My art – Rolfing SI and Shamanism
I come from a family of artists. I never saw myself as an artist, but when clients started describing what I did as “sculpting,” I began to accept that what I do is art. Carving tension out of the body to create the needed change is an art form unto itself.
Because of the scope of my practice, I had to develop a style of Rolfing® Structural Integration (SI) that would be sustainably effective. I had more clients than I could treat, so I needed to get more change in a session, and I needed that change to last for them. I created a style of Rolfing SI that was less technique and more art. Over 30 years in my Art of Rolfing, I employed and mentored many Rolfers, and discovered it was fun teaching them to work as artists.
While operating my clinic in Scottsdale, AZ, we developed a reputation for helping Olympic and professional athletes. Fixing their problems was easy, and enhancing their performance was exciting. Our biggest sector of athlete-clients was runners. Out of our work with elite runners, I developed Natural Walking and Natural Running, which were the basis for a research study at Arizona State University. I am still teaching clients and others how to move in this natural manner.
I love seeing the change that occurs over a short series of sessions. Clients often come to me in excruciating pain after trying everything else. Two months later, the pain is long gone and their body and life are better than they ever expected. A body is capable of amazing healing when the stress is taken out of it—and it learns not to put stress back in.
Since 1976, I’ve studied countless other healing arts, in part for the selfish reasons of healing myself. I went on to integrate these disciplines into my work. My studies ranged from homeopathy to clinical . The largest influence came from Shamanism. My first healing from Nelita Anderson, a Hawaiian Medical Kahuna, had me hooked. For thirteen years I was her friend and apprentice. After her death I went on to study with, and then teach with, Native American Shamans.
I grew to learn how my Asperger’s Syndrome and dyslexia were the precursors to my shamanic abilities. My hyper sensitivity and unique perceptions proved to be more assets once I found a way to apply them.
Working with indigenous healers not only taught me long-forgotten skills, it has also afforded me opportunities to experience rites of passages that all men had in the past. Ancient cultures understood that men’s biological and psychological development required community support. Elders in the community, in particular, acted as mentors for the younger men, guiding them through their own experiences and initiation ceremonies.
For these indigenous healers, their work isn’t a religion. Some are even devout Christians. Their work is their way to connect to their Creator through nature and ceremonies. Today I am a Pipe Carrier out of the Navajo and Ojibwa traditions. Trained in leading sweat lodges from this lineage, I run quarterly sweat lodges for our men’s group community. These lodges continue to increase in their power because of the group and their spouses, who have sweated together for years now.
My art shows up through my leading Sweat Lodges and other shamanic practices. Being myself, being open to new ways to create, in whatever way would allow for the greatest catalyzation of another man’s remarkableness, is incredibly powerful. I am not a healer; I am the instigator of change for a man sculpting a remarkable life.
My entrepreneurship – out of the box business
I started my first business, Dripless Painting, while in college. We weren’t necessarily dripless, but we were good. I learned some important lessons: hard work does pay off, bookkeeping is not my thing, and firing people can be the hardest thing a business owner does.
I traveled for a couple years after college, and got fired from more jobs than I quit (because, not knowing any better, I would just say it like it was), and I started to realize the only boss I could work for was me. My roommate was leaving his law practice to become a Rolfer, and he got me to try the therapy. I was immediately sold on the therapy—and the career.
Once I developed my practice, I needed help treating all the clients I was attracting. I began to hire more Rolfers along with doctors, massage therapists, and other practitioners. I was a slow learner. I hired too fast and fired too slow. Looking back, I made about every mistake in the book for as a business owner. The biggest was caretaking my employees. Eventually, I learned to only work with people who could do what they said they could do.
Once I saw the light, I went on to develop other businesses, including the Scottsdale Institute of Health and Medicine. One of our projects was teaching Mindfulness Stress Reduction courses for hospital systems, corporations and the public. It wasn’t a huge money maker, but it was a lot of fun seeing people transform their health and their lives in eight weeks.
My masculinity – being a man
I have worked with clients since the mid 1970s. I quickly saw how men were at a disadvantage in that 1970s culture of personal growth; we didn’t have the cultural support, or support amongst ourselves, to change as women were changing. First, I tried what a lot of men were trying: I tried to become more feminine. It worked in some ways. I learned to express emotions, and I learned that women were hungry for sensitive men. I was never good at being macho, but I could do the sensitive thing well.
Eventually I saw the limitations of focusing on being sensitive. I might have seemed safe, but I wasn’t a man. My work in Shamanism blew away my sensitive masks. For a while I felt naked. Then I did find a way to be a man. I learned to stand up for myself… and I fell several times. But I kept getting up.
As I learned these new concepts, which were never taught to me as a boy, I began hanging out with more men. Then I found myself leading these men through growth experiences that were far more efficient than my stumbling. That evolved into men’s groups. The men’s groups continued to evolve, helping me coalesce the ideas and concepts that led to the 9 Steps to Becoming a Remarkable Man. From the groups I created this site and my book.
I get tremendous joy from seeing a man transform his life. That change ripples through his family, work and community. His contribution to the planet and his legacy to his children become gifts many people will benefit from.