Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting Good at Posture

How many times have we all heard about maintaining good posture? First from our parents, then from our teachers, and now from our ergonomic consultants. Indeed, a whole industry has developed around how to position our desks, chairs, and computer monitors to keep our bodies in as neutral and supported a configuration as possible. But how many of us have had our environment expertly rearranged, only to find ourselves slouched against the armrest of our new chair, one foot tucked underneath the other leg, firmly grasping the phone between our ear and shoulder, and reaching for the keyboard at the same time?

When you stand or sit up straight, pull your shoulders back, square your hips, you are affecting a position with the large muscle groups of your body, your voluntary muscles. But you're not really changing your posture. Now I'm not saying it's a bad idea to put yourself in that position; in fact the shape, tone, and tension of your spine has a lot to do with how you experience life, so standing tall is certainly a good thing. The fact is posture is important, but it's also important to understand that posture is inherently dynamic. If you have to think about maintaining your posture, it's simply not sustainable. So it's not that you need to train yourself to maintain good posture, it's that your posture is a reflection of what you are maintaining.

We can train ourselves to form habits around proper posture, but to me Good Posture is one that is self-responsive and appropriate to the situation. If you are outside with the sun shining, on your day off, and ready to enjoy yourself, I would expect that your shoulders would be back, chin and chest lifted. If you have just received sad and terrible news, good posture would be the opposite. If you are carrying a heavy bag, good posture would have your body distort to accommodate the load. If you put the bag down, and your body was still distorted, even to a lesser degree, that would be a problem with posture.

Your posture, when you're not thinking about it, is primarily determined by the smaller and mostly involuntary muscles along your spine, called paraspinal muscles. They tell the real story of what stress you're maintaining in your body, whether you cognitively know it or not. They also determine how responsive you and your body can be to external stresses or changes in the environment around you. And what controls these paraspinal muscles is your nervous system, particularly the parts that have to do with automatic and unconscious response to stress, and that have to do with your emotions. So changing your posture at this root level is all about changing your nervous system's ability to respond to stress and experience emotion.

This is where Network Care comes in. By teaching your brain and nervous system how to pay better attention to the stress being maintained in your body, each entrainment gives you a new and/or refined ability to assess the tension in your spine and release what's appropriate. You start to more automatically move into and out of that slouch against your chair's armrest. You start to notice that your shoulders relax as soon as you step out into the sunshine. You start to develop Good Posture, and it's effortless.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Suffering is Joy

What most of us identify as suffering is actually resistance to suffering.

That is to say, you have a concept of what the pain or worst-case scenario is going to be like, and then live in anticipation or anxiety of it. Our minds create meaning, reasons, and back-story for the problem. We find culprits to blame, circumstances by which we are trapped, and rationalizations about the turn our lives have taken. Over time, those ideas become so closely associated with the actual sensation of pain or suffering that we think we are suffering, when we are actually thinking about suffering.

To help sustain that illusion of suffering, our bodies distort into a specific shape, tone, and posture. No emotion or situation can be maintained by thought alone. The experience persists because you learn to "do" the sensations and strategies that create that feeling. How do we "do" a state of mind or experience? Our nervous system runs specific pathways, our large and small muscles fire, and we move our breath and energy in particular patterns. So it feels like we're suffering, but really we are doing the emotions we have about suffering.

This is not to say that true suffering is easy, comfortable, or without significant charge. On the contrary, every experience of our authentic self is rich with sensation, emotion, and thought. But the nature of this richness is quite different from that of resisting, thinking, or doing suffering. When you allow the suffering, you free yourself from it, and from the fear and stories about it. True suffering, when fully experienced, is joy.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Not Settling for Perfect

It's my belief that most of the time, most people try to do their best. For some, it is a constant struggle for perfection. That is to say, their best is never quite good enough or their effort is never quite acknowledged (for themselves) as the best they could do. And at the other end of the spectrum are those for whom the results of doing their best do not match the intended outcome--something like, "I did everything I could and it still didn't turn out right," or "I'm doing everything I'm supposed to, but this problem happened anyway."

I have personally hung out in each of these camps and at various places in between, and what I am starting to understand is that all along that continuum is the opportunity to not just do our best, but also be at our best--that is, to be happy and fulfilled and knowing inside that we're moving in the right direction. And you take that opportunity by feeling good about your efforts and your outcomes whatever they are, and by accepting that they are exactly perfect for where you are in your journey. I know that internally there is clamoring from either end of the spectrum about not wanting to settle for less than what is actually desired, or about becoming complacent and not working for self-improvement. But the truth is that it is not only possible, but it is crucial to be simultaneously completely satisfied with what is, and always wanting and asking more for and of yourself.

Many contemporary philosophers, teachers, and coaches say that in order to have a thing, you must first be the thing you want so that you will do the things that can bring you what you've wanted to have. Or to quote the philosophy more succinctly, "In life, you do not have to do anything. It's all a question of what you are being."

