I am a bodyworker, and one of my specialties is TMJ Relief. I help relieve jaw pain due to muscle tension. I’ve been doing this since 2013.
It has not been safe to work in people’s open mouths since March. I’m a one-woman practice without the resources of a dental office to acquire state-of-the-art air cleaners and make a large investment in PPE.
Meanwhile, the need for relief is even greater due to the stresses of COVID and the economy, working unergonomically from home, and poor sleep. People are clenching and grinding and damaging their teeth more than they did before COVID.
So…not wanting my skills to go to waste, knowing I could relieve some of the suffering, I spent the summer developing a Zoom course for people who would like to learn how to relieve their own jaw pain, offering it for the first time in the fall.
I’m offering it again in February 2020. There are 4 classes a week apart in the course. You will learn to replace the clenching habit with Relaxed Resting Mouth Position — you can accomplish this during the 4 weeks of the course with some helpful hints and daily mindfulness.
You will learn the quickest stress reduction technique available, documented by a neurobiology lab.
You will get helpful information and direction about stopping a night-time grinding habit. It’s more involved than daytime clenching and usually takes longer to eliminate, yet people have done it so we’ll model them.
You’ll learn how to work on yourself, releasing tension in both your external and internal jaw muscles.
You can learn more and sign up on my website. You can also join my email list for future announcements, join my Facebook group Word of Mouth for people seeking solutions for jaw issues, take a jaw pain quiz, schedule a free 15-minute phone consultation or a 30-minute Zoom consultation.
The class starts February 4, and the size is limited, so if this interests you, please sign up early to ensure you get in.
Not everyone has jaw pain, but nearly everyone knows someone who does suffer from it. I would be much obliged if you would share this post if you know someone who’s suffering who would at least want to know about this offering.
Some years, the temperatures never get below freezing in Austin. In the years when it does freeze, it doesn’t last longer than a few hours. We’re accustomed to 70 degree days in January, not consistently, but warm enough that some younger men don’t even seem to own a pair of long pants.
Not this year. We are breathing Arctic air, experiencing ice, snow, and prolonged below-freezing temps, and many are without heat and water due to the Texas electrical grid being overloaded and shutting down in many places for several days, so far.
I’ve been extremely fortunate that my power has stayed on the entire time.
My central heat is struggling to keep up. I’ve had a large pot of bone broth simmering on my stove day and night, dipping into it for an occasional cup of warm nourishment.
I discovered that a weighted blanket is even better than a sleeping bag at keeping me warm because I can sprawl out underneath it and it holds my body heat in just as well.
It’s chilly at home, but it’s a fun challenge, like winter camping. So far, anyway!
It started when it rained on 2/11 and froze on the bare limbs and twigs of the trees and bushes around my place.
On 2/12, the temperature briefly rose above freezing, and the ice on the branches slowly started melting.
On 2/13 I covered my Meyer lemon tree with a quilt and 3 tarps to prepare for temps in the teens. They’re supposed to be good down to 20 degrees F, but seeing as it’s 6 degrees as I write this on 2/16, I’m pretty sure it’s not going to make it.
We got five inches of snow overnight on Feb. 14-15. It’s the most snow I’ve ever seen in Austin in my many years here, and it’s definitely lingering the longest. The forecast changes slightly from day to day, but it looks like we may get above freezing briefly Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday.
My four square-foot gardens are covered in snow. Not sure which plants will make it.
From my long-ago experience of an entire January spent below freezing in Oklahoma, it will melt the roads just enough to be passable for a few afternoon hours, and then slick over once temps drop at night. Saturday night will remain above freezing, or so it’s forecast.
It was 4 degrees this morning, and more snow and freezing rain are forecast.
My bird feeder has been super busy with puffed up birdies getting nourishment for all the energy they need to stay alive in these temps.
Well, at nine am, I ran out of propane. My daughter is coming to pick me up, and I’ll stay with her until this cold front is over, probably on Friday.
I gave myself a gift, Mark Nepo’s The Book of Awakening. The subtitle is “having the life you want by being present to the life you have”.
He’s a poet who experienced a major health challenge from which he emerged with this book of inspirations, one for each day of the year.
I’m enjoying it deeply and appreciate that the readings are about one page long. It’s not too wordy, just enough to absorb and integrate easily, early in the day, and coming from a poet, the words are well-chosen.
Today, December 8 (2020), the reading is this:
In the Source-Place
Take a pitcher full of water and set it down in the water — now it has water inside and water outside. We mustn’t give it a name, lest silly people start talking again about the body and the soul.
