Wednesday, October 18th 2017

Freedom from twister cables as I stretch my body and soul

A discipline called Bodynamic Analysis helped me come to terms as an adult with the cruel taunting I experienced as a ‘crippled’ child

In reconstructing the timeline for this article I discovered I wore the twister cables for 15 to 18 months. I was still wearing the cables when I entered kindergarten in the fall of 1972. (In the photo to the left I’m the blonde beside the teacher).

Until that time I had been relatively sheltered at home from the type of harsh teasing that can happen when one is “different” from their peers. We, as humans, seem to have a primitive instinct that informs us if someone’s legs are funny or they walk abnormally then they may be mentally challenged.

Thus, similar to Forrest Gump climbing on the school bus for his very first day of school, I was ostracized and cruelly mocked by some older children. I tried my best not to show how much it hurt me and vowed to never make fun of someone else’s disability.

Wearing the braces at the age I did, and having to cope with difficulties like being teased by older children helped to reinforce an earlier defense strategy in my character structure known as Late Will. This terminology, as I use it here, comes from Bodynamic Analysis, a form of body-oriented psychotherapy from Denmark.

They have defined a seven phase character structure model starting from the 2nd trimester through the age of 12. Their model puts a more positive spin on character structure than previous models developed by Freud, Erikson and Lowen.

Indeed, in Bodynamic Analysis, each developmental stage represents a central issue or theme dealt with during a particular age period. In fact, each theme can also be viewed as a basic human right.

Bodynamic Analysis developmental stages

Existence (2nd trimester to 3 months): The right to exist in one’s physical environment.

Need (1 month to 1 1/2 years):The ability to sense one’s own needs and that one’s needs can be met.

Autonomy (8 months to 2 1/2 years):The ability to engage in independent movement and explore the world.

Will (2 to 4 years):The ability to make choices and state one’s own power through actions and emotions (i.e. control) and still be loved.

Love/Sexuality (3 to 6 years):The ability to create a balance between feelings of the heart (love) and the genitals (sexuality).

Opinion (5 to 8 years):The ability to form and express one’s opinion.

Solidarity/Performance (7 to 12 years):The ability to balance being one’s best with being a member of a group.

Bodynamic Analysis was developed by Lisbeth Marcher and a group of 10 Danish therapists who studied and worked together for 20 years. I have studied this system’s character structure model as well as their approach to working with shock/trauma.

I continue to study Resource Oriented Skill Training with Merete Holm Brantbjerg, (pictured at right) one of Bodynamic’s co-creators.

Leaving my braces behind

At some point during kindergarten the doctors deemed the braces no longer necessary and I was set free. I chuckle now to think about it, but they gave my mother instructions to stretch me.

I suppose this was to keep working to improve the external rotation in my hips. What the doctor showed us to do I now know as Baddha Konasana or Bound Angle Pose from yoga.

Of course my Bound Angle Pose wasn’t perfect. My knees were much higher off the ground than they should have been.  I would sit in this position with my back against the hallway wall while my mother would push down on my knees. It hurt, and I didn’t know how to relax. I would push up with my knees as hard as my mother would push down. I’m not sure we made much progress in changing my pattern.

As you may imagine, going through all of this at such a young age created in me quite an awareness of body structure and alignment. After we stopped torturing me with stretches my leg issues faded more into the background.

The next time I can remember a significant Aha! Moment that led me down the path to become a Rolfing practitioner was in high school.

In the 1980s I used to listen to a morning radio program called The Alex Bennett Show out of San Francisco. One morning Alex was talking about getting “Rolfed.”  Since his show featured standup comedians as his guests, he was making fun of the funny sounding name. However, he also said some things that burned into my memory.

He said the work was literally changing the structure of his body, that he had better posture, was more flexible, and had more energy. That information got stored in my brain. . . there’s something out there that changes structure. . . being able to change structure in a positive direction is a good thing.

And then, I promptly forgot about Rolfing® SI until many years later.

Being put into twister cable braces at the age of four to correct “pigeon-toed” walking was the spark that ignited the fire of Carole LaRochelle’s life-long interest in the structural organization of the human body.

In private practice as a Rolfing practitioner since 1996 Carole has also studied pilates, craniosacral therapy and somatic approaches to healing trauma. She has a deep and abiding interest in body-oriented psychotherapies. Carole sees clients in Santa Rosa, San Francisco and Berkeley, California.  Please visit her website.

Read part 1: From twister cables to pointe shoes: The birth of a Certified Rolfer™

Read part 3: My soul death is averted by Rolfing® Structural Integration

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10 Comments on “Freedom from twister cables as I stretch my body and soul”

  1. Carole, What an incredible journey to discovery. It really sounds like your life and your work are in harmony. I look forward to reading part 3!

  2. Thank you, Ariana, for taking the time to read my articles. Yes, it's been an interesting journey. Life is a funny thing. I've found that if I simply pay attention and don't get sidetracked by beliefs and fear my path is revealed to me. All the best to you.

  3. Hi Carole. thanks for the conversation. I did read part two, and look forward to number three! I once heard someone say that one can only easily understand one's life path by looking at it backwards - all that pressure and pain and fire to create the diamonds that we have become! How fortunate we are. How it doesn't seem so at the time!

    I think we are on the same page. My comment regarding the vertical was a zooming in on the individual joints of a 'troubled' skeleton, say the scoliotic. Optimum alignment for that particular spine may not be vertical on the individual intervertebral level, even though it's always endeavouring to make it's best attempt to dance with the primary vector of gravity. Neutral for every individual is their very best attempt at a comfortable perpendicular life.

