And the healing goes on

View from Windy Corner — Leigh Gaitskill All Rights Reserved 2018

Two weeks ago at my latest appointment with Hanna, she worked on my head again and returned the pleasing news that she felt nothing fighting back any more; the muscles are just gracefully opening back out.

Ever since, the core pattern has been yanking and opening at all hours; all at once an exciting, wearying and crazy-making process.  Every time some more pieces open and I feel both the relief and the realization that there’s still more, I realize anew that the complexity was more intricate and the problem much bigger than I comprehended.  An amazing process to follow.

As I follow along I often wonder how many people realize the degree to which their muscles can intertwine, twist into knots along every strand, glue themselves to one another, etc.  Or how much worse it gets the longer a tight area goes un-addressed.

So I’m planning a “Sage Advice” post just about muscles.  Due to severe lack of sleep the time line for that is questionable 🙂

Healing Journey Monday: Emotions and your muscles

Fellow blogger Tracie Louise recently posted about a new line of t-shirts and stickers that she’s created. I loved them so much that I asked her if I could use the pictures on several posts and link to it on Redbubble (where they’re for sale). I think you’ll love them too.

One of the popular theories among many alternative health practitioners and spiritual types is that any time there’s any tension or knotting or holding pattern in your muscles there’s an old issue or repressed memory or unexpressed emotions (or some combination thereof) connected with it. My journey operated on that assumption for a long time. Ultimately that has not proved to be the only truth for me – nor as it turns out, for my most recent practitioners (who happen to be the ones who have successfully assisted in healing me).

When I first started getting massages I had been practicing yoga for about five years and I’d stretched enough to be an inch-and-a-half taller so it was startling to hear that every muscle was twisted like a steel pipe. That first therapist made a lot of headway and I had not begun to do emotional work at that time. The next several practitioners bridged the no emotional work and the Fischer Hoffman Process phase to post Fischer Hoffman. They all believed very strongly in the emotional connection and I could certainly see that a whole lot opened up in my body after I’d done all the release work that goes with the Process. There was still a lot hanging on tightly in my body and I got tired of hearing the accusatory tones on the subject of whether I was doing a good enough job of letting go so I began to drop them one by one.

When I moved to Kentucky and began seeing the wonderful Judy Gray for cranio-sacral therapy there were still times when her work reached into some old issue or buried emotion. But there were also times when things were releasing and I felt nothing and she commented that it seemed like there were a lot of places where the emotional content was gone but the muscles still held on. Aha. That felt so true to me and it was such a relief to be supported instead of criticized!

On to the fabulous Kreig Cremeans and his Bodypatterning technique (and also his amazing student, Hanna Lee) and he supported Judy’s view. The opening Judy started continued even faster and since I’d created my re-do of Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method and started practicing it regularly it moved along much more quickly. Again we tapped into some emotional content but eventually there was still a lot of tightness in the deep connective muscles and lots of shifts and openings but I no longer had old memories arising nor sudden bursts of tears, etc.

I also started to notice that the tight patterns in some places actually seemed to be the source of some present day emotional states. For instance there used to be a really taut muscle pattern that ran through my stomach. Long after the issues that related to it had been dealt with I would realize every now and then that I was suffering a sense of anxiety that I could trace to that pattern and that had no other relation to anything that was going on. The same with the tautness in my face and jaw creating a sense of anger with no cause.

When I told Kreig that I felt like sometimes the holding pattern could create the emotion instead of just being there because of a held emotion, he said he’d found the same thing. My circuitous connection to “Be Happy” is that I’ve been reflecting a lot the last couple of years about these emotion and muscle connections and their relationship to the philosophy that says to be happy in the moment, to feel joy in the moment, etc. if you want to attract happiness and joy into your life.

I found it very difficult to hold on to that space of happiness or joy while my body held a pattern of anxiety and anger. I’ve put enough effort into it to have gotten much better at it. But I look at someone like the late, lovely angel Mattie Stepanek (or name some other person with a really bad and/or painful physical condition whom you find inspiring) and I’m awed by the ability to transcend all the physical suffering and hold a space of joy. It helps by letting me see that it can be done but I can’t say I’ve quite figured it out enough to hold that space all the time.

If you have patterns of tension and/or pain in your muscles you probably do have some unaddressed issues and/or unreleased emotions in there so I’m not saying that you won’t need to do any inner exploration but if you’ve done a lot of that and there are still muscle issues it’s possible your muscles are just hanging onto the habit of being in that pattern. Don’t let practitioners bully you into digging deep for emotional connections that aren’t still there. And pay attention to whether any unexplained moods might come from your muscles.

Lifting the face mask or “oh no, I’m losing my poker face”

During many years of body work the vice grip of muscles clamped around my head was largely ignored by practitioners; a few acupuncture points, a little gentle massaging but nothing that really addressed the issues. Finally an astute neuromuscular massage therapist sent me for cranio sacral work as her sense was that the huge issues in my face and head were holding a lot of the patterns in my body in place.

Off I went for cranio sacral which I quickly loved – yea!, it’s profoundly deep and not painful. Extremely slowly the masking layers of steely muscles began to release. My practitioners moved away before we finished but the releases they created had taken me far enough that the process of unwinding continued on its own. At a snail’s pace. Since I started Body Patterning treatments with practitioners who also do cranio sacral, the process has sped up but still, it’s about 11 years now and counting that I’ve been trying to get my face and head free.

Who knew you could have 80 million knots in your facial and head muscles (who knew you had so many muscles in there) – and still fit your brain in? Along the way I was told that the complicated crisscrossing of muscles wrapped around my optic nerve could cause blindness if it jerked open too suddenly and that something to do with blood vessels could cause a stroke if everything opened too fast. Even though the slow process has been frustrating, I’m also grateful that I seem to be getting through it healthy and if it had to be slow for that, well okay.

My face used to be so tight I could barely move it and the many layers of steely muscles gave me a great poker face. I was well aware for many years that if I didn’t want someone to know what I was feeling I could just stiffen up a bit and my face would reveal nothing. I started realizing a while ago that people seemed to be able to read more from my face than anyone had been able to before and now that I’m recognizing that those many layers of armor were like masks, a part of me is a little freaked out to think, “Oh no everyone can really see me now.” How blessed I am to finally be revealing the authentic me. 

For more on cranio sacral work: 

Body patterning: