Thursday, September 6, 2007

Structure of Body Mind Spirit

“The strongest, surest way to
the soul is through the flesh.”
Mabel Dodge,
Leonardo in Taos

Massage is well known for it’s therapeutic and relaxing benefits. The gentler, more superficial massage techniques like Swedish have a subtler effect on the life force. The deep tissue-structural modalities like Rolfing, LomiWork, HellerWork and Body Therapy can have a significant impact on vitality. The deep tissue work is called structural because it effects the alignment of the skeletal system; the connective tissues called fascia, tendons and ligaments; and the adhesions, or “knots”, in the muscle tissues. Another way to think of structure is your posture. When your posture is good your skeletal system is perfectly aligned. The muscles are strong and relaxed and the joints flexible. Your body is effortlessly balanced and your movement graceful. Balance is the interaction of gravity and the skeletal alignment. Joseph Heller says, “ Balance is not a static condition, but a process of constant flux, a fluid expression of wholeness and ease.” Chronic stress, illness and injury distort the bodies’ posture by contracting the muscles and tightening the joints. The skeletal alignment then becomes skewed. The bodies full range of motion becomes limited and less efficient.

All the tissues of your body are interconnected by a living matrix. “The matrix inside the cells, known as the cytoskeleton, is directly connected to the matrix outside the cells, classically known as the connective tissue.” Connective tissues line all the body cavities and envelop all internal organs. Microscopic strands of connective tissue envelop muscle fibers. Muscle fibers are banded together by connective tissue to create the muscles themselves. The muscles are then covered by larger sheaths of connective tissue called fascia. The muscles are attached to bone by connective tissues called tendons. Joints and bones are stabilized together by connective tissues called ligaments. The entire body is a network interconnected fibers.

The living matrix is very important for a number of reasons. The connective tissue is flexible. Once contracted it can be stretched out again. It records all our physical experiences. That’s why deep tissue touch can release long forgotten memories and feelings. Long held stress, trauma and illness have the greatest distorting effect on the body. Skeletal imbalances can be corrected by deep touch. The connective tissue network conducts vibrational impulses. When one area of the body is touched the vibration ripples through the matrix. Creating change in one area generates subtle changes throughout the system. Robert Hall MD teaches that the microscopic level of connective tissue is the interface between our thoughts and our physical bodies. This is how repetitive thought patterns show up in our tissues. If the thought patterns are fearful and contracting the connective tissues will contract, which distorts the carriage of the skeletal system. If the thought patterns are open and expansive, the connective tissue is fluid and flexible. The body remains balanced and poised. Caroline Myss puts it this way, “Your biography (how you feel about your life and personal history) becomes your biology.”

I recommend structural body work as one way to maximize your quality of life. Structural Integration, or Rolfing, is the most famous of the deep tissue alignment schools. Rolfing is a series of ten bodywork sessions. Photographs of the body are taken at the beginning of the first session. An assessment of postural imbalances are noted. Each session focuses on different parts of the body. Initially the therapist works to re-establish a solid ground of support with the feet, ankles and legs. Once these are stabilized the pelvis is worked to create a solid base for the torso. Later the head is “put on straight.” The relation between the body and the unconscious mind is often dramatically revealed during these sessions. Memories and emotions can flood the mind. Important shifts in thinking and behavior are also reported due to this work. Final photographs reveal the changes in posture. You can see for yourself the physical benefits of this work.

There are two issues to consider when choosing a deep tissue bodyworker. Their ability to be present and their respect of your pain threshold. Presence of mind reflects a clarity in the practitioner. They are practicing consciousness in their own lives. A safe place for emotional work is created more easily. They have an increased ability to accept any and all of the emotions and experiences that might arise during a session. Presence mirrors a higher vibration of inner-vitality, or chi. Remember the capacity of the living matrix to conduct vibrations throughout the entire body. If your therapist works in presence then the frequency of their touch is greater. You experience more benefit. Richard Strozzi Heckler writes,

“What we actually have to offer another is the simple but daring contribution of our genuine presence. Techniques and theories abound and we can learn half a dozen in an hour, but it is the pulsing contact between living things that healing and beauty take place. Presence is being present—a state pregnated with an open-ended curiosity, relaxation, and power that comes from seamlessly knitting together one’s mind, body and spirit.”

The deep schools of touch have a reputation for being painful. Some of the sessions are intense, there’s no doubt. A gifted therapist will work to the edge of your discomfort and pause. With attention and conscious breathing the muscles and fascia will often “melt” to allow a deeper touch. Real emotional and psychic transformation is found at the interface of the pain threshold. If a therapist attempts to slam through the painfully tight muscles the inner core of the body contracts and the psychic and emotional energies are traumatized. There’s no way for the tension already held there to be released. It is in respecting the pain threshold that safety is experienced, emotions are freed and expressed and the muscles truly release their tension. Many Americans have poor boundaries. We don’t know how to say this is enough at this time in this place. This hurts. We endure more than we can tolerate. Practicing an honoring of the pain threshold can have immediate and life long benefits.

Love your way, ad

Alan Davidson, founder of
and author of Body Brilliance:
Mastering Your Five Vital
Intelligences (IQs)

Watch the Body Brilliance Movie

Dedicated to our healthy, happy, and prosperous world through the full enlightenment of every human being.

Through Your Body
1103 Peveto St.
Houston, TX 77019

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