the wrong remedy.

Note:  many more homeopathic remedies help with allergies, if you don’t see a remedy that matches your symptoms, check out “The Complete Homeopathy Handbook” by Miranda Castro or other homeopathy books for more information.

One caution: the remedy you choose this year might not work next year, especially if your symptoms have changed even a little.  A completely different remedy might be needed each year, this is why you should write down your symptoms as completely as possible and then file that information so you can easily find it next year.  You could stop this cycle by finding the deeper constitutional remedy, working with a practitioner at a time when you aren’t in the middle of a bad attack.

Marybeth Buchele, HMC, is a professional homeopath who has been in practice 12 years and has offices in Menomonie and St. Louis Park, MN.  She works with adults, children, and the elderly, specializing in people with complex health problems. Her website is and she can be reached at 715-497-6068.

Healing with Horses

by Lisa Kuchinski

What is Equine Assisted

It’s interaction between humans and horses on an emotional and unconscious level. The horses assist you to expand or step out of the box you have unknowingly (or knowingly) placed yourself in. They will challenge you to be the best you can be and expand.

The horses live in a herd, which is vitally important for this process to be successful. Horses’ instincts and interactions with each other are what make this learning experience so powerful. Many of the horses at the ranch have been rescued. It’s amazing watching the horses heal as they help the individuals they are working with.

Ninety nine percent of this work is done on the ground; no riding or horse experience required. This can be done in a group or individually. All you need to bring is a willingness to try something new.

Your Day at the Ranch

When you arrive at the ranch, we introduce you to the herd of horses. You and the horses all get a chance to meet each other and get comfortable. Then we spend some time discussing what you want more of in your life and what challenge you need to overcome. We can work on team building, effective communication – the possibilities are endless.

The horses then choose with whom they will work. Sometimes it’s one horse, and other times there could be six horses that will work with you. This is done either in the arena or in the pastures. The gates are usually kept open so the horses can come and go as they please. The horses have the ability to feel our emotions on all levels. Believe it or not, the horses actually know more about what you need to release than you do. They willingly help you on your path to discovery.

Helen’s Story

A woman came out to the ranch for help with her career. (Her name has been changed to Helen.) She was given one piece of paper on which to write or draw what her perfect job would be. She then met the horses in the pasture. Five horses chose to assist her in her self discovery. She was given directions to place her paper anywhere in the pasture. The next direction was to get a horse to walk around her piece of paper. We said very little to her, because this was her self discovery; this experience is all about her, what she believes, and what she believes to be true for her. This is true for anyone who comes to the ranch. It’s all about your own self discovery.

After about thirty minutes, Helen became a little upset because the horses wouldn’t come anywhere near her. They happily ate their grass and ignored her. She asked for help, so we told her that perhaps she could read aloud what she wrote to the horses. She looked at us blankly because she didn’t write a thing on the paper. We all laughed. This experience is about having fun and to stop judging yourself. We asked another question, and as Helen answered, one of the horses slowly walked toward her. Helen continued to talk about what was important to her in a career. The next thing she knew, the horses made a circle around her. As Helen became excited about the possibilities she was creating for herself, she dropped the piece of paper. Phi (Arabian horse) started to come very close to Helen and was hearing her. Phi was next to Helen, and as Helen realized what her new career would be, Phi, with a little bit of force, placed her hoof on the paper leaving her hoof print on the paper. Tears were running down Helen’s eyes and Phi gently placed her head on her shoulder and touched her muzzles to Helen’s cheek.

Whose Beliefs are Ruling Your Life?

What a miracle this all is. Is it magic? No! As humans, we make life very difficult for ourselves. Do we know all the answers to our lives? Unconsciously/sub-consciously we do. The problem is that consciously we do not trust ourselves or love ourselves enough. We allow beliefs and values that aren’t ours to rule our lives.

This Human-Horse experience is about giving yourself time to get to know yourself/team. Being in nature and being supported by horses gives you a wonderful opportunity to be grounded and use all your five (six) senses in self/team discovery. Our outside world is a reflection of our inner world. Imagine the possibilities that are waiting for you.

The herd of horses that live on the ranch enjoy helping folks who come here. At the ranch we repay the kindness to the horses by chiropractic, acupuncture, energy work, massage, and lots of TLC.

