And it’s done!

The unwinding has been crazy lately though the good news has been I could feel the final core of the core starting to release.  Thanks to a recent change in circumstances I was able to book an appointment with Hanna for yesterday afternoon.  And what an appointment it was!

I went feeling hopeful we could get another piece loosened maybe, given the degree of opening in progress.  As she worked on the rest of my body I noticed lots of places that had been stuck before seemed to release pretty easily.  When I commented, she said nothing seemed stuck and I’m a good example of what you can do with lots of bodywork and yoga, etc.  I’d have left pretty happy there!

But then she spent the last portion of our time on my head.  Things were opening in my jaw like never before and then the muscles around my eyes started releasing.  I lay there wondering if she’d think we’d made a bit of progress.

At the end she told me she felt the final locked up piece released.  She described a sense of something like a metal pole shoved down into my head and that it released entirely.  Very interesting, as five years ago at a cranio-sacral appointment Robyn “saw” the ancestral witch driving a spike down through the chakras as part of her determined effort to stop the “sight” for all future women in the line.

The lower level impacts of the spike released long ago and Robyn thought we’d gotten my head, but I’ve been contending with a lingering piece ever since.  And now it’s gone!

Release of the pattern doesn’t instantly release every knot in the muscles, but they’re opening at quite a pace.  My usual experience has been it takes a few days to a week for muscles to complete all the opening possible from such a release.  As the unwinding continues, the cool thing is there is no longer a big pull back every time a knot tries to open, which I sense as the absence of the big locked piece.

A few places with muscle issues remain in my body; unclear whether the releases in my head will finish these.  And of course life is constantly putting kinks in muscles so some degree of body work and practicing my Flowing Body work will be life-long.

I’m elated, dazed, disbelieving…  finding it hard to imagine what life looks like without being centered around this long ordeal with my muscles.  But hey, blocks in head are gone!!!  Woo Hoo!

Some ins and outs of muscles

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

(User:Mikael Häggström) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I said a while back that I’d be posting about the long process of healing, and finally I’ve gotten to post #1.

Over the many years of struggling with issues in my muscles I’ve found far more help from alternative health practitioners than from western medicine.  In fact, my experience is that — with the possible exception of sports medicine specialists (no personal encounters there) — doctors trained in western medicine tend to know almost nothing about muscles.

If you’re in an accident of any type, from car accident to a fall in your living room to cracking your head on the corner of a cupboard, etc., your muscles are affected.  You tighten up in the area(s) of impact.  If the pain goes on for a few days you hold that tight pattern.  By the time the pain goes you’re automatically holding that pattern.

Once the pattern is in one area, it starts tugging at muscles nearby, pulling them into tight, off-kilter patterns,  which in turn pull at another.  Over the course of a few years you may have uncomfortably tight patterns all over your body and you may be feeling the most pain in some area(s) other than ground zero, where it all began.

The average doctor, after checking for broken bones and things that need to be stitched, does NOTHING about muscles.  They behave as if the muscles experience no impact and will have no ongoing affect on your health and comfort.

Even with things like sprains, where they at least take an x-ray or two, you should know they don’t routinely x-ray all angles so many things are overlooked.

For instance:

  1. when I was in a car accident some years ago I smashed my ankle.  The ER took pictures from two angles and my doctor saw no need to follow up with anything more.  Ongoing troubles with balance and falling over the years led to discovering one of the ligaments was torn away in that accident, not noted in the two x-rays they took at the time, and short of a surgery that would be elective, there was nothing that could be done to fix it.  Some research revealed that it’s routine to x-ray only one or two angles at the ER or general practitioner level; if you have a problem that can’t be seen from those angles, too bad for you…
  2. When I fell on the ice while racing to the el in Chicago and landed on my hand/wrist, I wound up at the ER to make sure nothing was broken.  They took x-rays from one angle, said it was fine and sent me on my way.  I had ongoing issues for years and found out later a specialist would have taken shots from more angles, probably finding out what really had been injured..  Using the hand portion of my exercises (see below) has largely ended the problem.
  3. Some years later I twisted my other ankle.  I went to the HMO and was told I just had a sprain.  One x-ray.  Six weeks later my ankle was more swollen and black and blue than it had been to begin with.  When I went back the doctor yelled at me for bothering him with something trivial, saying it looked fine.  My acupuncturist/naprapath was upset because she could see by looking something was wrong. She sent me to a podiatrist (which insurance didn’t cover) who took x-rays from several angles and found the torn ligament the HMO doc missed.  Because I’d walked around on it for so long, it took three months in a cast to heal it.

I’ve heard similar stories from others — even when western medicine bothers to take a look, they don’t bother to look at enough angles to know what’s actually going on.  If you can insist on getting sent to a specialist, you may be given a more thorough examination.  They won’t, however, help you deal with the ongoing muscle issues that arise because of the injury. Any time you sprain or twist something, you might want to consider pushing for a specialist and find out if your insurance will cover some therapeutic massage to help keep patterns from settling in.

When I first started struggling with all this, western medicine thought fibromyalgia didn’t exist.  If you had fatigue or muscle issues they directed you to a shrink.  Now that they acknowledge fibromyalgia, they give drugs that mask symptoms but do nothing to deal with the underlying problem.

The long slow process of getting my muscles to the most-of-the-way good condition they’re in has evolved through myofascial massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, St. John’s neuromuscular therapy, Craniosacral, Bodypatterning and more.  I practiced yoga and sporadically used Robert Masters’ Psychophysical method (off-shoot of Feldenkrais) until I developed sets of exercises combining movements from the Psychophysical series with yoga that have helped immensely (and have cleared years-long patterns for some of my students).

Not one iota of getting better has had anything to do with a single western doctor.  Some of the intertwining patterns would not have been there had it not been for the ignorance of doctors about not only how to heal muscles but even the fact that they need to be healed.  If you’ve hurt your muscles or have ongoing tight patterns, you have to advocate for yourself or you’ll not find help.

Trust me when I tell you I KNOW it’s expensive to get alternative therapies but for your long-term health — which is so much more affected by muscles than you probably realize — I highly recommend that you figure out a way.  I’ve often been able to trade for appointments and I know lots of practitioners who will trade for massage or classes or home cooked meals or art work….  The Universe will help you find a way if you truly want to be healed.

More healing unfolds

weeping cherries

weeping cherries

Yesterday I had a cranio-sacral appointment with Robyn.  Five days after the healing session with Osunnike, her description of what it was like to work on me this time–compared to previously–sounded like a different body.

Words like fluidity and flow — wow.  I don’t think anyone has ever worked on my body before and used such terms in reference to it.  There are still a few spots, mostly in my head, that aren’t completely open, but the change is so huge, I can’t complain.

One piece of the healing with Osunnike that I’m still processing involved her seeing my karma as clean but with a bunch of stuff attached as with velcro.  Her sense was that it was all ancestral stuff and none of it was mine.  She was able to clear it all and it’s hard to describe the sense of change.

I’ve been saying for a long time that I felt as if something “not me” has been influencing my life, especially as to success, abundance and spiritual development.  I’d done enough genealogy research to realize that these influences followed familial patterns and I guessed that cellular memory might play a part.  I began doing ceremonies and practices to release and/or cut cords with my ancestors but continued to feel that sense of being controlled by something outside me.  I didn’t say a word to her about any of that, so it came as a great affirmation to have her “see” this.

Ever since the healing, I’ve been noting a big shift in my perceptions and thinking.  It used to be that I’d say affirmations or think positive thoughts and feel like some other voice was pooh-poohing everything, dragging me back toward negativity.*  I’ve also felt as if something literally blocked my path every time I tried to create a new career path/business venture.

