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Reminder: When a bulleted notation appears in parentheses, it is my comment or opinion as opposed to the author's.
From “The Complete Reflexology Tutor” (2007) by Ann Gillanders
Surprisingly, one of the reigning deans of the bodywork field does not strike the clinching goal on this one, though she does deliver some cleverly nuanced formations on the pitch. We find a volume top-heavy with standard medical information we can find most anywhere else, and the technique itself is rather generalized, without the precision and insight you’d expect from someone who’s been in the business for over 30 years. Did she really write this entirely herself? This book marks the third Gillanders entry onto this literature review.
- Through its association with the brain, the thumb-reflex can foster the release of endorphins.
- (For every bone in the foot there are four ligaments. For every muscle, there are five.)
- Nerve impulses can travel at some 270 miles per hour (435 km), (or about the speed of a Chinese bullet train).
- Stiff, cold and painful hands can indicate “unrelated” energy blockages elsewhere.
- In the view of William Fitzgerald’s zone therapy with its ten divisions, the most powerful zone is that of the big toe. This is Zone One. It contains the most essential structures and organs of the body, and it’s the most sensitive zone in people you meet. If your friend has only 20 minutes to lend you her foot, concentrate here. Her central nervous system will thank you.
- The color of the skin above the diaphragm line on the foot is noticeably darker than the color of the heal side, as if nature is providing us with a signpost.
- The pituitary point is helpful in lowering excessive body temperature.
- When in doubt, under-treat.
- You may notice a sensitivity in the kidney reflex if your client pops a lot of antacids.
- Work with minimal oil, and preferably none.
- Don’t rotate a point in circles nor spend too much time on one point.
- With reflexology it is impossible to take a condition and aggravate it permanently, though you might get the short-lived “healing crisis.”
- 80% of migraines are allergy related, as can be difficulties with breathing.
- (Did you ever see an old movie where someone takes a wooden, accordion-like device and then squeezes it together to force air onto a fireplace to stoke the flames? This device is called a bellows.) The body has a bellows to help the lungs expand and contract. It’s called the diaphragm.
- Heart rate is controlled by the vagus nerve. The vagus also reaches out toward the lungs and digestive system.
- There is a strong link between muscular back tension (including spinaes) and heart problems. (Dr. Paul Sherwood, The Heart Revolution, 1994).
- Why do they call it the pineal gland? Because its shape calls to mind a pine cone.
- An overactive thyroid can be a source of insomnia.
- Among those in the midst of anxiety and depression, you might run across a higher degree of sensitivity in the large toes.
- “Butterflies” in the stomach are vibratory signals sent from the solar plexus, which is a barometer of emotional health. You’ll find quite an overlap of the stomach and solar plexus reflexes. (Say that five times fast.)
- (Gillanders’ technique appears to have evolved somewhat from her praiseworthy reflexology video from 1997. It’s more gestalt-ish, less linear.)
- Picture the plexus of nerves that branch downwards from the lower spinal region. Do they resemble the tail of a horse? That’s what the Latin term for this region, cauda equina, means.
- During a session it’s not unheard of for legs to go into spasm.
- For better results on the sides of the big toes, forget your thumb and work with your index finger. On the medial aspect, by the way, you’ll encounter the nose, throat and cervical spine.
- (If your house has a weak foundation, you might find cracks on the walls of the upper floors. Similarly, a weak hammie might be felt as a sore quadratus lumborum, especially to the diagonal direction.) So as we can see, the old adage holds: Structure Governs Function.
- The most common complaint your client-friends will bring you is that of a sore and stiff back.
- (The primary sciatic reflex, when accompanied by the secondary at the heel line, seems to resemble a cowboy’s stirrup.)
- Sciatica calls for daily attention until conditions ameliorate.
- Don’t treat for a week after chemotherapy.
From “Reading the Body: Ohashi’s Book of Oriental Diagnosis” (1991) by Ohashi
Found on the bargain rack, yet offering a keen insight or two, or three or even more, into Asian theory. Though Ohashi was backed up by a respected editor of health publications, I took the liberty of rephrasing much of this material one step further, as I tend to be doing more of lately -- it’s just happening that way without any real effort or conscious decision.
- Yin, of course, is the expansive and centrifugal force. (If you’re riding a fast merry-go-round, you’re getting pushed outwards toward the rim of the platform in centrifugal fashion.)
- Yang, on the other hand, is contractive, centripetal, pulling us in toward the center of the merry-go-round. Thus gravity is a yang force. Earth is yin because its rotation spins us outward in an expansive fashion.
- Sugar and alcohol diffuse the quality of vigorous thinking.
- As any serious gambler knows, the face betrays a lot of information about its owner.
- Tense, crinkled, wrinkled skin between the eyebrows suggests a negative liver situation.
- The indentation above the upper lip is the philtrum. If its vertical lines are well-defined but not overly pronounced, you’ve spotted a person with deep constitutional strength.
- When a stream is dammed up, the upstream section can widen and flood while downstream we find arid conditions. Likewise, “organs” this stream feeds can become overactive at the expense of others that are lethargic or fatigued.
- If the spleen is in trouble expect some excess gas and heartburn. (Like it’s blowing off excess steam, just as we periodically vent pipelines so they don’t burst.)
- A hard cough with mucus indicates excess energy trapped in the lungs (they apparently want to vent as well). You might notice some tight chest muscles as well.
- If ki energy is weak (kyo) in the kidneys, a bout of insomnia might lurk on the horizon. You might lose some hearing, especially at higher frequencies, and you may experience some tinnitus. If kidney energy is excessive (jitsu) the result might be chronic fatigue as opposed to insomnia.
- The liver is the seat of the soul. What the liver respects is a frame of mind characterized by equanimity (evenness of mind under pressure).
- In Japan it is said that when someone is truly sad his shoulders are crying.
- This I’ve never seen: in the spine picture a dividing line between T5 and T6. Soreness located two vertebra above this line (for instance, T3) can and should be treated two vertebra below the line (at T8). At its extreme, C1 gets treated at L5. If this scenario bears out, you need not touch areas of spinal discomfort, particularly in the years following a whiplash injury. Under this system, says the author, someone who gives you a pain in the neck truly is a pain in the ass.
- Most pains in the lower back involve the kidneys.
- As the triple heater meridian flows into the hand, it ends at the “ring finger.” This finger is associated with the heart and spirit, and maybe that’s one reason we wear a wedding band here.
- Notice how the bladder meridian forms a two-lane highway as it runs down the back.
- If we ingest too much protein and allow too much cholesterol buildup in the arteries, we can literally suffocate our heart from lack of oxygen.
- The author was a student of Master Shizuto Masunaga, whose excellent Zen Shiatsu appears on this literature review.
From “The Acupressure Atlas” (2007) by Drs. Bernard Kolster and Astrid Waskowiak
Not as interesting or informative as their Reflexology Atlas, this is yet another “press here, press there” recipe book.
- It was Dutch and Portuguese seafarers in the 17th and 18th centuries who noticed that Eastern concepts of energy pathways matched the arrangement of longitude on their maps. Hence the term meridians.
- One source of tinnitus could be fluid imbalances in the body.
- Shen, or spirit, is pronounced shun.
- Cun, the unit of measure, is pronounced tsun.
- The name for the point Bladder 45 (medial inferior scapula) is Yi Xi, which according to the authors means “Ow, That Hurts”
- (When one aims to look for generalized patterns amidst a sea of information, it appears that shiatsu points enjoy being located at joints, creases, and the midpoints of muscle.)
- Pericardium 8, located in the center of the palm, is often called the Palace of Anxiety. Here it’s called the ‘Center of Toil’.
- Effective work on the client's hands begins with a large dose of empathy on the part of the practitioner.
- Another point that can help produce a calming effect is Stomach 41, Ravine Divide, on the crease where the dorsal foot meets the shin.
- The authors suggest that certain points can assist with range-of-motion issues. One such point is Gallbladder 30 (Jumping Circle), approximately midrange within the gluteus maximus.
- Just below C7 is Governing Vessel 14, or Great Hammer (Da Zhui), said to alleviate back pain. A slight forward tilt of the head will expose GV14 a speck better.
From "Thai Yoga Massage" (2002) by Kam Thye Chow
- Thai massage emphasizes using the least amount of effort to achieve the desired results. It also places a premium on smooth transitions from one movement to the next.
- Sen lines, and the prana that flows through them, can only by detected by experienced intuition.
- When the practitioner's mind is stilled, concentrated within the present moment -- meditation assists this state -- the energy flowing through the sen lines is easier to apprehend.
- Marmas, similar to tsubos, can be described as spiraling whirlpools that either retain energy or radiate it outward.
- The rhythm and intensity of a sequence can be just as important as the moves themselves.
- There is a vast difference between a mindful massage and one that is done simply mechanically. Only through mindfulness (intense presence) can a practitioner develop the skills of listening to the energy flowing through and around the body and feel the pathways of sen.
- Visiting a massage school in southwest Germany, the author noted that students seemed better able to name the anatomical makeup of the body than students in the East. It dawned on him how little Eastern bodyworkers actually knew about the body in terms of its structural and physiological functions.
- However, while these German students could name all the parts of the body, they were never taught how to use their own bodies effectively. They were awkward, off-center, lacking in graceful movement. If you don't use your own body effectively, you can't develop the whole-body listening that is essential to Thai massage, particularly the "Thai yoga" massage promoted in this book. Effective massage begins with the practitioner's own body awareness.
- When thumbing, use the pad of the thumb, being careful not to hyperextend yourself. Don't apply pressure with the tip of the thumb. (There is professional disagreement on this point.)
- Since the practitioner is active and the recipient passive, they will tend to develop different breath patterns. Staying mindful will help coordinate the different rhythms.
- In the Eastern tradition of healing, the focus is on keeping the client in good health. If the client is sick, custom holds that the caretaker doesn't get paid.
- It's important to limber up and stretch before performing a massage.
- As practitioners, we neither encourage nor discourage emotional release in a client. If it happens, we be there, letting it pass in and through the safe space we create.
- Always keep your inner smile.
- Some of the author's students complain that performing sen work on the legs is the most boring part of the massage. He tells them to practice more meditation.
- Some practitioners in Thailand smoke cigarettes and drink whiskey while delivering a massage. Understandably, the author avoids this type of atmosphere.
"People count up the faults of those who keep them waiting."
-- French proverb
"Most men pursue pleasure with such breathless haste that they hurry past it."
"On the heights it is warmer than those in the valley can imagine."
From "Awareness Through Movement" (1972) by Moshe Feldenkrais
Feldenkrais (pronounced Feld'-en-krice) has earned one of the most prominent names in the field of bodywork in the past century. I find his techniques, at least for the present time, difficult to incorporate into a dynamic one-hour massage. (My overall goal on these pages is to articulate and pass on the most effective one-hour massage appropriate to the needs and wants of the general public.) However, I'm impressed by Feldenrais' theories, particularly in the realm of education.
- Our self-image governs our every act.
- Education and society drive out our spontaneous impulses. What's left is a mask. If we try to break out from the mask we arouse anxiety and remorse, since society rewards us very well if we fit in. However, the satisfaction derived from fitting in is not very revitalizing.
- The "success" most people experience in their careers is generally enough to drive out the emptiness one may feel when the heart starts to call.
- Physiologists have discovered, at least in regard to basic movements, that the cell structure of the motor cortex of the brain resembles the shape of the human body. This structure is referred to as the homunculus. Thus there's a valid argument for "self image" determining "body image."
- Only the rare person works to improve his or her core self. Instead, most people focus on professional or career development, and as a result develop but a small portion of their capabilities. These people are "useful members of society," but their inner self suffers.
- In families where children are judged primarily by their achievements and not for being simply who they are, spontaneity will disappear at an early age.
- As an analogy to a well-functioning human body, it is much easier to play correctly on an instrument that is in tune than on one that is not.
- When we can examine and improve our self-image (let's call it our core self), we can live in accordance with our natural gifts, not necessarily in accordance with the demands of a career that may have been chosen by chance.
- Systematic study and awareness should provide people with a means of scanning all fields of action (all modes of participating in the world), so he or she can find their special niche and thus act more freely.
- Freedom of thought is considered defiance of the accepted laws of behavior, whether in the realm of religion, science, politics, art, or morality.
- In mental patients, nervous people, and those with an unstable self-image, it is possible to discern disturbances in the muscular tone in proportion to the deficiency.
- Throughout the history of mankind, we find systems and methods designed to induce a calming effect through improved breathing.
- Sometimes you can utterly confuse someone if you ask them what they're doing, and why. For instance, the old story of the centipede says he couldn't walk anymore when someone asked him how he moved those hundred legs at once. (I heard a sports announcer say that most professional baseball players don't read half the books on the game that the reporters do. The players are too busy playing the game, and they have been all their lives. Similarly, I can't see asking a great musician what they're doing. They'd say, "Shut up and let me do it." I get this way in massage as well. Someone will ask what a certain routine is intended to do, and though I can picture the dynamic, I come up shy for the right words on the spot.)
- Thought that derives mainly from words alone does not draw substance from the processes of the older evolutionary structures that are closely tied to feeling. (Sometimes I distrust words with a passion.) Many books, for instance, offer nothing but a succession of words woven together by logical (occasionally) argument. Thinking that develops outside of feeling and experience becomes an obstacle to proper development. (A brilliant point, and Buckminster Fuller will have more to say about this when we get to him.)
- "A fool cannot feel." -- Hebrew saying
- Willpower can mow down appropriate action like a lawn tractor. When we learn to eliminate extraneous action, willpower comes less and less into play.
- Too much concentration on the aim can cause excess tension. (Think of the person driving to work in the morning who is running seven minutes late, blowing through yellow lights at the risk of one's safety.)
- An action becomes easy to perform and the movement becomes light when the large muscles of the center of the body do the bulk of the work. The limbs should merely guide the bones to the destination of the effort.
- Our nervous system is so constructed that habits are preserved and seek to perpetuate themselves. (As does the reactive mind.)
- Many teachers do not give their students the time needed to experience the after-effects of various actions and thoughts.
- Better students observe themselves in the process of learning, as in practicing on a musical instrument. The lesser students repeat by rote, without mental engagement, as if playing incorrectly over and over again will somehow create self-improvement.
- Most of the muscles of the respiratory system are connected to the cervical and lumbar vertebrae, and breathing therefore affects the stability and posture of the spine. Conversely, the position of the spine will affect the quality and speed of breathing.
- Over-aggressiveness has always been the stumbling block in man's attempts to improve himself.
- The few people of exceptional achievement reach this condition by perfecting their awareness, not by suppressing their passions.
"Nobody made a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could only do a little."
-- Edmund Burke (1729-1797)
"Searching for the truth is the noblest occupation of man; its publication is a duty."
-- Anne Louise Germaine de Stael (1766-1817), French author
From "The Potent Self: A Study of Spontaneity and Compulsion" (1985) by Moshe Feldenkrais
Feldenkrais wrote most of the manuscript in the late 1940s and early 50s, though the book didn't see the light of day until a year after his death at age 84.
- We learn as children to block our innermost feelings and impulses in order to maintain the security and approval that our parents conditionally offer. This blocks development of the nervous system from forming effective paths and patterns of action.
- Our conflicts are embedded in our bodies.
- It was the Frenchman Emile Coue (1857-1926) who showed how the effort to succeed interferes with accomplishing our goals.
- Judo masters (Feldenkrais was an advanced student) can tire out a dozen men half their age without any strain.
- When our action is properly organized, we sense little or no muscular effort.
- Releasing abdominal tension shifts autonomic functioning away from patterns of anxiety and results in better breathing and visceral function, including fuller sexual response. When the sympathetic (hyper) branch of the autonomic nervous system is dominant, this hinders erection and full orgasm. (At an early age -- 12 -- Feldenkrais began to read the works of the Swiss neuroscientist August Forel, a pioneer in the scientific re-evaluation of sexuality.)
- In our adolescence, a time when we are in critical need of guidance and mentoring, we are taught inhibition of self.
- Besides reproduction, the sexual act plays a primary role in balancing the sympathetic-parasympathetic continuum. This function is rarely fully realized. (See Dr. John Harvey, below, for a clear discussion of this balancing act.)
- It is impossible to reclaim our full selves without a corresponding recovery of sexual spontaneity.
- Proper social integration requires an awareness that our personal well-being depends upon others.
- Poise, an indication of mental and emotional tranquility, is part-and-parcel of good posture.
- If you point out an instance of tension in a person, all you do most of the time is create resistance and rationalization. But if the person can discover the resistance for themselves, they can realize it's unnecessary and thus drop it naturally.
- When performed compulsively, the best of intentions produce opposite results. People who are "compulsively good" have few true friends. Their life is a string of resentments.
- The author believes that great individuals such as Buddha, Confucius, Christ, and Moses are revered not for their willpower but for their poised reflective manner. They displayed serenity without solemnity, patient objectivity without compulsive seriousness.
- All creative people do things "their own way," not necessarily by the book. (I think it was Ty Cobb who gripped the bat the "wrong way" -- hands an inch apart.)
- It was Rousseau who said that as long as he desired something too strongly, he could not achieve it.
- The role of breathing in maintaining proper levels of alkalinity in the blood is not fully appreciated.
- Most of the time we fail to achieve what we want by enacting more than we're aware of, rather than by missing what's essential. We try too hard.
- We are forced to fit into society's patterns or else get thrown by the wayside. Our inner selves don't get a chance to develop, and one symptom of this is frigidity or impotence.
- Some people who we consider great achievers are merely driven by compulsion, and are very miserable. The truly effective have no greater ability than you or I, they're simply more in balance, better able to manage their motivations. Under such "management," Voltaire wrote Candide in 11 days.
- Most of us never really grow out of our infantile patterns. Our need for attention remains as potent as during our infancy. Maturity can be defined as approaching life as if these patterns are no longer the only suitable ones.
- When we experience intense emotional excitement, our muscles become rigid and we're unable to see alternate ways of performing an action. (It's so much harder for us to perform a task when the boss is agitating for results right now.)
- All action of a living being is accomplished through muscular contraction or release. (It is imperative that we remain supple.)
- Watch a master of their craft at work. You'll see that what distinguishes them is an absence of effort. Effort indicates imperfect action. Masters seem to meet no resistance. For instance, watch an expert woodworker as he uses a saw. He'll make special little actions with his arms and hands, but the forward and backward movements are actually initiated at the hips. His action displays not only poised simplicity but serenity of attitude. (President Eisenhower once asked the great golfer Sam Snead for some advice on his swing. Snead replied, "Put your ass into the ball!")
- One of the linchpins of Feldenkrais' thought is the concept of reversibility: At every instant or stage of a correct act, it can be stopped, withheld from continuing, or even reversed without any preliminary change of attitude and without effort. Tense people who are acting on auto-pilot can't do this. Reversibility applies to both the physical as well as the emotional realm.
- Bad posture is a result of insufficient tone in the antigravity extensors.
- Every time we speak abstractly of the mind, ignoring its functional whole with the body and the external world, we reach conclusions that have little to do with reality.
- In many people the anal sphincter is woefully contracted. Once the pelvic floor is freed from this improper habitual stiffening, greater freedom of movement of the pelvis is possible.
- In the state of generalized contraction of the musculature, one is impervious to suggestion or learning. In contrast, during the state of relaxation we learn faster and more completely. Also, self-control is easier. Self-assertiveness is reduced, making it possible to enact useful changes.
- We cannot correct our faults by an effort of willpower alone. However, improvement will come about naturally when we learn to harmonize the sympathetic-parasympathetic balance.
- Improved breathing reduces one's compulsiveness.
- Impotence is not a local inability, but a general failure of the whole system.
- (Massage tends to pull energy from the head -- where too many of us live exclusively -- and redistribute this energy throughout the rest of our bodies.) In physiological terms, there is a resultant "cooling" of the head. Contrast this with our expression "hot headed." Coolness of head reflects the state of proper self-control, where "I" is perceived to be in the hara below the navel, not in the brain. In such a state, the body feels weightless.
- Full orgasm is a physiological necessity for the body's recuperative functions. Without this, there always remains an anxious longing for something sensed as an ideal state of peaceful well-being. If we unblock the interplay of the sympathetic-parasympathetic dynamic, a stronger sensuality emerges naturally.
- Overly self-assertive and protective motivations excite the sympathetic branch. This discourages the involuntary contractions of the pelvic floor, lower abdomen, hips and anal sphincter, and in turn this prevents full orgasm.
- For clarity, the parts of the sympathetic branch that are self-defeating are those that are constantly excited or working (in fight-or-flight mode). On the other hand, some parts of the parasympathetic are permanently inhibited, thus limiting the interplay between the two branches.
- In addressing this situation, the first course of action is to restore full mobility to the pelvis. Rhythmic movements of any action are impossible so long as the pelvis is maintained rigidly. In turn, the restoration of mobility to the pelvis begins to discharge the excessive energy of the constantly excited cortical centers. They begin to function normally.
- In all learned acts that do not bring the desired result, an essential part of the apprenticeship has been skipped or only understood intellectually instead of having been worked through.
- Full orgasm for both partners leads to friendliness and mutual intimacy. These result from the complete abandonment of self-assertiveness, where virile pride and feminine passivity are thrown overboard spontaneously.
- The strongest muscles of the body (the glutes and quads) articulate the pelvic joints. They have the largest cross sections of all the muscles. As a result, the power of the body is determined by the power of the lower abdomen and more generally the pelvic region. All action that feels strenuous calls on the smaller muscles of the periphery to perform a greater share of the work than they should. Some great judo experts are also masters in the art of pelvic control, and the ascendancy they have over less skillful people is bewildering.
- The most frequent cause for tension in the neck is fear of failure. The person over-mobilizes all his power, acting too quickly and intently, for he believes this will ensure success. However, such action lacks gradation and coordination -- hurry and effort are no substitute for skill. In fact, they always indicate the presence of doubt of one's ability to cope with the situation.
- The mature person can summon effective and spontaneous action at will. They don't have to wait for the muses to arrive.
- If freedom of pelvic movement is restrained by pre-existing muscular contractions, orgasm never fully develops and is most often nipped in the bud.
- For instance, the anal sphincter contracts in rhythm with the orgasm. Maintaining it in a state of contraction cannot help but retard and interfere with the normal course of orgasm.
- Stiffness in the hip joints prevents the knees from opening to their full skeletal limit.
- The essential quality for muscles is not length but contractibility.
- Abdominal control is to the body what the keystone is to the arch.
- The first sacral vertebra is the point where all the stresses of the body cross. In all impotence and malfunction, including the emotional, there is compulsive fixity and rigidity here. The dissolution of anxiety is subjectively felt as recovering freedom of motion at this point. To release this area, it works to release the entire body, including the furthest extremities, and to relax the eyes.
- When two conflicting motivations of equal intensity are presented at the same time, the mind goes blank.
- Some people would rather die than change habitual behavior patterns that don't work.
"To know the road ahead, ask those coming back."
-- Chinese proverb
"A man's home is his castle . . . until the queen arrives."
-- Red Hat Society
"Don't buy the house, buy the neighborhood."
-- Russian proverb
"If Columbus had an advisory committee he'd probably still be at the dock."
-- Justice Arthur Goldberg
From "Total Relaxation" (1998) by John Harvey
At the time of publication, Harvey served as director of psychology at Allied Services in Scranton. He may still be there, for all I know. I read this book less for the exercises (also included on CD) but mostly for the theory. Tension creates a narrow, overfocused mental state that limits our experience of the world. We simply ignore and miss vital information. Chronic tension speeds up the aging process. Tension inhibits the natural physiological arousal that is part of physical intimacy. In the 1930s, German physicians Johannes Schultz and Wolfgang Luthe described an autogenic state of deep relaxation. (Autogenic basically means a state created by and within the individual, as opposed to an outside agent.) This state, a step beyond mere muscular relaxation, mobilizes the usually dormant normalizing and healing capabilities of the brain. One symptom of tension is when we stop having dreams. The word "muscle" comes from the Latin musculus, which means "mouse" -- indicative of the perceived mouse shape of certain muscles such as the biceps of the upper arm. Stress can also plague the normal functioning of the endocrine system. We experience life in a way that sets off a constant and low-grade fight-or-flight response (the well-documented sympathetic branch of the autonomic nervous system, or ANS). To a degree more clearly described than in most other books, Dr. Harvey spells out the opposite side of the same coin -- overactivity and imbalance of the parasympathetic branch. This manifests itself as inhibition, the so-called "possum response." In our everyday lives we may experience this as low energy and an inability to find solutions or to chart an effective course in life. A third kind of imbalance also exists -- excessive fluctuation between the fight-or-flight state and the possum state. We feel pumped up one minute and trapped the next. On a physiological level, there's no time left for restoration and housekeeping. We sabotage our built-in mechanisms for dealing with real problems. We lose our perspective. A superior form of breathing works with the diaphragm and focuses not only on the inhalation of air but also the exhalation -- a practice that may run contrary to our normal habits and beliefs. (Says Alan Watts, most of us are always full of breath. We never really empty our lungs completely.) Ancient yogis said life is measured not in years but in breaths. The slower the breath, the longer and more vital the lifespan. Dr. Schultz, mentioned above, discovered that autogenic relaxation was best achieved through passive concentration. (At first this seems like a contradiction of terms, as in "passive aggressive behavior.") There should be rapt attention, he wrote, but not a feeling of struggle. There should be a sense of letting things happen, not forcing them. Just as a scattered and distracted mind indicates tension, the state of relaxation produces a mind that's centered and focused. The word "meditation" is an English approximation for the Sanskrit word dhyana, which means an unbroken flow of thought toward an object of concentration. In meditation, less effort produces more results. (We also see this point as a recurring theme in the literature on effective living.) In our earlier history, shamans entered trance states with the intention of receiving direct spiritual guidance. One of the primary symptoms of tension on the spiritual level is the sense of isolation. Pleasures become fleeting.
"Spa," the name of a celebrated Belgian health resort, is said by some to be short for solus par aqua, Latin for "health through water."
"Originality is nothing but judicious imitation."
"Opinion is ultimately determined by the feelings, and not by the intellect."
-- Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)
"There must be no barriers for freedom of inquiry. There is no place for dogma in science. The scientist is free, and must be free to ask any question, to doubt any assertion, to seek for any evidence, to correct any errors."
-- Robert Oppenheimer
From "The Stress of Life" (1956/1976) by Hans Selye MD
This book is referenced by several of the leading bodywork writers of our time, including Ida Rolf. For our purposes it tends to be overly clinical, yet this aspect adds to the book's credibility. It's been referred to as a "classic" and could well be so, especially if it forwarded the awareness of stress at the time of publication. Selye, a prolific writer, was a professor of medicine and surgery at the University of Montreal. "Not only will men of science have to grapple with the sciences that deal with man, but -- and this is a far more difficult matter -- they will have to persuade the world to listen to what they have discovered. If they cannot succeed in this difficult enterprise, man will destroy himself by his halfway cleverness."
