Orienting to space

Not too long ago, I posted Orienting to stillness, orienting to motion, providing some options for people who are interested in exploring awareness. Today I want to share some experiences with orienting to space.

First, a little backtracking. Starting in 2010, I wrote here about the 12 states of attention (and also here), which I learned from Nelson Zink on his website Navaching (which also included instructions for night walking), which sadly he has taken down. Reading his book of stories The Structure of Delight is an experience I highly recommend. It’s like no other book you’ve encountered, and if you’re interested in acquiring wisdom from a bunch of interesting characters, you’ll enjoy it.

(If you don’t want to click the links about the 12 states, here’s a summary: We primarily use our visual, auditory, and kinesthetic senses. Our experience can be subdivided into narrow and broad. For instance, a broad auditory state would be listening to the whole orchestra playing, while a narrow auditory state would be singling out the oboe in the orchestra. These states can be further divided into external and internal. An external visual state is seeing your environment with your eyes, while an internal one is imagining or remembering something. The image below shows the 12 states.)

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Although I haven’t written about the 12 states in recent years, they are embedded in my world view. I value having flexibility in what I pay attention to, how I pay attention to it, and understanding what others may be experiencing. We have natural proclivities among these states that play a big role in the work and pastimes we choose, yet some of these realms can go unexplored for much of a person’s lifetime, which is a loss, in my opinion. From bean counters to visionaries, proofreaders to poets, there’s room for all at the table, and I would presume that part of the maturing process in a fully lived life would include expanding one’s experience of more of these states.

So for today’s topic, orienting to space, I’m going to refer to the 12 states, also drawing on my training in craniosacral biodynamics and yoga, for some kinesthetic experiences in meditation.

Here are some kinesthetic narrow experiences to try when sitting quietly, uninterrupted. These are both internal and external: you will feel sensations on your skin, You may also feel these sensations inside your body and extending into the field around you.

  • Bring your attention to the top of your head, your crown chakra. Keep your attention there, and you will at some point notice a sensation there. It may feel like  pressure, flickering, vibrating, warmth, air moving, or something else. If you don’t feel anything, stay with it. If you still don’t, come back again and again until you do.
  • Bring your attention thusly down to each chakra: third eye, throat, heart, solar plexus, umbilicus/sacrum, root. Spend some time at each chakra feeling the sensations there.
  • When you reach your root chakra, imagine/feel that energy descending into the earth.
  • Bring your attention back up your body, chakra by chakra. Yin moves down toward the earth, yang moves up toward heaven, and sometimes people find one direction easier than the other. What works best for you?
  • When you reach your crown chakra, imagine/feel it extending above you, stretching into the cosmos.
  • Sense this territory as a tube running from deep in the earth to outer space, penetrating your body vertically along your midline, with each chakra open like a jewel on a string. How does it feel to be connected to the earth and the cosmos with all your chakras open? Vibrant? Expanded? Enjoy the state.

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The next experiences are to spend time in Kinesthetic Internal awareness, both Broad and Narrow:

  • When sitting quietly, sooner or later your attention will be drawn to specific areas in your body experiencing discomfort, pain, tingling, energized, or a lack of sensation. Just notice and breathe. Make yourself as comfortable as you can. Be sure to notice which parts feel good!
  • Body awareness is a vast realm. Using your knowledge of anatomy and imagining/feeling, you can sense your body by system: skeletal, muscular/fascial, nervous, cardiovascular, digestive, craniosacral, etc. Go slowly and just notice. Pretend like you’re remote viewing into your own body. Does your body have anything to tell you?
  • You can also sense your body by region: head, neck, shoulders, arms, etc. You can sense it from your skin inwards and from your core outwards.
  • You can experience each of the three major containers, lower (pelvic), middle (chest), and upper (head).
  • You may notice a slow, rhythmic fluid tide moving up and down your body. This usually takes a while to experience. This is a manifestation of primary respiration in biodynamics, and giving it attention makes your system more coherent.
  • One of the great koans in my life has been “whole body awareness.” See if you can sense your entire body at once! Experimenting with how to do this is fruitful. You might experience complete embodiment, being completely at home and aware inside your skin. That would be KIB. If you extend this into the space around you, you are moving into KEB.