We can’t help it. We make much of where we end and where others begin. Yet only after declaring healthy boundaries can we discover and experience the true common water of spirit that Kabir talks about. It can be confusing. But, though we are not always eloquent or clear in what comes out, everyone is clear as water in the source-place where mind and heart start as one.
As Teilhard de Chardin said, “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” Entering our days with this perspective can make a difference. It provides the ocean for our small pitcher of life.
It helps to remember that despite all our struggles for identity, despite the weight of living, there is an irrepressible ounce of spirit in each of us, a wellspring we carry within, that can be blocked but not contained. It emanates through all beings as the longing for love and peace.
When opening our longing, our honest want for love, we open the fountainhead of spirit, and then, like Kabir’s pitcher, we are water living in water, love living in love, a small thing alive in a big thing alive, a breath inside a wind.
Sit quietly, and as you breathe, think of yourself as Katir’s small pitcher of water.
Breathe deeply and freely, and think of the unseeable world of spirit around you as an ocean that carries you.
Breathe slowly and cleanly, and try to feel how you and the life around you are made of the same thing.
I woke this morning feeling the expansion of energies in my feet and my hands and throughout my body. This reading resonates strongly with that.
Outside, inside, all one.
Today is a working day in my office, a day when I offer artful touch to bodywork clients. I have two craniosacral therapy sessions booked for this afternoon that I’m anticipating, and this experience of expanded energy that I experienced on awakening and often experience while giving sessions is similar to water living in water, a breath inside a wind.
My email this morning contained news from Science Daily that researchers have discovered the mechanics of why COVID tends to be more severe in the elderly and people with underlying conditions.
I’m no scientist, but this was something I wondered about. I’m 67 and although I don’t consider myself elderly, I am an elder. (Humor me.)
I wondered what exactly is it about being older that makes one more vulnerable. I know lots of people my age and older who are healthy and living active lives. They don’t have underlying conditions, and apart from wrinklier skin, graying hair, and joints that are a little bit stiffer, are pretty healthy and fit.
According to this research as I understand it, it’s cellular oxidation that gives the COVID virus something to latch onto.
“Our analysis suggests that greater cellular oxidation in the elderly or those with underlying health conditions could predispose them to more vigorous infection, replication and disease,” says co-author Rajinder Dhindsa, an emeritus professor of biology at McGill University.
…According to the researchers, preventing the anchor from forming could be the key to unlocking new treatments for COVID-19. One strategy, they suggest, could be to disrupt the oxidizing environment that keeps the disulfide bonds intact. “Antioxidants could decrease the severity of COVID-19 by interfering with entry of the virus into host cells and its survival afterwards in establishing further infection,” says Professor Singh.
Cells produce free radicals as the body processes food and reacts to the environment. If the body cannot process and remove free radicals efficiently, oxidative stress can result. Antioxidants can help prevent this.
It appears that over time, an excess of free radicals can do the kind of cellular damage that results in not only more severe cases of COVID, but also heart disease, cancer, stroke, arthritis, Parkinson’s, respiratory illness, and more.
How do you prevent oxidative stress? Avoiding inflammation, pollution, smoking, and too much UV exposure help.
You can also consume antioxidants from food. They are free-radical scavengers.
Antioxidant is a broad label for hundreds of substances that do the same thing: prevent or slow oxidative stress.
You’ve probably heard of some of them, like beta-carotene and lycopene. Each one does a specific thing, but all of them are plant-based, so it’s important to eat lots of fruits and veggies, especially the most colorful ones like berries, citrus, greens, beets, tomatoes, mangoes, etc.
Without knowing this, I learned that I was already doing a lot of things right.
I drink matcha every morning (green tea is a major antioxidant).
I eat lots of leafy greens.
I eat a small apple for a snack nearly every day.
I keep frozen berries on hand for smoothies.
I make and drink beet kvass (a fermented drink).
I cook with a lot of herbs and spices. I grow herbs and pick them right before cooking.
With supplements, more is not necessarily better, and some can interact with meds. You probably want to talk to a nutritionist first.
I hope that this is helpful. I hope you stay well, and if you get sick, that you recover well. If you want to know more, I found this article credible and helpful.
I did a craniosacral therapy session last week on a friend whom I hadn’t seen since the start of the pandemic. I went to his home since he has a massage table. We wore masks during the session with the window open.