While I understand the idea and agree with the vibrational Law of Attraction (where that which unto itself is similar, is irrepressibly drawn), I don't agree that you don't have to do anything. I believe that in order to be anything, you must start to do things because it is only in action that our bodies and nervous systems continually learn to move past what's comfortable to achieve and sustain true happiness. It is only through embodied experience that we can actually be what we want, much less have what we want.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Celebrate the Puffballs of the World

I had the tremendous pleasure of viewing this 22 minute film by Dewitt Jones, called "Celebrate What's Right with the World." Mr. Jones is a photographer who worked for the National Geographic, and describes how the vision and mission of that magazine helped to shape his life. Whether there are dandelions or puffballs (you'll have to watch it!), he gives us insight into the power of our perspective to shape our beliefs and ultimately our experience of reality.

I highly recommend taking the time for these beautiful images and important message of transformation and wellness. And please, post your comments and thoughts to share!

Thursday, June 5, 2008

It's All About You

What's beautiful about relationships is the way they take you to the next level in yourself. Those of us on the road to self-realization and self-actualization often become experts at managing ourselves. We get to a point where we know our idiosyncracies--what bugs us, how we like our environment to be, where we are at in any given moment, when and how to move in response to stress so that we continue to feel balanced. We get really good at flying solo.

And as with all things, we want more (whether we know we're asking or not) and the universe wants and creates more for us. Relationship, and especially intimate relationship, is your ticket to the next level of mastering your life. Whether you are engaged in the beginning, middle, or ending of a relationship, whether you are in the midst of cultivation, negotiation, or hospice work in relationship, the gifts are of, about, and for yourself. That is the magic and the mayhem of bringing your whole self to bear with someone else. It's all about you from start to finish. She or he is there to help you see yourself better, no matter the awareness or intention of their participation in the process. And though most of us lose our way and focus in some form, blaming and looking outside ourselves at the other person's faults and challenges, the purpose of relationship truly is to discover and transform what's inside us.

All this is not to say that the other person is irrelevant, or merely an object to your subject. Rather, it is my opinion that there are layers and perspectives and flavors of ourselves that we can only know as part of something greater than ourselves. And relationships are often the most immediate and provoking experiences you can have to feel ever deeper the truth and light within you.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

On the Importance of Being a Cheap Date

The key to being happy more of the time is learning how to be a cheap date. Cheap dates get a bad rap, but really there is nothing better than discovering a simple recipe for what works for you, and then getting good at enjoying it. Let me be clear: I'm not advocating that you settle for second best or water down your desires to minimal satisfaction. On the contrary, I encourage you to cultivate the places that give you the good stuff, the super-charged juicy juice that also comes easy for you. Imagine having access to energy that is continuously renewed rather than depleted, energy that seems to become more abundant the more we use it.

We all have ways of using and moving our energy--whether it's mental, emotional, or spiritual--that we are familiar with. They are supported by the physiological structure of our bodies and spines, and they are repeated and reinforced by our perception of the world through those filters. They are strategies that we've developed over time and from experience, usually in response to external demands and expectations. Unfortunately, because we often choose our strategies to avoid fear and harm, they also tend to be hard work to maintain. These defense strategies are very effective in the short-term, and simply not sustainable as tools for creating and celebrating your best life.

Network care, and SRI in particular (Somato-Respiratory Integration), gives you the opportunity to develop new strategies, anchored in your spine and physiology, that connect with your internal guidance system. With our body and awareness as our guide, we discover what our personal recipe is for boundless energy and ultimately, deep meaning in our life. Progressing through Network care allows for more and more refinement, effectiveness, and efficiency with these strategies. Not only do external stressors and influences derail us less, but our capacity to manifest and express the richness on the inside becomes our greatest resource. We learn to tap what's most easeful, to shape all that brimming potential, and to marvel at the gifts that reveal themselves as ours to give.

So, who wants to be a cheap date now?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Being Your Own Boss Sucks

There comes a point in the healing journey when we can no longer deny that we are the most responsible for what's gone wrong in our lives. That's not to say that external circumstances and other people's actions have not affected us. But we are the only ones who can anchor those events into our bodies and our lives, and we are the only ones who can heal them. Understanding these facts, and even better, feeling them in our bodies is the crucial step to gaining enough energy, emotion, and momentum to make the decision to stop doing what we've always done. It's much easier to get fed up with someone else's behavior, or blame the situation, or blow your top. Making these kinds of decisions are about reorganizing your internal terrain, and require a significant amount of accountability.

Making these kinds of shifts and taking responsibility for ourselves is really about taking our own power back. You become your own boss--no one else is the boss of you, and there is no one else to blame. You start catching yourself at your old tricks, and if you're a good boss, you just don't let yourself get away with that behavior anymore. It's become clear in your mind and in your body that it doesn't serve you. Even if you still choose those survival strategies from time to time, the auto-pilot, reflexive quality of those choices has no choice but to change. What was automatic and unthinking before is now unavoidably felt and seen; what was numb is now awake.

And having been my own boss in this way for a while now, I can tell you that being your own boss sucks. The level of accountability is high, and though I do maintain compassion, patience, and appreciation for my expertly honed coping strategies, there is nowhere to hide from myself anymore. With no one to blame and with the decision already made to step up to the next level, we are in new territory here. Unfamiliar and sometimes uncomfortable, true change is felt in the body, mind, and spirit. This is the beginning of sustainable transformation, and the beginning of sustainable living.

