A client just asked me if there was something he could do to help his chronically stiff and achey neck on his own. Of course! I made a short playlist of YouTube videos to help this goal.
First, my Somatic Experiencing training tells me that orienting is hugely important for the neck, as the desire to point our most-used information-gathering tools at objects and scenes of interest is crucial to our sense of safety, and that desire can help unlock movement potential.
Next, from Mary Bond, a Rolfing Movement teacher, some physical cues to help ease the subtle movements at the top of the spine.
Finally, if you are looking for a slightly longer exploration, a short neck-releasing Awareness Through Movement class by David Zemach-Bersin of the Feldenkrais Institute.
Movement is life! When it comes to the neck, the more subtle the release, the more powerful– if you can get the strong muscular ribbons on all sides of your spine to let go, even just a little bit, the big movers will have more freedom to let go, too.
I’m putting this here so that I know where to find it when I need a refresher!
The Polyvagal theory as described by Dr. Stephen Porges helps us to understand our physiological responses to stress. Knowing why our bodies do what they do can be SUCH A RELIEF for our minds, which love to find meaning for the states we find ourselves in, even when those states don’t match the current environment. This is particularly useful information for people with trauma histories, whose bodies might be telling stories from times past that make the present difficult to fully enjoy.
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Released Jan 26, 2016 Fresh Air with Terry Gross interviews Jo Marchant on topics that may be relevant to your interests. They certainly were to mine, pinging especially my trauma training and the physiology of PTSD.
“The mind has the ability to directly affect our health, from pain and depression to heart disease. Science writer Jo Marchant describes how things like mindfulness, virtual reality and the placebo effect are being harnessed in medical treatments.”
Here are some resources for those of you wanting to submit claims to your insurance companies for out-of-network reimbursement:
You will need a billing statement from me to submit along with the form from your insurance company, and many times they will want me to put the ICD-10 code from your prescription on my statement. Again, I require a prescription even if your plan does not.
I just did this nice little self-care ritual of Mary Bond’s. I spend a lot of time in my bare or socked feet at work, but as she points out, that flat surface isn’t particularly interesting to my feet, and just threading my fingers through the toes as she suggests was a revelation.
This past weekend I was up by the Hamma Hamma river on the Olympic Peninsula and was walking barefoot on the sun-warmed river rocks, massaging my feet on the old logs, and allowing the forest floor to stimulate all of the receptors on the bottoms of my feet. So good! It makes me appreciate how my son Huck has toughened up his feet with a mostly barefoot summer and now his steps don’t have to be so tender and tentative when he walks the earth that way.
One of the common questions I get about my work is “What is the difference between massage and Structural Integration?” The primary difference is intention and the systems we are working with: massage therapy is great for stress reduction and getting the blood and lymphatic systems moving, Structural Integration is aiming more for engaging long-term patterns in the connective tissue of the body. This connective tissue system is something we call fascia.
For a long time fascia was just the stuff the anatomists cut through to get to what they were studying, but over the past decade or two there has been more interest in the material itself. Several years ago I attended the very first Fascia Research Congress at Harvard University, where researchers and clinicians gathered for the first time to share their findings with one another. The fourth Fascia Research Congress was held just last month. I’m not a research wonk, but I did find the scientific process fascinating– ask a question, create a test, isolate the variables, collect the data, present your conclusions.
Last time I checked in with the wonks, there was no consensus on the exact mechanism of change for fascia– i.e., why does it respond to Structural Integration, what is the physiology, what is the best way to get a response? The answer I got was that they only knew it was not strictly applied pressure. To create connective tissue change with pressure you have to load one spot with a tremendous amount of it, a force so great even the most heavy-handed Rolfers are not capable of doing it.
The search continues, of course, and my curiosity lies with what they might find out about the nerve fibers and contractile tissue in the fascial matrix. There seems to be a place in connective tissue where the person (or the nervous system) is engaged, sometimes over-engaged, and if they can be met there and convinced that the grasp on that tissue can be loosened without dire consequences… well, it’s probably another post entirely to go into that, but let’s just say I’m interested to hear what the researchers find out.
Here is a lovely, graphically detailed and illustrated description of fascia with Robert Schleip, a Rolfer® and researcher in Germany (subtitled in English):
Some time ago the magazine of the Rolf Institute of Structural Integration® published an excerpt from Dr. Jeffrey Maitland’s book Spacious Body: Explorations in Somatic Ontology. It was a dense and chewy read by a philosopher and Rolfer, and though it took me a while to read the whole article, his ideas have resonated in the years since.
Scanning through the article again, I feel like he needed a better editor, but the idea of finding within oneself an “Allowing Will” has been very juicy for me over the years. Can I choose, for instance, to allow support from another being, or allow something deep to happen in my body or experience without trying to control it? What if I just let gravity have that leg for a moment? Will all hell break loose? How about allowing myself to feel that tangle of emotions in the hip? Will the universe implode? Letting go of control can feel very dangerous to someone who has used it to navigate this crazy world. Not that I would know (ahem).
From this place the universe seems kinder and gentler and has a little more flow. Terrible things happen, but bracing against terrible things tends to make more terrible things happen, and allowing them to be something that instead once happened and then allowing the future to hold the possibility of quite different experiences… well, it works better for me.
Click the quote above to access the book, the Allowing Will is chapter 4.
I am late to the game on this, but after talking with one of my clients recently about being extra-sensitive to the feelings of others, among other things, I finally did a little search online about it.
I have never identified as a “Highly Sensitive” person because (according to my therapist) I have excellent coping skills, and (it’s my feeling that) I’m not THAT sensitive. I’m lucky enough to be able to dial it in and dial it out most of the time, but there are times when I have to do a little self defense in the empathic realm, and my education about how to do that has been piecemeal.
There are a lot of us out there who get stronger signals from the world, which many of us read as ANXIETY, dreadful inexplicable anxiety. Somatic Experiencing has helped me tremendously with that, making it possible for me to experience anxiety as a felt-sense phenomenon that may or may not have a real issue it is trying to help me with. My discernment skills around that have gotten pretty good, and I may be able to teach you some of those skills if you like.
But–in big energy situations where my senses tend to get weirdly overwhelmed (a great example for me is festivals, where lots of crazy energy is running rampant) I have found it necessary to to a little self-care up front with little practices I’ve made up on my own. If the message about how to take care of oneself in this way has had a hard time reaching me, a person who has been surrounded by resources for over 20 years of working in the healing arts, then maybe it’s having a hard time reaching you, too.
Here’s a local class for you sensitive peeps out there that might prove helpful: http://www.annaholden.com/sensitive-self-program-series/sensitive-self-defense-training-course/
I’ve been clicking around on this website, too: http://hsperson.com
Something about the language of this site speaks to me less (I don’t identify with it), but I appreciate her focus on research, and have her book reserved at the library.
Here’s to continued learning!
It’s Summer in Seattle! The best time of year, and you should be feeling your very best. To help keep you flying through these long and lovely days, I’m offering a mini-series of Structural Integration for a reduced rate: Three sessions for $300. (That’s a savings of $75 for the set!)
If you have never received Dr. Rolf’s Structural Integration work, three sessions is a perfect intro, and should leave you feeling light on your feet, longer in your spine, and either completely satisfied or aware that you need more.
If you have done a series in the past, three is a great tune-up set.
To take advantage of this offer, book three appointments here and use promotion code SUMMER!. Offer ends August 31, 2016.