Lisa Kuchinski has operated BE it coaching/Free Spirit Ranch since 2007. For questions please call 612-807-4740,,

Coming Home

by Doug Dobberfuhl

Brendan sat back on the couch and ran his fingers through his hair, sighing.  “I moved back to my hometown two years ago. I had not lived within a 60 mile radius of the place for over 15 years, and what I experienced surprised me. At first, I just felt a little out of sorts. I had a life and identity unique from what developed growing up. But here I was, married with two children, back in the home where I had grown up. This was the place full of memories and ghosts from when I was a child. Yet at the same time I was an adult, with kids of my own.  These two worlds – my childhood me and my adult me – were colliding.”

The experience of coming home happens to many of us. It is a return to old, familiar places, people or events. The holiday season is the prime time for coming-home experiences to occur – family gatherings, getting together with childhood friends, visiting your favorite restaurant growing up, etc. It can bring up a lot of emotions, both positive and negative.  Brendan struggled coming home. It triggered him to react from that child-like place instead of from his adult state. He became reactionary, easily irritated, impatient, and full of self-doubt. It caused problems in his marriage. He returned to old coping skills that he had worked hard to let go of in previous therapy sessions.

The goal to weather the storm that often arises when coming home is to be at a place of wholeness. It is to say and believe within ourselves – “I am who I am no matter what the situation or audience.”

Coming back home is always a high risk for parts of ourselves from the past to be triggered, to bubble up to the surface.  We act and do things and say things we might not normally say or do otherwise. People and places can trigger these smaller parts of ourselves to come to the forefront. Anytime we tread upon the paths of our past, we risk doing more than just visiting – we risk slipping back in time and acting or reacting from that past time.

Do you find yourself drinking a little too much at the family holiday gathering and not really knowing why? Or maybe you have feelings of resentment that seem to come from nowhere when you get together with your siblings. Maybe you find yourself edgy, easy to anger, withdrawn or otherwise just not you. These can be totally normal reactions that accompany coming home.

To those who have had bad experiences at home, suffered disappointments or serious failures within their childhood/adolescence, coming home and staying in a healthy functional place sounds unrealistic. Wouldn’t it just be better to run away and stay away from home? Is it impossible to stay a whole, functional, integrated person even when we do walk down memory lane (figuratively or literally)?  Not at all. There are some key strategies that need to be mastered, however.

1.) Become aware of the parts of you that still live and breathe in the past. Know what they look like, how they feel and how they think. This will help you more quickly identify when they come to the surface.

2.) Face the fears of the past – clean out any stored “energy” of the past place. If you don’t do this, the energy of the past will bubble up, causing you to fragment and lose your wholeness and functional integrated “adultness.”

3.) Learn to find peace and serenity within yourself no matter where you are or who you are with. Meditation, prayer, reflective contemplation, feeling comfortable in your own skin – all this will help you be true to yourself regardless of the trigger.

Some part of us may feel fear that the old people, places, or events will not accept who we have become over the years. Affirm to yourself that the reaction of others is something you cannot control. Being true to yourself is what feels best, not living to please or fit in with whatever outside expectations or scenarios may seem to dictate.

This holiday season, prepare for those coming-home events by taking some extra time the weeks prior to meditate. Follow the three steps detailed above, and love who you are. Knowing who you are and what matters most to you today is what will help you thrive and enjoy your yesterdays as well as your tomorrows.

Doug Dobberfuhl holds a masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and has been working in the field for the past 15 years. He works with families, couples and individuals that struggle with traumatic pasts, addictions and intimacy problems. He is married with five children. He has finished writing a workbook on applying the 12 steps of recovery from a spiritual point of view, which will be published by the end of the year.  He can be reached at

Ayurveda and Yoga for Holiday Serenity

by Patricia Wickman

Before you start reading this article, take a moment to ask yourself some questions. First of all, notice how you are breathing right now. Is your breathing fast? Slow? Shallow? Deep? Agitated? Calm? Also, take a mental note of how your day has gone so far. More specifically, what has been your general state of mind? Have you been rushing around and have your thoughts been scattered and fragmented? Perhaps you have been lazy today and spent most of your time in a mental fog. Have you flip-flopped back and forth between these two polarities? Do you feel like none of these apply to you? If so, you are probably an enlightened being and don’t need to read this article. That is—unless you are just too curious at this point and have to keep reading.

With the holidays come bustling crowds at the mall, warm gatherings that include family and friends, celebrations, music and dance performances, laughter, parties, holiday films, tantalizing food and drink, excited children, and more. It is possible for this ‘ho-ho-ho’ spirit to become excessive and lead one to experience the negative aspects of the season: calendars that are over-packed with activities; heavy, sugary foods that stay with us long after the holidays; and perhaps excessive spending and debauchery that can lead to lowered immunity, drained bank accounts, stress, anxiety or depression.

