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…

 

Peeling more layers

Eyemuscles

Eyemuscles (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The last couple of weeks have involved a lot of unwinding, not sleeping and headaches…  and a lot of reflection about this long long process.  [Pretty much every muscle you see up there has been wound up in knots and intertwined and/or glued to just about every other muscle in my face they could possibly touch]

Both body work practitioners and meditation “guides” have told me there were dangers (blindness or stroke) in opening the muscles too fast so I’ve tried to be grateful but really by and large I’ve been frustrated and impatient.  I’ve repeatedly asked the Universe and Ku to just finish the healing and let me be free.  I’ve said affirmations and done visualizations (and no, I’m not looking for suggestions for some other technique to try).  I’ve done practices and spent fortunes on body work and healers.  It all helps but the process is still maddeningly slow.

When I feel the degree of tugging on the left optic nerve and realize the depth to which it has been entwined in other muscles it IS nerve wracking and I can sense the danger if something pulled too hard or too suddenly.  It helps me understand the need for a slow unfolding but doesn’t stop me wishing it would hurry up.

I also keep feeling different stages of energy returning, with growing comprehension of how much energy tight muscles commandeer.  Long ago, when I finished the Fisher Hoffman process, most of the major muscles in my body (not head) finally started letting go.  The next year or two brought great progress in body work and I experienced a great boost of energy first from releasing the emotional material and then from opening muscles so energy could flow more freely.  It turned out the chronic fatigue arose from the muscle issues.

Now I’m experiencing an amazing process wherein the unfolding around my eyes is opening up energy pathways through my whole body.  It’s amazing to realize how much of my prana has been sidetracked into holding all these tight muscles in my face and how much tight muscles interfere with the flow of energy.

And the more I feel it the more I want to shout out to the many folks I see everywhere I go whose muscles are visibly tight:  heal your muscles and get your energy back!  Haven’t decided how to present this mission of healing but I can see it’s part of the reason for this long drawn-out process.

My impression, based both on my own experience and what I’ve observed, is that most people don’t realize how fatiguing it is to have tight muscles.  How detrimental to your health.  Until I finally got the right diagnosis, I had no idea tight muscles could squeeze organs and glands.  For me, it was every organ and every gland being squeezed until they could barely function.

For now all I can think of is to tell you to take care of your muscles.  If you have knots and painful places, do what you have to to heal them.  Your health and vitality depend on it.

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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.

J2P Monday: My Body, My World

The Earth seen from Apollo 17.

The Earth seen from Apollo 17. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

In this interconnected web of all life, our bodies are deeply connected to Earth.  The care and health of one has an impact on the other.  When we harm the land, the sea, and the air, we create health issues for our bodies.  And when we don’t care for our own bodies, we don’t take care of the earth.

For me, it’s very clear that the cavalier way many of us treat our bodies (particularly here in the U.S.; if your culture does it differently, chime in in the comments) directly connects to the cavalier way we treat the earth. And that the diseases of the earth relate to our poor treatment of our bodies.  From poor eating habits to poor exercise habits to regular sleep deprivation to abuse of medicines, the ways we fail our bodies are myriad.  How can we expect to heal the earth if we can’t take care of our own physical well-being?

Everything is energy.  Our bodies are energy.  The planets are energy.  The totality of energy creates the great web of oneness or All That Is.  The food we eat has energy.  Our thoughts have energy. The content of our thoughts and actions and eating influences the vibration of our bodies.  As part of the web, our bodies influence all life and thus life on Earth.

Your spiritual journey is affected by this as well.  The mind/body/spirit connection is profoundly deep.  Pursuit of mental balance and higher spiritual consciousness can never be successful if you’re ignoring your physical well-being.

Poor habits are so ingrained in U.S. culture, I’ve found it a big challenge to stick to a healthier plan.  I’m surrounded by choices that tempt me away from good eating and regular exercise and I have to stay mindful to stick to a path.  I’ve also found it hard that everyone who has a theory seems to find it necessary to tout that theory as being true for all of mankind.  They almost never are.

Our bodies have so many differences from ancestral cellular memory to blood type to allergies to biorhythms, each of us has to figure out which foods, which exercises, which sleep times, etc. work for us.  And then follow the program that works.

There are a lot of theories about healthy eating out there that absolutely don’t work for me.  A vegan diet, for instance, sends me into a downward spiral that sucks the energy out of me at a frightening pace.  Too much raw food has the same effect.  I have issues with iron and anemia that mean the only way I keep from regular bouts of iron deficiency anemia is to make sure I eat red meat a couple of times a week.

I also have a few habits like a daily cup of coffee and once a day eating a sweet something that leave my pristine eating friends rolling their eyes over my bad habits — even though in general I eat far more fruits and veggies and generally healthier meals than most.

I get a kick out of it because most of the health food fanatics who disapprove of my diet fail to do regular exercises for healthy muscles.  They’re so tied up about food issues, they give no attention to developing muscles that are both strong and flexible–a balance that is required for healthy muscles–and allow energy to flow freely through the body.

I find most people lean toward healthy exercise or healthy eating but don’t manage both.  And among those who do both, I find most follow exercise regimens that emphasize strength and hard muscles but don’t balance with keeping their muscles also flexible.  As you grow older those hard muscles contribute to poor balance and falling; without the flexibility, the strength ultimately doesn’t serve.

The point is, few of us manage to follow a perfectly pristine regimen — and many follow paths to health that are popular rather than best for their own bodies.  I think if you’re doing the best you can at changing your diet, exercising, etc. you’re already on the right path.

Take small steps.  My diet has changed slowly over quite a few years as I’ve learned more about how (1)  different foods make me feel; (2) to modify recipes to substitute for foods to which I have sensitivities; and (3) to add nutrition to a variety of dishes.  Sometimes it helps to just cut out one or two things and discover a couple of healthier things to eat instead.  When you’ve rooted that into your habits, choose a couple more things to change.

It’s much easier on your psyche to take it slow.  I now have a long list of healthier foods I love and regularly eat, most of which I’d never have made or ordered years ago.  I learned to like some things I wasn’t inclined to and found I really liked other healthy things I didn’t expect to…

Fortunately for me, I fell in love with yoga from the get go so for most of the 29+ years I’ve practiced, it hasn’t been an issue to put in the time.  But these last few years of health issues have interfered with my decades-long exercise habit.  I’ve found it’s easy to at least do a small something rather than nothing and so in small increments I’ve managed not to lose all my progress and as I’ve felt better, in slightly growing increments, I’ve been restoring what I lost.  Small and steady can do it.

If you are serious about wanting to bring peace to the world and to heal the planet, think about how you treat your own body.  Do you give the same care and concern for your own heath that you feel for the world?  In the next J2P post or two I’m going to explore more about health and apply ho’oponopono to aspects of healing.

Imprints gone and more

Kat Atkin dancing in Philly

Kat Atkin dancing in Philly

My session yesterday with Osunnike was amazing.  Three hours flew by so quickly I expected, when I returned to my car, to see that we finished early and was surprised to discover we used the whole time.

The first part of the session involved her reading me and asking questions to establish the focus for the healing portion.  She “saw” the imprints of past lives as a shaman/seer/witch, etc. and several areas in which the imprints affected my life, confirming the information I got in my Akashic record reading.  Her intuitive ability is spot on and impressed me throughout the appointment.

Her energy and the energy in the house are huge; I felt my kundalini being nudged into overdrive just sitting in the living room while she prepared the healing room.  Her energy along with sound and chanting in the healing portion was powerful and SO effective.  By the end she felt all the imprints had been cleared (at least all that we were addressing).

I left feeling that something major had shifted.  I’m sure it will take a while for all the ramifications of the healing to be seen.  But this morning I felt like five-year-old me.  On my fifth birthday I leapt from bed, ran to the bathroom and jumped on the scale, shouting for my parents to come see if I’d gotten bigger–convinced that if growing older and getting “big” were somehow connected, I should be larger on the day I became older.  Although I know better now, I sometimes realize that hopeful little girl is still in there, half-expecting miraculous, visible and measurable change.

In reality, I got up to a day that looked much as my days have for a long time.  And the headache that started during the appointment when she worked on my head and has continued intermittently ever since.  I haven’t caught up on sleep but I’ve felt more energy today than the norm for the last couple of decades.  A positive sense that I have indeed dropped that rope and quit hauling the mountain along accompanied by feeling freer and lighter.

The biggest piece moved somewhere around the level of thymus–at Nine Gates we called it “High Heart”.  Sadly it did not complete the process in my head although it opened more and she indicated there’s not much left there.  I have another cranio-sacral appointment next week and we both sensed that it will be easier to align everything.

Late in the session we hit a piece about being smothered or strangled at some point (unknown whether it’s a past or present life experience) which I’ve encountered many times before and this time it finally cleared.  By the end energy flowed through my body more freely than I can ever remember–I especially noted huge energy in my legs.  Between the twist in my left leg and many muscle issues, I don’t know that I’ve ever felt a full flow of energy down my legs and into my feet before.

I’m sure I’ll be integrating this for some time to come.  She also felt there are a couple of issues to keep working on (aren’t there always? 🙂 ) so I may do more work with her somewhere down the line.  I feel like I made it out of a tunnel, but other than feeling a sense of shift, I can’t really describe specifically what has changed.  Time will tell.  Today I’m just grateful for feeling a major healing has taken place.  Once the muscle thing calms down and I’ve gotten some rest I feel like I can get back into the world and do great things.

 

Our Bodies, Our World (PS Chant for Peace time!)

Lately as I’ve struggled with the healing journey I’ve been thinking a lot about the world and the environment and how I think the physical and emotional health of each of us has an impact on the world.  Particularly as I’ve read about environmental issues and earth changes it has felt to me that the earth is undergoing a process much like the opening and shifting I experience every day.

The world and all her people, plants and animals are one.  One interconnected web of life. I look around at the stiff bodies everywhere, I feel the buried angst surrounding me.  How can the earth be healthy when we aren’t?  At the same time, more people are healing and the earth is shifting and changing with us.

In my movement classes I see so many blank looks when I try to explain that life feels better when the body is open and flowing.  When I try to tell people that I think the most important job each of us can do is to heal many look at me like I’m daft.  Heal emotionally  Heal physically.  Heal the world.  Oneness means that the state of being and the energy of each of us is contributing to the state of the whole.  I see a correlation between the current state of the world and the health of its population.  When enough people heal, I believe the earth will heal.

It;s hard work.  I watch people bump up against places that don’t want to let go and they start making the movements smaller or quit coming to class.  They don’t want to go there.  I get it.  Looking in all those dark corners isn’t fun — though the relief after something is released is heavenly.  Lots of the patterns involving tight muscles relate to buried memories, emotions and issues.  Healing yourself is a big job.  Healing the world is a big job. But the thing is, you don’t have to take responsibility for changing the government or healing the planet or stopping crime.  The only place where you have complete responsibility and control is over yourself.  Heal yourself.  Heal the world.  I’m trying to figure out how to say it so it makes sense to people.

Restore your body to flowing and with the healing and release, be the change in the world.

HEAL YOURSELF.  HEAL THE WORLD.

Don’t forget about Collective Prayer Sunday.  I’ve been working on the challenge I offered to chant for Rara’s accusers.  As always, the chant is softening my heart and my feelings around the case.  I’m a little behind on blog stuff so if there’s been any outward change, I don’t know.  But as my heart softens I know that the only space I want to hold around this is the one that has love for everyone involved.

Trauma release exercises

 

English: Thai massage Polski: Wykonywanie masa...

English: Thai massage Polski: Wykonywanie masażu tajskiego (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

 

 

Earlier in the week I experienced my first Thai massage (see post).  Marilyn, the masseuse, loaned me a book about releasing trauma from muscles:  The Revolutionary Trauma Release Process by David Berceli, PhD.  I read a little and then looked at the final section where there are instructions with pictures for doing the exercises to release trauma.  The book itself wasn’t grabbing me but the exercises sure did.

So today for my peaceful Sunday I decided that letting go of some of the deep stuff that keeps hanging on would be my choice for being peace.  As I often do, I have a few complaints about lack of instructions for beginners and lack of some kind of slow build.  I do yoga postures often that cover most of the muscles being worked on and these exercises were tough for me.  I know many of my students would need a much slower process of working up to all the reps and the long holds.  There are also a couple of places where the picture shows, say, one foot lifted in the air, but nowhere do the instructions tell you to lift a foot.

That said, the final piece–in which you hold a reclined cobbler’s pose and keep moving your knees up–where you allow your muscles to quiver and shake to release trauma was amazing.  I’ll have to do this for a while to complete the process but just on day one I can feel a difference, particularly in my pelvis and low back.  It also unleashed a dramatic burst of energy throughout my body.  I love any technique that helps people to take care of their own issues; bodywork can get to be very expensive if you have a long-lasting problem so anything that moves it along faster or allows you to deal with the problem yourself is okay by me.

Once I’ve done that a bit more I’ll write up a set of instructions that include a more step-by-step approach to building the ability to do them and suggested modifications.

 

 

 

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First Thai massage–wowie

A long ago student of mine popped up recently wanting to know when and where I have my classes now.  I haven’t taught since I lost the place where I’d been teaching last spring and decided it was time for a break.  At the same time, I lost the bodywork trades I’d been doing in exchange for classes so aside from the splurge to have a couple of cranio-sacral appointments late last summer I’ve been without bodywork.

I offered to just give her some classes and she suggested that we trade private lessons for Thai massage.  I knew nothing about it but I love trying different sorts of bodywork so I said yes. Today I had the first appointment and I was just blown away.  The point is to open energy channels but it’s so much more.  A lot of it involves supported yoga poses while the practitioner also works on the stretched out muscles.  Some of the rest I don’t quite know how to describe.

Of course, after a long time away from getting worked on I realized there were a lot more sore places.  I was also impressed that the pattern of moving through the muscles included a lot of places where I’m very tight but don’t often feel that massage therapists address those particular muscles.

I came away feeling like some things had been blown open.  In a good way. The only time I can remember having quite the same sensation of huge energy from bodywork was when I received some lomi treatments during my Marin years from a woman who’d had the good fortune to study personally with the late, great Abraham Kawaii for a couple of years.  Both techniques are designed to open channels and let the energy flow freely though they accomplish it differently.

As I’ve been noting in recent posts, I’m aware I’ve been a little shut down and closed off recently but it was quite something to realize how my body had closed up a bit as well.  Not that I should have been surprised but I have still been practicing yoga and the Robert Masters-based work I developed–though not with my usual regularity–and I imagined that I’d been doing enough to keep my body aligned.  The good news is that even with a bit of lost ground I’m far ahead of where I once was.

I’m so grateful that the universe always seems to send the right practitioner my way at the right time.  I’m also having fun getting to teach my work again so a win-win!

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Healing Journey Page

energy-healing-synergybyjasmine

energy-healing-synergybyjasmine (Photo credit: Synergy by Jasmine)

I finally managed to face the long-planned task of marking all the posts about my healing process with the category “healing journey” and creating a page that has only those posts.  So,Ta Da.  You can see it on the menu above.  When I get rested up from that one there might be a page for the posts I’ve done with info on yoga and movement.  Maybe.  :>)

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The Eight Key Breaths. And pray for peace

English: Photograph of Edwin J. Dingle, Fellow...

Edward Dingle was a journalist and cartographer who lived for many years in China.  He studied with “The Sage of Singapore”, who sent him to study in Tibet.  It was there that he learned the Eight Key Breaths and the Five Tibetan Rites.  He changed his name to Ding Le Mei and when he returned to the States he founded the Institute of Mentalphysics, where he taught the Breaths and the Rites and his philosophy.  Eventually the Institute allowed a variety of spiritual groups to hold events there and required that each group teach the Breaths and the Rites to participants.  When I went through Nine Gates Mystery School in 1990 we held our second session at the Institute and learned those two practices.

I loved them from the beginning but at that stage the chronic fatigue and muscle issues were so severe that it limited how much I could feel their impact.  I was quite dedicated to my yoga practice–and really needed the regular routine just to keep some of my muscles in a tolerable place– and though I took up the Breaths and the Rites periodically I didn’t stick with them.  As noted in the last post, in about 2008 I decided it was time to practice them again.  By that time my body had opened up enough that I could feel their power much more.

I like to start my practice with the Breaths.  There isn’t a lot written about them and the information from Ding Le Mei is mainly a treatise on prana and pranayama practice with little info about the specifics of the way the Breaths work.  His instructions have been posted here so you can read what he had to say and see the pictures and instructions if you’re interested in trying the breaths.

As I’ve practiced, I’ve paid attention to the construction of the practice and I would add that I feel the pattern of the breaths buids energy/prana in particular areas as you hold and move and the movements help the energy to flow more forcefully.  The overall impact is increased energy but I think it opens some major pathways so that the energy you build moves through more of your body.

My touchstone in the last few years, as the muscles in my face and head have been s-l-o-w-l-y unwinding, has been increased activity in those muscles when I do practices that push more prana through the nadis.  The Eight Key Breaths have really built up energy in those locked up places and helped to push through those knots.

I like them as a beginning practice because they lift my energy so nicely that it gives me more energy for doing the rest of my practices.  I also feel that the enhanced energy then leads nicely into the chi gung practice.  Flying Crane opens major joints and helps chi/prana to flow throughout the body.  When I do the breaths first, I feel the chi gung takes off from the enhanced energy they create.  As the movements open my body even more, the already-increased flow grows more powerful.

After I started faithfully doing these three practices I experienced the most significant forward movement in my long journey to health that I have ever had.

LOVE those Key Breaths!

Collective Prayer Sundays:  In case you’re new, we’re finding 10 minutes at a minimum to pray or chant or meditate (or???) for peace every Sunday.  Details are on the CPS page.  For comments:  you can comment here or on that page or you can go to the Facebook page.

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Working with energy

Another old post, with some tweaks, about energy.  I’ll expand a little bit about the three practices in another post.

A few years ago — 20 some years into struggling with chronic fatigue and the twisted muscles issue — I hit a new phase in understanding the “energy-ness” of being.  It occurred to me that maybe instead of massages and acupuncture and supplements, I should work on balancing and raising energy.

I reviewed the many practices I’d learned over 20+ years of workshops and classes and chose three:  (1) the Eight Key Breaths; (2) the Five Tibetan Rites; and (3) Flying Crane Chi Gung.  I picked the Key Breaths because they build a strong energy — enough to start pushing open closed spaces — and they raise vibrational level too.  The Five Tibetan Rites are very balancing and they address the endocrine system which has been one of my major problem areas.  Flying Crane Chi Gung also balances energy, but specifically it — like other forms of Chi Gung and Tai Chi, etc. — builds chi, or prana.

In 2008 I began doing those three practices.  The Key Breaths I did pretty faithfully every day.  With the Rites and Flying Crane I tended often to do one or the other every day but I tried to do all three practices.  What a difference!   In fairness, over this period I was also regularly practicing the routines I’ve designed (and been teaching) combining triggers of release from Robert Masters’ Psychophysical Method with traditional yoga and receiving amazing Body Patterning treatments, both of which are clearly contributors.