-- Bertrand Russell (1872-1970)
(I ask, is it possible to build a case so strong that no persuasion is necessary -- it will be spontaneously adopted as self-evident?) Many common diseases are largely due to errors in our adaptive response to stress rather than to direct damage by germs, poisons, or life experience. These common maladies include nervous and emotional disturbances, high blood pressure, gastric and duodenal ulcers, and certain types of allergic, cardiovascular, sexual and renal (kidney) derangements. In its medical sense, stress is essentially the rate of wear and tear on the body. It is not to see something first, but to establish solid connections between the previously known and the hitherto unknown that constitutes the essence of scientific discovery. Selye asks, "Could a sudden stress or push force the body to snap out of a disease?" (As in electro-shock therapy.) (In looking up electroshock therapy online, I see that electric eels and fish were used by people in ancient times to treat headaches and mental illness.) One of the biggest blocks to progress is the certainty that you're already right. As a young medical student, Selye was impressed that few signs and symptoms were characteristic of any one particular disease. Most of the disturbances he saw in patients were apparently common to many -- and perhaps even to most -- diseases. It is up to the scientist to draw a blueprint of questions he must ask before the mosaic or problem begins to make sense. It is curious how few people, including physicians, understand this. Selye's advice to young scientists is to look for the outlines of the big picture with their fresh but still unprejudiced minds. After a few years one may no longer see the forest for the trees. Sex hormones are coordinators of sexual activities, including reproduction. It has long ago been learned by sheer experience that certain curative measures were nonspecific -- that is, useful to patients suffering from almost any disease. One advises the patient, for example to go to bed and take it easy, to eat only easily digestible food and to protect themself against drafts or great variations in temperature and humidity. Novel concepts require new terms with which to describe them. The idea of stress goes back to the ponos of Greek medicine. (Ponos is more likely to be translated into English as 'strain' or 'toil' -- wear-and-tear on the body.) A synonym for the word 'understand' is 'grasp.' To understand something is to grasp it with the mind. Most abstractions in biology -- as in life itself -- are embraced by experience rather than by rational delimitation. (As someone put it elsewhere on this site, you can't reason a person out of a position they haven't been reasoned into.) We all know much better what life is than we know how to define it. The more one understands the nature of life, disease, and suffering, the more one becomes incapable of brutality. In the final analysis, even nerves act through hormones. At the minute end-points of each nerve branch, hormone-like chemical substances (different from hormones produced by the endocrine system) are discharged. Among the behaviors they influence is that of muscle contraction. Tissues contain memories. One of the most important features of the response to localized stress situations in the body is inflammation. In general stress, virtually every organ and every chemical constituent of the human body is involved. For instance, when the renal arteries are partially constricted, the kidney produces an excess of renal pressor substances. (Pressor = that which raises blood pressure.) During stress the lymphatic cells disintegrate. Overeating shifts a great deal of blood to the abdomen. This results in a relative decrease in brain circulation which then tranquilizes the body by decreasing mental alertness. (It's an escape mechanism, just like intoxication.) A great deal of evidence supports the view that out-of-balance adrenal glands participate in the development of various renal and cardiovascular diseases. For many years, physicians questioned the finding that heart accidents can be induced chemically by stress, even without occlusion of coronary arteries. Also, there is good evidence that sudden death may also be precipitated by acute emotional stress, such as deep grief, which causes severe functional derangements of the cardiac rhythm without necrosis (localized death of living tissue). Besides grief, other predisposing conditions are hostility and resentment. (Can we make a case here for the role of massage in helping to maintain a harmonious rhythm of the heart? I believe some massage instructor somewhere has suggested we pace ourselves at a rate commensurate with the hearbeat.) An example of a general stressor is a frustrating experience -- a situation where the individual feels he has little or no control over the outcome. It has been demonstrated that certain pathogens will or will not induce arthritis, depending upon the body's hormonal defenses. It is an old and well-established fact that stress predisposes to tuberculosis. Apparently the anti-inflammatory hormones, which are produced in excess during stress, remove the protective barricades around the foci of tubercle bacilli, thereby permitting them to spread. Various species, including man, can be anesthetized with hormones. For instance, hydroxydione has many advantages over other anesthetics, especially because it induces great muscular relaxation, thus helping the surgeon's task considerably. (Remember, this book was first written in 1956.) In women, sleep can be produced quite regularly by giving them progesterone. The author wonders out loud if excessive adrenaline production during stress induces mental changes -- for instance, in patients who become delirious as a result of high fever or serious burns. During stress the sex glands shrink and become less active. In men, both the sexual urge and the formation of sperm cells are diminished. Impotence may be a direct result. There also seems to be a distinct correlation between premenstrual syndrome and excessive stress. The gastrointestinal tract is particularly sensitive to general stress. During World War II, for instance, evidence of "air-raid ulcers" occurred in Britain. Immediately after an intense bombardment, a unusually high number of people would show up in hospitals, with bleeding gastric or duodenal ulcers which developed virtually overnight. Many of the affected persons had not been physically hurt in any way during the attack but they suffered the great stress of extreme emotional excitement. Physicians have long suspected that emotional tension plays an important role in the development of ulcerative colitis -- an inflammatory disease of the colon. The condition frequently responds very well to treatment with anti-inflammatory hormones. One of the most nonspecific consequences of chronic stress is the loss of weight. In times of great stress, much caloric energy is expended. It is not quite clear why attacks of gout tend to occur immediately after, but not during, stress. But most probably, a derailment of hormonal defense reactions is at least party responsible. Very few fundamentally new ideas manage to bypass the stage where others think of them as heresy. They can produce what Aldous Huxley calls a "public war dance." Some critics will chime in with biting, sarcastic remarks, using their wit to cover up their lack of understanding. In 1910, the chairman of a medical congress in Hamburg, Germany (professor Wilhelm Weygandt) banged his fist at the mention of Freud. He declared, "This is not a topic for discussion at a scientific meeting. It is a matter for the police." (The Life and Times of Sigmund Freud, 1955) There evidently exists some sort of feedback mechanism in the pituitary-adrenal axis. The pituitary gland secretes ACTH (adrenocorticotrophic hormone), which in turn stimulates the adrenals to produce corticoids. Somehow these corticoids in turn regulate the pituitary as to the proper secretion of more ACTH. During stress this modulator system is largely bypassed. So many maladies surface and become rampant during times of war and famine. The overwhelming stress (from starvation, worry, cold, fatigue) begins to break down the body's protective mechanisms. It is possible that the alarm signals sent from the cells are not substances, but the lack of them. Constant exposure to any stressor depletes our body's fixed, non-restorable reserves of "adaptation energy." (In Eastern thought, this could be another form of ki or chi.) Extensive studies in World War II showed that, after repeated missions over enemy territory, the initial anxiety of the pilots subsided. However, their adaptation eventually broke down and they developed a variety of neurotic conditions. Even the most courageous and well-balanced fighters could perform optimally for only a limited number of missions until their "adaptation energy" was exhausted. Studies of concentration camp survivors during the war indicated a large loss of sexual desire and fertility. Skin disorders were also common. The stress even passed itself onto the next generation: parents often regarded their children's robust activity as a violation of their morally prescribed mourning process or as an extra burden on their already taxed resources. Consequently the children became anxious and aggressive. Stress plays a role in such diverse manifestations of life as aging, the development of individuality, the need for self-expression, and the formulation of one's ultimate aims. The essence of a new type of medical outlook should be to combat disease by strengthening the body's own defenses against stress. Deep sleep helps the body to "forget" stereotyped reactions to stress such as exaggerated hormonal responses that aren't appropriate to the situation at hand. The author also recommends meditation, exercise, yoga, and saunas. A person can become intoxicated with his own stress hormones. (When de-stressed, this sort of person would feel vaguely uncomfortable, out of sorts, as if an old friend has suddenly vanished.) The author suggests this sort of "drunkenness" has caused more harm to society than the alcoholic kind -- more people are helpless slaves to their own stressful activities. We're all on-guard against external toxins, but it takes more wisdom to recognize and overcome the foe that fights from within. We can't talk or rationalize worry away. We must displace it with something else, something positive. The author has performed over one thousand autopsies. He says he's yet to examine a body that died of old age as such. Bodies die from wear-and-tear diseases precipitated by undue stress. When stress exceeds the body's ability to adapt, the result is strikingly similar to senility. It's a premature aging. The author recognizes the role of meditation (he mentions Herbert Benson MD, whose work is examined on this site) as a possible path toward breaking addictions to alcohol or cigarettes.
"When the mouse laughs at the cat, there's a hole nearby."
-- Nigerian proverb
"Never mistake motion for action."
-- Ernest Hemingway
"Well begun is half done."
From "Bodymind" (1977/1986) by Ken Dychtwald
Dychtwald is a psychologist and gerontologist with an impressive background in the human-potential field. The back cover calls this book "an established classic." Before we can buy into this claim, Dychtwald needs a crash course in attacking wordiness -- then maybe we can talk about "classic." Our language does not support the notion of a mind/body unity. On his deathbed, Louis Pasteur acknowledged that a medical adversary of his was correct by insisting that disease is caused less by the germ itself than by the resistance of the individual. Arthritis may be a function of a rigid personality. (A highly structured individual.) Most everything we learn about sickness and health is based on the presupposition that we're only partially related to our bodies. In a magazine/journal article from 1963, Ida Rolf describes how negative behavioral patterns show up as physical blockages involving the musculature. ("Structural Integration," Systematics, June 1963.) She argues that once the behavior/blockage solidifies, it can't be released by talk or mental suggestion. (Servan-Schreiber -- below -- makes a similar point. However, there is evidence to suggest another route, that blockages can be loved or be'd out of another person, a line of thought I will develop in time.) Dychtwald pluralizes fascia as fasciae, and he calls people who undergo Rolf restructuring "Rolfees". I like that. As a Rolfer works the body, the subject can respond with emotions and memories that seem to come up from nowhere. Curiously, similar types of stories seem to arise in different people when similar sections of the body are worked on. For instance, work on the chest often reactivates feelings of early abandonment. The upper back is frequently seen as a depository of rage and anger. Jaws hold back sadness; the hips, sexuality; the shoulders, responsibility. (Picture the mythological figure Atlas carrying the weight of the world on his shoulders.) Not only is the body a storehouse of emotions and memories, it stocks up on beliefs as well. (Or perhaps more precisely, the body stores early misguided decisions we've made regarding uncomfortable events). When a person is properly massaged, they can experience a greater sense of responsibility toward the world at large. By intellectually dividing ourselves into parts (Cartesian mind/body dualism), we encourage intensive specialization and differentiation in all our activities. (As Buckminster Fuller would put it, we're specialists at a time when the world needs comprehensivists. The supposed "split" between our head and the rest of the body is very counterproductive.) Dr. Frederick Leboyer is a French obstetrician who spearheaded more humane methods of childbirth. These techniques include soft lighting, delayed separation of the umbilicus, and mild massage and stroking of the baby by the mother immediately after birth. Besides later appearing unusually healthy and well adjusted, nearly all of these children are ambidextrous. Unwanted emotions -- those we don't want to deal with -- get shoved to the back: down our erector spinae and into our hammies (hamstrings). Tight hamstrings are also found in people afraid of letting go into new situations. (I say it's rather unusual to find a client with well-toned hammies; they're usually either too taut or too flaccid.) As a psychologist, the author gets many clients who expect him to "take the problem away." His game plan is a little different: It includes bringing problems from the level of the unconscious up to a level of awareness. At that point, the client can begin the process of dealing with problems by themselves. (I see a similar dynamic in play for effective massage.) The discipline of Tai Chi takes its philosophical base from Taoism, which encourages yielding and "going with the flow" rather than aggression and offensive action. (There's a saying in the martial arts that when you're on the offensive, you are out of control.) Anyway, allow me to rephrase the above comments into something that makes more sense for me, namely "Letting go into the flow." When we walk, most of us move from our chest, shoulders, or head. We need to move from the tan tien (also spelled tan den, our center of gravity, the seat of our soul), in ways that have been described elsewhere on this literature review. To operate from this space, most of us (including myself, that's for sure) need to relax and lower our center of consciousness into this region. The way a person is grounded physically (feet to ground) is frequently identical to the way he is grounded emotionally. Sometimes tension in the feet is related to unresolved trauma involving the desire/need to run or move away from something. All joints are psychosomatic crossroads. (Does that include my neighborhood bar that hasn't been painted in 30 years?) If we don't explore and push our limits, our body-mind gradually tightens, becoming more unconscious. Tension and energy blockage in the pelvis can manifest itself as sexual frigidity (I'm aware that this word is currently out of fashion) or sciatica. People with underdeveloped energy and musculature in their legs will frequently be forced to overcompensate in other areas. For instance, they will "stand their ground" with a tensed upper body or intellect. The coccygeal and sacral vertebrae act as channels for the nerve routes that activate the anal/sexual aspects of the body-mind. If the channels are blocked, too much energy comes from the head rather than the feeling/emotive aspect of the body. Relations with others become based on accomplishment and appeasement, rather than a genuine exchange of feeling. Improper and rushed toilet training can lead to a lifetime of over-tense buttock muscles. In adulthood, these can lead to hemorrhoids (or as Al Bundy called them, "roids") and lower back pain. Because tightness here affects the pelvic floor, this form of blockage also serves to restrict sexual functioning. The contributions made by Wilhelm Reich toward the understanding of armoring and tension have not been matched by any other Western thinker or healer of our times. (We took a look at Reich's "Selected Writings" on the previous page.) Reich differed from his teacher Freud by doing the unimaginable: actually touching his patients with physical manipulations coupled with breathing exercises. Dychtwald describes this as Reich's most notable innovation. Many of the most popular human-potential systems -- Gestalt, encounter, bioenergetics, Rolfing, Feldenkrais, primal therapy -- are in some form descendents of the Reichian approach. Personal power is to be used as a way to heighten one's own experience -- without crushing others. Some people get stuck at certain chakras (modes of being or levels of awareness). According to Joseph Campbell (Myths to Live By, 1973), those stuck at the third chakra (navel / the center of raw and fiery power) are controlling types who seek to force others to conform to their ways of thought. (Note how the Bush Administration childishly said "You're either with us or against us," with the insinuation that if you're against them, you're against America itself.) It might be helpful to imagine emotions as swirling flows of multicolored energies. (Note the correspondence to Candace Pert.) The psoas (or iliopsoas) muscle is crucial to pelvic movement, body balance, and sexual movement. The author describes a Rolfing experience he underwent in 1971. Before long, the author recalls, "a thousand colors, memories and images" streamed across his eye. His body's motions felt "nearly orgastic," paradoxically engaged "actively" in "uncontrolled" movement and vibration. If any real integration is to occur, the entire body must be viewed and treated as a whole. Massage won't do much lasting good unless it brings the body up to a higher level of awareness. The author participated in many encounter groups at the Esalen Institute in California. He found that some of the most peaceful, quiet people turned into Tasmanian devils when given the opportunity. The ability to uncover blocked memories and release them is a wonderful innovation over the usually passive verbal interactions of traditional psychoanalysis. Why do we resist having a pliable diaphragm? According to Reich, we defend ourselves against the sensations of pleasure or anxiety which inevitably appear with diaphragmatic movement." (Character Analysis, 1949) The chest is a device that takes a feeling and then translates, focuses and amplifies it. Fritz Perls is considered the founder of Gestalt therapy. He defined anxiety as the experience of trying to get more air into lungs that are immobilized by muscular constriction of the ribcage. Thus we see the value of deep breathing as a technique central to every single form of relaxation known to mankind. Most people are more tense and armored in the left side of the chest than on the right. This is the side, of course, that protects the heart. According to Reich, no full emotional release or psychoanalytic cure is possible while the original rigidity retains its defensive function of armoring the patient against strong feelings. (There's a hint of trigger point theory in here: neither stretching nor traditional massage are particularly effective as long as the trigger point casts its spell.) In many cases, the statements of the hands seem more honest than the words that come out of someone's mouth. (I watch the feet, for that's how people vote. If people are willingly around you -- when they don't have to be -- they've voted for you.) Among various forms of bodywork, it's generally accepted that the muscles surrounding the upper spine house the emotion of anger. Dental problems caused by excessive grinding (bruxion) are often traceable to repressed anger. A forward protrusion of the jaw reflects a defiant and arrogant character attitude. Stuttering can originate in the diaphragm. Our self image is usually one handed to us by family, school, the media, and the workplace. It usually has little to do with our true selves. Moshe Feldenkrais (we'll be getting to two of his books eventually) believed that many of our limitations originate in the nervous system. From here, they are projected into the muscles and connective tissue. As a result, his exercises put less emphasis on stretching than on freeing up the nervous system. By breaking up our usual neuromuscular patterns, we can begin to operate more expansively. (Remember what Deane Juhan said about neuromuscular re-patterning: First we need a totally relaxed body.) According to Alexander Lowen (author of Bioenergetics), most of us are unaware of the expressions on our faces. To this degree, we're out of touch with who we are and how we feel. When people complain to the author about headaches in the forehead, he asks them who they're angry with. Then they respond with "How did you know?" For many of us, our everyday state is characterized by chronic low-grade stress.
"Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated."
-- George Bernard Shaw
"I now perceive one immense omission in my psychology -- the deepest principle of Human Nature is the craving to be appreciated."
-- William James
"We judge ourselves by what we feel capable of doing, while others judge us by what we've already done."
From "The Instinct to Heal: Curing Stress, Anxiety and Depression Without Drugs and Without Talk Therapy" (2003) by David Servan-Schreiber, MD, Ph.D
Some interesting information at times, but little or no inspired insight. Servan-Schreiber is a clinical professor of psychiatry at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and cofounder of the Center for Complementary Medicine there. He has worked extensively with the group Doctors Without Borders. Western medicine has a good track record when it comes to acute conditions such as pneumonia, appendicitis or bone fractures. However, the track record is less than sterling when it comes to chronic conditions such as depression or anxiety. In terms of mortality, stress poses a more serious risk than tobacco. Eight of the ten most commonly used medications in the U.S. are intended to treat problems related to stress. To reach the more primal emotional/limbic brain, it's more effective to act via the body rather than depend entirely on language and reason. "We must take care not to make intellect our god. It has, of course, powerful muscles, but no personality. It cannot rule, only serve."
-- Albert Einstein "Goodbye," said the fox. "Here is my secret. It's quite simple: one sees clearly only with the heart."
-- from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery We experience emotions in our body, not in our head. Handbooks on Eastern sexuality teach that focusing the mind on the heart helps to maximize and master pleasure. It seems that the scars in our emotional brain remain ready to express themselves whenever the cognitive brain and the power of reason lower their vigilance: when we drink alcohol, for instance. The author mentions a therapy called Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR). He cites dramatic recoveries using this method, as chronicled in the "demanding" Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. EMDR has met with tremendous resistance from academic psychiatry and psychology. The author states that when major breakthroughs occur before their theoretical underpinnings can be explained, they systematically encounter violent resistance from entrenched institutions -- especially when the treatment is described as "natural" or seems "too simple." A large chunk of the problems a psychologist faces every day -- depression, anxiety, eating disorders, alcoholism, drug abuse -- originates in traumatic events. The author displays an old-school understanding of fibromyalgia, which seems to include the prescribing of antidepressants. The acupuncture point called Bladder 67, located on the outside edge of the little toe, is said to improve vision. Ancient texts state that stimulation of certain acupuncture points can have exactly opposite effects with different people, depending on whether they are more of a 'yin' or 'yang' type. Proper nutrition is a study almost abandoned by today's psychiatrists and psychotherapists. The presence of Omega-3 (found in fish oil) in the diet increases our capacity for thinking -- and for pleasure. It also seems to counteract symptoms of depression. As a natural product, it cannot be patented, so it's not of much interest to the pharmaceutical companies who fund the majority of studies on depression. Tibetan medicine may be right: depression is perhaps as much a physical illness, precipitated by stress, as it is a disorder of the mind. The author suggests limiting meat intake to three times per week. When we habitually intoxicate our brain with alcohol or street drugs, it suffers. All traditional medicines, whether Tibetan, Chinese, Ayurvedic, or Greco-Roman, have emphasized the importance of nutrition since their earliest texts. Said Hippocrates, "Let your food be your treatment, and your treatment your food." Exercise is a remarkably effective treatment for anxiety. "Natural killer" (NK) cells are the body's first line of defense against outside invasion as well as the spread of cancer cells. They are highly sensitive to our emotions (as argued by Candace Pert, see below). The better we feel, the more energetically they do their job. Stress, anxiety and depression interfere with their performance. The remarkable tug of music on our hearts -- especially the human voice singing -- probably has its roots in the limbic region of the brain. Music acts directly on this emotional part of the brain, a lot more effectively than language or mathematics. Mammals, such as man, have a biological need for emotional contact, on a par with the need for food and oxygen. In human beings, research has established that the quality of the relationship between parents and child -- defined by the parents' empathy and their response to the child's emotional needs -- will determine the balance of the child's parasympathetic system years later. (Katz & Gottman, "Buffering Children from Marital Conflict and Dissolution," Journal of Clinical Child Psychology 26, 1997, 157-71) "Those who find the right words never offend anyone. Yet they speak the truth. Their words are clear but never harsh. They do not take offense, and they do not give it."
-- Buddha (talk about moderation and discipline!) Once the emotional part of the brain is jabbed by a malicious zinger from a loved one (something like "You're an asshole, darling."), it turns off the cognitive brain's ability to think rationally. In 1999, psychologist Marshall Rosenberg wrote the book Nonviolent Communication. He cites a study that examined the relationship between a country's literature and the violence of its citizens. According to this research, the more often literary works of a country contain statements labeling people as "good" or "bad", the more frequently acts of violence are registered in the justice system. (See O.J. Harvey, Conceptual Systems and Personality Organization, 1961) Aristotle believed that every life-form had an energy, a force, that he called entelechy or autocompletion. He even talked of a "duty" of living beings to reach this state of maturity and wisdom. (That's what we're here for, isn't it . . . . to live up to this duty, not to make money and live comfortably for their own sake.) Carl Jung (individuation) and Abraham Maslow (self-actualization) made similar observations. In the 1960s, almost every medical journal in the United States featured an ad for Librium, the predecessor of Valium. In big letters the ad screamed, "Librium: Whatever the Problem Is!" To a lesser extent, this mindset exists today when it comes to Prozac, Zoloft or Paxil -- some of the most prescribed and profitable medicines on the market. (We need to stay aware at that very moment when we have that first urge for a cigarette or a shot of booze -- what can replace this urge in a more productive fashion?) Any memory that we actively try not to think about is generally one that has left a painful scar in our emotional brain. Try to arrange your life so you wake up naturally with the light of day rather than an alarm clock. (Lately I've been pulling off this formerly-unthinkable feat more often than not, with positive results for my early-morning energy levels.) A regular sleep schedule can help moody people achieve more emotional balance. Emotionally balanced people tend to take a greater role in community affairs, stretching out their network of friendships. They are less cut off from others as well as themselves, as Camus illustrates in The Stranger. Our main character, Meursault, was unable to connect with pain or sorrow at his mother's funeral, unable to find happiness or attachment in the presence of his girlfriend or to find meaning in a sense of larger community. He was 'A Stranger' unto his emotional self.
"Sin is behovely (inevitable), but all shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well." (This is not wishful thinking. On the contrary, it is a very accurate recollection of the type of wisdom gained from a mystical experience, of which I can speak first-hand.)
-- Julian of Norwich, female mystic (1342-1416)
"Personality opens many doors, but only character keeps them open."
-- Salada tea bag
"An unfulfilled vocation drains the color from a man's entire existence."
-- Balzac (1799-1850)
"All the trouble in the world is due to the fact that man cannot sit still in a room."
- Pascal (1623-1662)
From "Molecules of Emotion: The Science Behind Mind-Body Medicine" (1997) by Candace Pert, Ph.D
Rating: Pretty good for our purposes, though it meanders at times. Pert is a research professor at Georgetown University Medical Center. This book is praised from time to time by some of the better massage writers in the world. In the foreword, Deepak Chopra (I like to call him Sixpack Chopra) says that the mind is non-local, meaning that it's not limited to the brain but exists throughout the entire body. Truly original, boundary-breaking ideas are rarely welcomed at first, no matter who proposes them. Don't accept the idea that something can't be accomplished because the scientific literature says it can't. Trust your instincts. Speaking of a fellow researcher at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Pert says the experience of being in his presence was "near-orgasmic." (This is a thought to put in our back pocket for later reference.) "Scientists would rather use each other's toothbrushes than use each other's terminology." The hormone oxytocin not only contracts the uterus in labor, but also produces the uterine contractions of sexual orgasm in females. It also seems to help some male rodents find long-term, monogamous relationships. (According to Marion Rosen (see below), every time we are touched in a nonaggressive manner, a hormone called oxytocin is released.) Boldness and self-confidence are the defining traits of the winning scientist. The tendency to ponder over or repeat experiments endlessly are the hallmarks of the second stringer. Even papers submitted to scientific journals must be exercises in simplicity and clear writing. Big-time science often consists of finding a signal in an ocean of noise, a process that can go on for years. According to Dr. William Bunney, an associate at the NIH, the pleasure experienced during orgasm is accompanied by a surge of endorphins (which are released during a competent massage). If I read Pert correctly, some researchers call endorphins enkephalins. NIH researchers studied animals during mating, finding that during the actual sex act blood endorphin levels increased about 200%. Intense exercise also produces endorphins, leading to the documented "runner's high." As of 1997, the idea that human orgasm is accompanied by the release of the body's own pleasure chemicals has never quite seen the light of day in a prestigious journal. (Interim results, which included saliva samples taken from Pert and her husband at the moment of orgasm, were found to be "very popular" among colleagues, ha ha.) Good experimentation requires an intuitive touch. Pert brings in a superb analogy here: spinning plates, like you sometimes see in the circus. Successful living sometimes involves keeping a number of plates spinning simultaneously. If one plate crashes, it can take months or years to revive it. Emotions, and their full expression, are directly involved with health and disease. In Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals, Charles Darwin noted how emotions are widespread across both animal and human kingdoms. He asserts they are inextricably linked to the survival of species. The vagus nerve comes from the Latin word for wandering. (This is the root of our words vagrant, vagabond, and vague.) We are taught in school that communication between neurons occurs at the synapses. However, Miles Herkenham of the NIH estimates that only 2% of neuronal communication occurs there. Instead, chemical information-substances travel the extracellular fluids circulating throughout the body to reach their specific target-cell receptors. (Another good reason to drink plenty of water and avoid the dehydrating effects of alcohol.) The body is the unconscious mind. Repressed traumas caused by overwhelming emotion can be stored in a body part, thereafter affecting our ability to feel that part -- or even move it. (My question: Does adipose (fat) tissue = unconscious tissue?) [The answer came about two years later in 'Qigong Massage': adipose tissue is a very poor conductor of ki energy.]One way to increase our consciousness is to increase the blood flow into a body part, thereby increasing the availability of oxygen and nutrients to carry away toxins and nourish the cells. The "cancer establishment" resists new ideas in search of a cure. Old-paradigm thinking can be intransigent. (Just try telling a rock station to play something significant for a change, like Depeche Mode, and see what kind of reaction you get.) With her second husband, Pert noticed she and he brought out better people in each other. This is one of my benchmarks for a relationship that matters. Pert took the est training in 1977. Many, many authors have, but few acknowledge it. (I also took est and I'd do it again.) During her training, Pert witnessed a woman re-experience the trauma of incest. Spontaneously, her hunched shoulders appeared to transform itself, healing before the group's eyes. There is a clear connection between cancer, the immune system, and toxicity in the body. Compared to Americans, Russian behaviorists have a huge jump on understanding the holistic nature of the body. When new ideas don't fit the old paradigm, most people ignore them. The immune system is part of the same network as the endocrine and nervous systems, even though most immunologists still consider it a separate field of study. The systems are linked by information carriers called neuropeptides. We are all aware of the bias built into the Western idea that the mind is totally in the head, a function of the brain. It could be said that intelligence is located not only in the brain but in cells that are distributed throughout the body, and that the traditional separation of mental processes, including emotions, from the body is no longer valid. Since neuropeptides and their receptors are located in the body as well as the brain, we may conclude that the mind is in the body as well, with all that implies. (Enormous implications here.) Emotions are at the nexus between matter and mind, going back and forth between the two and influencing both. In the 1940s, Wilhelm Reich proposed the then-heretical idea that cancer is a result of the failure to express emotions, especially sexual ones. Reich was ridiculed by the establishment, and the FDA conducted the only book-burning in American history, calling for all Reich's work to be confiscated and destroyed. However, current research has at times vindicated Reich, demonstrating that tumors are smaller and immune systems stronger for those in touch with their emotions. The chronic suppression of emotions results in a massive disturbance of the psychosomatic network. The Eastern concept of meridians may be the information highways traveled by immune cells. Through meditation and daily massage in addition to other health-enhancing practices, Pert began to "relax a little" and experience synchronicity. Carl Jung defines this as "the coincidence of events in space and time as meaning something more than mere chance." Says Pert, this allowed her to trust that life would unfold without her as the prime mover, without her brain always leading the way. (This was a key lesson of my mystical experiences. I'm also more likely now to say to myself "Now is not the time to do this," trusting my instincts in this matter. It's like I was a clogged-up computer and someone came along and de-fragged -- defragmented -- me.) Pert views disease-related stress as an information overload. The body is so taxed by suppressed trauma or undigested emotions that it bogs down. Internal information can't flow freely, and sometimes it even works against itself. In the late 1950s, it was demonstrated that if you take a stressed rat and introduce a tumor, it grows more rapidly. Stress prevents our molecules of emotion from flowing freely where needed. As a result, our normal self-healing mechanisms are thwarted. One way of re-establishing the flow is through meditation. Trauma and blockage of emotional and physical information can be stored indefinitely at the cellular level. The field of chiropractic has been discredited by the drug-and-surgery branch of medicine. Women have a thicker corpus callosum -- the bundle of nerves that bridges the right and left hemispheres of the brain. This allows women to more easily think both rationally and intuitively at the same time. Happiness is a natural state. Only when our systems get blocked, shut down and disarrayed do we experience mood disorders. (I say that cooperation is a natural state too, including cooperation among nations. However, there are always a few greedy souls willing to manipulate the gullible into thinking another country is an enemy.) Researchers at the NIH have found that children who are abused, neglected, or otherwise unnurtured are more likely to be depressed as adults. Depressed people typically have high levels of stress steroids. Autopsies typically show that in suicide victims, the levels of CRF (cortical releasing factor, a stress steroid) are ten times higher than normal. Depressed people are stuck in a disruptive feedback loop that resists any kind of drug therapy that aims at suppression of these steroids. Studies among monkeys have shown that hugging can help restore the loop. Each of us has our own natural pharmacy we need to produce all the drugs necessary to run our bodies. This pharmacy has evolved over many centuries. Sigmund Freud laid the cornerstone of modern psychiatry as a no-touch affair. When we reach for a cigarette or a drink, we're often trying to cover up a feeling that makes us uncomfortable. We'd rather cover it up than confront it. By covering up the feelings, we're disrupting the feedback loop the body relies upon for normal health. Caroline Sperling, a psychologist who started her own cancer foundation, says people get the disease because they bury, suppress and deny their emotions. We need to minimize or eliminate the use of drugs, alcohol and cigarettes. Pollutants (toxicity) suspended in the cell membranes help cause energy starvation and lead to chronic fatigue. The immune system gets overloaded, leading to the same. The liver acts as the initial filter that prevents harmful substances from entering the bloodstream. The establishment mocks the concept of detoxification of the liver. The biggest liver-cleansing boost of all is to get off all drugs, including alcohol. Speaking to women in prison, Dr. Pert discussed heroin addiction and the pangs of withdrawal. Pert explained that addicts have a natural form of heroin --endorphins -- in their bodies. As a result of shooting up the heroin, the flow of these endorphins had been diminished. She explained that the craving they felt would cease when the natural flow of the chemical was restored, and that exercise and orgasm were two means of enhancing the natural flow. (Here is yet another piece of evidence indicating a link between massage and recovering from substance abuse.) If our emotions are blocked due to denial, repression or trauma, then blood flow can become chronically constricted, depriving the frontal cortex of the brain, as well as other organs, of vital nourishment. This can leave us foggy and less alert, limited in awareness. We're less able to intervene into the conversation between body and mind. As a result, we become stuck, unable to respond freshly to the world around us. We need to pay more attention to our dreams. Personal honesty, keeping our word, is one way to reduce stress in our lives. (Didn't I say that somewhere else on this site?) The source of most people's ongoing, daily stress, the author believes, is the perception of isolation and alienation, of being cut off from the company of others. Treat sugar as if it's a drug. By increasing blood flow, exercise speeds up the process of detoxing the liver. We do store some memory in the brain, but by far, the deeper and older messages are stored in the body. In addition, these memories must be accessed through the body. You can't heal a person by talk alone. You need the touch therapies, including massage. Our biggest meal should be at midday. This gives us enough time for digestion before we sleep.