Ancient Yogis and Ayurvedic sages observed and wrote about this natural flow of ups and downs and refer to them as the three gunas or energies. Rajas, tamas, and sattva are the Sanskrit terms for these energies. Rajas is hyperactivity, tamas is inertia, and sattva is a balance between the two. An example of a person in a rajasic state is someone who gets behind you on the road or in a line at a register and pushes you along in a forceful way. A tamasic person is one who is lazy, drinks alcohol regularly and is generally uninterested in life. A sattvic person makes healthy food and beverage choices and is graceful, content, calm, humble, alert, and meditative (the type of enlightened being who does not need to read this article!). Although it is natural for these energies to ebb and flow during the day, a conscious soul can cultivate sattva and spend less time in rajasic or tamasic states of mind and body. Sattva may not sound like an exciting way to live your life. Maybe you prefer to live by the “what goes up, must come down” motto. If, however, you would like some ideas on how to get off the roller coaster ride, keep reading.

Get your calendar out right after you finish this article and check to see if you have allotted ‘rest and digest’ time in between holiday festivities. Examples include going to yoga classes (especially restorative yoga), meditating, going for a massage, seeking rejuvenating recreation, spending time in nature, journaling, etc. If you do not see any such activities on your calendar during the months of November and December, plan them right away. Make sure that if your schedule is dependent on spouses and children that you tell them about your appointments with your friends named deep conscious breathing, harmony, and sanity.

Eat sattvic foods and reduce or avoid rajasic or tamasic foods. Since eating is something we do everyday multiple times a day, it powerfully determines how we feel from moment to moment. Rajasic foods are acidic, hot, sour, spicy or overly salty. They increase speed and excitement in the body or mind so this includes all stimulants such as coffee, green tea, black tea, white tea, white sugar, chocolate, and soda (especially diet). Tamasic foods are dry, fermented, deep-fried, deteriorated, without flavor, microwaved, boxed, canned, frozen (frozen raw is O.K.), rancid or leftover. Heavy meats, alcohol (especially beer), cigarettes, and sedating drugs are all tamasic. Sattvic foods are fresh, easy to digest, organic and vitally alive. This includes fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, nuts, seeds, fresh dairy (local and organic are best), the highest quality meat if you are not vegetarian, herbal teas and water. Rajasic and tamasic foods leave one in an energy deficit. Eating sattvic foods is like putting money in a savings account—it inspires you and makes you feel like you have energy to spare.

Rajas, tamas and sattva are the Sanskrit terms for these energies. Rajas is hyperactivity, tamas is inertia, and sattva is a balance between the two.

This compassionate self-care not only develops sattva, but also promotes a profound and sustained sensation of being a whole person. There are a couple more Sanskrit terms to befriend during the holidays that refer to this state of being tightly packed/sane. Ojas is your vitality and immunity—the glue that holds you together. Vasant Lad says this about ojas:

It is like honey. As the honeybee collects the minute molecules of the essence of hundreds of flowers and accumulates them in the honeycomb, ojas, the pure essence of all bodily tissues, circulates via the heart and throughout the body to maintain the natural resistance of the bodily tissues. Ojas fights against aging, decay and disease. A person who has good ojas rarely becomes sick (Lad 212).

Ojas is a biological substance that is rich in soma (moon energy). Soma can be compared to serotonin—a chemical that promotes happy, calm, blissful feelings in your body and mind. What does having an abundance of ojas mean for your enjoyment of the holiday season, you ask?

Having high ojas during the holidays means that you will have your own needs for health and vitality met so that you can then turn your attention outward. As your personal ojas proliferates, it taps into cosmic or Universal ojas, which is the Love that holds the entire universe together. Having cosmic ojas will expand your awareness and this will cause your attention to veer away from selfishness and turn toward the needs and desires of those around you. You will overflow with forbearance, generosity, loving-kindness, charity and bliss—similar to the expanded awareness of Ebenezer Scrooge at the end of “A Christmas Carol.” Put sattva and ojas on your wish list this year and make it your most joyful holiday season yet.

Patricia Wickman is a Certified Ayurvedic Practitioner, Certified Panchakarma Technician and Registered Yoga Teacher. She loves people and enjoys inspiring individuals to perceive their beauty and potential. She lives in Eau Claire, WI with her husband and two children. She owns Radiant Living Yoga and Ayurveda, LLC. For more information visit:

Sources: Lad, Vasant. Textbook of Ayurveda. New Mexico: The Ayurvedic Press, 2002.