The process of healing until that point was incredibly slow.  I give a lot of credit to the effects of the energy changing practices.  As my muscles return to normal I’m much more able to feel nuances of what the practices do and I feel their power ever more.  I can feel the powerful force of the Key Breaths pushing on blocked places.  I can feel how much my chi has improved.  I can feel the balancing effects of each practice and that there are subtle differences in each.  I’ll never know how things would have gone without the Body Patterning and the exercises, but  I think that building and balancing the energy changed everything.
See also http://www.scribd.com/doc/249007/Ti-Bet-an-Exercises

When I started practicing kundlini yoga a couple of years ago my focus shifted and the other three practices became more sporadic though I keep up with the Key Breaths pretty well.  For some months I kept being told in meditation that I should go back to the three energy practices but I love the kundalini yoga so much I took my time.  Recently during some inward shifts I just naturally felt it was the moment and those practices are becoming my routine again.  Every time I return to them after opening some more I appreciate even more how much they do to heal, build energy, and balance.

Unwinding Head Update

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Facial_muscles.jpg

Superficial muscles & structures of human face, Patrick J. Lynch

Recently my mother looked over at me, watching my face contort as unwinding muscles yanked my jaw around and dragged at my eyes, and said, “I don’t know how you’ve stood that for so long.  I think a couple of weeks of that and I’d shoot myself.”  I didn’t know how much I’d needed someone to say that until she did.  This has been quite a ride.  If you’ve followed me a long time you know I’ve posted about this unwinding head off and on, sometimes providing info and sometimes whining

The unwinding has become a touchstone for me.  When I do a practice that builds energy I can feel the energy press through the nadis and assist a little more unwinding. When I do something like the ceremonies I’ve done to break the ancestor’s spell I pay a lot of attention to what happens in those muscles.  Both times I’ve done the ceremony the unwinding has been wild — and has gone to a deeper level in the muscles.  Still not done but I’m certain that the ancestor’s spell and the unyielding muscles in my face and head are related and that I’ve either ended the spell or seriously loosened its grip.

When I started the muscles were wound up so tightly, so tangled with each other, so glued together that as this has gone along I’ve periodically stared at various photos of the muscles of the face, trying to relate what I can feel to a sense of the muscles and until recently I couldn’t sort out one from another because they were too entangled.  I’d already spent many years of bodywork and yoga getting the muscles from the neck down sorted out from the same state: every muscle wound up like steel, all muscles groups entangled and glued together and glued to bones.  My first main massage therapist took over a year to get the muscles in my back unglued from my ribs.

I know it’s not always interesting to read somebody’s health issues but somehow this ordeal has felt like something I need to keep sharing.  Though most people don’t have issues as severe as this, I’ve taught yoga and movement and watched people’s bodies for long enough that I know the majority of people have issues with tight muscles.  I also know that nearsightedness, TMJ, and under-developed jaws are rampant (and many have more than one of those), doctors do little with muscles, and most body workers work from the neck down.  Only a few modalities address the head; the two I use are cranio-sacral and bodypatterning.

All those tight muscles sap energy and block the flow of prana.  Don’t let it go until it’s so bad it takes 20+ years to get it all sorted out as it has for me.

Worthiness–Less and More

Salty Being Peace

Salty Being Peace

Note:  my comment on yesterday’s Prayer for Peace is on the Facebook page.

A few days ago a post on Brenda’s Blog left me spinning and thinking and wow-ing.  She wrote that if you’re not healthy or struggling for money then you’re not feeling worthy — worth-less.  Since I’ve been dealing with my health for 25+ years and through much of that time I’ve hovered on the brink of financial disaster, it struck a chord.

I realized some time ago that the ongoing health issues are tied to the financial issues –in more than the obvious way that I can’t work regular hours.  But the notion that both conditions reflect a state of feeling worth-less isn’t quite a way I’d looked at it.  Not that I haven’t hit issues about self-worth and worked on them in this many years of searching but I didn’t realize that something that deep around those issues still held on.

I’ve been walking around thinking and whispering, “I’m worth MORE” ever since.  It’s been another example for me of the many ways this condition of twisted up muscles creating body armor has not only affected everything but also has symbolized some key aspects of my being and issues.  In the post she spoke of keeping ourselves small.  A goose bumps moment for me because years ago my very talented and perceptive acupuncturist commented as he put the needles in, “It’s okay for you to be big.  You don’t have to make yourself small any more.”*

Mentally since that day I have worked on that and affirmed myself as big.  But my feeling is that as long as my body has been holding a tight, SMALL core that’s been impacting my ability to actually be big.  I’ve written many posts about this long healing journey [in the search box on the right put in healing journey Monday if you’re interested].  And I’ve written about how it sometimes takes a while.