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Staying in Balance Will Kill You

To build a sustainable life, and to improve the quality of that life, we have less use for balance than most of us think. Actually, what most of us think is that balance will help us to feel less uncomfortable, or at least give us some control over it. Often I hear people talk about wanting to find and maintain balance in their lives, and balance is also commonly touted as one of the outcomes of healing. But the idea of being in this kind of constant equilibrium is a myth.

The truth is that nothing in nature ever maintains a static balance; everything is always changing and adapting. In fact, if your heart rate doesn't fluctuate at all for more than a minute, you will likely die within the following minute. The reason is a non-fluctuating heart rate exists only in a non-responsive system--your body is no longer receiving or responding to the dynamic input from its internal and external environment. If you are no longer changing and adapting, you are no longer living in a sustainable way.

Look to increasing your capacity instead, for both the chaos and the order in your life.
Rather than trying to create a world and a life in which balance is paramount, our resources are better spent improving other qualities:

  • Flexibility, so it doesn't hurt as much when we move to or from extreme states, and so we can more easily shift into and out of stress, defense, healing, and growth.
  • Adaptability, so our experiences and life's lessons can be received for the opportunities they are to develop and deepen our strategies for connection and awakening.
  • Resiliency, so we are able to respond to changes in our established course with more grace, and so we are able to make room for the gifts and miracles no matter how uncomfortable, messy, or unseemly the situation may be.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Trust that They See Right Through You

Change and growth can be quite scary, especially when we are truly discovering who we are and when we start to realize that we must be true to our authentic selves. When our journey leads us to the sometimes stark reality that we are not the people we've been pretending to be, it can be deeply unsettling. In my experience with these moments, not only am I often stunned at how profoundly I have cast myself as who I think I am supposed to be, but I also run smack into the fear of whether anyone will love me if I stop keeping up the charade. That is to say, if I stop being who I've always been and stop doing the things I've always done, will the people in my life stop being in my life?

These questions are a fantastic distraction. Running our perceptions this way basically creates a story where we have managed to fool everyone around us, where we are convinced of our success in hiding our authentic selves. But the truth is that most of us are just not as good at hiding the light inside of us as we think we are. It doesn't matter how well it seems that you are keeping what you really think and feel to yourself, or how complete you think the act you're putting on is. The people who love you best and are the most intimate with you, they really can see right through you. And that's because true connection doesn't happen between our facades and personalities. It's your authentic self doing the connecting all along. The shape, color, and tone around your essential nature may change and be different, but why people love you, what makes you unique and special, those shine through no matter what the wrapping.

Granted, the changes we make may create a situation where those around us are prodded into discovering more about themselves, and that may not be comfortable. Sometimes, the degree of attachment and physical structure of our relationships may even change drastically. But who you are is what people connect with more often than not, and if your changes are to let your light shine through clearer and brighter, you can trust that those connections can be nothing but better for the change.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

The Business of Healing

Going into business for myself was a bigger decision than I really understood at the time. I made the decision six years ago when I resigned from my seven-year career in software development and enrolled in chiropractic college. I knew that the change in career would involve becoming an entrepreneur because there aren't really "jobs" for chiropractors in institutions or companies, and I was ready for that shift in that I was ready to start making my life work for me. What I didn't realize was just how profound the difference really is.

The financial safety nets and emotional certainty of a job with an employer had been a huge part of my adult life, and I did well in that type of structure at work and at school. Graduating from chiropractic college thrust me back out into the world, but this time with no external structure into which I could fit myself. More than three years after the decision had been made, I found myself suddenly forced to live the choice I had made. I am responsible for my own safety nets now, and the feelings of certainty have to come from inside. The challenge was significant, and though I managed to regain some semblance of order and confidence in my life, it's only recently that I discovered the true healing that my original decision was calling for.

Woman-owned businesses are often vehicles for creative self-expression at their core, and the courage required to be successful in business is the courage required to bring your authentic voice out in public. As a woman choosing to start and run her own business, I must get fully on board with myself. I am attaching my livelihood and that of my family to my business, which is really an expression of my truth and what I value. So for me to truly be successful in this business, I must first recognize and own the unique value of that expression, the worth and specialness of me. And though I wasn't aware of it several years ago, the "calling" I responded to in choosing to become a chiropractor and a businesswoman was actually a calling from within to take this journey to embodied self-esteem. Indeed, in all our endeavors, our healing is the point of the situation we find ourselves in, and real success comes when we can take the opportunity in front of us.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Healing in an Economic Downturn

Gas prices are going up, and so is the cost of groceries. Money is starting to feel tight, or maybe it's just the fear of money becoming tight that we're feeling. Every week another politician, news anchor, or talk show host trots out the word "recession" as if we don't already know what our personal financial life is like. The truth is that the economy is shrinking, whether a technically defined recession happens or not. And while it's also true that money may be or may become tight for some of our households, healing is always available.

