The long haul

Screaming it out

I was hunting around today for a post I apparently never wrote, trolling through the first couple of years of blogging.  Looking back always seems to be a big reminder of how incredibly long the muscle problems and the crazy unwinding face/head muscles thing has been going on.  I feel a bit ridiculous because I see myself always expressing the hope that the healing is just about complete.   And incredulous I could have spent this many years, so much money, so many hours of my time on healing my muscles — and it still isn’t over.  So, spoiler alert, I’m whiny…

I’ve mainly only “talked” about the unwinding head portion here.  To those who’ve followed for years even that story probably seems long …  and the unwinding actually started about 7 years before the blog.  The head piece was just the final puzzle to solve in a much longer quest for healthy muscles that started in the mid-80s.  The tightness and pain, etc. that led to the quest had been present for years before I started realizing I had to do something.  By the time someone noticed the muscles in my face and head were blocking the final stage of healing the muscles in my body, most of the major muscles in my body were actually in pretty good shape; you know, except the ones being held in twisted patterns by my head.

For the last several years I have felt more debilitated by all this than at any point before — even when far less healthy I was better able to function.  Something about this head thing — and maybe the weariness of how very many years it has taken — has just been too much.

Today I postponed yet another outing I’d looked forward to because I was awake all night with my face being yanked.  [See here for a little video displaying what you can see of the process from the outside.]  Because I haven’t been able to contribute (compounded by stockmarket issues and bad management), my mother and I are facing some very tough decisions about our future.  I don’t get how I landed here…  And it just feels like too much.

Thanks for listening.  I’m sure I’ll meditate and do yoga and restore balance yet again…

 

Intuition and me.

I wrote the first draft of this Saturday and the title included “Happy Canada Day” but allergies sidetracked me from getting back to it.  Still wanted to say a belated happy happy to my Canadian friends!

I mentioned recently that I’d be doing a post on intuition — I’m realizing that it’s more a meandering on intuition as I am in a process more than at a place of wrapping it up, but this unfolding has been intriguing to me.

If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you know I’ve been working on issues related to an ancestral shut-down of my maternal lineage as “seers”.  So I tend to think of myself as not having much third eye activity–or at least what most experts around me say is a block to receiving the info.

While I have a notion I will be coming to yet-to-be-determined “extra sensing” ability when the muscles finish, I’ve been realizing lately that some degree of good intuitive “knowing” has been there all along.  Beyond that I have no way of knowing what talent or talents the line of seers in my family had since that got shut down long ago so have no idea whether I’ll be leading cops to murders or reading people’s thoughts or “seeing” visions of the future or just expanding the “knowing” I already have…

Since early in the journey I’ve been very good at having a strong sense of which spiritual teachers, books, activities and which alternative healing modalities are right for me and which are not.  In the beginning I wasn’t always good at following my avoid instinct and I wound up unhappily working with a practitioner/teacher or two whom I wound up finding creepy or uncomfortable or just not good at their practice.

But over the years I’ve come to trust it and it has served me well as I’ve moved along the healing process in great strides by heading for this practitioner or that teaching when it called to me as the next step.  For a long time I’ve said no to any healer or teacher or class if it feels off or wrong.  No way to know if I missed something great on the “no’s” but I sure have had some fabulous experiences with amazing therapists and healers whose work has drawn me to say YES.

Lately I’m noticing as things clear and my head opens, if I tune in (a big “if” 🙂 ) my intuition guides me very well on many more things, from which practices to do each day to which errands to run, to types of food I need to eat for a period of time and more.  I see intuition and “the sight” as coming from the same place but esp as having a wider or deeper connection to info outside the normal senses.  But I’m aware the type of “knowing” I experience is also considered to be one of the forms of ESP, so I find myself wondering if this expanding intuitive ability means the muscles blocking my third eye are finally opening.

Can you tell I’m getting antsy to get to the end of the muscle-healing thing and on to whatever is next?  I keep trying to stay in the moment and find the joy, etc.  But when it comes to unwinding and not sleeping and headaches, etc.  I have to admit my basic feeling re: those things and joy is…  not so much.

Anyway, as I note the intuitive ability growing, it’s been interesting to ponder… and wonder what abilities my ancestors had.  Maybe a seance???  🙂

A glimpse of unwinding

The main reason I’ve been absent so much from blogging has been the unwinding face muscles.  Not just the unwinding itself, but the huge transition it’s creating have been diverting me from the keyboard.