    I believe that the human being is still evolving toward True Alignment with the vertical. We have a way to go I think! Only by letting go into a skeletally based life do we have the chance to rise up with ease. Most humans are still stuck at the soft tissue level - far too fearful to trust their bones. The fans of fascia are getting closer, but still looking for improvement rather than accepting surrender as a path. To get vertical enough to even entertain the possibility of surrender into skeletal support takes work on many levels - penetrating to the core of what we aren't is tricky work! Right at the core - at the marrow - there's no-one there - scary stuff!

    Was thinking about latitudes today - that my vertical in the UK looks like a lean to someone at the equator. Our commonality is that we both have our spines pointing toward the Earth's core. Maybe it is inward that is neutral? Inward that nourishes our verticality?

    Searching inward allows for us to become True humans. True Aligmment comes from the inward search that develops a Fully Human Being. That being would be a straight kinda guy. Nicely neutral. Centred and balanced. Ready for whatever. Perfectly toned like a muscial string. Ready to play their authentic note to the world.

    1. Hi Phil,

      It's nice to chat with a fellow practitioner. I see you studied with Fritz Smith and are a Zero Balancing practitioner and teacher.

      Yes, my life path is much clearer looking back on it. I think next time, if I get to choose, I'm going to shoot for coal instead of diamond. :-) Some of the stuff I've been through I wouldn't wish on anyone. (That's a longer story than the one I write here.) However, in saying that, I fully realize the gifts my wounds have wrought.

      Interesting thoughts you have on skeletal structure. As a fan of fascia myself I know that if I tried to stack my bones without the guy-wires known as fascia I would most assuredly fall into a heap on the floor.

      For me it's about both. Honoring the densest form of energy in my body, bone, yet also working with its plasticity. The memory is there to unspiral the bone, the energy is just too dense and set to change easily.

      And for me, neutral is about the balance between inner and outer. It's just in our culture we tend to focus on outer exclusive of inner awareness. That creates a situation where people usually need to spend more time developing inner awareness. However, one can also be too "in." I've been there. It's about staying in contact with myself while staying in contact with the world. Can I do both at the same time? And if not that, can I at least dance back and forth with ease between the two?

      1. Hi Carole.

        I feel blessed to have studied with Fritz. What a guy!
        He was a model for Ida one time, I understand. He says that she was the only Rolfer that didn't hurt! He envisaged the energy moving ahead of her fingers/elbows like the stern of a ship cutting through the water, opening the way ahead.

        Is diamond coal that's been cooked for longer? Once a diamond always a diamond - hope you don't ever have to wallow Carole's increasingly inhabited feet back into the murk of fossil fuel! I suspect not.

        I agree with the inner and outer. Seems to go in waves. I am back in an 'outer' phase at the moment, taking the gifts of the 'inner' with me. Something to do with Saturn above the horizon line in the chart for fourteen years.

        I love the piquance (is that a word?) of attempting to hold both inner and outer at once. Like attempting to hold the awareness of structure and energy simultaneously under the fingers in a ZB session. I sometimes wonder whether I am able to do that, or whether I'm switching my focus at a very fast frequency between the two. Sometimes everything seems to go a bit odd just for a second. Maybe that oddness is the 'both at once'.

        All of the collagenic stuff. Of course. All of it. Bone is my love just as I am an admirer of Saturn. Living a skeletally-based life has made me very happy. A balanced fascial suit is the only hope for a skeletally-based existence. So I'm very glad that there are brilliant bodyworkers and teachers attending to every different elastic level for the weary and efforting human race!

        I love static standing meditation practice. The attempt to stack the bones with the minimum of tension. Sometimes a moment of amazingness where a total surrender is possible and a joyous effortless lifting. Followed by a return to weighting. Work in progress. No result. Just the beauty of joints at play.

        Gravity knows how to unravel bone. I hope that as the years go by many more people will offer their vertical skeletons to its wise ministrations, and not wait until Saturn calls time with his inevitable offer of a permanent horizontality!

        Best Wishes - Phil

        1. Hi Phil,

          Fritz Smith wasn't just a model for Ida Rolf, he studied with her and was certified as a Rolfing practitioner. His book "Inner Bridges" was very helpful to me in understanding the energy anatomy of the body and how it corresponds to the structure of the body. It was also incredibly helpful to me in understanding the process I was personally moving through. For any of you out there who would like a grounded approach to understanding energy and the human body do check out Fritz's book.

          According to "Ask a Scientist" it is theoretically possible to turn coal into a diamond, but not likely. Here's a link.

          I am in an outer phase as well. After hiding out for what seems like far too many years I'm finding healthy ways to share myself with the world. That's what it's all about, isn't it? Bringing our unique gifts to the world and helping it evolve?

          All the best to you.

  4. Although the pediatrician assured us that Carole's feet would be properly aligned I didn't see much improvement over time. First we put her shoes on the wrong feet. Then we did exercises, and finally the twister cables. I'm so glad Carole has explored and researched this so that we can finally understand her situation.

  5. Hi Carole - it's amazing to read your story, especially the part of you looking around to see what you had tripped over... Talk about an ah-ha moment. I'm always intrigued by stories of how our early years set the stage for the pursuits we follow later in life.

    1. Hello Nabeel,

      So thoughtful of you to stop by and read my little story. Yes, I guess I've always liked to figure things out. Not dissimilar to an engineer don't you think? :-)

      Take care.

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