Indeed, the defining factor in healing and in living a full life is not resources, but resourcefulness. Like everything in the universe, a living, organic system like our economy must breathe in and breathe out, expand and contract. Most of us feel uncomfortable in the pinch of a shrinking economy just as we do when our own bodies contract in pain. And what is often missed in both contexts is the discovery and healing that is available when the noise and frenetic activity of expansion gives way to the stillness and clarity of recession.

The macroeconomics of our country has slowed down, and the opportunity we have is to get clear about what is important to us, what we spend our money on, and how we use our financial resources to support the lives we want to live. We get to learn how to be more shrewd with our choices, with the quality of the goods and services we purchase, and with the investments we make in our homes, our health, and our values. Just as the pain in our bodies help clarify what's really going on for us, these changes in the economy can help us be more present to ways we orient ourselves in our financial lives. The healing is always available. Your ability to be resourceful is your ability to claim it for yourself.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

K-E-Y... Why? Because it's What You Need

Why is this happening to me?

Why does this keep happening to me?

Why is she/he like this?

Often these questions are asked in lament, with a tinge of hopelessness in the air. Sometimes when things are particularly acute or have been going on for too long, the "why" question is angry, indignant, and self-righteous. It's not fair, not right, not how it's supposed to be. Why is a popular question when people start to check in with what's troubling them.

The truth about the "why" question at these moments is that we already know the answer, and it's a simple one: this is what we need to feel right now. I am learning more and more for myself that often things happen in my life in the particular way they do because that is the only way I will hear the message and get the lesson. Life always brings us the things we need, so looking at why something is happening always reveals at least one universal truth. There is a lesson for me here. For someone else to get this lesson, it would have to look completely different. But this, what is happening right now, is the way it will work for me to get it.

And there is indeed a time for understanding why, understanding what the stories are behind our behaviors and choices, shining a light on what the construction of our reality is and who is doing the constructing of it. But when you are suffering or first coming to grips with what's really going on in your life, trying to find reasons and causes only distracts you from what's troubling you. When you are in pain, it's just not helpful to think about how you got there or how to get out. What is required of you in these moments is to be in the pain, if you can. And if you can't, then what is required of you is to be in the pain of that. That is the K-E-Y to getting to what's really going on.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

The Incredible Gift of One Woman's Stroke

This 18-minute presentation has made its rounds on the email forwarding circuit, and it is my pleasure to share it with you!

Jill Bolte-Taylor: My Stroke of Insight

Not only do I thoroughly enjoy the telling of this woman's story of stroke, this neuroanatomist's witnessing of her own central nervous system degeneration, but also this message beautifully captures a facet of why I practice Network Spinal Analysis!

The strategies we learn with Network care build the foundation, expertise, and grace in our nervous systems to move and choose between the two "channels" of our brains. We learn to experience the intelligences of both halves of our brain, allowing us to simultaneously be separate, individual selves (left hemisphere) and be seamless, connected beings (right hemisphere). And like the storyteller, I too believe that each person's ability and capacity to embody their whole self moves from the inside out to make a better world, that "the more time we spend running the deep inner peace circuitry" of our nervous systems, the more peace we will bring to the world.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Information Overloaded... and Wisdom Deprived!

iPod, Internet, Hi Definition. Bluetooth, blogs, and MySpace too. Blackberry, text messaging, Skype and spam. On a daily basis, we are surrounded by information and stimuli from every corner of our environment. The stress and climate of insecurity that abounds in this age all demand continuous change and adaptation of us. And don't kid yourself--there's no going back!

Indeed, the rhythm and pace at which life is moving seems only to be increasing with each year and decade. Unfortunately, for many of us, our capacity to handle stress is not keeping up! The human body's physiological, emotional, and psychological systems are essentially the same as they were one hundred, two hundred, three hundred years ago. Our nervous systems are like those old Commodore 64 computers trying to run today's Microsoft Office software, or like trying to watch a YouTube video or carry on a Skype conversation over a dial-up connection! It is a fact of life today that the information coming in is tremendous and constant, and moment by moment we must respond to the constant stream of input. Moment by moment we must make choices that affect our life, health, and well-being.

What we need is an upgrade to our nervous systems, a way to take our capacities to efficiently mange energy and information to the next level. Physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually, we need to be able to easefully identify what we can use and transform to our purpose, and then appropriately make changes, adapt, and find solutions to life's challenges. For if we don't or if we can't, that energy and information is accumulated in our bodies as tension in the tissues of the entire body and especially in the spine and nervous system.

Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) allows you to create new strategies which enable you to function at this higher level. In fact, the results from a retrospective study of almost 3,000 people receiving Network care show that there is no ceiling to the degree of well-being and wellness available through NSA. With strategies for ease and transformation, you can better evolve to heal what was previously impossible to fully experience and was instead endured. NSA helps you to find new ways of connecting and communicating with your body and to learn how to let go of these tensions. You move from a protective and rigid defense posture to a flexible spine capable of growth and evolution.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Don't Drive Looking in the Rear-view Mirror

In many healing modalities, our pasts and childhoods become a source of answers for all the "why" questions that inevitably come up. Why do I feel this way? Why does this hurt? Why do I keep choosing these things? So often we think that the reasons behind our current choices and circumstances are hidden in our past. But focusing exclusively on the past is like driving down the freeway with your eyes glued to the rear-view mirror! The truth is, there is no healing for you in the past. The past is a collection of facts that your powerful mind arranges into stories that are applied to your present behavior. All that is real and tangible from the past is what you carry in your body in the present moment.

Whenever we make a choice that is incongruent with our true nature, and whenever we experience something that our nervous system deems too dangerous or threatening, the body necessarily distorts as the experience or natural flow of energy is disrupted. Your fight-or-flight response kicks in for immediate protection/survival, and your emotional brain or limbic system takes it from there, modulating what you are aware of from then on. The emotional brain literally controls what you are able to perceive by altering the threshold for sensory nerve signals from your body to your cerebral cortex. And as the range of what you are able to perceive narrows, so does the range of what you are able to feel. The information and energy from "out of range" experiences are rerouted to your body and spine, stored for future reference.

NSA entrainments teach the body's nervous system strategies for safety and then for transformation, and what you could not experience in the past becomes available again. Sometimes called retracing, it's important to note that accessing this stored information and energy is not a return to the past for healing. It is your body's current certainty of its capacity to survive those emotions and energy that enables you to connect and transform tension into fuel for change in the present moment. The past experiences that you froze in time and carried in your body through time and space are able to play themselves out Here and Now. You are able to finish what was started because you are now resourceful enough to be present for it!

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Hang on to Your Body!

As anyone who sticks with Network Spinal Analysis (NSA)knows, transformation or Real Change can and does happen. And no matter what, when the time comes for you to choose a new behavior, or when the structures in your spine that have sustained your previous consciousness state shift, there is a moment of plain and simple fear. Of what? Why, the unknown of course! That moment is when change butts up against one of our primary needs as human creatures: certainty. Even if what has been has been painful and awful, it is familiar and thus soothing on some level.

Letting go always requires a connection with something else, something "more certain," if you will. Just like the rock climber ensures she has at least a toe or finger hold secured before reaching for the next ledge, we need to cultivate some degree of confidence in our own capacity to survive and thrive in a changing environment, even if that environment is purely internal, and especially if it is external.

One of the primary tenets of NSA holds that the body is an inherently safe place, but why? Unlike the mind, our bodies are rooted in the present moment. And the present moment is all that really exists. The past and the future, our hopes and fears, these are all creations of our mind, and untethered to our bodies, our minds are capable of traveling thousands of miles and hundreds of weeks forward or back in the blink of an eye. Connecting with our bodies requires a slowing down of our minds, and brings us inexorably into what is, right now, in the present moment.

Focusing on the now, and on the aliveness in our bodies, provides the opportunity to let go of all the stories of possible outcome (and therefore all the fears). And learning to hang on to your body is both a conscious choice as well as an unconscious habit. In order to feel truly safe, our bodies must have the experience, the reassurance, and the habituation of connecting to the present moment and finding ease there. What's perhaps ironic and certainly miraculous is that in connecting with our bodies, with finite reality, we are also able to connect with the infinite, with the Beingness that we truly are.

Friday, March 14, 2008

Dr. Teresa's Network Story...

My inspiration to become a Network practitioner was…

… my own experience of the profound effect NSA can have. At the age of 22, I was plagued almost every morning with neck pain so bad I couldn’t turn my head to whatever side had seized up that day. Four months of trying different things to no avail left me feeling frustrated and scared. A friend referred me to her chiropractor, and with that simple gesture, the course of my life was changed. Out of physical pain in two visits, I began to notice my posture, a LOT. I had never paid attention before, and soon I couldn’t help hearing the messages my body was sending me. That communication deepened and the texture and quality of my life became richer and richer. It was through those Network strategies in my body that I came to the decision to embark on this adventure of practicing NSA!

The most rewarding thing about practicing NSA is…

… being able to help people and do some good in our world. Practicing NSA is my way of expressing my true nature—teaching people how to find their own truth, within themselves, and encouraging them to share the unique gifts they possess. I love being able to share the healing perspectives of NSA: how to go to the place of ease, not defense; why tension and stress are meant to be used as fuel, not minimized or avoided; what embodied awakening feels like. It is my way of contributing to the future of our world, and to our legacy to the children.

I have personally benefited from NSA care in the following ways…

… My relationship with my body is now one of trust, high regard, compassion, and love. My capacity to love myself unconditionally is a profound gift from my body. Receiving consistent care helped me to find the courage to quite my 7-year computer career, to move across the country for love, and to live my life with boldness and joy. Not only am I free of chronic pain, my nervous system transforms experiences of sickness and hardship into opportunities for self-revelation. My spine helps me to eat stress for breakfast, and spit it out as personal growth!

The most amazing miracles I have seen in my practice are…

… people who move from suffering and fear of their bodies to embodied peace and ease. When a practice member notices, acknowledges, and connects with the healing rhythms and energy in their body, they sit up with a special kind of groundedness and power in their face—and I know in that moment a confidence is being experienced that far surpasses what any achievement or external success could instill.