So many people have been puzzled about what I mean by unwinding, I decided one day while it was in full yanking and tugging mode to grab my phone and record.  What you can see on the surface is really just the tip of the iceberg and I wish I could figure out how to describe the multitudes of things going on in the muscles underneath.

All the contortions are driven by what’s going on in the muscles and for the most part out of my control (I can clench down hard and force it to stop but that’s not something I can or want to do routinely, especially since it re-creates some of the knots and tension already released).  When this decides to start happening it just takes over.

The good news is my face, head and neck are becoming slowly but surely free of tension, clenching, pressure, etc.  Periodically significant pieces open and I feel a new level of “wow, my face can feel like this?”  Those moments are the blessing in all this that keeps me able to tolerate it.  Not to mention my eternal optimism 🙂

Nonetheless I thought it might help make the process clearer if I showed you.  Imagine this going on for hours a day — sometimes as much as 18 or all 24 — and perhaps you can see why I say it stops so much of my life.  Why I can’t sleep.  Why I’m so tired.  Why I often can’t concentrate to write or meditate…  I’m not anxious for this to wind up all over the place so in about a week I plan to take down the video and probably this post.

My undulating spine

An animated gif of a walk sequence.

Walking “wrong” (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

One of the things I’m most appreciating lately about the changes in my body is the return of my undulating spine.

I figured out some years ago as I released lots of patterns with the Flowing Body work I created,  our spines are naturally meant to undulate as we walk.  When everything is released and I’m mindfully letting it flow, my hips are moving, my lumbar is moving, my upper back is moving and my shoulders are doing full rotations as I walk.

Yep.  Everything is moving.  Separately.  Unlike the guy up above who’s walking the way most of us (in the U.S. anyway–chime in if you think it happens in your country too) do, as if nothing in the entire spine from base to top can move on its own.

As I chatted with my students we realized that around age 12 or so (possibly younger now as children mature faster)

  1. girls get told that swinging hips are slutty
  2. boys get told that swinging hips are girly

and everybody starts walking stiffly.  Add in a lot of admiration for stiff military posture and you get people walking with backs that don’t move and hips that stay stiff and move as little as possible.

Even after I realized how we’re meant to walk and had released enough to be able to walk that way, I’d still stiffen up while taking a walk unless I kept mindfully paying attention to how I walked.  The stiff, motionless style of walking becomes so ingrained, it’s hard to overcome it.

When you walk that way, some muscles are overly tight in order to hold that stiffness.  Over time the tightness starts creating patterns in your muscles which can spread throughout your body.  Other muscles that are intended to be moving are not being used so they atrophy.  The tightness in some muscles and the under use of others together create an aching back.

I’ve talked with so many people who report they, as I did, often finish a walk with a terribly aching back.  It became something I dreaded about taking walks and contributed to why I’ve spent more time in recent years on an exercise bike and doing kundalini yoga.

Last year after my amazing healing session with Osunnike I noticed when I practiced the Flowing Body work for spine, even during the practice my spine already felt looser and moved much more than it usually did AFTER completing the release work and was much freer than ever before when I finished.

Since the latest big healing moment many things have been shifting.  For a while my back really bothered me and after resolving some contributing bedding issues I started realizing that all the opening in my head is releasing muscles all over my body.  As these muscles unfold for the first time in decades, they’re not used to exercise or … moving at all… and they protest.  Some of the back issues came from that.

I did quite a bit of the spine releases and some specific yoga work to help, which actually just pushed more opening faster and, for a while, added to the pain.  But now that area is all settled down and I’m realizing when I go for walks that I’m undulating pretty naturally.  I don’t have to make each walk an exercise in mindfulness about how I move because my back has released so well and everything is flowing so much that most of the time everything is moving as it’s supposed to move.

Right now I cherish to these moments when something shows me clearly how much has changed.  On the trip I saw how much more calm and centered I am.  The walks I’ve taken since I’ve been home (it’s getting HOT so they’re becoming few and far between 🙂 ) have reminded me how much my body has changed and is still changing.

Do all the parts of your hips and back that should be moving actually move when you walk?

 

Muscles: 4 Steps Forward, 2 Steps Back… Forever?

