The Bodywork Factor

As I have watched others complete vision therapy successfully, I have wondered what I am missing. One of the things I have done to facilitate whole body healing for myself is bodywork, specifically structural integration. Later in this post I’ll detail some other modalities that seem to be working for vision healing.

So, what is bodywork? I’m not talking about car repair here!  I originally thought that bodywork was a term reserved for the structural integration that provided the cure that I’ll detail later in this post. But bodywork actually includes a whole range of energy work and other physical bodywork modalities.

Wikipedia says: “Bodywork is a term used in alternative medicine to describe any therapeutic or personal development technique that involves working with the human body in a form involving manipulative therapy, breath work, or energy medicine. In addition bodywork techniques aim to assess or improve posture, promote awareness of the “body-mind connection” rather than the “mind-body connection,,” or to manipulate the so-called  “energy field” surrounding the human body and affecting health.” Wikipedia goes on to list various non-touch forms of bodywork: reiki, yoga, pranayama, breathwork respiration techniques, therapeutic touch, Bates method for sight training, qigong, and t’ai chi. Forms of manipulative bodywork include: the Alexander technique, applied kinesiology, Bowen technique, chiropractic, Feldenkrais method, hakomi, postural integration, reflexology, Rolfing, shiatsu, structural integration, somatic experiencing, Trager approach, polarity therapy and re-balancing.

The article also mentions that “deep tissue massage therapy and the terms massage and bodywork are often used interchangeably.”

I first became introduced to bodywork in 2007. Up until that point, I actually had an aversion to many of the types of “body work.” They seemed a little too “woo-woo” or “out there” for me. I had a Reiki session with a friend who was training in Reiki, I’ve done a little yoga and been introduced to t’ai chi, and feel they are also helpful types of “bodywork.” However, the type I had good results with was structural integration.

I am convinced there is a connection between body and eye alignment. I haven’t been able to find the article again, but I came across something that made the connection between crossed eyes and crossed feet. This is very personal for me because I was born with pigeon toes. When I was an infant, the doctor put me in casts to correct my feet. After the treatment, the doctor said that even though my feet still turned in slightly, I would correct the rest myself. I recall entering a building with windowed doors with my parents when I was about five years old and noticing my feet weren’t straight. I must have asked my mom about it and she told me what the doctor had said. I made a conscious effort after that to point my feet straight.

When I was in high school, foot pain led me to seek help from a podiatrist who prescribed orthodics, which I would apparently always need. X-rays showed that every bone in each of my feet was in the wrong place. The podiatrist said it could be corrected with surgery, but there was no guarantee of success. I could not imagine them trying to move each of the 52 bones in my feet!

ImageAs a result, I wore orthodics for the next 28 years. Then I discovered bodywork and had the full 12-week session of visits with Ruth Young Bodyworks. After my structural integration practitioner, Ruth, worked on my feet, my extremely high arches were lowered to normal, the hump on the top of each foot was gone, and I threw away my orthodics. They no longer fit my feet anyway! And my feet felt great! Ruth also taught me some exercises to do to keep my feet well. My whole body was aligned properly at last.

There are probably people out there who will say this is an impossible result, including my podiatrists (one who retired and one who I never returned to visit). I am not an isolated case, however. My oldest daughter experienced the same result. She went through foot braces and corrective shoes as an infant, wore orthodics from the time she was 5, and also tossed them after structural integration in high school. IT WORKS!

Other approaches:

I recently discovered a blog where they used a combination of energy kinesiology, chiropractic and vision therapy to treat their adopted 2-year-old daughter’s strabismus.  Apparently she hasn’t updated in the past year*, but it sounded like a rather novel, whole body approach to healing. (*she updated in 2014 here: 

I also came across a man who healed his strabismus through the Alexander technique combined with the Eyebody method by Peter Grunwald. (

The Talent Code: part 2

I started reading the next book in my pile, so it’s time I finished sharing my practical application of The Talent Code: Greatness isn’t born. It’s grown, by Daniel Coyle. (Amazon link here:  First, I’ll share a little more about the first principle, which is deep practice. Then I’ll talk about the other two principles: ignition and master coaching.

I love that it follows closely with how I encourage my students to practice piano. When they do these things, progress is so much greater! The first rule is “chunk it up.” First you absorb the whole thing (i.e. listen to or watch the skill), then break it into chunks and slow it down. Rule two is that you repeat it and rule three is learn to feel it.

This week as I concentrated more on how I could share the principles of talent with my children and piano students, it was amazing to experience how those principles flow naturally into each other.

I spent a great deal of time last week with two of my piano students who were playing together  in a duet festival on Saturday. One was my youngest daughter, Abby, who finished vision therapy a few months ago, and the other was her friend Emily. They are both fifth graders, ages 10 and 11 and have been playing the piano for a few years but not excelling in the way I would hope. Emily had been out of town and was struggling to put the duet together.

I realized that perhaps I had not instilled the principles of deep practice sufficiently well into either of these students. So, we went back to the problem areas and did slow repetition with Emily alone, then with Abby, who had a hard time slowing down. So, Emily did it slowly with me and then with Abby. We worked through all the problem spots and got all the notes together.

“There’s something missing still,” I coached. “It needs emotion. Show what this is really about!” I went to YouTube and I pulled up a performance of their piece In the Hall of the Mountain King in it’s original form for orchestra and had them listen. They caught the excitement and enjoyed the accelerating tempo of the performance. Something finally clicked for them both and they played freely with passion. Emily’s mom and I just looked at each other in wonder.

The unintended consequence was that they also started to speed up when it got louder, which was not lost on the judge at the festival Saturday. And they got nervous so they didn’t play out like they had, but we knew what they could do and so do they!

I also took a few minutes in one of last week’s coaching sessions and played a couple of my favorite fun pieces for them, both by Jon Schmidt. This goes along with the principle of IGNITION. Many things can provide ignition, like hearing the orchestra play their duet. I asked what they really wanted to play, even if it was beyond their current capabilities. They both wanted to play music by Jon Schmidt (Waterfall  and All of Me. Here’s the link: So I played the original versions and shared simplified versions that they could learn. Both girls are so much more excited to play the piano now!

And my almost 13-year-old daughter who gave up piano some time ago overheard me teling Abby and Emily that they could learn whatever they wanted and said “What the heck! You never let me do that!” So now she’s learning Waterfall by rote (i.e. by ear) because I think that may just be the key to her learning the reading skills she needs. (I’m having her follow along with the music as I play it for her.)

The bottom line of this experience is that by providing all three of these principles this week, deep practice, ignition and master coaching, I saw big shifts in these students and renewed confidence in myself as a teacher and master coach.

And can’t you just feel the joy in musical creation when you hear Jon Schmidt play All of Me?