The farther I move toward wellness, the more I am convinced that a healthy, open flowing body is just as important to becoming peace as having a mind that thinks peaceful thoughts or being a person who meditates, etc. So I wanted to come back to J2P Monday with a post about opening the body.
Long ago I posted about muscles and their interconnections. In that one I explored the way a muscle pulled out of alignment and/or tightened up in one area can wind up impacting muscles all over your body if it’s not healed. Currently I’m experiencing the opposite impact of interconnectedness: when muscles start unwinding in one place, muscles in other places start being released as well.
I began practicing yoga in 1985, several years before I began getting regular body work. I knew my muscles needed some stretching but I didn’t yet know every single muscle was knotted up like steel, all the muscle groups were glued together, some muscle groups were glued to bones and knotted patterns were layered and crisscrossing one another. By then so many years of twisted muscles added up to numbness. I really had no idea how bad it was.
The first big surprise came after about two years of yoga. I’d hit 5’5-3/4″ around age 15 and stayed there. In 1987, at 34, I started dating a fellow who claimed to be 5’5-3/4″. Since I was clearly taller I said that couldn’t be. So we measured ourselves. I’d stretched to 5’7-1/4″! At that point I figured I’d just about finished healing my muscles. HA!! I’d mostly just stretched the glued-together muscles enough to be taller.
A couple years later I began regular deep tissue massage treatments from a woman who specialized in tough cases (doctors sent people to her when they gave up)–and eventually named me one of the top 3 toughest she’d ever encountered. As she worked, I’d periodically realize I’d lost my sense of balance in the standing yoga postures (all of which require some degree of balancing to hold them steady and without falling over).
Twenty-six years later I can’t begin to tell you how many times I’ve had to recalibrate all those postures to suit changes caused by big releases in my muscles. One area opens and many things start moving in the body. Suddenly the combination of muscles I use to balance and how I hold them no longer keeps me steady. Each time it happens I have to re-learn those postures and my sense of balance in them. Kind of a nice metaphor for how spiritual growth requires regularly re-tuning your life.
Many practitioners over the years noted my tilted sphenoid. The sphenoid is a bone more or less in the middle of your head, behind your eyes. Most of the muscles you use to chew are attached to it, so if it’s tilted it’s pulling all of those muscles out of alignment. Those muscles connect into your jaw and from there into muscles that go down into both sides of your neck and then through various interconnections all the way to your feet. If it stays tilted (and craniosacral practitioners treat a LOT of people for tilted sphenoids) it eventually impacts down both sides of your body from head to toe.
For me that tilt was just one of a number of crisscrossing patterns in my head and a number of them connect(ed) to other places throughout my body. My sphenoid is now more or less straightened and that system of muscles is sorting itself out. A few knots in my head open and an hour or two later something snaps open in my shoulder or stomach, hips, groin, knees, ankles, feet… Many bones have been held out of alignment. So as these muscles open there are shifts occurring as every muscle and bone in my body adjusts to each new release.
One thing I see ever more clearly is how the healing of my physical issues has been central to my journey of spiritual and personal growth. All my blocks and issues were written on my body and only by healing it can I open the energy flow and connect with my divine self.
Not only have I re-calibrated my balance as my muscles released but the way I experience energy and how it flows from practices like The Eight Key Breaths and The Five Tibetan Rites keeps changing as well. When I began this journey I could sense an overall calm and a kind of general uplifting of energy from affirmation, meditation, practices, etc. but nothing more refined. As my muscles open, I continually feel more nuances. Sometimes it’s an awareness of energy flowing in many places where I’ve never felt it before and sometimes it’s an awareness that a particular chant or practice ignites one specific chakra or builds energy in one part of my body more than others — and sometimes that changes the next time a bunch of muscles open.
The more I feel these many nuances, blessings, and benefits of healed muscles and a body that’s open to allowing the flow of prana (vital force energy) to move freely through it, the more I feel this aspect of the journey is much more crucial than it’s often given credit for being.