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.