"Friendship is a single soul dwelling in two bodies."
"My deplorable mania exhausts me. I doubt everything, even my doubt."
-- Gustave Flaubert, 1846
"There is no kind of idleness by which we are so easily seduced as that which dignifies itself by the appearance of business."
-- Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
"We will either find a way -- or make one."
From "Past Lives, Future Healing" (2001) by Sylvia Browne
A leading psychic, this woman is the real deal. It's intriguing how Browne's description of "cell memory" complements the research of Candace Pert, whose book is mentioned previously. Browne frequently gets referrals from doctors and psychologists who can't find a traditional solution to a client's ailments. Each of us has lived on earth in many different bodies, during many different eras in many different parts of the world, under many different circumstances. Each episode was carefully chosen for a specific purpose, depending on the goals and needs of our spirit (soul) at that moment in time. The author has a spirit guide whose attitude is "I can't give you the answers unless you ask the questions." Each of our cells is a living, breathing, thinking, feeling organism. They react in concrete ways to the memories from this and previous lifetimes, whether we're consciously aware of these memories or not. (Says Candace Pert: "It could be said that intelligence is located not only in the brain but in cells that are distributed throughout the body, and that the traditional separation of mental processes, including emotions, from the body is no longer valid.") By accessing these cell memories, we can rid ourselves of long-buried illness, trauma and phobias. Until we do, our subconscious considers these memories valid, present and active in the here and now, even if the traumatic event occurred many lifetimes ago. (Says Pert: " We do store some memory in the brain, but by far, the deeper and older messages are stored in the body. In addition, these memories must be accessed through the body. You can't heal a person by talk alone.") The author claims a 90% correlation between birthmarks and a serious or fatal injury from a past life. Ninety percent. (It looks like we're in this life to clean up old business, heh?) The spirit enters the body with crystal-clear memories of the traumas and major injuries it experienced in previous bodies. It infuses the cells with those memories. In response, the cells form physical evidence of those past injuries, like scar tissue from a whole other lifetime. (Says Pert: "The body is the unconscious mind." We can therefore reverse that and say just as loudly, "The unconscious mind is the body.") Sometimes we run into a person or place that floods our consciousness with a overwhelming sense of recognition. We have a sense of belonging, or being at home. If it's with a person, our logic is befuddled by the strong connection. Meanwhile, our souls are exchanging a torrent of silent, subtle, subconscious memories. Prior to entering this life, individuals can and do chart their "game plan" so that they hook up, reconcile issues, and move on. Our personal game plan includes goals to achieve and obstacles to overcome. (If we don’t achieve them in this current lifetime, we get to come back and try it all over again next time around.) Our conscious minds can be fooled, often with hilarious ease. However, our spirit minds are infallible when it comes to telling the difference between the truth and a lie. Truth is the only thing that resonates with and makes a lasting impression on our souls. Dark entities are those who have chosen to turn away from God and devote their energy to destroying His light anywhere and everywhere they find it. They're remorseless, manipulative, often charming and charismatic, and completely without conscience. The author says it's not spirits and ghosts that frighten her, it's the human residents of the Dark Side we need protection from. These folks aren't curious about their spiritual progress, though they might be gifted at talking about it if they think it would seduce their audience (and shake a few dollars out of them). With her clients, the author believes major progress can and should be made within just one or two sessions. Conditions of adverse health in this lifetime seem to begin at the same age as the traumatic incident from a previous lifetime. For instance, death from stabbing at age 33 in 1725 can lead to a heart condition in this lifetime -- beginning at age 33. There's not a traditional medical or psychological test that can detect ailments that have their roots in cell memory. There is no test to determine that cells have yet to release their past-life memories that keep them on stressful alert. (Here's why I think we need to cultivate a demeanor, a way of being that states "Relax, it's alright, everything is OK." Telling someone to relax never works, at least in my experience.) Until they heal, our cell memories will continue to react as if the wounds are as real, current and painful as if they've just now been inflicted. (Says Pert: "Trauma and blockage of emotional and physical information can be stored indefinitely at the cellular level.") Every entity you meet on "the other side" is 30 years old. Unresolved cell memory often cannot be overcome by willpower and discipline alone. It's easy to confuse love with the feeling of an intense connection with someone. Cell memory is not the cause of every little health problem that comes along. Our conscious minds are flawed, forgetful, and very self-protective. (Erhard says the very purpose of the reactive mind is survival at the expense of integrity and aliveness.) Children need positive reinforcement even when they're asleep. Babies are very psychic, because they're fresh from a visit to the other side. Watch them when they start staring at something you can't see, or when they start giggling for no apparent reason, or start talking into thin air. Your baby is seeing a spirit as clearly as they see you. Instead of trying to "fix" someone, why not try to simply enjoy their company? You might work wonders with them, and with yourself. The subconscious mind understands the meaning of our dreams, whether our conscious mind can make sense of them or not. Some analysts strain to add sexual symbolism to each tiny detail of our dreams. The author says she'd have loved to grab Sigmund Freud and say, "What's wrong with you?" When people come to us with their problems, we owe them more than a shrug and a "Beats me."
"A hedge between keeps friendship green."
-- English proverb
"What one has not experienced, one will never understand in print."
-- Isodora Duncan
"Trust only movement. Life happens at the level of events, not of words. Trust movement."
-- psychiatrist Alfred Adler (1870-1937)
"He makes no friend who never made a foe."
-- Alfred, Lord Tennyson
From "Discovering the Body's Wisdom" (1996) by Mirka Knaster
This book is all over the place, displaying little of the 'focus' Knaster refers to from time to time. Little if any personal insight is revealed, and we're treated to more of a cookbook of various modalities. Despite being a former English teacher at Columbia, Knaster suffers from a nasty disease called "why not say in four paragraphs what you could say in one." Fortunately, if one has patience there is much wisdom to be shaken out of this book. Knaster has taken the stuffy word "modality" and replaced it with her own pet term: bodyways. (The gag-factor of this book is off and running.) A recurring theme found in many bodywork systems is this: when a function is impaired, we're almost sure to find a blockage somewhere. "The germ is nothing. The soil is everything."
-- Louis Pasteur According to Dr. James Lynch, author of The Broken Heart: The Medical Consequences of Loneliness, people most susceptible to disease are "extraordinarily disconnected" from their bodies. Asks Lynch, "If you cannot listen to your own heart, how can you get your wife to understand you?" Self-control is the ability to choose, not react. Emotional responses bring immediate changes in our breathing patterns. Knaster says bodywork can enhance one's sexual pleasure. Joseph Heller, a student of Ida Rolf and the founder of Hellerwork, says bodywork has led him to a more fluid experience of sex. Ida Rolf has suggested that in certain cases, correcting structural deviations could be more effective than psychotherapy. Poor posture can impinge the flow of oxygenated blood to the brain. In studies conducted with lab animals, scientists at Duke University discovered that lack of tactile stimulation leads to abnormal social and emotional behavior -- aggression, fearfulness, violence, sexual abnormality -- and brain damage. Ashley Montagu, in his remarkable book Touching, found that among the elderly, the quality of tactile support during an illness could make a life-or-death difference. "Often the hands will solve a mystery that the intellect has struggled with in vain."
-- Carl Jung In James Joyce's Dubliners, the bank teller Mr. James Duffy "lived at a little distance from his body." According to Jean Piaget, the Swiss psychologist, during the first two years of life our thinking takes place through the body, for we have little or no language yet. All too often we are educated out of rather than into an awareness of the body. Sexual anxieties may cause the genitals to become faint or even disappear from the body image. "Great ideas originate in the muscles."
-- Thomas Edison Knaster seems to pride herself on coining the term "bodyways," which she applies -- over and over and over -- to most any form of bodywork. Let me coin a term: gagways. "My primary process of perceiving is muscular and visual."
-- Albert Einstein It is through our bodies that we sense the rightness of a situation or perceive danger. "All the emotions belong to the body and are only recognized by the mind."
-- D.H. Lawrence "The skin is the outer surface of the brain, or the brain is the deepest layer of the skin."
-- Deane Juhan, author of Job's Body, a classic that we'll eventually examine on this site The brain and its functions are located all over the body. Dr. Candace Pert (we'll be examining her book Molecules of Emotion before long) and other researchers have found receptor sites throughout the entire body. "I shut my eyes in order to see." -- Paul Gauguin "What you cannot find in your body you will not find anywhere else."
-- Asian proverb The body thinks faster than the mind. "It's more important to know what kind of patient has a disease than what kind of disease a patient has." -- Hippocrates "My belief is in the blood and flesh as being wiser than the intellect."
-- D.H. Lawrence There's a biological tenet called the Arndt-Schulz Law, named for the two German doctors who first described it in 1899: Light stimuli enhance the function of biological systems; heavy stimuli arrest it. During massage, it's not uncommon for a woman's nipples or man's penis to become erect. This is nothing to be embarrassed about. It will subside. Sometimes as the more superficial muscles relax, deeper tensions rise to the surface. "The conclusion is always the same: Love is the most powerful and still the most unknown energy of the world."
-- Pierre Teilhard de Chardin "A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent upon arriving."
-- Tao Te Ching (This sure sounds like wisdom gained from a mystical experience.) "Patience is power. With time and patience the mulberry leaf becomes silk."
-- Chinese proverb In the late 19th century, some physicians started to dismiss language as the way to reach their so-called mental patients. For example, massage was a standard treatment for dealing with debilitating fatigue or for women with emotional problems. One pioneer of psychosomatic medicine at the time was George Groddeck (1866-1893) of Hungary. He wrote to Freud that he saw no separation between bodily and psychic illnesses. Outward good manners do not cancel out true longings. According to anthropologist Richard Grossinger, civilization offers no sanctuary from primitive desires and early trauma. Nor does an adult life of ease and pleasure. The unexperienced trauma of childhood limits our pleasure -- without us even being aware of it. (Planet Medicine, 1980) In 1905, Freud was forced to withdraw an 1896 paper stating that childhood traumas, not heredity, lay at the core of the neuroses of many of his female patients. That paper brought him nine years of ostracism. (See The Assault on Truth: Freud's Suppression of the Seduction Theory (1985) by Jeffrey Masson.) (I wouldn't be surprised if the forces that orchestrated this ostracization were the same ones behind the demonization of Wilhelm Reich. They want to keep society stuck, for their own selfish ends.) One of Freud's better known pupils was Sandor Ferenczi (1873-1933) of Hungary. Ferenczi, considered by some a "grandfather" of Gestalt therapy, was an early champion of body awareness, concentrating on muscle tone and posture. As discussed by Fritz Perls, credited with bringing Gestalt to America, suffering is a function of losing touch with our bodies and feelings. Said Wilhelm Reich, as you cut off the source of pain, you also cut off the source of pleasure. Reich believed that a full-body orgasm, with energy streamings from head to toe, created the means to overcome neuroses. (I don’t think orgasm is the only way, having seen people successfully re-engage major trauma in a non-sexual group setting.) Character armor shows up not only in our body movement but in our breathing. Said Reich, "as soon as the patient ceases to talk, the bodily expression of emotion becomes clearly manifest." Memories unexperienced play themselves over and over again in our mind as tapes. "The body tells the clearest what we want to hide the most."
-- Marion Rosen Who among us wasn't taught incorrectly that memory is purely a mental function? "Memory resides nowhere, and in every cell," says Saul Schanberg, professor of pharmacology and biological psychiatry at Duke. "It's about 2,000 times more complicated than we ever imagined." Deane Juhan, author of Job's Body, compares the skin and brain of the body to the surface and depths of a lake. You can't separate the two. To touch the surface is to stir the depths. When we're most effective in life, we may notice it has more to do with our attention and awareness rather than our effort. As a Taoist may say, we learn how to let "not doing" be our doing. (Werner Erhard would say we don't get very far when we're "efforting.") Osteopathy was developed by Andrew Still, a mid-19th century doctor who believed disease is chiefly due to a loss of structural integrity. Like Still, Daniel David Palmer, the founder of chiropractic, believed that when in balance the body will heal itself. Fascia stores fat and is deeply imbedded with nerve endings. The author says Hippocrates died in 377 BCE. She means BC, unless she's one of these folks who also want us to say "Holiday Season" instead of "Christmas Season" all the time. Someone who provides a relaxation massage does not need as much education as someone who works with athletes to help condition them and recover from injuries. In her section on pregnancy, the author recommends the book Mother Massage by Elaine Stillerman. This book is crap. In her section on sports massage, she suggests Performance Massage by Robert King. Despite being a past president of the AMTA, King's book is on the lame side. Another recommended book is The Healing Art of Sports Massage by Joan Johnson, another disappointing work. One-quarter of our 800 lymph nodes are located in the neck. Lymphatic drainage can assist with cases of acne and tinnitus. A trigger point in the trapezius can export pain behind the eyes. John Upledger is an osteopath who has advanced the practice of cranio-sacral therapy. He believes we all live with an internal censor that keeps certain memories hidden. However, the cost of such protection is pain, unhappiness, chronic anger, low self-esteem, and so-on. Practitioners of craniosacral therapy report alleviating a variety of conditions including chronic fatigue. Picture a knot in a string. If you try to pull it out, all you do is tighten it and make it harder to undo. But if you create slack around it by pushing both ends together, the knot becomes looser so you can untie it. "You have freedom when you're easy in your harness."