I love NSA because…

… it just keeps getting better! Having received Network care these last twelve years, I can say with assurance, that there is no ceiling to the progressive benefits of this work. My capacity for connection and self-actualization only evolves with ongoing care, and every discovery, transformation, and awakening I experience helps me to become MORE myself.

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Transformation in an Instant!

It takes time to change. That's what I tell myself sometimes, when I'm chickening out of doing what I know I must. Or when I'm thinking about how I feel rather than feeling it, or sometimes when I'm just not ready yet, I console myself with the notion that change takes months, years, or even lifetimes. It's okay for me to be in the same job, the same dead-end relationship, the same therapy about my childhood. I tell myself I'm making progress, and maybe I am. But the truth is, Real Change--the sustainable, empowering, and lasting kind of transformation, that happens in an instant.

Think about it:
If transformation really took more than a moment, if our minds had any opportunity to spin back-story, analyze angles
, or investigate reasons, it would never happen! That we have, as a species, ever transformed shows us that Real Change is not a process but an event, not a developed narrative but a flash of awakening. Transformation does not come to us via sound plans; it comes only by convicted decisions.

Now, I know your mind is already piping up--there is a physical reality to change. Losing weight and landing the dream job and making a million dollars take time. But these are external realities, which really only change when your internal landscape supports something other than what has been. The most compelling thing about instantaneous transformation is that YOU are different, even if everything else materially remains the same. The way you relate to your surroundings, the choices you make, the point of view you take, these are changed in a moment. And then those external realities must change; that is simply how matter and energy work. When you transform, your being no longer tolerates any external circumstances that don't match, and the universe provides more appropriate accommodations!

This kind of Real Change requires three elements to be congruent with each other, and with the new state of being you seek. Structure, behavior, and perception constitute the Triad of Change, as developed by Dr. Donald Epstein, founder of NSA. More on that in a future post...

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Want to Surrender?

Relating with your body starts with questions like, "What is that?" and "Where does that come from?" Like any relationship, we begin with discovery and getting to know parts of us that are unfamiliar or have been forgotten along the way. Getting acquainted with your body and how it handles stress and what it does with tension is like laying the foundation for healing, especially healing in a culture that promotes instant relief and undervalues depth of connection. The process is always a series of conscious choices to feel what's there, to face yourself, and to ask "What's really going on here?"

Yet as we tune into our bodies and uncover more of how they defend and protect us, these questions invariably shift from discovering truths to determining causation.
We want to know the why of the thing. Instead of allowing authentic emotions to fuel the changes that life demands, we want to freeze the moment and analyze it. We think that if we can understand the cause, we can take control of our lives and know what to do.

Then there are those of us who become attached to the discovery part, who get stuck in an endless cataloging of hard places. I know for me, I often don't feel like I'm doing anything unless I can feel the effort I'm making, feel the resistance of whatever I'm pushing against or striving toward. How else do I know whether I'm having an effect, right? It takes friction for that spinning tire to propel us down the road. It takes gravity to give us any sense of up or down.

But what does it feel like to have an internal reference point, not gravity, not the culture around you, not even the rational conclusions your mind creates in response to past experience?
What is the actual experience of effortlessness in your life? What happens when things don't happen because you insisted, but because you surrendered? Healing with NSA (Network Spinal Analysis) and SRI (Somato Respiratory Integration) is designed to easefully and profoundly lay the groundwork for that internal connection with what you really want and what you really know. True knowing comes from wisdom, and wisdom only comes with surrender.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

When is Pain Good, and When is it a Pain? (Part 2 of 2)

(Continued from Part 1 of 2)

The higher centers of our brain are what physiologically defines us as human beings. Our capacity for compassion and self-reflection, for faith and understanding, is housed in these parts of our nervous system that are only available to us when the non-defended side of the nervous system is in charge. So rather than avoiding pain or pushing it away, you would be better served to strengthen your resourcefulness in connecting with safety in your body.

As we are able to connect with the safety in our bodies, a whole new world opens up. Growth and healing is available only when your nervous system shifts away from defense. Your higher brain centers are able to engage, and you have access to your Self, and all that makes up your humanity. Indeed, it is our unique human capacity to reflect on past experiences, on emotions and sensations, and to give them meaning. And because of how compelling it is, pain is one of the most important things to which we can assign meaning. For many of us, the start of true healing is the experience of gaining perspective on pain, even for a moment, and realizing how much influence we really have over the charge and intensity of our pain.

But with all its gifts, pain can still be a problem. A critical example is when people seeking to heal start to seek out pain, start to associate the presence and degree of pain with presence and degree of healing! We start to think that we have to be in pain to grow, that there is literally no gain without pain. And that's when pain is just a pain. Healing does NOT require plumbing the depths of your capacity to feel pain, nor is re-living every trauma and injury from your past
a pre-requisite for growth. These experiences may occur and they may not, but don't forget that the purpose of pain is to signal us to pay attention, usually when we are far off-course. It is not the actual road to healing, and it is certainly not the only way to focus our attention!

