Fascial Integration Exercise – The fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds all of our muscles, bones, and organs. It separates structures from each other and allows for the smooth gliding of these structures, it also supports our body in its integrity and form. Our body is entirely connected through the fascia which is why you could perhaps feel a pull at the bottom of your foot when a therapist is working on your neck. After you have received bodywork, exercised, meditated, had a session with your spiritual director or psychotherapist, or just had a busy day it helps to process and integrate through connecting with your body as a whole.
Hydrotherapy – This is the use of water in a solid, liquid or gas used to positively affect our physiology, applied as heat or cold for vasodilation or vasoconstriction. Use of hydrotherapy to affect the whole body could include the following: sauna; hot tub; steam room; polar dip; cold water wash; snow or dew walking; hot or contrast hot and cold foot bathing. Regular use, particularly of the cold or contrast therapies has the potential of strengthening the constitution. *Check with your doctor if you have any health considerations prior to using these modalities. When using a sauna, hot tub or steam room place a cold towel around your neck and draped over.
Meditation – Prepare a space indoors or outdoors that creates safety and helps you to feel calm. Make sure that you are in a comfortable position and use pillows if necessary to support your body. Sit in stillness as best you can, but if you need to adjust to allow circulation to flow or to release a restriction in your body, do so mindfully and slowly to allow your nervous system to stay in a neutral tone. Generally, you sit to stay attentive, but if you wake in the night and use meditation at that time, you may stay in a reclined position so that you are ready to drift off.
Allowing a Neutral Mind – A calm, neutral mind may seem at times as distant and tenuous as the moon in this photo, but underneath the chatter of our thinking…….. is stillness. The nervous system calms here. A meditative awareness unfolds. Our thoughts are often compelled by our ego, and if we let the ego set the tone, we are forever bound and trying to figure out, fix, plan, process, alert; this can leave us charged with a busy energy. Remember, we can hear the layer of the ego and we can choose to listen to ‘the still, small voice’ underneath. As we do this there is a sense that stillness.
Wide Perceptual Awareness –We often function through our day focused and intent on tasks at hand. Perhaps we are moving forward to our next destination or concentrating and thinking. With these goals often goes an orientation from the pre-frontal cortex of the brain just behind the forehead. We may even find ourselves leaning forward ahead of our body affecting our posture and straining our necks and backs. After you ground and breathe, become aware of the horizon. Whether an actual or imagined horizon this allows for a more spacious feeling in your whole being.
Posture – To enjoy our movement and protect our body from strain we need to bring a mindfulness to our posture and the way we use our body. Walking with my dogs I feel such joy as I watch the beauty of their poise and grace or have a laugh at their silly abandon as they leap and jump about. They are alert, instinctive and interacting with their environment constantly. Many writings on posture point us to observe animals as we remember proper body use. Cranial work, Yoga, Tai Chi, Qigong and The Alexander Technique are all very helpful in reminding us to adjust and fine tune our movements. Through these disciplines.
Breathing – Lay in a comfortable position and give your belly a shake or gentle massage (if this induces laughter, all the better!) This helps you start to connect with your diaphragm which is located at the bottom of the rib cage. Ground yourself by feeling your back against the surface you are laying upon, and put your hands on your belly. Take a slow breath allowing your belly to rise as you feel your hands move up with the inhalation. It takes some practice to breathe into the belly first and not the chest. This is a simple place to start, opening the doorway to relaxation.
Inertial Fulcrums develop in our body as a result of stress in our system. This stress can originate from traumatic forces from outside of our body or it can be caused by postural or emotional strain from within. The force of gravity and the spinning of the earth can also affect our body as we interplay with our environment to maintain balance. Some stress, like movement through a shock absorber, will move in (or from within), through and out of our system, while other stress may create inertial fulcrums leading to dysfunction. These can potentially be freed with bodywork.
As a teen in art school my life drawing teacher said to me that it was as important to consider the space on the page as it was the placement of the shapes and lines. That awareness of space resonated in me and I remind myself of that idea when working with each person and their body. As the therapist allows for spaciousness in their contact, in their own body, in the pauses between techniques used; then the nervous system has time to integrate treatment. With this awareness of space and breath, there can be a listening and engaging with the fluid rhythm of the body.