-- Robert Frost Without fascia, our skeletons would fall into a heap of bones. Our organs could not remain suspended in the proper place. According to physical therapist John Barnes, fascia can exert a tremendous tensile force of over 2,000 pounds of pressure per square inch, resulting in various symptoms. (See "Myofascial Release," Physical Therapy Forum, 16 Sept. 1987) Too much pressure can block the flow of oxygen and lymph, the removal of waste products, or the flow of information along nerve pathways. For a great fascia analogy, peel open a grapefruit and notice the membranes that line each section, line the inner surface of the rind, and line each little subsection. After a massage, energy that used to drain out of you is now more available. Research conducted at UCLA demonstrates that Ida Rolf's Structural Integration allows the body to conserve energy. Rolf herself was less interested in relieving physical symptoms than in promoting a body that can operate with greater freedom, love, and wisdom. (She also explored the teachings of the Russian philosopher G.I. Gurdjieff.) "Habits at first are silken threads. Then they become cables."
-- Spanish proverb "Learn to combine relaxation with activity; learn to do what you have to do without straining; work hard, but never under tension."
-- Aldous Huxley The Alexander Technique is well-known among many leaders in the arts, particularly dancers and musicians. It was developed by an Australian, Frederick Matthias Alexander (1869-1955). He believed that many of our automatic, tensed responses are due to what he called "end gaining" -- looking toward the result, ambivalent toward the process. A similar concept was expressed by Elsa Gindler (1885-1961), a physical educator in Berlin who developed a program called Sensory Awareness. In her students she sought to develop a "quiet alertness," an attitude change from one of "trying to get things done" just to be finished to one of being present to the moment, to the process. "Our ability to learn . . . involves the developing of new responses to familiar stimuli as the result of experience."
-- Moshe Feldenkrais
(whose book The Potent Self is pending review on this site) (I would recast Feldenkrais' view somewhat. I say we need to notice, accept and then get beyond our current reactions, with a mental image of the new action we want to see happen.) Thomas Hanna (1928-1990), was a philosophy professor before he turned to bodywork and somatic education. He believed that muscles that never get a chance to relax become sore and weak due to constant exertion. This produces an energy drain on the body, not to mention other difficulties that typically get mistaken for arthritis, bursitis, and herniated discs. As adults, we enjoy the confines of familiar territory. When we step outside, we tend to experience some confusion and anxiety. We can learn to move from within our own body rather than conform to some external ideal. One of the cultural hallmarks of the Western world is that we over-identify with our upper body. We dis-identify, even deaden, our lower half. Joseph Pilates (1880-1967), overcame a frail body as a child to eventually become a boxer. His studies included the regimens of ancient Greece and Rome. Lulu Sweigard Ph.D, who died in 1974, taught dance for many years at New York's Juillard School. She was a leader in the use of mental imagery to achieve a goal, a radical departure from the efforting and exertions taught to dance students up to that time. She developed a system called Ideokenesis whereby you unlearn a motor pattern that doesn't work and replace it with one that does. The image in your mind guides your nervous system into the proper movement patterns. She believed it took three months of daily practice to re-pattern an old habit. In ancient China, doctors were not only accomplished medical technicians but also scholars and masters of martial arts. When acupressure has been performed on children with learning difficulties, teachers have noticed improved balance, coordination, and language and social skills. Many of the shiatsu tsubos (I know, the plural is tsubo) are located where blood and lymph vessels, nerves, and endocrine glands concentrate or branch. According to Shizuto Masunaga, creator of Zen Shiatsu, the most basic principle underlying health is the balancing of the life force (ki) and reliance on our body's own natural healing power. (Of course, this nod to homeostasis runs through most all bodywork methods. Also, Masunaga's book "Zen Shiatsu" is also on tap for eventual review on this site. It's on the bookshelf, just waiting for the right rainy weekend.) Shiatsu can even assist with sexual dysfunction, but the author does not elaborate. At a massage facility in Sri Lanka, the author found a detoxification program for drug addicts. Massage can help alleviate insomnia brought upon by restless thinking and depression brought upon by exhaustion. A kundalini/mystical experience can be triggered by athletic activity, injury, illness, childbirth, sex, spiritual practices, drug use, or emotional trauma such as the death of a loved one. (How about being triggered by a superior massage?) Many health care professionals might be inclined to dismiss such an experience as a hallucination. In southern Thailand, some monks in monasteries perform massage to treat conditions such as drug addiction. One of the major reasons people there seek out massage is to help relieve fatigue. "We never attack. An attack is proof that one is out of control."
-- Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido Correctly done, aikido allows the gentle to control the strong. It is instinctive to become tense and make self-protective gestures when confronted with aggression, but this response can place you in an unstable stance in which you're less able to defend yourself. "Every disturbance of the ability to fully experience one's own body damages self-confidence as well as the unity of the bodily feeling."
-- Wilhelm Reich "If you bring forth what is within you, it will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, it will destroy you."
-- from the Gnostic Gospel of Thomas
(Gnosis is Greek for "direct internal or visceral knowledge," in contrast to rational/analytic knowing.) "Every muscular rigidity contains the history and the meaning of its origin. Its dissolution not only liberates energy . . . but also brings back into memory the very infantile situation in which the repression had taken place."
-- Wilhelm Reich (I get a kick out of every Tom, Dick & Harry who comes along and wants to stick a registered-trademark symbol after the name of their pet modality. Here are a few: Rubenfeld Synergy, Somatic Experiencing, Being in Movement, Pfrimmer Deep Muscle Therapy, Trager Mentastics, Body Logic, Rolfing, Aston Patterning, Hanna Somatic Education, Body-Mind Centering, Jin Shin Jyutsu, and Zero Balancing. Get out the Gag Stick!)
"My best friend is the one who brings out the best in me."
-- Henry Ford
"Whether you think that you can, or that you can't, you are usually right."
-- Henry Ford
From "The Relaxation Response" (1975/2000) by Herbert Benson, M.D.
Benson is an associate professor of medicine at Harvard. More than four million copies of this thing have been sold. While fairly weak on the relaxational technique itself, the book is strong in at least two areas: 1) describing the physiological effects of both stress and relaxation; and 2) putting the relaxation response into a historical and literary context. Because the book also describes "mystical" experiences as chronicled throughout history, I'm offered my first opportunity on this site to describe my own mystical experiences that occurred in 2003. Further, Benson is the most credentialed writer I've seen so far who suggests a link between relaxation and loosening the grips of addiction to drugs, cigarettes, or alcohol.
60% to 90% of visits to physicians are for conditions related to stress. 30 years ago, it was considered heresy for a Harvard physician/researcher to hypothesize the connection. Much is known about the fight-or-flight response that pumps adrenaline into the system. Less is known about an opposing mechanism that Benson calls the Relaxation Response -- a state that can be intentionally induced. The two essential steps to eliciting this response are: 1) Repetition of a word, sound, phrase, prayer, or muscular activity. 2) Focusing on this repetition by tuning out extraneous thoughts. The response can be elicited during exercise by focusing on a steady cadence. (The noted writer/instructor Clare Maxwell-Hudson believes THE key element of a superior massage is a steady cadence and rhythm.) Every illness has a mind/body component. Many of us are truly frightened by the prospect of having control over our own health. We lend medicine too much power over us. Health-care providers are reimbursed for pills and surgeries -- not for multidisciplinary self-care treatments. We are generally not aware when hypertension is slowly developing within us. Ordinarily, no symptoms are apparent for years. Deprive a cell of its nutrients and it will die. Nine times out of ten, we can't identify the cause of hypertension. Stress has not been studied well. It's difficult to measure. The word itself is overused and ill-defined. During meditation, there is a marked decrease in the body's oxygen consumption. The body's energy resources are taxed less, and this point is reached more quickly and deeply than during sleep. Dr. Walter Hess is a Nobel Prize-winning physiologist. He found that a mechanism similar to the relaxation response promotes restorative processes. (If you're interested, look for The Functional Organization of the Diencephalon, published in 1957.) In 1938, Dr. Edmund Jacobson wrote an influential book called Progressive Relaxation. He argued that many ailments are caused by muscular contraction. Loosen the muscle and you eradicate the condition, whether it's anxiety or another emotional problem. This concept was revolutionary at the time. The altered state of consciousness, Benson argues, carries with it an age-old universality. (At this point in the book, I don't think Benson makes enough of a distinction between deep relaxation and "mystical" experiences, of which I can speak -- to a small degree -- from personal experience. I'm not saying that Benson's "relaxation response" cannot include the mystical, for lack of a better word, but I think a genuine mystical experience is far beyond the scope of most meditation. However, there are some important ramifications to his discussion, which of course we'll get into.) In his renowned The Variety of Religious Experience, William James (one of the fathers of modern psychology), discusses one aspect of a mystical experience (of which I'm sure there can by many variations). He seems to suggest that mystical experiences are more emotional than intellectual, though I would sharply disagree. The mystical experiences I've been through were intellectual exercises of the highest order. However, they were based on experience, not theory, and perhaps this is the distinction that James was grasping for. Mystical experiences helped me see connections between things, and this is one of the highest functions of the intellect. To elicit the relaxation response, a person primarily needs an open, unforced attitude. Benson calls it a passive attitude and I see his point, but I don't like the connotations of the word passivity in this context. In defining passive, Benson adds that a person can't be concerned with how well he's doing. Benson says that St. Augustine lived from 354 to 430 AD. In meditation, Augustine says you want to shut your mind off from external thoughts so as to produce a mental solitude. (In massage, that's why I steer away from background music, preferring instead the sound of the ocean or a brook or birds chirping. It can be argued that trance-like music is conducive to an enhanced mental state, though I've rarely tried it.) The mind is a wanderer. While meditating, the invocation or chant or mantra should be timed to the rhythm of our breathing. (So should massage. Duh!) The essence of yoga meditation is concentration upon a single point -- for example, a physical object or a thought. (In massage, it's helpful if the client places all their awareness on the point being worked at any given moment. Are you noticing the similarities here?) Based upon Dr. Benson's book, the two essential ingredients of enhancing our mental state appear to be rhythm/cadence and focus -- learning to deal with extraneous thoughts. Ashvagosha was a prominent Buddhist in the first century AD. In his Awakening of the Faith, he writes that not only should we discard extraneous thoughts while meditating, even the idea of banishing them must be put away. Taoism regards "accumulation" (attachments?) as a deficiency. The poet Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892) could apparently invoke the relaxation response by chanting his own name. If Tennyson couldn't put it into words, I'm not so sure I ever can, but it's apparent to me he experienced a true mystical experience when he wrote: "This is not a confused state, but the clearest of the clearest, the surest of the surest, utterly beyond words." (If he didn't experience it, then he's a good fibber, which I doubt.) Benson writes (with some statistical evidence): "Perhaps the regular use of the relaxation response can provide a non-chemical alternative to fulfill at least some of the basic motivations behind student drug abuse." He says students he worked with have claimed that drugs interfere with the profound feelings that accompany meditation. Similar results can be seen among abusers of alcohol and smokers. (Here's a dent in the armor I've been looking for -- a possible link between regular massage and a lessened dependency upon addictive substances. I've heard it said that you can't quit a bad habit, but you can replace it with something more productive. Imagine if we replaced the menacing, short-sighted highs of alcohol with the pro-active, longer-term highs of regular massage?) Through regular practice of the relaxation response, some people have been known to throw away their sleeping pills. Many people (in this case high school students) aren't about to adopt meditative practices. Benson suggests other practices and techniques to elicit the relaxation response (and I say the prime technique, perhaps even surpassing meditation, is regular massage). One of the major difficulties in eliciting the relaxation response is the tendency of our minds to wander. (Here's one of the main reasons why, during a massage, we should keep conversation to a minimum.) Attention to the normal rhythm of breathing is also useful and enhances the repetition of the sound or the word. Avoid practicing these techniques within two hours of eating a larger meal. The digestive processes seem to interfere. The relaxation response is an innate mechanism within us. Says one person who practices regularly, "Sometimes I get insights into situations or problems which have been with me for a long time." The fight-or-flight response is not always harmful. However, regular use of the relaxation response allows a person to better deal with situations that previously would have evoked an inappropriate use of fight-or-flight. The USA is wealthy to a degree beyond any in human history, yet we're plagued with unhappiness. (Sometimes I think there's a connection: The bigger the house, the more unhappiness. We're a bunch of spoiled brats with little sense of community.) We never seem to be satisfied with what we've accomplished or possess. The attitude is, "Get out, get as much as you can for yourself." In our society, we want more and we want it fast. This attitude leaves little space for true relaxation or for assessing problems. Unlike the reactive fight-or-flight response, the Relaxation Response can only be invoked if time is set aside and a conscious effort is made. Reading this book helped jog my recall of an insight gained from one of my mystical experiences. During them, I was no longer bothered by the issue of "what to do now" or "what to do next," or to carry this one step further, "what to do next with my life." I experienced that if we stay present in the moment, the right action reveals itself to us. Suddenly it didn't bother me that there were dirty dishes in the sink, because now was not the time to do them. Why not? Because they weren't done yet! When would be the right time to do them? When I got to them! I believe this infusion of insight will carry over into my life, affecting matters slightly more significant than when to wash the dishes.
"Love knows hidden paths."
-- German proverb
"Few men make themselves masters of the things they say or write."
-- John Selden (1564-1654)
"In the fields of observation, chance favors only the prepared mind."
-- Louis Pasteur
"The first undertakers in all great attempts commonly miscarry, and leave the advantages of their losses to those that come after them."
-- Samuel Butler (1612-1680)
From the video "Esalen Massage" (1997)
This is perhaps the most pretentious 85 minutes you'll ever witness on tape. The name comes from the Essalen Indian tribe that once inhabited this part of the California coastline (the land of fruits and nuts, remember?)