Thursday, February 14, 2008

When is Pain Good, and When is it a Pain? (Part 1 of 2)

Pain is designed to be compelling. A nerve ending that is dying will send pain signals in a final effort to keep itself alive. Pain stops you in your tracks and captures your attention like nothing else. It warns you that something is wrong, and we quickly learn to avoid dangerous situations from past experiences of pain. Indeed, pain is your body's ultimate messenger, almost always bringing you important information and showing you where to put your focus.

Yet we all seem to spend much of our time tolerating or tuning out painful body parts, painful memories, and painful emotions. Whether your preferred method is a dose of painkillers, a food binge, or just checking out of life, it seems to be a common human achievement to become expert at avoiding pain. So when healing requires you to feel more, including pain sometimes, resistance is certainly an understandable response!

Your nervous system is designed to respond to pain by first going into defense, by first activating your survival instincts. That response is automatic and occurs before your conscious mind can begin to understand what is happening. In fact, the higher brain is effectively taken off-line in those first moments of reaction, leaving the primitive brain to keep us alive. The key then to facing pain and receiving your body's important messages is being able to find and connect with safety. Only in safety, only in a state where you perceive a reasonable amount of certainty of survival, is your nervous system capable of engaging the parts of your brain that can listen, and find meaning, and gain perspective.

(Continued in Part 2 of 2)

Thursday, February 7, 2008

The Trouble with Healing

(Continuing from the beginning of this thread on curing and healing, posted last year...)

When your sense of safety is threatened, curing symptoms can be critical in moving out of a defended state. The fight-flee-or-freeze response is inherent in our bodies whenever we perceive a threat or trauma--increased heart rate, increased respiration, pupil dilation, decreased digestion and immune function, and most importantly, decreased blood flow to higher brain centers. The resulting physiology makes healing impossible. You cannot heal if you cannot feel, and you cannot feel if you are in defense. So sometimes curing symptoms is a key first step in getting to what actually ails us.

Healing, or the healing process as it's often described, involves facing that which you were defended against, feeling the parts you previously would not experience because of fear or anger or overwhelm. The beginning of healing is grounded in this kind of discovery, in getting reacquainted with whatever is disconnected and alienated and ready to be resolved. Very different than curing a symptom, healing involves your whole person. Indeed, you could say that one of the goals of true healing is to bring the fragmented parts of yourself together, which is the basis of holistic health.

But many times even holistic approaches can get caught in the mentality of fixing, of restoring you to your previous state,
before the ailment surfaced, before the injury or insult occurred. If only this or that hadn't happened, if only he or she was different, you would be whole and happy now. Although you are no longer isolating the "broken" part or parts of your body (i.e., curing), this type of restorative healing still puts the problem outside of yourself. What's missed is the fact that oftentimes the person you were, the life you were living was part of the problem too!

ecovery then becomes an ongoing journey to identify the causes and culprits of pain and to minimize future exposure. Ultimately, the result is a narrowing of choices, rather than an increase in your resourcefulness.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Between a Rock and a Hard Place

The beauty of developing a rich and textured relationship with your body is the clarity with which you know when you're not doing what you know you must. When your behavior is incongruent with what is required by the life you want, the body distorts. It must distort in order for you to take action that undoes or undermines your true nature, who you really are.

And that's the place I'm learning about these days, where it's actually painful to keep doing what I've always done, keep living my protective strategies, keep playing small. But moving away from those behaviors requires taking new action, making change in my life. And for anyone who doesn't know, that comes with its own kind of pain: fear of the unknown, anxiety, resistance to vulnerability.

So here I am, between the rock of where I know I must go, and the hard place of what I know I must release. The thing about hard places is that we as human beings develop lots of strategies for tolerating, accepting, and even attaching to the suffering we experience. And while running from pain is certainly not the answer, neither is languishing in it.

As I see it, I have only the rock, the unknown changes I know I must make. I can only face those fears and anxieties, turn toward what my life requires of me, and love whatever I find. As George Washington Carver
says, "Anything will give up its secrets if you love it enough."

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Neuroplasticity and You

We're born with the major interstates and highways in place. That is, at birth, our nervous system has developed its primary trunks--the ones for breathing and simple digestion, basic reflexes and survival instincts. During the first one to two years, our nervous system continues to GROW AND GROW at a speedy clip. Local freeways and routes, parkways and boulevards and avenues, roads and lanes are all laid down as we learn to see and recognize, to respond and in turn affect our environment. Every tiny street and driveway and path is formed as part of the network of nerves we need to first move our fingers individually, then in concert to pinch and grasp, then in harmony to maneuver spoon to mouth.

All this is to say that the trillions of nerve pathways we use daily are created, grown, and developed while we are out here in the world. Indeed, our nervous system depends on external stimulus in order to form at all. It is only in response to our environment that neurons shape and stretch and arrange themselves into functional pathways. And as we repeatedly respond to the same stimulus, our bodies strengthen and reinforce the pathways that serve us, while allowing the others to wither away and disappear.

