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The Foundation

Foundation for New Directions is a center for the exploration of holistic living. It began in 1959, when Dr. Marvin Solit, an osteopathic physician in Boston, introduced the work of Ida Rolf (creator of Rolfing) to New England, as part of his medical practice. By 1966, he had converted his practice to New England's first Holistic Health Center, which included Homeopathy, General Semantics and Non-Directed Body Movement (NDBM). As it became clear that the parameters of healing included family relationships and work relationships, the center became a holistic community center. Participants developed small and large businesses, both to de-intensify individual job pressures, provide mutual support, and to provide for the center. One such business was based on a deep interest in how relationships are

structured. Geometry became the means for understanding and representing these relationships. The business was called Rhombics, and made products which encouraged an approach to learning which engaged both mind and body. Another business was real estate which, in addition to providing the major funding for the center, also became an avenue for disseminating its values: Holistic Real Estate.

The search for holism led to collaboration with other holistic thinkers in biology, holistic physics, geometry and genetics. After 33 years, the center has become the Foundation for New Directions.

The time has arrived to reach out to others with similar interests and goals.

Remembering Marvin Solit...

Marvin Solit, of Cambridge, MA, passed away December 29, 2006, 8 months after the death of his beloved wife, Harriet. He was director of the Foundation for New Directions in Cambridge for over 40 years.

A native of the Bronx, he graduated as an osteopath from the Kansas City College of Osteopathy and Surgery (now Kansas City University of Medicine and Biosciences) in the late ‘50’s. There he met Dr. Ida Rolf, whose perspectives on body structure as the key to well-being influenced his own. He became her protégé, and would have shifted entirely to “rolfing”, as her system became known, were it not for the compelling drive he felt towards “self-directed” or “non-directed” healing.

In his Brookline office, Dr. Solit had become well known for his particular combination of osteopathy and Rolfing. Among his patients was Boston Red Sox’s Ted Williams. In the early ‘60’s, having explored other healing modalities including cranio-sacral and homeopathic, Marvin met someone who inspired him to “just stand and pay attention to your feelings”. This turned out to be the key to his future. It unlocked forgotten traumas stored, not only in brain cells, but also - in fact, especially - in tissues. Shortly thereafter, he altered his entire practice into a coherent approach to healing, which he called “Non-Directed Body Movement”.

He gave workshops in “standing awareness” in which he would ask, “What are you aware of feeling?” He established a low-intensity environment where people could come to retreat, recharge and heal. Soon, those who came regularly became a small community, one of New England’s first Holistic Centers, which continues to this day. To quote Melissa Burch, Homeopath: “Marvin was one of those souls that change lives, opens up opportunities, and inspires new ways of growing. He contributed so much awareness to the body/mind connection.”

He disassembled the traditional doctor-patient relationship to encompass not only the personal, but also the interpersonal and community levels. For example, he stopped seeing patients by appointment. Instead, he invited them to come in whenever they wanted, stay as long as they liked and contribute financially as each saw fit. He wanted to remove as many obstacles to the process of “unwinding trauma” as possible, without adding pressures, so that people could become more whole.

His parameters of holism kept expanding. No longer willing, even able, to see anything in isolation, he explored the relationship between health and a multitude of factors, including the environment. He realized, also, the pervasive effect of language and assumptions on trauma and everyday life.

In this dynamic and nurturing environment, personal lives evolved and changed. Individuals became couples, then families. Babies were born, mostly at home, with Marvin and his wife, Harriet, in attendance. Children were integral to community relationships, as all learned from one another. Thus, holism came to include education. New businesses were established, many becoming a major source of support. Health challenges were met in as holistic a manner as each individual chose.

As he evolved new models for health and healing, he concurrently developed alternative models of geometry and physical structure. The community named this part of the work “Rhombics” to reflect the non-rectilinear geometry of life. Participants found ways of making a living that allowed time for continuing the work of personal development. Combining woodworking and mathematical skills with emerging ideas, they designed and manufactured rhombic building blocks, elegant wood puzzles and other educational products, some of which won international recognition. They developed math and science teaching materials, writing and publishing “Exploring Math with Root Blocks”, which Marvin co-authored with son Matthew Adlai-Gail, and Charles Letovsky. As his interest in physics and evolution grew, The Foundation for New Directions ( embraced all areas of interest. A venue for holistic scientific contributions, FND published the work of Dr. William Day, “A New Physics”, who said, “Marvin was a true original.”

Marvin Solit was a man of many facets, even seeming contradictions. Though he knew since the age of 5 that he would be a doctor, he became fascinated by geometry in the early ‘60’s. An intellectual giant, he nevertheless spent years attending to feelings originating in the “body”, so that his thinking was not disconnected but grounded in experience. Mostly he could be found at his desk, or in quiet meditation, yet he could also be seen talking long walks, or swimming, a lifelong interest. Though not widely known in Boston, his influence and reach were international in areas of physics, biology and evolution. Intensely serious, he was at the same time playful and lighthearted. He was a walker and a lifelong swimmer. Close personal relationships were his primary concern, yet he was in frequent touch with contemporary thinkers everywhere, among them Ashley Montagu, Buckminster Fuller, Stephen J. Gould and Lynn Margulis. He discussed with NASA whether his approach to healing might be helpful to astronauts as they dealt with the aftermath of weightlessness. He connected people and he connected ideas and he enriched the world in the process.

A true Pythagorean, he sought to represent universal principles. He modeled structures of the wave/particle, the tensegrity of the cell, the primacy of the “6 great circles”, and the basic figures that underlay the Platonic Solids. Recently, he presented a workshop entitled the Geometry of Transformation, and most recently, hosted a workshop entitled Synergetics 3 for the Synergetics Collaborative, an organization continuing the work of Buckminster Fuller. To quote Vladimir Ginzburg, physicist/writer, “He impressed me with his strongly held belief in the ’simple complexity’ of nature, and his amazing discovery of a completely unexpected correlation between the 6 great circles and the golden ratio”.

Marvin’s devotion to his family and his community were fundamental to his life. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Matthew & Wendy Adlai-Gail, and 3 grandchildren David, Becca and Rachel, of Princeton Jct., NJ; sister and brother-in-law, Gail & Irwin Greenberg of Suffern, NY, brother and sister-in-law, Keith and Roberta Solit of Potomac, MD, and stepson and family, Michael and Roberta Axelrod and Ben, Jonathan and Daniel, of Davie, FL. He is survived also by his long term students, colleagues and friends, many since the ‘60’s, including Jean LeVaux, Alan Fincke, Anya Olson, David Pap, along with those who came to the community more recently.

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Marvin Solit at Synergetics III Conference

Photo by: Dave Grover