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Creating An Art of Flexibility

“All my life, I struggled to stretch my mind to the breaking point, until it began to creak, in order to create a great thought which might be able to give a new meaning to life…”


-  Nikos Kazantzakis



The following is a section from a book I’ve had sitting in the file drawer for a long time. When I first submitted a draft for approval I knew it was too soon because I hadn’t finished. However, I wanted to get a sense of how the steps would work for publication. Fortunately, my book was turned down by my first contacted publisher. They were pretty high in the health publication totem pole so I considered it an ambitious move. Unfortunately, they included some scathing reviews of my content from their critics which included comments such as “Rolf’s fan-boy.” The main sentiment behind the comments was that it all was written from a place of ignorance. I couldn’t helping thinking how harsh the comments were from these people didn’t even know me. In hindsight I knew I should’ve waited and had my document professionally reviewed with a friendly editor before seeing if it would even catch an interest. I felt incredibly defeated, my ballon had been popped. As a result I trashed it and resolved to learn more about the wisdom I knew I had about the topic of stretching and movement.


Since we’ve been under quarantine, and I’ve had much time to sit and reflect on what I’m doing with my life, I’ve rediscovered some of my text and began rewriting from a more informed position. It’s been over a year since I last wrote in this document and for that period of time I’ve been continually learning more from those who write from places of experience and expertise. I’m hoping that I’ve uncovered a little more potential at communicating theses ideas without sounding too caught up in other peoples’ influence or image. I do think we should give recognition where it’s due and books are no exception. I thank Handspring Publishing for making me give this more time.


This is a section of the introduction to my book Creating an Art of Flexibility (title still under consideration)…If you do end up reading this, I’d love to hear what you think and how it makes you feel about stretching and movement. Please email me with your comments at lowcountryrolfing@gmail.com. Thank you!


-Noel L. Poff


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What Does It Mean to Stretch?


“All my life, I struggled to stretch my mind to the breaking point, until it began to creak, in order to create a great thought which might be able to give a new meaning to life…”

-  Nikos Kazantzakis

           

What was it that prompted you to pick this book off of the shelf and begin flipping through the pages?  Was it the title suggesting what this book is about? Was it the aesthetics and imagery on the cover that reminded you of an attachment you have with your body?  Was it a desire you have to be more flexible or was it a desire your body has to be healthier? Maybe it was a combination of different things that got you reading.  


           Whatever the reasons for your interests, the universal element to all of them is about improving your ability to expand.  Expansion can mean several different things.  How we define it depends on the context in which we’re using the word.  The same can be said of the word “stretch.” When someone makes the command for you to “Stretch!”, what is really being suggesting to you?  What it means again depends on the context. If we’re at the gym finishing up a workout, then you may be right to assume it means to do some things to help lengthen the muscles you shortened through activity.  If we’re fifty meters from the finish line during a 400-meter race, then you may assume you need to overcome the burning of your thighs in order to speed through the finish line. If we’re sitting completely still in a quiet room mulling over a personal problem, then you may assume it’s a cue to think outside the box.


           What elements are present in all of these different examples of stretching?  If we can pick them apart, then we may be clearer about what it means to stretch.  Consequently, we’ll have a better idea on how to stretch regardless of what we’re trying to stretch; whether it’s our muscles or our minds.  One of those elements I believe involves some sort of lengthening. There’s another important part of this description, which is often left out when we say stretching is equivalent to lengthening.  Stretching is lengthening or pushing to an edge without breaking. By giving it these guidelines, we give ourselves handrails to the experience of stretching. They serve as reminders of our limitations while at the same time providing support for us to work past them.  


           You may have picked this book up because you too want to work past your limitations.  This is mostly in the context of physical flexibility. You may have already discovered that stretching involves brain tissue as much as it does muscle and connective tissue.  Mind and body are two sides of the same coin. Though you may know exactly what feels tight, restricted, injured, limiting, frustrating, nauseating, irritating, and disabling, you can’t quite get things to change.  Two questions from this observation are “Why not?” and “Is what you’re doing now to fix it working?”. If what you’re doing is working, and you see progress, then please continue. Use this book as a resource for more information and add more tools to your tool box.  If what you’re doing isn’t working, then it may serve you to stop searching for the key and look within yourself for answers. This book is intended to help facilitate both processes. Please enjoy and take delight in the health you have right now enabling you to take a deep breath.

Breathe…



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