Now I say affirmations or think positive thoughts and no little voice starts spouting the “why-nots” and the “can’t-dos”.  As Robyn worked, I kept feeling happy and freed and thinking positive thoughts about release and I had such a consciousness of what a sea change that represented.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt like all levels of me were pulling in line with healing as someone worked on me before.

So much is shifting these days, I’ve been sleeping a lot and another consultation with the Akashic records has advised me to take it easy and let all this process for a while.  Osunnike also mentioned it would be important for 30 days to be sure I keep doing practices that keep my energy clear and balanced so I’m moving back into key breaths, yoga nidra, etc. more often.

I particularly felt drawn to share this story because I keep running into people who feel stuck in their journey or blocked somehow.  It’s possible to be influenced by past lives and/or ancestral issues.  As I’ve mentioned before, my research pointed to patterns of poverty consciousness, negativity and stress.  It’s amazing how much you can pick up as you research your family, just from seeing census info.

I used a number of modalities to work on ancestral issues, which I discussed here.  While none of it eliminated all issues, I’m quite sure that the seeming ease with which the current healing process took place came about because of all the preparation, body work, practices, etc. that came before.

I’ll let you know about progress as it occurs…


* For a long time there was definitely a lot of me in that but somewhere in the last few years I started feeling like I’d cleaned up my part of it and something else was in play.

See also:  Stern and Stingy Ancestors and Peace time and Update for related info.

The Gifts of 2014

Muscle masséter. Vue latérale

Muscle masséter. Vue latérale (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Linda over at Litebeing Chronicles has asked us to pick a date and post about the Gifts of 2014.  Today is my day.  There are quite a few dates left so think about signing on to write one –the instructions and the list showing which dates are taken and which are open is here.

This has been kind of a tough year for me in some ways — almost a non-year in a way.  So I’ve struggled a bit in thinking about this challenge.  The long unwinding head* process finally got to me more than a year ago; what with the discomfort of having my face jerked all over and the lack of sleep due to the jerking I’ve been exhausted and having trouble getting things done.

Somewhere late in the year, the process took a couple of turns.  During the summer, though still feeling like throwing my hands up, I started very slowly making my way through a long list of procrastinated “to-dos” and each item checked off brought my spirits up a bit.  Then in the fall I had a long patch of relative quiet during which I got a lot of sleep, got lots more stuff done and gained back my optimism.

The muscles have loosened enough to feel more freedom and relaxation in my head than I ever remember.  Every new opening feels like an exciting step toward knowing what it is to have a face and head with healthy, relaxed muscles.

My first spiritual teacher asked me often, “What do you believe that created this reality?”  The exercise involved going into meditation, asking that question, and then, once the belief was identified, to ask to be taken to the place when the belief began.  It’s a practice I’ve used ever since (30 years!).  Upon seeing the belief I held that led to my situation and then how the belief started I often released the belief immediately.  Sometimes it took more work (… sometimes, call that a LOT of work!).

I’ve asked the question a few times over the long years of dealing with my health.  Over the weekend I asked again, “what do I believe that created all these health issues and made it all take so long?”.  The answer included pieces I’ve had before but gave me a more comprehensive view than ever:

  1. I didn’t believe I deserved to exist; that one started very early
  2. After growing up in the midst of too many adults with too many conflicting opinions about who I should be (definitely not me!) and what I should do, these particular health issues provided the perfect means of avoiding a wrong step
  3. The first two and all of the interconnected beliefs and issues that flowed from them all played out in my body
  4. Decades of creating a complicated set of muscle problems led to a physical situation that required time to work out

This year I’ve had a growing sense that the long process and the minute detail in which I’ve had to experience the shifts and changes leads to something I’m meant to teach others.  Though I can’t quite see what this will be, I feel a sense of comfort that I will be able to use this journey to help people.

