Why I Became a Rolfer
Lina Amy Hack
Biochemist turned Rolfer® & Editor-in-chief of Structure, Function, Integration
When I decided to become a Rolfer, it was definitive. I knew for sure this was the profession for me and I was all in. I had to learn this mysterious work that my Rolfer had delivered; he had helped me get onto a path of recovery from pain patterns that were so deep they were nonverbal. He refused to let me put him on a pedestal. He told me I could go to the Dr. Ida Rolf Institute® in Boulder, Colorado and learn to do Rolfing® SI myself. He said, his work day could be my work day, helping people emerge from their pain patterns. Being a Rolfer feels like the best use of my time, it is as exciting today as it was when I graduated in 2004. In fact, I feel even more invigorated than ever.
I was twenty-four years old when I decided to become a Rolfer. I was searching for a career with meaning, and I wanted my work to help people. When I had my first Rolfing session, all I knew was that it would be deep-touch work. My friends had been to the Rolfer, and each described astounding experiences: one had her chronic foot pain relieved, and as a result, her feet were two show sizes bigger; another had a meaningful realization about his father when the Rolfer worked with his ribs. I was a person who was suffering with pain. At the time, I didn’t have words to describe my pain, my suffering was, what I know now, symptoms from complex traumatic stress states in my past. I had been to see psychologists, psychiatrists, acupuncturists, naturopaths, aromatherapy practitioners, physicians, massage therapists, physiotherapists, and chiropractors. They had all helped, and I value all these practitioners. Yet it was Rolfing SI that set me on the road to recovery. It felt miraculous at the time.
With each meeting with my Rolfer, I could feel the inner biological intelligence of my body awakening, like parts of me had been asleep. It felt so good to have my inner ‘Line’ naturally lifting upward; I felt it so clear, and it was the first time I had that kind of inner ease. It was a shedding of old holding patterns, it was feeling myself on the ground and on this planet, as I am, for the first time. It was a deepening of self-compassion that continues to this day. I could have never predicted this professional path when I graduated high school, and now I am very proud of what I have accomplished and the work I offer my community. It is a story of coming home to myself while also delivering sophisticated manual therapy that we call Rolfing® Structural Integration.
The family business I grew up within was academia, my dad was a university professor and my mom is a mathematician. One of my high school jobs was working in my dad’s biomedical engineering laboratory learning about how to grow neural stem cells. At age nineteen I was on my way to completing my biochemistry degree at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, when I had a life-changing event. It was almost a life-ending event. I suffered a surgical error when a clamp cut my common bile duct during routine gallbladder removal. For five days the digestive products of my liver emptied into the peritoneal sac that holds my organs, the bubble that formed looked like a basketball sticking out my entire side, from my navel, around my whole right side, to my back. The pain level was pass-out levels of pain.
It was my poor luck to need emergency surgery on a Friday night in November, the surgeons decided my condition could wait until the next day. I was on the path to death that night, my body was preparing to let go of life, and I could feel it. The morphine gave me wild dreams and visions about my circumstances. When the nurses came in every hour to take my vitals, the fear of my death was in their eyes. That night a form appeared to me and I knew it was Creator, there to take me home. I felt I could leave the suffering behind me and go home – yet I wanted to stay! It was scary to experience a life review. The best I can describe, it was going down the river that had been my life so far, being given insight and information about who had been so far. I wanted to stay. The surgeons saved me the next day after they drained over one liter of free-floating digestive fluids from my abdomen, and after they installed the drains.
This experience had many levels of pain that persisted for years, most of which I had no ability to describe, yet the suffering was real. I returned to university, completed my biochemistry degree, and worked in various laboratories as I was trying to launch my life – that’s when I met my Rolfer. Thank you, Dean Bergstrom!