In spite of all that work and digging through my psyche, the self-worth issues seem to be present still.  It will take some digging to figure out the source though I think some strong “don’t be” messages have permeated many areas of my life and although I’ve examined that issue I don’t think I’ve found every place where it affects me.  I’m so grateful to Brenda for the post that helped me see this.

Sometimes the process of figuring these things out takes a long time and has many stages.  The first time I accidentally hit publish on this post it had a different ending about a “Slow Movement”.  I’ll be posting that one next.

* If you’re lucky enough to be in the SF area you can check him out in Mill Valley:  Raymond Himmel.  He also has a blog.

Healing Journey: Going backwards?

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Wheel_pose.jpg

Wheel Pose photo by Satheesan on Wikimedia

My ongoing ordeal with my psoas muscle has led to some deep thinking–I wound up being pretty much house bound and unable to do more than some very light yoga and as little walking as possible so I had lots of time for thinking!–and noticing and learning.  As I’ve slowly worked my way back to exercises I’ve had to readjust a lot of my yoga poses.

In an earlier post I mentioned that in the years of bodywork that have accompanied my yoga practice I’ve often had to readjust my balance in a lot of poses to accommodate the change in my body.  There are also a few poses, like the wheel, above, that I loved and lost the ability to do as issues with my wrists worsened over time.

Well, the sudden giant openings in my psoas have not only forced a large portion of that muscle to say hello to the world but also a lot of small muscles in that area that have been hanging out in a stupor while the steely cable of twisted up psoas held all the strength for the area.  The repercussions have been moving through my entire left hip and low left back area and down into my left ankle and foot.  When I practice yoga now I can’t go nearly as far into many poses as I once did with ease.  I have to pay close attention as I perform asanas and make sure that I’m stopping at my new (and regularly changing) normal.

Some big lessons have been blinking at me through all this:

  • Be careful what you wish for–or maybe learn patience better?

I’ve been chafing at the slow progress of all this body stuff and in recent months I’ve not only begged the universe to help this move along faster, I also upped some yoga practices that focus on the psoas big time.  So I asked for it and I got it–a big giant release of a whole lot at once.  My guides have told me in meditation many times that there’s reason to the slowness given the severity of the problems with every muscle in my body and this result is the kind of thing they’ve warned me about.  But did I listen?  No, I begged for more and faster and whoa boy did I get it!

Now obviously there’s an up side in all these lessons, etc. plus the joy of feeling the openness in the psoas where once there was a steely lump but I also get the lesson that I could have had it without the horrible pain and the two weeks of being mostly house bound and lying down…

  • Stay in the moment

I think of myself as being mindful when I practice but when forced to slow down and pay close attention I realized that I’m often not as mindful as I should be.  For instance, I had to return to an easy version of locust pose in which you alternate lifting each leg up and down.  I’ve been aware that I often move faster than my dvd on that one.  During this time of a slower, more careful version of me I realized that I’ve been staying clenched at the end of each one in preparation for the next instead of releasing all the way as I exhale.  That one small shift made a big difference in the feel of the movement and suddenly I was a little slower than Ana (Brett who demonstrates)…

When I forge ahead with speed and impatience I don’t pay as much attention to those little details.  Besides the fact that they enhance the practice of yoga, the practice of slowing down and staying mindful helps maintain that calm, serene centered place.  And, well, it helps me to become more mindful.

  • Remember to be a beginner

Some Buddhist teachings make a point of the importance of maintaining “beginner’s mind”.  In others words don’t let years of experience make you feel so cocky that you think you have nothing left to learn.  I try to stay open to the possibility of learning something new and I periodically learn a new form of yoga or make a point of picking out a new posture to learn from something like Yoga Journal.   But my struggles in recent weeks with doing postures I “mastered” long ago have been humbling.