Let's start with this little chestnut from the cover: "If feeling good is a religion, its cathedral is Esalen."
-- Time magazine
(Where's a mosque when we need one?) "Esalen is the Emerald City of massage and bodywork."
-- Vogue magazine
(Do we need to mention that these blurbs are written 99% of the time by cheese-eating fat-assed grads of Syracuse University journalism school, the kind of folks who place more importance on being trendy than telling it like it is?) The cover of the video also says, "Imagine being able to give the world's greatest massage." OK, after watching this thing you'll still be imagining. Esalen claims its massage is "intuitively based." Well then, let's go out and play "intuitive tennis." We'll get our butts kicked. The massage starts out with the practitioner holding his/her prayer-positioned hands in the air, as if to invoke the Massage Gods for yet another (undoubtedly expensive) session. The only real function of holding our hands on high, in my mind, is a good stretch & yawn. For background music, we're treated to the obligatory New Age flute and harp, reminiscent of a National Geographic special that could be called "Gonja: Lone Wolf of the Frozen Plains." I love how these masseurs refer to their group practice as "The Work" -- and I'm sure they capitalize it that way in their training manuals. I bet they even have group briefings and debriefings, and they probably call them "clearing sessions" where they talk about transforming the Universe, one trapezius at a time. Good news from watching this thing: You don't need to buy the overpriced bolsters that are hyped in massage magazines. A rolled-up towel gets the job done just as well, and perhaps more comfortably. Rebecca Klinger, whose video is mentioned below, once saw a button that said, "When in doubt, effleurage." Well it appears the Esalen massage "crew", as they call themselves, are the very embodiment of doubt. That's about all they do with their affected nonchalance, with their "I'm too cool to have an attitude" attitude. In comedy, you make a point by drawing it out to the absurd. Why do grownups at Esalen have to do the same with these ridiculous candy-ass long- strokes? We're getting all icing and no cake. Speaking of the absurd, the video encourages you to pause at times so you and your partner can "reflect" on what you've done so far. In fact, the masseur on the video steps back and folds his hands behind his back as if he's admiring a work of art. Fuck that! This video reinforces my point that NO video/DVD on the market captures the comprehensive body of knowledge necessary to deliver a powerful one-hour massage. A couple come close, but on a scale of 5, this Esalen thing gets a 1. The massage demonstrated here also reminds me of the absolutely horrendous one I received in the past year at a local fitness center. The woman had credentials up the ass and she charged a handsome fee, but she may have well worn Klinger's button the whole time. What a disappointment, so I tipped her and never went back. The point I'm making is that I'd be rather pissed if I paid good money and all I got was the long flowing strokes shown on this tape. On thinking ahead: Finally we get to a positive aspect of this video. When we notice our minds racing ahead to our next move, that's a sign we aren't in the here-and-now. We need to take a breath and refocus on where we're at. The tape calls thinking ahead "planning", and it's a form of rushing. We need to settle down and regroup our head. The tape adds this little gem of wisdom: "With practice, you'll increase the number of movements in your massage repertoire." (Thank you for sharing.) Now, back to another good point: Mixing up your movements can help your client from anticipating your next move. This helps them loosen up holding patterns more quickly. (This is the reason I always vary the direction and length of my wrist and ankle shakes.) To lie on one's back requires a greater degree of openness and vulnerability. (OK, I'll buy that.) Consider the base of the skull (the occipital ridge) as the gateway to the back. (Good point.) At the end of the massage, we're instructed to "slowly disengage from your partner's energy field." (This is starting to sound a little too much like Star Trek.) "Leave them in a protective cocoon where they can integrate The Work they just experienced." (And whack their Visa card real hard at the exit door.)
"All you need in this life is ignorance and confidence, and then success is sure."
-- Mark Twain
"If we suspect that a man is lying, we should pretend to believe him; for then he becomes bold and assured, lies more vigorously, and is unmasked."
-- Arthur Schopenhauer (1788-1860)
From “Performance Massage” (1993) by Robert King
King is a former national president of the American Massage Therapy Association (AMTA). This book is geared toward people who work out a lot.
- "Anyone can perform a basic, effective hands-on massage session by following certain guidelines, precautions, and directions. This book emphasizes prevention, wellness, and health enhancement. Although some forms of massage are therapeutic (in the clinical sense of the word), the techniques presented in this book can be learned by most everyone and understood and practiced as educational, developmental, or family practice skills."
- Painful muscular aches, injuries, and soreness can produce a negative psychological disposition.
- Unresolved scar tissues embedded in key postural muscles produce a myofascial drag on the body, wasting enormous energy.
- Areas of muscle tightness tend to appear white and clammy, or else they're cold to the touch. This is a result of soft-tissue adhesions causing ischemia, which occurs when knotted muscles cut off the supply of oxygen-rich blood.
- When working trigger points, you can encourage the recipient to "breathe into" the tenderness. (As elderly arthritis sufferers are often encouraged to "ease into" the pain.)
- The author recommends a technique called the "rotary thumb probe." While one hand is kneading flesh, the thumb of the opposite hand is probing the same area for adhesions. The kneading acts as a distraction from the "good hurt."
"Always do sober what you said you'd do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut."
-- Ernest Hemingway
"Reason has proved itself completely powerless, precisely because its arguments have an effect only on the conscious mind and not on the unconscious."
-- Carl Jung
"I start with the premise that the function of leadership is to produce more leaders, not more followers."
-- Ralph Nader
"Tell me what you brag about and I'll tell you what you lack."
-- Spanish proverb
From “Relax Your Neck, Liberate Your Shoulders” (2000) by Eric Franklin
Franklin is a dance instructor in Germany (or something like that).
- The main activity of the body is rejuvenation and regeneration (homeostasis).
- Tapping the breastbone activates the thymus gland.
- Shaking out the arms and legs helps to restore the flexibility of connective tissue and improves the distribution of body fluids.
- By loosening the diaphragm we can relax our shoulders. We might even laugh.
- We can't live for more than a few minutes without our diaphragm helping us to breathe, but how many people ever bother to stretch this crucial muscle?
- The body always operates holistically. It is only our intellect that separates it into different functions.
- The author has designed a little ball called, what else, the Franklin Ball. (Gag me!)
- Try to see your knots not as enemies but as friends.
- When our joints feel stiff, it's usually not because of joint degeneration. It's usually due to our cramped muscles.
- Tension in the shoulders makes us less flexible in the hip joints.
- The collarbone acts as a shock absorber between the shoulder blades and the sternum.
- There are 16 muscles attached to the scapula, and they all vie for its favor. In this respect it's surpassed only by the lower jaw, which has 20 muscles attached to it.
- When we lift our arm, the scapula acts as a counterweight. This conserves muscle energy. Hold your scapula in place and see how easy it is to lift your arm -- not very.
- Massage of the palm has a referral effect upon the rhomboids.
- The levator scapula muscle (scapula to neck) is the alter-ego to the serratus anterior (scapula to ribs). The deltoids are the alter-ego of the gluteus maximus.
- The largest muscle in the body is the latissimus dorsi.
- A supple wrist leads to suppleness in the shoulders and upper back.
- Loosening muscles can be compared to dusting a room. At first, you stir up a lot of dust.
- Push your lower jaw forward and observe the feeling that accompanies this movement. It is a facial expression used in aggressive behavior.
"Education is the ability to listen to almost anything without losing your temper or your self-confidence."
-- Robert Frost
"A real friend is one who walks in when the rest of the world walks out."
-- Walter Winchell
"A clever man commits no minor blunders."
From the video “Aromatherapy: The Healing Art," with Kathi Keville
Distributed by Gateways Inc., Beverly Hills.
- Rosemary is a good oil for help with improving one's memory.
- In Azerbaijan, geranium solariums are set up to help people lower their blood pressure. They've also been used to alleviate symptoms of 'psychosis'.
- An old trick used by realtors: Light bulb rings, upon which you place a couple drops of essential oils.
- The molecules of carrier oils are too large to penetrate the skin. On the other hand, the molecules of essential oils can penetrate.
- One drop of an essential oil easily equals the potency of two strong cups of tea. That's why you don't want to apply essential oils straight.
- "No one's going to get into trouble sniffing a little lavender if they happen to be taking anti-depressants at the same time."
Note: Even when we're standing still, our bodies use half of our 600 muscles just to balance ourselves.
"(General Ulysses S.) Grant stood by me when I was crazy, and I stood by him when he was drunk, and now we stand by each other."
-- William Tecumseh Sherman
"If you burn your neighbor's house down, it doesn't make your house look any better. "
-- football coach Lou Holtz
"A 'no' uttered from deepest conviction is better and greater than a 'yes' merely uttered to please, or what is worse, to avoid trouble."
-- Mahatma Gandhi
From the video “Massage with Confidence” (1993) featuring Robert Haase
A solid introductory video.
The segment on side-work is strong. Each segment includes an informative breakdown on endangerment areas to avoid. Haase's technique for the upper arm is excellent. He also displays good technique for applying a breast drape, offering greater access to the pec major. His sequence for the pec major & minor is superb.
"Our main business is not to see what lies dimly at a distance, but to do what lies clearly at hand." (This is another lesson gained from mystical experiences.)
-- Thomas Carlyle
"A slave is he who cannot speak his thoughts."
"It's a good thing to have an open mind, just not so open your brains fall out."
-- Bertrand Russell
"Indeed, the great Leonardo (da Vinci) remained like a child for the whole of his life in more than one way. It is said that all great men are bound to retain some infantile part. Even as an adult he continued to play, and this was another reason why he often appeared uncanny and incomprehensible to his contemporaries."
-- Sigmund Freud
From the video "Aromatherapy: The Healing Art" with Valerie Ann Worwood.
Filmed in Australia, it's distributed by Wellspring Media in New York.
- Basil, peppermint, spearmint, as well as certain citrus oils should never be used in a bath.
Alternative definitions of fascia:
A nameplate over the front of a store
A broad and well-defined band of color
The dashboard of an automobile
From “The Official Guide to Body Massage” (2003) by Adele O'Keefe
This is a textbook from Britain.
It is said that Pehr Ling cured himself of rheumatism using techniques he learned while travelling through China. The deepest section of the epidermis is called the basal layer. It's most productive between midnight and 4 a.m., thus the term "beauty sleep." When massage is applied, sebaceous glands are nourished by fresh blood supply, leading to an increase in the production of sebum. This softens the skin and makes it more supple. It is claimed that massage can soften the hard fat in the adipose tissue in the dermis, speeding up its removal by dispensing it into the circulatory system. The insertion point of a muscle is usually more moveable than the origin. Poor posture affects the internal organs by compressing them. Plasma is about 90% water. Protein is essential for people recovering from illness. Massage helps to re-educate the body on how to rest and relax. Signs of stress include lack of concentration as well as chronic anger and irritability. As the client relaxes and tension is alleviated, massage encourages a sense of emotional honesty. Effleurage aids in the process of desquamation -- the removal of dead skin cells. Tapotement is particularly effective for cellulite conditions. Jesus Christ is said to have used aromatic oils in healing, and Mary Magdalene anointed his feet with them at the Last Supper. Essential oils work better synergistically, meaning that their effects are compounded when combined with other oils.
"If we are strong, our character will speak for itself. If we are weak, words will be of no help."
-- John F. Kennedy
"It is not attention that the child is seeking, but love."
-- Sigmund Freud
"The real art of conversation is not only to say the right thing in the right place but to leave unsaid the wrong thing at the tempting moment."
-- Dorothy Neville
"Nobody has ever measured, even poets, how much a heart can hold."
-- Zelda Fitzgerald
From “Massage for Orthopedic Conditions” (2003) Thomas Hendrickson
Getting through this 450-page textbook with any degree of comprehension takes work.
Most pain and disability in the body involves the soft tissues. Hendrickson introduces a concept not seen in most other massage books: torsion, or twisting. Muscles, tendons and ligaments can all develop abnormal torsion. This abnormal twist decreases their water content, leading to adhesions and abnormal function in the soft tissue and associated joint. Fibers lose their normal parallel alignment. They are less able to repair themselves. Torsion occurs down to the microscopic level. Adhesions create a resistance to normal electrical flow, interfering with normal repair and rejuvenation. Most conditions called arthritis are in fact non-inflammatory and should be referred to as arthrosis, meaning joint deterioration. Anxiety and anger increases muscle tone; depression weakens it. Hypertonic muscles indicate a loss of sensory awareness. The client is encouraged to place their awareness in the muscle being worked on. You can say, "Feel this muscle relaxing." The intention is to engage the parasympathetic nervous system, which regulates healing and regeneration. The serratus anterior is sometimes called the "boxer's muscle." Sustained contraction weakens a muscle. Lower back pain can obviously be caused by injury. But more often, there is an underlying chronic muscle imbalance, poor posture, or emotional stress. Tight spinae erectors can compress and dehydrate vertebral discs. A healthy bone-attachment site feels glistening and smooth. Slumped posture increases tension in the TMJ. Release short and tight muscles before you strengthen weak and inhibited muscles. When erector spinae muscles tense up, they tend to torque toward the midline. The superior angle of the scapula is a critical stress point. Release of the diaphragm may elicit an emotional response. Head posture governs body posture. Spinal-cord compression can impair fine-hand movements. An intimate relationship exists between the jaw and the muscles of the cervical spine. The most frequently used joint in the body is probably the TMJ. Don't assume that all clients need release of muscle tensions. Certain conditions require stabilization and strengthening. Strains of the rotator cuff are usually indicated by a dull ache that worsens at night. The longest, strongest bone in the body is the femur. The strongest ligament is the iliofemoral. Since most people do not move their hips in full ROM, the periphery of the cartilage tends to dry out. The hamstrings are typically short and tight, torquing toward the midline. The word 'trochanter' comes from the Greek trechein, meaning "to run." The tendons of the sartorius, gracilis and semitendinosis interweave at their insertion to form the pes anserinus, or "goose's foot." If the patella doesn't glide easily, that's a sign of adhesions. Move it around, feeling and listening for calcium deposits. Beneficial effects can be achieved with mere grams of pressure. Foot muscles are often held in a sustained contraction. "Clean the bone" of the heal. It's possible to dissolve small calcium crystals (spicules) that are embedded in the fascia. The radius carries 80% of the load from the arm to the hand. It's analogous to the tibia, which carries 80% of the load to the foot. A tight muscle fatigues easily and is susceptible to developing torsion.
"The shallower the brook, the more it babbles."
-- Indonesian proverb
"When the whales battle, the shrimps suffer."
-- Chinese saying
"Genius makes its observations in short-hand; talent writes them out at length."