Helen yoga

Helen yoga (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Trying to post the last couple of weeks has been an interesting process.  In this time of transition I have SO many ideas swirling through my head, so many realizations arising; much of it is interconnected.  Right now I’m struggling to sort my way through it all and my mind doesn’t seem to have its usual organizational abilities to sort through it all and create posts.  Not to mention that much of it is still in process…

I will get back to J2P Monday again, but right now the one arena where I seem to have some coherent thoughts is about muscles.

Last time, I talked about how muscles intertwine, squeeze off energy and can take a long time unwinding.  This time the exploration moves to the up and down process of healing muscles.

You see, no matter how much body work you get or how many muscle-healing exercises you’re doing, life is still going on.  You sit with your head twisted to the side watching television and that’s twisting the muscles in your neck.  You hit your head on a cupboard door and tighten a bunch of muscles in your jaw, neck and shoulders.  Your boss goes on a rampage and you tighten your whole body.  If you have really tight muscles, the tight ones are pulling the healed pieces back into tightness.

For a long time I found that at every massage appointment the first half — at least — was spent getting out the kinks that settled back in between appointments.  Increasingly I tried to make sure to do yoga and/or soak in a hot bath before an appointment so I could work some of the kinks out on my own.

When I created my movement work, it was just for me and I practiced numerous times in between appointments, often achieving more releases.  Sometimes my practitioners said I came back in even better shape than I’d been in at the end of the last appointment.

At this point I generally make appointments at a time when I can spend at least an hour-and-a-half beforehand on doing the release movements and yoga and then soaking at least 20 minutes in a hot bath.  Very little time is wasted in my appointments on retrieving lost ground and the fact that I’m looser and in balance makes it easier to achieve some deep releases.

Even with these efforts, there were times when I fell or slept in an awkward position and lost some ground.  With TMJ, even though the muscles in my face and jaw were unwinding, I clenched in the night and tightened it back up.  Sometimes I had stellar spells when the movement seemed only forward.  But most of the time the process of healing my muscles moved more like four steps forward, two steps back.  Always getting better, but an up and down process…

The healing moved much more quickly when I developed the exercise sets that so deeply trigger releases in the muscles but still it has been kind of four steps forward, one step back.  Always up and down.

When I say I’m almost done, I’m referring to the patterns of muscles currently in my head.  There are still a few other places that haven’t let go.  And I’m always aware, body work and doing my exercises is a life-time commitment because as long as I’m alive my muscles will ever be subject to sitting “funny”, bumping into things, tension, etc.

There is no such thing as DONE with muscles.  If you want muscles that are relaxed, strong and healthy, it’s a lifetime commitment to taking care of them.  Even when you’ve solved any specific issues you may have, you still have to work at keeping them healthy.

More on vision a la Dr. Harry Sirota

Eyemuscles

Eyemuscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When I write about Dr. Sirota and his revolutionary thinking about vision, I usually get some comments and private messages expressing interest, so after mentioning him in my last post I thought I’d update my long-ago piece about him.

Dr. Sirota believed that the 20/20 standard to which optometry and ophthalmology conform is an over-correction and causes tight muscles around the eyes to tighten further, which leads to deterioration of vision.  He also developed incredible insight into the psychological factors behind vision issues and the many ways in which vision impairment influences everything about your body and your emotional state.

The first visit with him lasted between three and four hours and every visit lasted at least two. He evaluated me and my movements and my life and what affected my vision to a depth I couldn’t have imagined. Dr. Sirota believed that near-sightedness begins with emotional trauma. The muscles behind the eyes tighten around the emotion and the pull on the eyes changes the shape of the cornea.

But there’s so much more to his work. By the time I got to Dr. Harry he’d been working so long on his ideas and knowledge about the relationship between vision and emotions and physical being that it was like visiting a psychic/shrink/ eye doctor.

He’d noted a deep relationship between what’s going on in the eyes and how the body moves.  As he worked on the prescription he’d put some lenses in the test glasses and have me walk forwards and backwards. “Mm, you’re throwing your left foot out to the side.” He’d change a lens and suddenly my foot straightened.  Or he’d try out a prescription and have me walk around, comment that I held one shoulder higher than the other and he’d shift the prescription and my shoulders would level out.

He’d have me walk backward toward a hanger and reach out a hand to touch the center. “You’re not really seeing where the center is….” Change lens, try again, change lens and suddenly I could walk backwards and touch the hanger in the center. By the time he decided on a final prescription my whole body would be moving differently and I’d feel more calm. Your eyes relate to so much in your body and so much about how you feel in your skin it’s amazing.