As of last Friday, the steely stuff behind my left eye finally started loosening. The days since have been trying but I’m also thrilled as I follow the progress.  That eye has felt embedded in cement as long as I can remember  The growing feeling of freedom is amazing.  I’ve written in the past about tight muscles behind the eyes that cause near-sightedness.  My vision has been improving.  Right now the right side has opened much more (wasn’t as tight to begin with) and the vision in my right eye is very close to restored.  I put a hand over each eye every day now to check how each one is doing and I’m looking forward to loosening the left eye enough that my vision improves there too.

None of this has been easy — I’d call it a long dark night of the soul — but the rewards as I progress toward health are amazing.  The insights I’ve had to explore as part of the journey to wellness have changed my life so much.  In spite to the hard stuff, I’d say the journey in 2014 has been a gift.

*Short version:  head used to be like a cement block with muscles wound up like steel pipes, intertwined in complicated patterns and glued together.  Craniosacral work opened it up enough that the muscles started unwinding on their own.

Tomorrow’s post on the Gift challenge will be on Amanda’s blog.

Cranio-Sacral, Completion, and Challenge

http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/cb/Cranium_4.jpg

by Anatomist90 on Wikimedia Commons

You may remember that I wrote from Marin in the spring that I was contemplating a new normal due to many changes.  From the outside I’m not sure that my life looks any different but a lot has been changing.  So much that I’ve been having trouble deciding how to break things up into some posts that aren’t novella length.  Today I thought I’d briefly touch on three things that have been going on lately.

CRANIO SACRAL

It’s been a trying summer from the standpoint of the unwinding head story and its side effect of being sleep deprived.  That means there’s been a lot of unwinding at a time when I no longer have the trade for bodypatterning appointments.  When a little extra money came my way I felt it was time for some work and also a pull toward going to the cranio sacral therapist that my former c-s therapist recommended when she left town.  Robyn has had all the levels of cranio sacral where the boypatterning practitioners had only a couple of levels.

I’ve been blessed all through this process to have pretty good instincts about when it’s time to make a move in healing and which person to see for what kind of treatment.  My first appointment Monday was sooo good!  One thing I like about changing when things feel plateaued is that a new person with different training often has an alternative diagnosis or emphasis.

The great news for me from Robyn was that all the plates on the cranium moved pretty easily.  That’s something I have NEVER heard before in all the years of people working on me and discussing how unmovable everything cranial was.  Yeah!

Now I’m learning a couple of new body parts I didn’t know I had:  the tentorium and the falx are the two things that are completely

From wikipedia

unmoving now.  My fun new assignment before next week’s appointment is to talk to my brain in meditation and ask why these are

holding, what I can do or if Robyn can be given info about what to do. And, my thyroid is getting free!   Muscle squeezing it loosening nicely.  Yeah!

COMPLETION

I participated for either the fourth or fifth time in Deepak Chopra’s 21 day meditation challenge.  The other times I always got behind and wound up having 4-7 days of the meditation that I never managed to do before they were taken down.  This time I did all 21!

I saw that some other people didn’t like the topic this time (Miraculous Relationships).  For me, like many other things that are going on right now I felt like the messages of this particular challenge were exactly what I needed to be hearing and working on.

I’m also relieved to be finished because I’m participating in some other challenges and I’ve been dropping balls — not a good enough juggler to have this many in the air.  I’ve been feeling excited and hopeful though, which is why I’m keen to do these things.

CHALLENGE

A couple of people have told me that they’re having big effects from the current challenge for Collective Prayer Sundays:  chanting for your enemy (or difficult relationship).  I’m always so happy to hear that!

I haven’t gotten to the seven days yet as I challenged myself with the EFT practice posted a few weeks ago, Disentangling the Ties That Bind and I’m still working on it.  I did it for two different living relatives each for a week and this week I’m working on my dead aunt, Mary Jane.  Long ago I posted about my difficult relationship with her.