Neuroplasticity is the idea that our neurons are plastic and pliable. They grow and fade according to frequency of use, and they are also constantly re-forming to be more efficient and effective. Other tissue in our bodies are also plastic in this way, including the expression of our DNA, but neurons are particularly sensitive and quick to respond to change. What is most extraordinary about neuroplasticity is that it is in play throughout our lives! The assumption had been that all this neuron growing and pathway creating primarily occurred in those first couple of years of life. But we now know that neural pathways continue to adapt and develop as we age, and that NEW NEURONS CONTINUE TO GROW well into our senior years. That's right, new neurons have been found in the brains of seventy-somethings.

So what does that mean in our lives? It means that what we need to keep our nervous system thriving is the same thing we needed to develop as infants: novel stimulus. We need to consistently present our brains and nervous systems with new challenges and new environments, whether external or internal, to navigate, to learn from, to respond to. Just as an athlete trains her body by asking more of her muscles and coordination, so our minds and neurons require variety and constant change to develop, no matter what our age.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Meet Your Shadow

As winter continues, there is ample opportunity to experience, grapple with, or despair over our shadow aspects. No matter how many times I've faced my own dark, difficult parts, it seems to always take me by surprise, the stark fear, the strength of my resistance. Someone once said, "Nothing determines who we will become so much as those things we choose to ignore." A twist on messages from "The Secret," it's not just about where we turn our attention, but also where we refuse to turn our attention, that manifests in the world.

Jung gives us that "Whatever is rejected from the self, appears in the world as an event." And indeed, I have seen the working of that wisdom inherent in our Selves, in the unfolding of our lives, in the workings of our universe, in my own journey as well as in journeys of those around me. Whatever part of me I push down always pops back up as an unexpected detour or crisis in my life. So what I think I am successfully denying returns in my world returns to me as an emergency, or it is "emerging, see?"

And our choice at that point is to either continue the suffering/suppressing cycle, or as Nietzsche puts it, "gain the courage to rebaptize our badness as the best in us." What I am beginning to understand and embrace is how my badness, that I have railed and struggled against for so long, is actually my best resource. I am an expert at how to numb myself out and escape my feelings; I have many tools for this purpose! And that expertise is not at war with my capacity to love myself, or to imagine a bold life. In fact, it is my greatest ally: a safety net. If ever things get overwhelming or I want to stop what I've started, I am an expert at checking out!

My gift of this past week has been the experience of holding ALL of my resources--from my skills in controlling or thinking I control the circumstances of my life, to my commitment to challenge the limits of just how much joy I can gather into my life. These different capacities and skills, which I had heretofore pitted against each other, are finally, beautifully, and easefully meeting each other as members of the same clan, comrades, and teammates. And I feel valid, strong, and truly loving of myself.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Out of the pressure cooker, and into the crockpot...?

If you're like me, then your life contains quite a bit of pressure--to get everything done, to not make a mistake, to not fall off the bandwagon (of diets, workout routines, self-care regimens, changes to old habits). Self-imposed pressure cooker living is how I've conducted much of my life, and what that approach has done is 1) guarantee failure, and 2) simultaneously let me off the hook.

If every slip up is a catastrophe, the end of whatever grand plan I've established for myself, then no plan will ever come to fruition. If any step backward ends the journey, there will never be enough steps forward to reach my goal. But here's the crafty part: once I've failed, once the pressure seal has been broken, I am no longer accountable to my goals. I don't have to worry about going somewhere I've never gone before. I can instead return to the well-traveled landscape of self-recrimination and guilt at have failed--an uncomfortable place, but somehow comfortingly familiar.

What I've come to realize is that the pressure cooker setup is a lie, a perception I create to explain and justify my behavior. But the truth is it doesn't matter if I make this choice or that choice right now. What's important is the sum total of choices I make now and now and now and now and now and now and now and now and now... It's ok to eat that piece of candy, or not fold the laundry today. The real question is how do I nourish my body most of the time, how do I handle my chores most of the time, what do I put my attention on most of the time. Like a crockpot, how life really works is being consistent and persistent over time. It doesn't matter what you do for the moment. What's important is what you do most of the time. You can say no to your habitual ways of being; you just have to do it again and again.

I've been told this is my breaking free from perfectionism, from the story that it's either 100% or it's 0%. By waking up to the fact that 80% (heck, 51%) of the time is quite a lot of the time, I am jumping out of the pressure cooker way of living. And perhaps that's true. But my experience of this shift is that of coming home to compassion within myself, of finding a way to be just me, a human being, flawed and magnificent, most of the time.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

Getting in My Own Way

Alas, though I had the best of intentions--weekly blogposts, Curing-then-Healing-then-Reorganizing, I steered myself smack dab in the middle of inaction. I had grand plans and a clear vision of the structure of these blogposts, but it seems I tripped myself up: no posts since September!

For the new year, my motto is: do first, plan later. Or perhaps more encouragingly, I will give myself permission to get the ball rolling while inspiration is hot, while my e-motion will produce some physical motion, and leave the edits and structure to pull together along the way.

Because 2008 is the year of growth! And the only way to Awakening and Expansion is to DO some stuff first. So. First post of the year, done.