His prescriptions were very complex and quite expensive, but oh boy, the relaxation and comfort of wearing a pair of his glasses!

As I mentioned in the previous post, one key to his method was prescriptions that were reduced quite a bit from the 20/20 required by most optometrists. The strong prescription that is the norm creates tension so the muscles behind your eyes tighten more and the near-sightedness actually grows worse over time. It also causes your whole body to be more tense. When I put on my first pair of glasses from him the sense of relief was immense.

His work on this began when he entered the clinical phase of his training and kept noting that most people complained about discomfort every time they got a new prescription.  Most eye doctors will tell you you’ll adjust and aren’t concerned about the discomfort.  And most people do just get used to being uncomfortable.  It isn’t that it’s gone or corrected, you just become numb to it.  Dr. Sirota didn’t feel it was right for people to feel so unhappy with new prescriptions.

He couldn’t get the optometry community to listen to him but psychologists took an interest and he was invited all over the world to speak about his work. When he worked with a prison all kinds of behavior issues were resolved after inmates received his care for their eyes. The last I knew he had never found anyone in the vision care world who wanted to be trained in his work but he lived and continued working for many years after I moved, so I don’t know whether someone stepped up to the plate.

For me CranioSacral therapy and emotional release work have been key to getting the muscles to relax and my vision has improved immensely as a result so even though you can’t see him, you can address the issue of tight muscles around your eyes and bring your eyesight back.

If you or someone you know is near-sighted I highly recommend that you read the two articles below. Sadly Dr. Sirota died a few years ago so you can’t work with him but there a few people who are incorporating his work in other healing modalities.

This article has a really good interview with him, discussing his work:

There’s also an excellent article in the Chicago Tribune:

And one place has actually incorporated his work into something they call Sirota Repatterning

Interconnected body, interconnected world

Collage of varius Gray's muscle pictures by Mi...

Collage of varius Gray’s muscle pictures by Mikael Häggström (User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been on another wild ride lately with the muscle unwinding thing.  And it’s been one of those phases where something opens in my jaw and a couple of minutes later there’s a huge release in my shoulders.  The other night, a few things opened on the left side of my face and for the next several hours various points opened down the left side:  shoulder, hip, knee, ankle, foot.

It reminds me how incredibly interconnected our bodies are.  How one muscled clenched in pain can pull the whole body out of whack if it’s not addressed.  The place that hurts is often not the point of origin of the problem.  That interconnectedness is ignored a lot in the U.S. (chime in rest of world if it’s true where you are too); western medicine largely ignores muscles and seems to have lost track of the impact an injury can have on muscles throughout the system.

Muscles are not individual, isolated parts of us with no interaction with anything else.  One muscle attaches to another which attaches to another.  Just one key system involves muscles connected to the sphenoid bone (at about the level of the bridge of your nose) which connect to the jaw, and then the neck, creating an unending pattern that goes all the way down each side of your body to your feet.  When the sphenoid is tilted (and it can be influenced to tilt by muscles) it can pull one whole side of the body upward while the other side tenses as it tries to compensate.

When I teach movement classes a big goal is helping people realize how each part connects to all the rest.  I learn every time how detached people are from their bodies and how very unaware of those connections.  It’s always fun to do the triggers of release for ankles and have someone exclaim because their jaw opened up.  Or to do the triggers for hips and then as they walk around during the after check-in*, to observe that every set of shoulders in the room is lower.  To see the awe on people’s faces as they realize how one part affects another.

These days I’ve been reflecting a lot about the way the world mirrors us.  I’ve believed for a long time that the state of Earth’s health is directly related to the state of our health on all three levels (body, mind, spirit).  We’re such a key part of the interconnectedness of all life and the Earth.  The more each of us understands and heals our own body, the healthier the web of all life — and therefore the world — becomes.

As I reflect I see the importance of understanding the web of the body.  Just as the tilted sphenoid can impact the whole body, the dis-ease of so many people throws off the balance of nature. I’m gonna keep saying it:  heal your body, heal the world.

And yes, I can see it’s time to use ho’oponopono to heal in myself the disconnect I see in others…


*Part of gaining consciousness in this work is to check in before each movement and then again after so  conscious mind can note what changed and become aware of a new possible state of being.