-- Christian Nestell Bovee (1820-1904)
"A child needs your love most when she deserves it the least."
From “Soft-Tissue Manipulation” (1980/1988) Leon Chaitow
Chaitow is one of the prime figures in the field.
As for the causes of disease, the place to look is in the fascia. Dysfunction in the soft tissue mirrors deeper pathology of both mind and body. Few therapists fully exploit the healing potential of the soft tissues. Until neuromuscular relaxation is achieved, the mind cannot rest. Fascial change precedes many of the chronic degenerative diseases. The brain thinks in terms of whole motions, not individual muscles. Likewise, disease is a reaction of the organism as a whole. When a tissue is disturbed, it jams -- dominates -- the normal flow of information sent back to the spinal cord. The presence of a lesion is always revealed by an area of hypersensitivity to pressure. Some of the most significant origins/insertions: Occipital ridge, iliac crest, intercostals, abdominals, plus the muscles that attach to the vertebral column. One of the major changes in manipulative therapy is the restoration of the soft-tissue component to center stage. Unless correctly treated, a trigger point is self-perpetuating. Once relieved, the muscle must be gently stretched to its longest resting length. Charts cannot take the place of palpatory skills. Pressure should always be followed by stretching. When an internal organ is ailing, nearby muscles harden and stiffen in order to protect it. Some books mention so many acupuncture points that there's no skin left on the charts. Trigger points, as defined in the West, show a remarkable 70% correlation with classic acupuncture points. In many cases, referred pain seems to travel along the courses of the traditional energy meridians. Apply the minimum effort you need to achieve the desired response. Hyper-tense trigger points can be responsible for blurred vision, tinnitus, bad breath, heartburn, excessive or poor appetite, and flatulence. For the highest palpatory sensitivity, the author prefers using the thumb and the first two fingers. Posture can be read as a book to assess the status of the individual. Chronic low back pain, more often than not, is accompanied by generalized fatigue. The body is losing its ability to withstand the stresses placed upon it. By far, the largest group of patients seen by doctors consists of those with "marked contraction of the neck." This is attributed to apprehension, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and other emotional strains. (Harold Wolff, Headache and Other Head Pain, 1948) Facial muscles may have a fixed character, but the more important expressions may well be the ones that aren't seen. If they aren't expressed on the face, they may show up on the scalp or the base of the skull. (Philip Latey, Muscular Manifesto, 1982). Latey adds that muscles shouldn't be thought of as mechanical in function; they are at least as important as sensory organs. The functional status of the diaphragm is probably the most powerful mechanism of the whole body. It not only engages the tissues from the throat to the perineum, several times per minute, but it's work is indispensable to the activity of every cell of the body. In many ways, the psoas behaves as if it were an internal organ. It even reproduces the pain of gallbladder disease. One of the most perplexing problems arising from a tight piriformis involves the pudendal nerve and blood vessels. This directly involves the genital and perineal area, and compression can lead to serious sexual dysfunction such as vaginal pain or male impotence. When the iliotibial band is too tight, it's often misdiagnosed as a sacro-iliac problem. Practice an appreciation for the feel of normal tissue so you can better recognize the feel of abnormal tissue. Structural adjustments, such as to the spine: If these pay no heed to the soft-tissue component, the symptoms are likely to return. The intercostal spaces are a rich site of dysfunction. No one is free of some degree of dysfunction. Abdominal work improves circulatory efficiency through the pelvis. Even if the client presents themself with headache and you concentrate on this, you still need to consider the entire body. Muscular fiber damage can be palpated and literally ironed out. The health of any joint is dependent upon a balance in the strength of its opposing muscles. (Paul Williams MD, The Lumbo-Sacral Spine, 1965). Articulation (mobilization) of a joint is often as effective as relaxing the soft tissues directly through massage techniques. This is particularly true when the muscle is in spasm. "Puncture wherever there is tenderness." (Chinese physician Sun Szu Miao, 581-682 AD) Dysfunction in a strained joint is a result of what happens to the muscle in response to the injury. You'll find the tender points not in the overstretched tissues but in their antagonists. These antagonists were not stretched at the time of the injury, but were in fact shortened, and have remained so. In these shortened tissues the tender spots will be found. (Lawrence Jones, Strain-Counterstrain, 1981) If skin becomes attached to the underlying muscle, energetic currents can no longer pass. This is a form of paralysis. (Dewanchand Varma, The Human Machine and its Forces, 1930) No relaxation of the voluntary nervous system and muscles can occur as long as the involuntary muscles are locked and tense. (Randolph Stone MD, Polarity Therapy, 1954) Yin and yang may be thought of as low and high frequency waves. All acupuncture points lie within the muscles and fascia. After years of research studying the processes of disease, the Russian physician A.D. Speransky became convinced that subdividing the nervous system into central, peripheral, sympathetic etc. had no justification. He stated that any nerve point can serve as the basis for neurodystrophic processes, serving as the temporary nerve center for them. (A Basis for the Theory of Medicine, 1935)
"A sheep that's too tame is sucked by too many lambs."
-- French proverb
"All things sacred are to be imparted only to sacred persons."
"After the final 'no' there comes a 'yes'. And on that 'yes', the future world depends."
-- Wallace Stevens
"The sun, having no alternative, rose this morning."
-- Samuel Beckett
From “The Trigger Point Therapy Workbook” (2001) Clair Davies
This book is remarkably clear.
Muscle is an orphan organ. No medical specialty is concerned with promoting funded research into the muscular causes of pain. Finding a skilled practitioner can prove frustratingly difficult. There is growing evidence that chronic fatigue, lowered resistance to infection, as well as most aches and pains are caused by trigger points. However, there continues to be great resistance to the whole notion. A trigger point often feels like a half-cooked piece of macaroni or like a pea buried deep within the muscle. Often it's no bigger than the head of a pin. Much of the knowledge of trigger points is based on the work of Dr. Janet Travell (1901-1997) and Dr. David Simons, authors of Myofascial Pain and Dysfunction. The constant muscle tension imposed by latent trigger points tends to overstress muscle attachments, even in younger people. A good place to see fascia is on a chicken leg. If a trigger point is near the surface, sensitive fingers can detect that it's a little warmer than surrounding tissue, due to increased metabolic activity. Trigger points always originate at the midpoint of a muscle's fibers. Secondary to these are attachment trigger points. Back pain always has a myofascial component, regardless of the official diagnosis. Most conventional treatment is based on the assumption that the cause of pain will be found at the site of the pain. But trigger points generally create referred pain. Travell, the White House physician during the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, believed that even a large part of menstrual pain is due to trigger points in abdominal muscles. Smoking destroys vitamin C. A tight muscle is working continuously. Conventional stretching cannot deactivate trigger points in a dependable way. When overdone, stretching can make matters worse. "Feel good" massage isn't very effective either. The most effective treatment is deep stroking massage directly on the trigger point. When done correctly, it's nearly as effective as an injection. The burnout time for massage therapists averages about three years. A moving stroke, repeated frequently, elicits a greater change in a trigger point than static compression. Just as with a dirty rag, you have to wring it out a number of times before it comes clean. Work deeply, mashing the trigger point against the underlying bone. The electrical impulses of moderate amounts of "good pain" are therapeutic in that they disrupt the neurological feedback loop that maintains the trigger point. As a general rule, massaging a trigger point several times a day is preferable to going too hard or long in one session. Dr. Travell believed that distorted perceptions caused by trigger points in the sternocleidomastoids were a hidden cause of falls and motor vehicle accidents. Trigger points in the masseter should be massaged by the thumb inside the mouth. When a myofascial problem presents itself, there are usually multiple symptoms. Trigger points are typically found in all the muscles in the area, and all the connections and relationships may not be immediately apparent. Unsuspected scalene trigger points are often the critical element in the failure of conventional therapies. Some of the worst occur behind the sternocleidomastoid where it attaches to the clavicle. Even though x-rays may "confirm" deterioration of joint cartilage, the real culprit may be overeager muscles pulling down like a vise grip. Related and nearby muscles, temporarily taking up the slack, start to fall like dominoes. When rotator-cuff muscles are stiff and resistant, the "exercise and stretch" route can yield disappointing results. Many massage therapists, even good ones, can't find the supraspinatus. Trigger points here can lead to tennis elbow (or in my case, Yeungling Elbow). Do you have pain in the outer shoulder? Massaging your deltoid will feel great, it's easy, and it may even do some good. However, it won't fix your shoulder pain if it's coming from the supraspinatus. Sometimes when you first work a trigger point, the pain reaction takes a short while to fire up. For the shoulder joint to operate freely, the pull of the four rotators must be in balance. Complete deactivation of some points can take as long as six weeks. So-called carpal tunnel syndrome may actually be a case of hypertension in the scalenes. Pound for pound, the hardest-working muscles in the body are found in the forearms. The brachialis does much of the work normally credited to the biceps. On a scale of one to ten, the pain factor from releasing trigger points should reach around a seven. The pec major can restrict blood flow to the wrist so much it can make the pulse hard to detect. If you try to keep your stomach flat so you look better, you're hampering the mechanics of natural breathing. Childbirth can leave a woman with a bellyful of trigger points. Bedwetting in older children can be due to trigger points in the lower abdominals. Overdoing sit-ups can activate abdominal trigger points as well. A tense psoas will feel like a stick of pepperoni. You can't rely on traditional stretching techniques to deactivate trigger points. The muscle that surrounds the base of the penis is comparable to the pair of muscles just inside the vaginal opening. It's called the bulbospongiosus. Trigger points here can cause painful intercourse for women and impotence in men. In both sexes, they can cause pain in the perineum after intercourse. Muscle tension displaces vertebrae. When trigger points are deactivated directly with deep massage, clients often feel vertebrae popping back into place on their own. Lower back pain is mostly referred pain. When you locate a trigger point, you aim for a direct, focused micro-stretch. You can ordinarily see major improvements in the pain level within two to three days. Even the soleus muscles can maintain a spasm-like grip on the lower back. When working on a painful spot, consciously relax the muscles while you work on them. And don't forget to breathe. When you hold your breath you're also holding muscles tight. If you can't bend over to touch your ankles, you've probably got tight gluteals caused by trigger points. One more time: A short, rolling stroke is most effective; continuous pressure can do more harm than good. Visualize ironing trigger points -- pressing them flat. For some reason, problems caused by trigger points in piriformis muscles are six times as prevalent in women than in men. A shortened piriformis grows in diameter, leading to compression of the sciatic nerve. A tight piriformis muscle can impinge upon the pudendal nerve, causing impotence in males and pain in the groin, genitals, or rectal area of either gender. Penetration to the piriformis must be focused and deep. Rest won't solve the problem of myofascial pain. Inactivity is a classic perpetrator of trigger points. Pain in hip and knee joints is often nothing more than referred pain from trigger points in the muscles of the thigh. (Does Starbucks sell a Tensor Fascia Latte'?) Stiffness is a clear sign of latent trigger points. The quads are the heaviest, largest, and most powerful muscles in the body, and they are the primary source of knee pain. Release trigger points before you stretch. "Growing pains" may be largely undiagnosed myofascial pain. Even professional massage therapists neglect working on inner thighs because it seems so invasive. Women have a high risk of straining these muscles during sexual activity. Trigger points here can refer pain into the hip joint and deeply inside the pelvis. The familiar "groin pull" comes from trigger points in muscles of the inner thigh. Women who bring their legs forcefully together or apart during sexual activity often develop trigger points in their pectineus muscles and other muscles of their inner thighs. The longest muscle in the body is the sartorius. Stiffness in the back of the legs is a sure sign of hamstring trouble. The eleven muscles of the lower leg are actually foot muscles. Anatomists refer to them as extrinsic foot muscles. The logic of referred pain is evidently to make us hurt where we're most likely to pay attention and stop whatever activity is causing the muscle abuse. The soleus is sometimes called the body's "second heart" because of the role it plays in helping pump blood up from the feet and legs. Aerobics can wear out the soleus muscles quickly. When the feet don't function well, nothing else is likely to function well. There are 20 muscles in each foot, but fortunately, getting rid of foot pain doesn't require being on a first-name basis with each one of them. Our feet tend to get wider as we get older. A good foot rub can feel great -- yet do absolutely nothing to get rid of chronic foot pain.
The Davies book provides an enjoyable look at the name origins of some muscles: Trapezius: from the Greek word for a small table, a reflection of the muscle's relative flatness and four-cornered shape. Levator: this is from the same Latin root as "elevator." The levator scapulae lifts the shoulder blade, like a little elevator. Splenius: from the Greek for "bandage." The splenius in the neck covers underlying muscles just like a bandage. Multifidi: "split into many parts" Masseter: from the Greek word for "to chew." In English, the word 'masticate' means to chew (and not to stick your hands where the sun don’t shine). Pterygoid: from the Greek for "wing like." Note that the pterodactyl was a winged dinosaur. Temporalis: Watch your temper, Alice, or else you'll get a headache. Scalene: from the Greek for "uneven." Scalene muscles are of different lengths, like the sides of a scalene triangle. Acromion: from two Greek roots that mean "tip of the shoulder." Coracoid: "curved like a raven's beak." Serratus: "saw tooth", as with a serrated knife. Deltoid: If you flattened this muscle out on a table, you'd get a triangle, or delta. Teres major: "Big round muscle" Latissimus dorsi: "wide back muscle." Bi-ceps: "Two-head" Pollicis: from the Latin for "thumb" Pectoralis: from Latin pectus, for breast Sartorius: comes from the Latin for "tailor." Tailors tend to sit cross-legged, and this posture requires use of the sartorius muscles. Rectus: Comes from the Latin for "kept in a straight line," as in "erect" Pectineus: comes from the Latin for "comb." The muscle's shape, size, and striations resemble a comb of olden times. Gracilis: This is a Latin word meaning "slender." I think of it as meaning "graceful." Semitendinosus and semimembranosus: They're called "semi's" because half their length is taken up by tendon-like tissue. Tibia: this is Latin for shinbone. In Roman times, people would make flutes from the shinbones of certain animals, and the instrument was called a tibia. On a pipe organ of today, the flute stop is called the tibia. Peroneus: derives from the Greek word for "pin," referring to the pinlike fibula. The Latin word "fibula" also means pin. Malleolus: In Latin, this means "little hammer." Gastrocnemius: 'Gastro' comes from the Greek for stomach; 'cnemius' is from the Greek kneme which means "shank" or "lower leg." So, the gastrocnemius is the "stomach of the lower leg."
Soleus: comes from the Latin word for "sandal"
Humerus: What's so funny about it?
"The silence of the people is a warning for the King."
-- French proverb
"Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves."