Sunday morning: a little trauma release, a fine buzz, then some yoga jazz, and a tribute to a teacher

Long-time readers know I spent some time and energy on learning the trauma releasing exercises of David Berceli and practicing them. (If you’re a new reader, go to the tag cloud in the right panel and click TRE or trauma releasing exercises to see the many posts on the topic. If you want to learn them, I recommend Berceli’s book and video.)

I haven’t written much about them for a while. I still value them very much as a tool for releasing tension.

Sometimes at ecstatic dance, I allow my legs to shake for a little while, which releases leg tension, especially around my hip joint. (Nobody notices or comments, ever.)

Some mornings I wake up and just know I need to do them. I may tremble for 30 seconds to a minute or two. It doesn’t have to last long to be effective.

I imagine that the more you do them and really surrender to them, the less you need to do them. Also, the more you do them, the more aware you become of tensions accumulating in your body, and you adjust sooner — taking a deep, cleansing breath to let it all out, stretching and moving the tense area.

This morning I did them for longer, because my body wanted to keep going. First my legs surrendered to the shaking, then left my arm flapped, then right my arm flapped, then my lower spine hammered, then my upper spine waved, then more legs, and so on. It’s entertaining to witness where the surrendering moves!

Then afterward, the fine buzz inhabiting my body. Mmm.

Walk to my yoga mat. Tadasana, feeling feet, upward energy. Stretching arms up into hastasana circling to anjali mudra several times to warm up, each with my gaze a little higher, a little more backbend.

Then from hips, float down into uttanasana and just hang. Feel my tight hamstrings. Hold. Breathe. They become like rubber bands, surrendering to the stretch. Then extend spine and re-bow.

Left leg back into lunge. Feeling the tight gastrocnemius and soleus. Push heel back and breathe. Right leg back to join it. Breathe length into calves.

Plank, with spread fingers, sturdy column arms under shoulders. Feel strength. Pressing palm and fingers evenly into mat, slowly lowering into chataranga, feeling creaks and twinges in shoulders and elbows.

Once flat, press pelvis and tops of feet into floor and lift up into bhujangasana, cobra. Imagine the fronts of my vertebrae, deep in the middle of my torso, fanning wide open to give and receive and expand my energy. This spine, this flexible column of bone, fluids, muscle, nerve, this backbone. Yes.

Turn toes under. Strongly lift my body up, elevating my pelvis as high as it will go. Push palms and fingers evenly into floor. Push heels back to stretch my soles (I’m hearing my teacher Eleanor Harris now). Lift sit bones to ceiling. Feel strong shoulders. Downward-facing dog, adho mukha svanasana.

“Enjoy your breath,” as my teacher Brigitte Edery is fond of saying. And I do.

Then bring right leg forward into lunge. Then today’s standing sequence: warrior two, extended side angle, reverse extended side angle, triangle, reverse triangle, ardha chandrasana, warrior one, warrior three. Nice standing vinyasa (with room for improvement in the sequencing, I notice), and I am aware of all the different stretches each pose brings where spine meets pelvis meets thighs.

I am pleased with my balance in ardha chandrasana, but I need to put my extended arms on the top of a stool to hold warrior three. There’s always an edge. Today, and probably for a few weeks (or months, who knows?), that’s mine — balancing in warrior three.

Then back to lunge, uttanasana (notice how much deeper my fold is), extending spine, and reverse swan dive up, arms circling into anjali mudra.

Repeat on other side.

I follow with pigeon, a deep twist (thrilling as my shoulders reached the floor), happy baby, and rock to standing.

I am in my body, ready for today, for ecstatic dance, for community, for work, for learning prenatal massage.

Feeling very grateful for my friends, and for my teacher Gabrielle Roth, whose work I knew better than I knew her personally, who was so influential in opening my awareness up to new movements, rhythms, and energies in life, who is in her own life now moving into stillness. She dedicated her life to healing the mind-body split. Amen to that.

Here’s my favorite Gabrielle quote:

After you jump, before you land is God.

I’m going to light a candle and open myself up to God.

A model for experiencing and recovering from trauma: Peter Levine’s story

A few days ago, I finally started reading In an Unspoken Voice: How the Body Releases Trauma and Restores Goodness, by Peter A. Levine. This book comes full circle from Waking the Tiger, Levine’s first book, the book that changed my life.

It changed my life by giving me a new understanding of how trauma affects people and how to recover. Trauma is actually stored energetically in the body.

Levine, an ethologist, noticed the shaking that animals who narrowly missed being killed for dinner did, once free of their predators. That shaking allowed them to rejoin the herd not much worse for the wear.

When I read the book in 2002, I was skeptical but open. What Levine said was so different from what any other experts on trauma (psychotherapists) were saying.

One day, feeling exhausted from dealing with difficult emotions and memories, I flopped down on my bed and started to doze off.  The next thing I knew, my body was moving spontaneously, and I knew from having read the description that I was releasing energy blocks from trauma.

In the new book, Levine describes his subjective experience of being hit by a car.

Importantly, he describes PTSD as not an illness but as an injury that can occur from war, rape, sexual abuse, assault, and the like, and also after surgery, serious illnesses, falls, abandonment, receiving shocking or tragic news, witnessing violence, and getting into car accidents. Major shocks to our sense of well-being, in other words.

Some excerpts from his experience:

I can’t figure out what has happened. How did I get here? Out of a swirling fog of confusion and disbelief, a crowd of people rushes toward me. They stop, aghast… Slowly I orient myself and identify the real attacker… A wide-eyed teenager bursts out. She stares at me in dazed horror. In a strange way, I both know and don’t know what has just happened… I sink back into hazy twilight. I find that I am unable to think clearly or to will myself awake from this nightmare.

A man rushes to my side… he announces himself as an off-duty paramedic. When I try to see where the voice is coming from, he sternly orders, “Don’t move your head.” The contradiction between his sharp command and what my body naturally wants — to turn toward his voice — frightens and stuns me into a sort of paralysis. My awareness strangely splits, and I experience an uncanny “dislocation.” It’s as if I’m floating above my body…

…I need to have someone’s comforting gaze, a lifeline to hold onto. But I’m too terrified to move and feel helplessly frozen.

…Finally, I manage to shape my words and speak. My voice is strained and tight. I ask him, both with my hands and words, “Please back off.” He complies.

After a few minutes, a woman unobtrusively inserts herself and quietly sits by my side. “I’m a doctor, a pediatrician,” she says. “Can I be of help?”

Please just stay with me,” I reply. Her simple, kind face seems supportive and calmly concerned. She takes my hand in hers, and I squeeze it. She gently returns the gesture… I feel emotionally held by her encouraging presence. A trembling wave of release moves through me, and I take my first deep breath. Then a jagged shudder of terror passes through my body. Tears are now streaming from my eyes…

I am sucked down by a deep undertow of unfathomable regret. My body continues to shudder. Reality sets in.

In a little while, a softer trembling begins to replace the abrupt shudders. I feel alternating waves of fear and sorrow… I’m afraid of being swallowed up by the sorrow and hold onto the woman’s eyes. Her continued presence sustains me. As I feel less overwhelmed, my fear softens and begins to subside. I feel a flicker of hope, then a rolling wave of fiery rage. My body continues to shake and tremble. It is alternately icy cold and feverishly hot. A burning red fury erupts from deep within my belly.

I hear my shirt ripping. I am startled and again jump to the vantage point of an observer hovering above my sprawling body..The Good Samaritan paramedic reports that my pulse was 170… The paramedics are requesting a full trauma team. Alarm jolts me… As I am lifted into the ambulance, I close my eyes for the first time. A vague scent of the woman’s perfume and the look of her quiet, kind eyes longer. Again, I have that comforting feeling of being held by her presence.

Even though my eyes want to dart around, to survey the unfamiliar and foreboding environment, I consciously direct myself to go inward. I begin to take stock of my body sensations. This active focusing draws my attention to an intense, and uncomfortable, buzzing throughout my body.

…I notice a peculiar sensation in my left arm. I let this sensation come into the foreground of my consciousness and track the arm’s tension as it builds and builds. Gradually, I recognize that the arm wants to flex and move up. As this inner impulse toward movement develops, the back of my hand also wants to rotate. Ever so slightly, I sense it moving toward the left side of my face — as though to protect it against a blow. Suddenly, there passes before my eyes a fleeting image of the window of the beige car… I hear the momentary “chinging” thud of my left shoulder shattering the windshield. Then, unexpectedly, an enveloping sense of relief floods over me. I feel myself coming back into my body. The electric buzzing has retreated…  I have the deeply reassuring sense that I am no longer frozen, that time has started to move forward, that I am awakening from the nightmare

…I feel tremendous relief along with a deep sense of gratitude that my body did not betray me… As I continue to gently tremble, I sense a warm tingling wave along with an inner strength building up from deep within my body.

And it goes on. He gets the ambulance paramedic to tell him his vital signs: heart rate is 74, blood pressure 125/70. Normal. He knows from research that he won’t be getting PTSD.

Thank you, Peter Levine, for providing this fabulous first-person account of the subjective experience of someone who experienced trauma. The body and emotional awareness, the knowledge to tell the paramedic to back off, to receive comfort from the pediatrician, and mostly to allow his body to do what it needed to to — shake and make defensive movements and allow intense emotions to flow — is just brilliant.

I want to be able to witness another’s trauma and not be triggered myself.

Looking back on a year full of changes

This past year held a lot of change for me. The previous year, 2010, was a year of sitting in meditation daily, and I very nearly accomplished that. It was a year of contemplation, exploring my identity, waking up, and getting clear.

The changes in 2011 helped my external life — how I live in the world — match up better with how my energy and identity had changed after all that meditation.

Changes to the blog

This blog had gotten 5,000 views in January and is ending the year with nearly 27,000. Readership really accelerated. I felt like I hit my stride in the second year, and I want to keep getting better. I currently have 156 followers, which includes WordPress and email subscribers as well as Twitter followers.

I redesigned and renamed the blog (from The Zafu Report) at the beginning of 2011 and stuck with the same template, albeit changing the photo often, for the entire year. I broadened the topics from mostly posting about meditation and yoga to posting about wellness and aliveness. I began including posts about healthy eating and reviews of movies that I’ve found inspiring and expansive.

My intent for 2012 is to be more personal in my writing. I noticed that those are the posts that get the most views, likes, and comments, not the reposts. I will still share the juicy information I come across, but I’ll also tell you why it’s meaningful to me. I’d love to have more comments from you.

Selling my house and moving into a trailer

My house was on the market in January 2011, and I closed and moved out in late February. I immediately bought the vintage Spartan Carousel that I’d had my eye on online for months. I put household stuff in storage (what remained after paring down) and moved in with dear friends until I could get the trailer here.

I found my trailer park in March.

First, I waited to get a title from the state of Washington, and then I waited for flood waters to recede so the trailer could be loaded on a trailer and hauled here. That finally happened in June. We got it set up, repaired, installed cork flooring and an HVAC unit, and I moved in in August. A friend donated a washer and dryer, and I got them set up in my shed in October.

Trailer life is good! I am enjoying living here a lot, and it’s great to have a paid-for, portable, recycled, streamlined, vintage home. I’ve had friends do two house blessings here, and I’ve done some landscaping. I’ve seen deer and a fox in the park, as well as lots of birds. My neighbors have been very unobtrusive.

The only sad part is that my cat, Mango, did not adapt well to trailer park life, and he went back to live with my former roommates, who love him, and we all have joint custody. I see him every week, and he still loves me.

It’s also been a bit of an adjustment, moving from the center of the city to the edge. I do more driving. I listen to music and NLP CDs a lot now while I drive.

My intent for 2012 is to install more window coverings, have a deck built, and get a chimenea and some bird-feeders for viewing pleasure. I look forward to doing more landscaping and gardening. I’ll see what my budget allows in terms of further improvements.

Teaching and studying yoga

I taught restorative yoga weekly through July at an acupuncture clinic. Although the class size was small, that teaching experience was invaluable. I worked with private students and substituted at a lunchtime yoga class — the one I took when I was working — and taught a restorative class in a studio for Free Day of Yoga. Did restorative yoga by invitation on a friend’s moving day.

I did two workshops in 2011 with nationally known teachers, Shiva Rea in January and Judith Hanson Lasater in February. In the summer, I began taking classes from Anusara teachers and later picked up a sweaty vinyasa flow class for a more challenging workout. I love working with accomplished teachers — I’m there to learn more about teaching as well as about yoga.

I’m signed up to take Yoga Anatomy with Leslie Kaminoff in January 2012.  I’d love to combine my love of yoga with my love of massage to work on yogis and help prevent and heal yoga injuries.

Practicing changework

I started this year serving as an assistant for NLP master practitioner training by Tom Best of Best Resources/Texas Institute of NLP. That ended in April. I served as program director for the Austin NLP meet-up for a few months and later co-taught an NLP class to women in prison. I attended Metaphors of Money, a workshop with Charles Faulkner, in the fall.

I offered NLP changework sessions this past year, and some of my clients had some wonderful outcomes, reaching major milestones and fulfilling long-time dreams. The sessions played a role in their success, which is pleasing, of course, and my clients already had a lot of resources when I worked with them. It was fun.

I attended two weekend sessions with Byron Katie in which she demonstrated The Work. I use her method of inquiry on myself often and with clients.

I did a lot of reading and personal experimentation with two healing practices, the trauma releasing exercises of David Berceli and shaking medicine taught by Bradford Keeney. Each has tremendous value.

I practiced the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) every day in January as I waited for my house to sell and found it helped keep me calm and centered. I’ve since taught it to others.

Going to massage school

In April, I learned about hands-on healing from giving it, and that steered me toward massage school rather than acupuncture school (although never say never). I began studying at The Lauterstein-Conway Massage School in late June (the same day my trailer arrived!) and finished my academic work in early December. I’m currently working in the student clinic, gaining the required 50 hours of internship to get my license.

Meanwhile, I’ve worked on about 30 friends and family members and about 25 of my fellow students.

Besides my regular classes, I took a workshop on cranio-sacral therapy. I’ve gotten massages from my teachers as a way of learning, and I’ve been fortunate enough to trade Swedish massage for lomi lomi and reflexology sessions. The learning will always continue.

Once I’m licensed, probably in February, I’ll officially start my practice, although I’ve been doing bodywork/changework sessions for gratis for several months.

Continuing my own healing

I continued to do acupuncture with Patrice Sullivan and did my usual spring and fall cleanses, which I’ve posted about before. This year I finally cleared my liver and gallbladder of stones!

I continued receiving applied kinesiology sessions from Chandler Collins and hands-on bodywork sessions from Bo Boatwright to free up even  more health into my body and life.

I began working with Fran Bell, who gave my walk a makeover. I had been walking as if I was still injured long after my injuries had healed. Sometimes it takes help to change habitual patterns. Now when I walk, my body feels good and has energy.

Also in the past year, I resumed my practice of ecstatic dance, which I fell in love with in 1995. My ecstatic dancing was on hiatus for the past three or so years. My body craved yoga and more silence, stillness, and solitude. It’s good to be back. I feel like I’ve found a good community, Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

In May I had the initial assessment for brainwave optimization, and in June I did 10 sessions with NeuroBeginnings. The benefits continue to show up for months afterward. I feel more centered, myself, and content. I imagine 2012 will bring even more health and healing into my life.

Working 

I started the year jobless, living on my savings. When I realized I had no idea how long it might take to sell my house, I decided to do contract technical writing. The day I posted my resume, I was contacted by a recruiter. I worked at 3M for 3 months.

I’ve done some freelance work writing and editing website copy.

I’m holding a space for a part-time job in 2012 for financial security while I get my practice established.

Spiritual direction

In the spring, I joined my friend Thomas in watching a group of Tibetan monks destroy a sand painting they had constructed painstakingly and then walk in procession to release the sand into Lady Bird Lake. Very moving, a reminder of impermanence.

On the fall equinox, I realized that I felt as if I had finally fully arrived, or one might say, as if I fully occupied myself, as though I became fully present. Gratified. It’s hard to know that is even a goal until you experience it.

I joined a book group in the fall, studying the 4th way Gurdjieffian path as taught by E.J. Gold. I plan to continue with that in 2012.

I also began dating someone this fall after four years of not dating. I don’t know the future, but it totally feels very sweet and lovely to be in a relationship at this time with this man!!

My second Saturn return occurred in December. My astrologer said that for Aquarians like me, rather than age, I “youth”. So far, so good!

So that wraps up 2011, the year of big changes. I don’t do resolutions, but I check in with my intentions, many of which I’ve shared here.

Wishing you all many blessings in 2012.

Two years of blogging, and happy first birthday, wellbodymindheartspirit!

Two years ago today, I posted my first blog post on this blog. Back then, this blog was called The Zafu Report. After the first year, I expanded its mission and changed the name to The Well: bodymindheartspirit. The blog has evolved as I have evolved, and it’s been a great journey of learning by doing.

I am grateful to WordPress for providing templates and widgets that make it look good and take the skill and decision-making that goes with that out of my hands, freeing me up to write.

I thought I’d celebrate by listing the most viewed posts and thanking all of you who have connected. This, by the way, is the 503rd post I’ve published, and the blog has now received 26,847 views with 156 followers. My biggest lesson: persistence pays off.

  1. Home Page has gotten 4,493 views. Of course, the home page changes with each new post, so if you click a link that takes you to the blog, Home Page is where you land.
  2. Update on my Spartan trailer has received 1,844 views and the second most comments. A lot of people using search engines to find information about Spartan trailers end up here. (“spartan trailer,” “spartan trailer for sale,” “spartan carousel,” and “spartan trailers” are among the top 10 search engine terms to steer viewers to this blog.) I feel kind of badly for them because this is not a blog about Spartans. I happen to have purchased, transported, remodeled, and moved into a Spartan Carousel in the past year, and it’s definitely part of my lifestyle redesign to a more sustainable, less stressful way of life. In that way, it fits into my main topic of wellness, and after some internal debate, I decided to post about it here. Some Spartan-appreciating readers have lingered, commented, and/or checked out vintage campers.com or trailerchix.com, and I’ve made a few new friends whose interests jive with mine in a broader way. This particular post was added in April 2011 when I had purchased the trailer but was still awaiting title and delivery.
  3. Trauma releasing exercises has gotten 1,132 views. This post in May 2010 was written when I first revealed that I’d been experimenting with them. I’ve written a lot of posts since then about both trauma releasing exercises and shaking medicine, but this one has gotten the most views, mostly via search engines, because of the simple title.
  4. More yoga tattoos! has been viewed 566 times. That post actually links to Alison Hinks’ blog post of yoga tattoos. She’s awesome with the visuals! The internet must have many users who are hungry for tattoos relating to Asian spirituality, since “yoga tattoos,” “yoga tattoo,” and “buddha tattoo” are also among the top 10 search terms that landed viewers here. I have a yoga tattoo myself, a small OM.
  5. About me is actually a page, not a post. It’s received 500 views. I actually revise that page every so often because how I describe myself changes and will continue to change. Good for you for coming back. This page has gotten a few comments, too.
  6. Comparing trauma release and shaking medicine videos has gotten 336 views, and I’m pleased to have posted it. My exploration of these healing modalities included locating videos of each online and sharing. Curious viewers can see each modality in action.
  7. Book review: Buddha’s Brain by Rick Hanson is the next most viewed blog post, at 326 views. I enjoyed reading this book and writing this review. I especially liked the appendix to the book that lists supplements for optimal brain health, written by Rick Hanson’s wife, an acupuncturist. I wrote about that in Buddha’s Brain: Supplements for brain health (236 views). I take them.
  8. The left brain right brain crossover has received 322 views. That seems surprising for an anatomy topic, but I guess a lot of curious brain geeks out there are wondering about this too. I got a few comments, and it was reassuring that one reader told me, “just to let you know that you could study this for years and it would still remain an enigma. such is the complexity of the human brain – even at a macroscopic level!”
  9. Spartan Carousel has arrived! got 319 views. That was posted in late June of 2011, the day after it arrived from southeast Washington.  It has some photos, and it’s received more comments than any other post. Thank you for sharing my joyous relief at its arrival!
  10. The tenth most viewed post is Fantastic prehistoric cave art movie, posted May 17, 2011, with 307 views. I loved that film by Werner Erhardt. This post was written before I saw the movie. It included online research I did in advance of seeing it. Okay, I know I’m geeky like that! My actual review, Movie review: The Cave of Forgotten Dreams, was the 20th most viewed blog post.

So there you have it, the most viewed posts in two years of blogging. Thank you for reading.

Poetry, reciprocity, feeling absolutely useless and enjoying it

I used to post poems I liked to this blog, but I stopped a while back and removed them (well, all except for Shoveling Snow with Buddha by Billy Collins, widely available online).

By the way, Shoveling Snow with Buddha is a wonderful poem to read in August when it’s over 100 degrees. Just saying.

The major reason is that poets are often impoverished and yet the best ones give us the beautiful gifts of lifting spirits and expanding worldviews, maybe shifting our  identities for the better, touching our hearts and souls.

Somehow they manage to use words, which are a left-brain tool, to convey right-brain experiences of intuition, wonder, and new associations.

Every poem available online is also available in a book, and when you buy a book of poems, the poet makes money. They don’t make money from having their poems published online.

Buying a book of poems reciprocates the poet for his or her talent, sweat, and generosity. They need to eat too. (I think Billy Collins is doing pretty well, though, and I have bought a handful of his books. Billy, if you disagree, please let me know.)

I still subscribe to Panhala, which sends me a daily email with a poem in it. Each poem includes the poet’s name and the printed source — so you can buy the book or find it in a library, if you choose.

I have a hunch that Panhala, even though it posts poems for free, probably steers more people to poetry in general, to particular poets, and to buying poetry books than anything else online. Joe Riley does it as a labor of love. No advertising, just poems, photos, and music.

Today’s Panhala poem makes me want to make an exception to my rule. It’s by David Ignatow, is titled For Yaedi, and is from New and Collected Poems, 1970-1985.

It’s a short poem, and I’m going to only quote part of it.

…When I die
I want it to be said that I wasted
hours in feeling absolutely useless
and enjoyed it, sensing my life
more strongly than when I worked at it.

Thank you, David Ignatow. Thank you for that poem. I love that sentiment. I find myself longing for some hours to waste. I’m so used to being productive, to forging ahead, to getting things done.

My shoulders tight, especially my right shoulder, which seems to be where that forging ahead energy resides in my body. 

I got my grades in massage school, and I’m doing so ridiculously well that I realized I could afford to slack off a little. I stayed home half a day, turned in an assignment a day late, and made 80 on a quiz. So there.

Thoughts have been swirling about finishing the work on the trailer, big expenses coming up (tuition, car repairs or replacement, finishing the next four months of massage school), dwindling savings, finding work, and this intensely hot drought that seems to be unending.

I am going to set aside several hours tomorrow to waste while I sense my life strongly. Maybe a little shaking medicine, sitting, breathing, yoga, toning, journaling, walking — no, wait, that’s useful. I’m going for useless.

Hmm.

I think tomorrow is the day to let my feet lead me. They’re already telling me they plan to take me to Barton Springs.

My hunch is that I will probably have more resources to draw on to solve my problems after taking a useless day than I would have if I had a useful day.

I’ll post the outcome on Monday.

Reader shares info on shaking medicine gatherings, Keeney podcast

I received comments from Jose Luis that I’ll share below, as he provides links for those interested in gatherings for shaking medicine as well as a new podcast from Sounds True of Brad Keeney:

Hi MaryAnn!

Thank you for your kind words.
I attended two gatherings in Portland, but the thing ended. I know two possibilities now: One is going to New Orleans for some good mojo… ; )
http://www.mojodoctors.com/

…the other is joining two beautiful souls that have studied with Bradford Keeney:
http://www.oursacredjourneys.com/spirited-explorations.html

I just want to add that “shaking” can include a vast kinetic vocabulary, including spontaneous taichi-like movements, spontaneous toning, wild laughter, etc. etc… (the expansive, blissful feeling is a-ma-zing…you begin to feel like you are “cooked” by the heat of an amazing love…) the beauty of all of this is the mystery, the unexpected, being moved by the Lifeforce, for the lack of a better term….

Another scholar/practitioner, Stuart Sovatsky, has written about this unending Mystery from the perspective of being a kundalini yogin/psychologist…
http://www.cit-sakti.com/kundalini/sahaja-spontaneous-yoga.htm
Kundalini and the complete maturation of the ensouled body:
http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_7642/is_200901/ai_n39234948/pg_13/

A big hug
Jose Luis

This comment was followed shortly by this:

Ah! I forgot!
This is a recent, great interview with Brad Keeney that is worth the reading…
http:/www.soundstrue.com/podcast/bradford-keeney-shaking-it-up/

Thank you, my friend, for sharing these links. I love what you said about feeling “cooked”. Martin Prechtel used that same word to describe some of his experiences as a Mayan shaman in Guatemala.

Every few days I wake up and feel like I need to do some shaking. I just lie in bed and let myself shake for a few minutes. And sometimes while driving, I let my legs shake while keeping my foot firmly on the gas or brake pedal as needed!

I also had an experience recently in which I felt like I could really use a good, long shaking session, but it was not the right time and place, and later the urge had gone.

I’m looking forward to having that urge when I can shake as long as needed, really surrender to it.

This must be part of my transition from sedentary work, but I notice times when my body just needs to be moving. Sometimes at massage school, we’re all sitting or standing still, listening to a teacher or watching a demo, and I just have to move or I feel stiffness setting in. I try to keep my movements small and discreet.

I just want to say that if you want to really wake up and be alive, your body is a master teacher. Listen to it and respect it.

New blog feature: latest tweets

I recently added a new feature to my blog, my tweets to Twitter. I’m super slammed these days with three full days of massage school a week plus homework and practice, remodeling my Spartan trailer and researching and making decisions about flooring, fixtures, HVAC systems, and more (in addition to the regular party that is my daily life).

I’d sure like to be into it by the end of July and continue working on it from within. Floors, floor coverings, HVAC, refrigerator, window coverings all need to happen for it to be livable. So much more can come later.

It’s a little bit nonsensical to pay rent where I’m staying, pay rent on my trailer lot, and pay rent on a storage unit. I’ll be relieved when I can pay just one rent, especially since I don’t have much income right now, just the odd website writing and yoga teaching job.

Just thinking about it all this morning, I realized I needed to do some shaking medicine. Legs, arms, back, neck… That’s better.

With all this going on, I felt like I was neglecting my blog readers. WordPress.com has made it possible to add my Twitter feed to my blog, and I added it as a way to post quick updates. Writing a blog post usually takes me at least 15 minutes, sometimes twice or three times that. Twitter lets me just post a sentence or two.

I haven’t used it that much, but it seems to match what’s happening now.

Follow me if you like: @wellbodymind.

I just want to say how grateful I am to WordPress for making it so easy for a writer to become a blogger without having to learn web design in depth, and how grateful I am to you, my blog readers, who stop by, read the latest or meander from post to post, and sometimes leave great comments or write me great emails about how something on this blog relates to your own experience.

Namaste.

 

Why massage, yoga, shaking medicine, and movement make you feel so good

One of the coolest things I’ve learned in my first two weeks of massage school, besides that I actually know something from my years of experiencing bodywork and that my hands love connecting with people, is about fascia.

If you don’t know, fascia is the name for a type of connective tissue, a thin membrane. It is labeled superficial when it is right under the skin and deep when it surrounds, binds, and separates muscle. It’s really all the same — these terms just differentiate the location.

The semi-transparent membrane on an uncooked chicken breast is fascia.

Here’s a new word: thixotropism, from the Greek for touch and turning. It refers to the fascia’s ability to change from one state to another. Fascia has two states: a thin fluid (sol) and a thicker gel. In its thin state, it is fluid, pliant, and elastic, offering a wider range of movement. In its gel state, it is tougher, more inflexible, and restricts movement.

When the body is out of alignment, such as when the head is jutting forward, the fascia supporting those straining neck muscles become more gel-like, stiffer, and supportive.

When you feel stiff, it’s because the fascia is in its gel state.

Through touch, exercise, and/or stretching, fascia “melts” from gel to sol and becomes looser, more flexible, and elastic. This allows the muscles to be manipulated in massage, increases joint range of motion, and frees the body from restrictions in movement.

When you move fluidly and freely in your body, your fascia are in the sol state. And of course, that feels fantastic.

This is at least one piece of the physiology of why it feels so good to get a massage, do yoga, warm up your muscles through work or exercise, and do the movements of TRE and shaking medicine.

They literally transform stiffness into fluidity.

Conversely, this is why it feels bad to sit for prolonged periods, and why we need to stretch after the stillness of sleeping.

If you want to feel free in your body, move, shake — and get massages.

A reader shares his TRE/shaking medicine experience

In case you don’t read the comments on this blog but are interested in the trauma releasing exercises and shaking medicine, I’m posting a long comment from a reader as a regular post in order to reach more people.

Thank you so much, Richard, for sharing your experience.

Thank you, David Berceli, for bringing the world TRE.

Thank you, Bradford Keeney, for writing and sharing so much about shaking medicine.

I love the fluid body.

Hey Mary –

Been doing TRE for a few months now (think I commented here before possibly), and have taken a free workshop with one of the London trainers. I also notice I can allow it to come on at will, even standing up – the TRE trainer likened it to a hosepipe, and you can inhibit/disinhibit the flow, e.g. as if you were putting your foot on/off it. The explanation given was that humans generally walk around in constant inhibit-mode, and once you’ve done TRE a few times you gain the flexibility to allow it through. It took me about 4-6 weeks of daily practice to get to that point personally.

Btw, in terms of progress… it’s been plateaus with spurts of growth. Some things have changed drastically, others havent changed yet. The tension in my body has changed, and “getting stressed” now feels different in terms of the intensity and location of the tension that arises in my body.

I notice it never quite goes “how I want”… always how it wants. Some parts just shake for weeks, over and over, the same pattern, then suddenly shift in one session. Sometimes I think some things shifted and it comes back to that location for more, and sometimes new muscles start going at it that had previously been holding.

From what I understand TRE is a wildly individual process; very much a function of your personal trauma, your personal locations of chronic tension, and what emotions are entangled up with all of that. For me it’s very much about the abdomen, chest, and anxiety. For some people it’s depression, anger, etc.

What I do know for sure is a) it’s the only thing that gets me “unstressed” daily on a physiological level (and I’ve tried a lot), and b) I’ve gradually become much more the person I want to be; the person I feel I truly am; since starting with TRE.

Hope you and others are finding similar benefits!
Thanks
Richard

I notice that Richard started out with the TRE exercises and has transitioned to shaking medicine. My distinction is when you can stand up and shake at will, TRE has become shaking medicine.

I have a strong hunch that the vast majority of people need to learn TRE first, to learn how to allow shaking to happen. Once your body learns to trust the trembling and lets it move into various parts besides the legs (and of course that will take different time periods for different people), try it with your legs flat. Try it standing up. Try it sitting.

I agree that it’s like a pipeline you can turn on and off at will.

Eloquently said, Richard, that you’ve become much more the person you want to be, the person you truly are. This is truly energy medicine.

Ecstatic shaking dance

On Sunday morning, I was driving to Castle Hill and dancing in my car as I drove. On the way, I realized I didn’t want to do yoga — I wanted to dance. So I drove to the Austin Yoga School and danced with Ecstatic Dance of Austin.

It was a homecoming of sorts. I started doing ecstatic dance (Sweat Your Prayers, 5 rhythms, Gabrielle Roth) in 1995. That group evolved into Body Choir, whom I danced with, while continuing with 5 rhythms when available.

A few years ago (four? five?), I started feeling conflicted about going to dance, any kind of so-called ecstatic dance. When I went, my body didn’t want to dance, it wanted yoga! I felt some attachment to people in the community of dancers and kept going for a while, but my attendance tapered off. I felt less and less joy at dance and finally I stopped going. It felt unsafe, it was too crowded, and the community was too political. And my body really wanted yoga.

I entered into a peaceful time of pulling in my energy, a time of healing my body. I did more yoga, committed to a home practice, and later trained as a teacher. I began meditating. I did two rounds of NLP training. I began seeking and finding great healers — starting with Nina Davis doing cranio-sacral therapy and Patrice Sullivan doing acupuncture and myofascial release (plus Patrice’s unique magic!).

I had NUCCA chiropractic, which got my head straight on my spine, which unwound my scoliosis. That was awesome. Then because I was still having pain in my left sacro-iliac joint, I found Dr. Chandler Collins for applied kinesiology and Bo Boatwright, DC, another creative and effective bodyworker, and I began working with Fran Bell this year.

I learned that I had probably had a birth injury to my S2 nerve. Maybe that’s where the scoliosis came from. And the SI joint pain could be related to the IBS-like symptoms I had before I went gluten-free several years ago. It’s complicated.

Anyway, my body is feeling pretty good these days. I still have some aches and pains, but is that not common at age 58? I don’t know! I notice stiffness when I’ve been still for a while and then stand up and move. It takes longer to warm up and move fluidly than it used to. But I get there!

What’s new is that my left and right sides are more balanced than ever, in body and brain and energy field.

While I was away from dance, lots of change happened. Body Choir became Dancing Together, then Body Choir came back. (I’m not sure I have the story straight.) Then Ecstatic Dance of Austin started up, and when Lakshmi Jackman was telling me about it in Whole Foods, I started thinking about returning to dance. I got a “no” a couple of Sundays ago after meditating, but I knew a “yes” was coming.

It felt good to be back in a large dance studio with a sprung floor, plenty of space, and rhythmic music. Also, no puddles of sweat on the floor! It felt safe, and the energy felt really clean.

I had changed so much over the time I was gone, I needed to get acquainted with my dancing body again. I did some shaking (yes, I can shake while standing now and can induce shaking when I want to) and found that my dancing edge was surfing between voluntary and involuntary movements, letting the shaking arise where I needed to shake, and then surrendering to the beat in dance.

Several times I felt energetic rushes of pure ecstasy move from my center out! Chills, thrills, goosebumps, GUS (God Universe Spirit) bumps — totally that howling-at-the-moon feeling of abandoned joy.

It was a real breakthrough for me, a joy, a homecoming.

I’ll return.