I can remember enough about my early days in Bill Hunt’s classes that I was very aware that I couldn’t go into some postures as well as I could when I started in July of 1986 and that in many more I fell years behind where I had been.  The good news is that 27 years of yoga has given my muscles pretty good memory so now that the psoas is allowing me to do more each day I’m already moving back to where I was.  Still the change in my muscles is requiring some re-calibration yet again in how I balance.

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Transformation tends to sound always like a great thing and there often seems to be an assumption that any move you’re making toward better health or greater spiritual harmony is going to be an easy thing.  Sometimes it is, but often change means that parts of your body or parts of your life — like people who may not want to readjust to the new you– have to shift to accommodate the new you and sometimes there’s pain and struggle before the easy place arrives.  I don’t think that gets mentioned enough.

I keep having to learn that Divine Time is often not the same as My Time and that patience thing crops up often for me.  I’ve gotten kind of used to having to sway with the winds of change as I’ve been transforming my life for 28 years now but I don’t always enjoy the pain…

Healing Journey Monday: Progress!

By Beth ohara (Own work) [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

The long unwinding process has been moving at a faster pace the last couple of months.  I’ve realized regularly that I could see certain items more clearly at a distance and the last week or so there’s been an interesting interaction between the muscles in my face unwinding and my super tight left psoas finally opening.  I realize the progress is mainly meaningful to me but it feels important to “talk” about the fact that, even though it’s slow, the huge problems I’ve had with my health and body are working themselves out.

I noticed several times while in California that I could see road signs, etc. at a greater distance than usual.  The big revelation came when I went over to Louisville yesterday with a friend to see the wonderful retirement/service/ceremony/party for the lovely Rev. Susan Engpoole at Unity of Louisville.  I hadn’t been for a while and it’s a church that tossed out the hymnals and started projecting song lyrics on the wall a long time ago.  They project on a right wall and the last time I was there I was sitting in the center and couldn’t see the words at all–just blurry dark lines across the wall.  Yesterday I was sitting in the left side (quite a bit farther away from the wall) and, though it was blurry, I COULD READ THE WORDS!

Along with the winding gyrations that have been accompanying the vision improvements, there’s been a back and forth between releases in my jaw and behind my eyes and the sudden opening of my left psoas.  That muscle has been the cause of exclamations from practitioners since my experienced rolfer, over 20 years ago, first mentioned that he’d never seen a psoas that tight.  Since then I’ve regularly done a granddaddy psoas stretch in which you go into lotus pose and then lie down but every practitioner since has agreed that it’s been tight and unmoving.

It’s had a little bit of opening recently but I could still feel the big clump of knotty, glued together muscle in there.  This opening has involved several moments in which there was literally a big crack/pop inside.  As predicted by my latest practitioner, the other muscles that have been out of play while that one held like a tree trunk got pulled into action.  Suddenly I understood why those groin injuries that figure skaters are always getting can keep them off the ice — wow that hurts!  But through the pain I’ve also been able to feel the big lump in there is either gone or at least considerably reduced.  Right now I’m going very gently with a little bit of yoga stretching and a few of the triggers movements for that area because it’s still very sore but I’m so excited about how it’s going to feel to be free and flowing all through that psoas/hip/low back area that’s been so constrained all these years!

If you’ve been reading a while you know I’ve done a number of posts about how the body interconnects and the importance of keeping the flow.  I’m bringing this one up because it’s the kind of example that’s so rarely put together — even I, knowing all I do about interconnections, noted the relationship of my psoas and my face with surprise.

Painful though this process has been and long, long, long as it has been, I just want to jump up and down and tell everyone:  “Hang in there–sometimes it takes a long time.  Sometimes the healing hurts–I’ve found I have to learn when the pain is just what needs to happen and when I need to have something checked out (the latter has been rare).  Sometimes parts of you are interacting in ways you can’t imagine and you need to learn how to work with the patterns if you want to be open and let the prana flow.  You can get there!”

See also:

Vision and Your Body and Soul

Clearer Vision

Jaw Connections