The session was successful. He’d taken a spill on his bike, hit his head, didn’t seem too badly injured, went home…and noticed that he just didn’t feel right for a couple of weeks and called me. He felt shifts and releases throughout the session.
I sent him my Post-Concussion Self Care guidelines. If it was a concussion, it was minor, but any time the brain gets sloshed via head injury, craniosacral therapy can help.
Anyway, he’s a great cook, and he invited me to share a mid-afternoon meal of his homemade green soup outdoors on his patio. Of course I accepted!
It was so delicious, I want to make it myself.
Here’s how he described making it: 1. In a stockpot, sauté an onion in olive oil. 2. Chop 2-3 different bunches of greens and stir into onions and olive oil. Choose from chard, spinach, kale, beet greens, collards, dandelion greens, arugula, or whatever leafy greens you like or have on hand. 3. Add 1 teaspoon salt. 4. Add about 6 cups water, cover, bring to a boil, then simmer for 20 minutes. 5. When cool enough to handle, pour into a Vitamix and blend. 6. If purée is too thick, add water to thin to desired consistency. 7. Season to taste with more salt and pepper.
After heating it, he added chunks of avocado, a handful of pumpkin seeds, fresh garlic chives, and salt and pepper to taste. Oh, and bird peppers! I tried one. Too hot for me.
Yum. The amazing thing is how simple this recipe is. Of course, you could fancy it up by adding garlic, herbs, lemon juice or vinegar, and veggie or chicken stock instead of water. You could add a dollop of plain yogurt or sour cream or some croutons, or grate Parmesan on top.
I urge you to try it plain first. You may like it a lot, just that way.
I’ve dropped my prices on craniosacral therapy, from $120 for 75 minutes to $100 for a single session.
I’m offering a package of three such sessions for $250 and a package of 6 for $500.
Well, selfishly, doing craniosacral therapy is really good for me. I enter a healing state that (what else can I say?) feels really healthy.
I’m also planning to get certified in CST, which is a big deal, consisting of an essay exam, an objective test, and a 2-hour examination of my ability to use the techniques and describe why/what/how I’m doing them by a skilled, experienced teacher/examiner.
It’s a big deal, and I need to practice, practice, practice.
What’s in it for receivers?
Pretty much everyone gets deeply relaxed, maybe even more relaxed than they can get by themselves. It’s great for letting the nervous system move into parasympathetic dominance, where healing, tissue repair, and optimization occur.
Beyond that, little releases occur throughout the body throughout the session. Sometimes the receiver notices, sometimes not. It seems to depend on how sensitive they are to their own sensations and how accustomed they are to being deeply relaxed and aware at the same time.
If you need sleep, you’ll fall asleep. Good. You need it. CST also helps with insomnia.
And…how relaxed can you get and still be awake?
I advise newcomers to CST to get three sessions. It’s so different from other forms of bodywork, it simply will not be what you expect. It’s more subtle and deeper, and it often lasts way longer than a massage does, in my experience.
I recommend checking in by doing a body scan before and after each session to notice what’s different. Tune into your whole self, too.
For me, years ago, I noticed that I felt calmer (which was unfamiliar at that time in my life). It was like CST helped me discover a quiet, still place inside me that was present and aware, not doing anything, simply being.
I had no idea how busy my mind was, until it wasn’t.
I came to think of this state as being more centered in myself. That’s part of the healing state I enter when working. I also feel a lot of energy in my body, especially in my hands. I experience relaxation and releases too.
CST works really well when people get it regularly. A regular experience of relaxing and releasing restrictions works cumulatively over time.
Hence the 6-session package. Two of those would net you monthly sessions for a year, costing you (if bought separately) $83.33 each. That’s a deal.
After three years of monthly sessions, I had cleared so much baggage (aka restrictions), I felt like a new person: aware, present, resilient, positive. I went on to make some major changes in my life, for the better.
I never thought about becoming a craniosacral therapist myself until 6 months after I finished massage school when a new friend who was a craniosacral therapist asked me why I wasn’t one. I started taking classes 3 days later, in early 2013.
Nearly 3 years ago, I posted that my SI joint was healed. This injury was from a 1996 car wreck. I finally got the right help years later from a physical therapist who evaluated my pelvic alignment and said it was out of symmetry every way possible — tilted sideways, tilted forward, rotated more on one side than the other.
She put a Core Wrap (stretchy fabric with Velcro on the end) around my pelvis, pulling the bones together, and voila, instant stability.
None of the 3 chiropractors I’d seen, for more than a year each, had even suggested that. I’m sure not every chiropractor is like this, but it seemed to me that they wanted to keep treating me forever without fixing the problem, just providing a little relief.
If they understood that stretched out ligaments need bracing to shorten, they never let on. I had to go to massage school and take advanced classes to learn that. Rah for PTs!
I stopped wearing the Core Wrap in Dec. 2016 after 18 months of wearing it pretty much 24/7 because my pelvis finally felt stable without it. I could go for long walks, even hiking in the mountains, without pain.
The alignment still wasn’t perfect but the ligaments had tightened up from wearing the Core Wrap and I wasn’t in pain. I was able to resume doing a full yoga practice, complete with lunges and twists, backbends and splits, joyfully meeting many challenges, developing symmetry and strength, and improving my balance. My alignment improved.
In October 2020, I was house- and pet-sitting for my daughter and her wife, and I needed to move a 30-pound bag of dog food from the garage to the pantry.
It was too much weight for little old me. (I’m 5’0”.) Even though my arms and upper body are strong, I’m guessing that my pelvis may always be a weaker spot, particularly where L5 and S1 meet. The disc felt compressed. Not herniated, but compressed.
I felt a strain immediately in my low back.
Over the next few weeks, it got worse. I began to wake up with a familiar old discomfort, especially at the left SI joint, and also down the outside of my left leg. My fibula felt out of place, and my knee felt slightly unstable.
It was as if the old asymmetrical tension patterns had returned. The body has memories of the dysfunction as well as the function. My choices move me toward function. I had made a poor choice. (Next time: move the dog food bin to the garage and fill it there.)
I’d discarded my well-used, stretched-out Core Wraps.
I’m going to try something new. I had some KT Tape stashed away. I went to their website to see how to tape for SI joint stability. It pulls the pelvis together in the back with extra support on the side that is problematic.
So today I’m trying that. The cotton version is supposed to last for 1-3 days. The best thing is that KT Tape doesn’t show under your clothing.
The velcro on the Core Wrap could be irritating to my skin, so I ordered a genuine sacroiliac belt.
I chose the Vriksasana Sacroiliac Belt. It has 4.3 stars from over 4,000 people, the most for any SI belt on Amazon. Their instructions say to wear it for two weeks, including while sleeping. It’s $26.
Vriksasana is tree pose in Sanskrit — one I’ve been working on to develop better balance standing on my left leg. The name is a good omen.
It looks like it would be bulky under clothing, so I will simply wear it outside my yoga pants, which have become my daily uniform. People who are curious enough to ask about it will learn something new that may help them or someone else.
Meanwhile, I am not lifting heavy things and being super careful of sleep posture and in yoga. I danced and did some gardening today, with a lot of attention to not straining anything.
Several people have found my previous posts about my SI joint healing journey because they are searching the web looking for help for their own SI joint issues. They’ve reached out.
This is why I write about it. I am a bodyworker myself, and I am fascinated by the healing journey, especially when it’s not a quick fix. I’ve had several long and meandering ones, and I know that when you find the right information or practitioner or aid, progress can be rapid. I like to help people make progress.
I’ll be back with a report before too long.
Small print: I have an affiliate account with Amazon and may receive a small percentage of sales made through clicking these links.
It’s not a full-length evaluation like you would get if you came to see me in my office. But it seems that a lot of people with jaw pain don’t know how common it is — and how much jaw symptoms can vary from person to person.
Understanding the factors that contribute to jaw pain is not well-researched, but stress, posture, and habits are commonly involved.
We address these factors in my Self-Help for Jaw Pain online course, which is one option after taking the quiz.
Besides blogging here, I have had a private bodywork practice in Austin, Texas, USA, for years.
One area that I specialized in was relieving jaw pain. I developed a 5-session protocol (done over 4-6 weeks) that helped hundreds of people over the years. That work included working in people’s open mouths to release tension in the small, hard-to-access internal jaw muscles.
Well, COVID put an end to working in people’s open mouths in a small room, in a office suite that treats medically vulnerable people.
I thought about giving it up.
But when I thought about all I’d learned over the years about treating jaw pain, and how much pleasure I got when people felt the difference between tense jaw muscles and spacious ones, I looked for a way to continue to offer the revelation of a spacious jaw that so many patients experienced.
Plus, at this unusual time in history, stress levels are high, which translates to more clenching, grinding, tooth damage, and pain.