Even though she’s been dead a long time, I can occasionally find myself angry at the drop of a hat if reminded about something she said or did.  She’s going to be my choice for the seven days of chanting, which I plan to start now before I finish the EFT practice for her and continue into next week.

Next week I’m planning to do seven days of the EFT for my ancestors — I’ve written several times about how much I’ve been finding that ancestral patterns have affected physical and emotional issues in me.  See:

Opening to sight: the shaman, the witch and the ancestors

Stern and stingy ancestors

Healing Journey Monday:  Working on your ancestors

Healing the Ancestors

Busy times.  Gotta go.  Have meditating, tapping, chanting… to do!

Learning Your Body

Microsoft Office Clipart MH900382999.jpg

Western medical thinking seems to mostly by-pass muscles unless they’re prescribing a muscle relaxant or repairing a serious injury. I’m not sure if that’s why most people have so little understanding about their muscles or if it’s just the general lack of holistic health education. I didn’t understand so much either until I embarked on this long healing journey. Two main pieces I’ve been paying attention to lately are the way patterns set in and spread if there’s an injury and nothing is done to restore and re-balance the muscles and the way those patterns start interconnecting with other unaddressed patterns to create complex patterns of tightness and pain.

I’ve noticed that when a student comes to me because of pain in a hip I often have trouble convincing that student that we need to address the whole body and that there will be other areas that impact the part that hurts. All the massage therapists I know tell me they have the same trouble with clients who don’t want them to work anywhere but on the exact place where they feel pain.

The whole muscular system is interconnected so if you injure a muscle in one area and don’t do anything about it the twist or knots in that area will slowly start pulling on the other muscles around it and when those twist they start pulling on other muscles and so on. Then if you injure a muscle in another area another pattern moves out. Sometimes several patterns wind up intersecting in one place and it’s likely that that’s where you’ll feel pain but a practitioner has to work on all the patterns and they often have to work more at the source of each pattern.

I find when I work with people on my triggers of release stuff they’ll often have results in their shoulders, for instance, not only from working on the shoulders but also from the hands, wrists, elbows, hips, low back, neck, knees, ankles and feet. Which other areas have the most impact will vary depending on each person’s patterns.. Once people work with the movements and check in to before and after results they start seeing how much one area can impact another.

Dr. Janet Travell expanded on the earlier work of Dr. Dudley Morton to develop a body of work on myofascial pain and trigger points that was later used to create Myofascial Therapy and since then a number of therapies have developed that work with these theories. John Upledger in writing about his Craniosacral Therapy discussed how one fall, if no treatment to restore the muscles was done, could lead to pain and problems in many other areas years later. The best advice is that any time you fall or have a painful injury you should visit a skilled massage therapist (I highly recommend Cremeans’ Bodypatterning but it’s available only in limited places at the moment) or craniosacral therapist and also practice some movements like the triggers of release developed by Feldenkrais and Robert Masters (my Kindle book, Restoring Fluidity and Freedom of Movement, combines these movements with yoga).

If you’ve rarely or never had bodywork to get your muscles back to health and, especially, if you’ve had falls and accidents where treatment ignored your muscles, then it may take a long time to restore your muscles to good health. This is not a go to the doctor and get a shot or pill to end the symptoms kind of thing. You can take pills to get rid of the pain but they won’t address the actual problem. Getting your muscles back to health is a commitment of time and energy. If you do something like my movement work in between appointments it will go much faster but you need to start down the path to restoring your body with a willingness to be patient and count success in small increments.

In relation to a spiritual journey, all those knots and twists in your muscles are blocking the nadis, which are the channels through which prana and kundalini flow. Besides balancing the chakras, the main point of yoga is keeping those channels open on the theory that it isn’t possible to reach enlightenment if the energy can’t flow freely through your body.

Please, if you’re in a car accident or fall on the ice or get knocked down by a falling shelf (etc.) take care of your muscles! If you haven’t ever done much to get your muscles unwound and aligned properly, start!

Submitted for Jenny Matlock’s AlphabeThursday, which is “L” this week.

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.

Healing Journey Monday: Your Own Experience

For the last couple of months the muscles unwinding in my head have been twisting and yanking and letting go at an amazing pace. They’re moving so much that I don’t get very many hours a day when they’re NOT yanking and pulling and that includes that their favorite time to go crazy is midnight to 7 am or so. So I have lots of time to hang around thinking about this process and how it’s gone for the many years from the small twitches that started 10 years ago to where it is now.

I’m told that it’s not unusual for muscles to unwind on their own after some kind of bodywork or exercise creates an opening but it’s pretty unusual to have an experience as long-lasting and far-reaching as mine. Along the way a few practitioners I saw made it clear that they didn’t believe me when I said it was happening—one even tried to treat me for some sort of palsy—and most people to whom I tried to explain it went blank or looked skeptical.  It’s meant I’ve been living in a world in which I’m having an intense ongoing experience and until my current practitioners there’s been no one who’s understood it at all.

Since I could feel what was happening and follow the long slow process from the outer muscles just under my skin to where it is now, deep into my jaw and upper palate and behind my eyes and mainly all behind the bones, I never wavered in my insistence that my muscles were unwinding. In the last couple of years the people working on me have really been feeling the improvements and every appointment  moves things along faster. I’m also pretty stubborn about knowing what I know about my own body and I’m not inclined to be intimidated by some practitioner who’s sure I’m wrong just because I’m presenting something they’ve not seen.

But I wonder how many times people go to a doctor or alternative healer and try to describe what’s going on only to be met by denial or disbelief. And how many of those people let go of their own experience because someone they accept as an authority has contradicted them. Now sure there are things a doctor might be able to tell me because of a test that I have no idea about. But there are also things I can feel and experience and describe.  Believe me the shift from having every single muscle in my face, head and neck wound up like wires with criss-crossing patterns to most of the muscles being relaxed to losing the sensation of my head in a vice grip means I’m quite sure the muscles have been unwinding.

A very important piece of being healthy is knowing your own body. And sometimes standing up for what you know even when a doctor or practitioner tries to tell you you’re wrong is crucial. It makes a difference to the kind of treatment or, in some cases, whether you get any treatment. So if have something very exact that you’re feeling be willing to insist that you know what you know.

Healing Journey ???: Jaw connections

 

 

Muscles of the head, face, and neck.

Muscles of the head, face, and neck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

First, the title—not exactly Monday… Next, a big thanks to Nan Thompson of Writings of a Pagan Witch for nominating me for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award. She knows that I’m not doing the award posts any more but I want to make sure you know about her blog. She wanted to give the award because she appreciated my “It’s Not Easy Being Purple” post. Not only did that post mean a lot to me, but the main reason to write is the hope that someone will be touched in some way so I feel doubly rewarded. Thanks Nan!

 

As I mentioned in the last post, I’m heading down the final stretch on the muscles unwinding in my head. Most of the toughest, most stuck piece is related to my jaw. According to a holistic dentist and several cranio-sacral therapists, my jaw never grew to full expansion.

 

The main evidence was the big bony hump that covered most of my upper palate. Since I had no comparable intimacy with anyone else’s upper palate I, of course, always assumed that the hump was normal. Lots of muscles hook into the upper palate, so the squeezed in bones pulled and twisted muscles all around my jaw—creating TMD issues—and connected with muscles around my eyes, into my neck, up into my temples, etc.

 

I mention all this because TMD and tight necks have become so common. It’s not so common for anyone to pay attention to the state of your jaw. If a dentist even notes it (the holistic fellow was approximately the 8th of my lifetime plus a couple of oral surgeons and no one else ever mentioned it) he’ll tell you that the only remedy is surgery. Cranio-sacral therapy can resolve it without the cutting or the long recuperation but it takes a very long time.

 

The hump in my mouth as of today is about 25% the size it used to be. The TMJ is much better. The muscles behind my eyes have loosened enough that my distance vision has improved immensely. I don’t have any memory of having a relaxed head. But at this point every now and then—when the yanking and unwinding quiets down—I can feel a glimmer of what I think it will be like to feel relaxed and free in my face and neck all the time. Can’t wait!

 

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Healing Journey Monday: Finding a practitioner

You may have gathered that in 25 years of searching for answers about my health and trying to sort out my muscles I’ve seen a lot of alternative practitioners. While there’s no one piece of advice that can guarantee that you’ll get the best practitioner, I’ve learned a few tips to pass along.

While geography plays a big role (some places have few choices*) the key piece of choosing a practitioner is intuition – both as to being drawn to a particular modality and to being drawn to a particular practitioner. And probably the most important thing about a given practitioner is their ability to tune in to the problem and understand it on more than one level. But those are also the things that are hard to define. Word of mouth really helps on that part but I’ve loathed some practitioners that others loved and vice versa. Credentials give you some guidelines but I learned over the years that there are some things you need to know about credentials.

Most modalities that are widely accepted have some sort of school or program that involves lots and lots of hours of classes and lots of hours (usually somewhere in the hundreds) of clinical practice in order to complete the requirements and become certified. And some of them have more than one level of certification (CranioSacral has something like five levels plus some specialty courses). Many also have week long or weekend workshops in which some piece of the modality is taught. And it turns out that lots of people will take one week or a weekend and start putting “CranioSacral therapist” or “neuromuscular therapist”, etc. on their business cards and other materials. So you have to ask some questions or do some research if you want to know the true qualifications of a practitioner and whether he or she is really certified in the technique you want.

Some schools, like Upledger Institute, have an on line listing of practitioners that also tells you what levels the person has been certified in (although it only works if they’ve gotten all their CranioSacral training at Upledger; anyone who has been trained in some levels or courses by a CranioSacral teacher somewhere else will not have all their credentials shown on that site. Sometimes you can tell by looking at the credentials they’ve put on the wall of the office– generally the only healing modalities in which they’re officially certified will be seen in certificates on the wall.

For me it has always been some mix of what modality I am drawn toward and/or which practitioner seems right and then I’ll look a bit at what the person’s background is and whether they’re certified and, if so, at what level. My advice is really trust your gut and then also do some research. And if, after carefully choosing, you don’t like the person or don’t feel good about the treatment, don’t be afraid to move on.

I’ve been blessed to have some great practitioners from acupuncture to massage to CranioSacral, etc. and their assistance in my healing process has been invaluable. I’ve also here and there gone to someone who just really didn’t suit me or whose “bedside manner” ruined the excellence of their treatments and sometimes I stuck it out too long. Particularly with alternative health practitioners I think you really have to take charge of your own process.

* When I moved to Lexington there were not a lot of practitioners around and for many modalities there was only one choice and yet the people I found here have been some of the best practitioners ever and I’ve had great success with their help, so small numbers doesn’t have to mean that you don’t have a great choice awaiting.

The unwinding head saga

cranium muscles, muscles of the headThis is really a Healing Journey Monday piece but it’s AlphabeThursday and today the letter is “U”. I’ve had this post and this title in my head for a while so this just seemed like the day to post. It’s actually a topic with several parts so the rest will show up on Mondays (probably, unless one of them has a letter that works here…). Sorry this one’s so long – you know I try to keep it short!

In the long, long road back to health, the pieces relating to my head came together fairly late in the game, for the most part. Even though I know it can be trying to “hear” about other people’s medical trials, this case has been a little unusual and has led to understanding a lot about how things work – in ways that much of modern medicine doesn’t understand so I’m hoping this can help someone.

I’ve had so many practitioners for so many years who’ve been shocked by my condition and/or who’ve told me that I had the worst case/example of this or that that it’s unlikely any of you are starting from a place as dire. But I also know that TMJ issues and near sightedness and tight, tense necks and solid or fused cranial plates and blows to the head that receive no treatment to restore balance are all so common that either you or someone you know probably has one or more of these issues so you may find helpful information in this or the forthcoming posts.

I got a lot of pieces of the puzzle along the way without knowing how they fit. I knew from my vision therapist (the late, fabulous genius Dr. Harry Sirota –he’ll have his own post) that my near-sightedness resulted from tight muscles behind my eyes which developed due to emotional trauma. Several practitioners told me my sphenoid was tilted and likely creating a pattern of imbalance all the way down to my feet. My dentist told me I had TMJ issues. My neck had been a major source of tension and pain since high school. What I didn’t know was the way all those things intertwined with one another and then interconnected with various injuries like falling headfirst down a flight of stairs when I was 10 and smashing my head and chin in a car accident.

Most of the many practitioners I saw paid very little attention to my face and head. Acupuncturists sometimes put needles in because I complained so about the pain and tension (and one gave me a series of accupressure points to press that has been a great source of help) and, as noted, a few saw the tilted sphenoid but were unable to release it. Finally a terrific St. John’s Neuromuscular therapist named Valerie Taylor announced after about a year of work that she wanted me to go see a cranio sacral specialist because she could see that there were patterns in my head that were both preventing some areas from being released and destroying progress she made on others.

Off to Judy Gray, top notch cranio sacral therapist. She introduced me to John Upledger’s book on his discovery and development of the cranium/sacrum connection and the technique for bringing balance. I had no idea the degree to which every single muscle in my face, neck and head were wound into steely cords and wound into intricate cross patterns and mazes. At our last appointment before she moved away something opened enough that the muscles started slowly unwinding on their own.

At the time they were wound tight from the skin down to deep levels in my head. Over my eyebrows and across my chin line there were muscles so ropy they stuck out a little bit—and this was after the cranio-sacral work had produced dozens of releases. I’d run out of funding for the endless treatments (at least $35,000, none covered by insurance) so almost no one ever worked on me and yet the unwinding continued. Muscles twitched and jerked and tugged—and OPENED.

By the time Kreig Cremeans and I joined forces five years later most all of the muscles in my face from the bones out to the skin had unwound completely on their own. The few scattered practitioners I saw between Judy and Kreig had never heard of such a thing and clearly didn’t believe my story of muscles unwinding on their own. One tried to pathologize it and treated me for some kind of palsy.

Kreig started making faster progress with a combination of cranio sacral and his bodypatterning technique. I added in a bunch of energy practices to push energy through blocks and my triggers of release work so the muscles began to open even more quickly. And still it has taken years. Kreig figured out more connections that eventually made it clear that issues in my head have been responsible for most of the chronic fatigue related issues for which I have been treated separately from the beginning—and the reason why no progress ever stuck or got past a certain point. So the area of my body that was largely ignored for years—by some really great practitioners who really helped me—turned out to be the key to nearly everything in this seemingly endless journey.

Getting to the heart of a lot of health matters is not always easy or straightforward. A lot of western medicine doesn’t even try to find the origins or the why of the kinds of issues I’ve had.* In a complicated case with lots of issues even alternative practitioners may only be able to see part of the problem. And among all practitioners a miracle like muscles that decide it’s time to let go (one tiny knot at a time) on their own is often outside their experience so they have no support to offer for your experience –or they try to make you believe you’re wrong about what’s happening.

You really have to be willing to persevere, to try all kinds of things, to learn your own body, to listen to your own wisdom and, often, to put together your own program for healing. I hope some of the more detailed posts that will be coming in future weeks (not necessarily every week) will assist some of you in finding help.

*Before I found my way to alternative medicine one doctor, after finding 80 over 50 blood pressure amongst my complaints of dizziness and fatigue, suggested that I should see a shrink… (did you know that mental instability can cause low blood pressure???).

 

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