In the 12 states, the division between internal and external is your skin. Kinesthetic external sensing is the most neglected of the 12 states for nearly all of us humans! Now you’re noticing the interface between your skin and the space or field around you:

  • To move externally, sense your skin’s interface with your environment: air, clothing, furniture, floor, etc. Notice temperature, drafts, humidity, pressure, texture, gravity, and whatever else you can sense.
  • Your personal field may extend anywhere from inches to several feet away from your body. Can you sense an inch away from your skin? A foot? A yard? If you are close to another person or animal, can you sense their presence? Can you sense changes in density or vibration in the field around you? Does the field around you have anything to tell you?
  • Extend your awareness gradually out into the room you’re in, or if you’re outdoors, into a room-size bubble around you. Can you sense the walls, ceiling, floors, objects in the room? If outdoors, can you sense the presence of nearby trees?
  • Extend your awareness outside the room or bubble. Gradually expand your awareness toward the horizon, either what you can see visually or what you can imagine. Notice if there is a shift in how you experience yourself when imagining/feeling yourself at the center of a 360-degree circle of horizon. Do you feel more or less grounded? Can you sense a wind, a tide, a very slow rhythm? Another manifestation of primary respiration.
  • Keep extending your awareness more broadly toward our planet, solar system, galaxy, as far as you want to go.

The experience of living suspended in fields, personal and vast, is a huge paradigm shift for all of us.

Warning: This practice can lead to deeper body awareness, inner peace, and experiences of oneness and connection to others and the planet.

 

 

What is biodynamics?

Biodynamics is a western approach to wellness. Osteopath William Sutherland (1873-1954) began exploring the dynamics of the skull and its membranes and fluids, establishing the field of cranial osteopathy, from which craniosacral therapy and biodynamics evolved.

After years of sitting quietly with patients, listening to their body-mind systems, Sutherland and other cranial osteopaths became aware that something other than tissue manipulation was helping their patients heal from all kinds of conditions. They learned over time that the more they just listened and the less they tried to do, the more their patients’ inherent healing processes took over, returning their systems to healthier functioning. Over time they learned how to support and augment the healing process with their presence, attention, discernment, and intent.

This way of healing came to be called craniosacral biodynamics, biodynamic craniosacral therapy, or just biodynamics. As a separate modality from cranial osteopathy, it’s been in existence for nearly 40 years. Although biodynamics shares some elements with biomechanical craniosacral therapy, it focuses more on perceptual awareness of the fields in and around us.

Biodynamics resonates with Buddhist and Taoist beliefs about emptiness, form, transformation, compassion, and oneness.

New work-related blog

I am blessed and fortunate enough to have a worldwide reader base for this blog. See the graphic map on this post to view all the countries where readers are from.

I live and work in the Austin, Texas, USA, area, and I have created a new website, MaryAnn Reynolds, MS, LMT, BCTMB, on WordPress for my private massage and bodywork practice. I also have a blog as a page on that site.

To prevent confusion:

  • The new blog will be limited to posts about local events I’m participating in and my massage and bodywork practice. If you are interested, check it out and see if you want to follow that blog.
  • This blog will remain dedicated to more general topics relating to wellness.
  • I haven’t done so yet, but I may occasionally cross-post if the information seems related to both blogs.

To your health and well-being!

Sacroiliac joint healed!

Back in late June 2015, I wrote about using a sacroiliac belt for pain in that joint. (See When the healer needs healing: chronic pain in a sacroiliac joint).

I posted a few updates. (See Update on using the sacroiliac beltA cheaper sacroiliac belt, working toward “the new normal”, and SI belt update, plus insoles for Morton’s foot.)

It’s now January 2017, and I’m here to give you an update, prompted by a couple of comments I’ve received recently from readers who are suffering from SI joint pain.

I finally stopped wearing the belt last month, in December 2016. That’s right, I wore it most of the time for 18 months, a year and a half. My pelvis feels pretty aligned now. It’s not perfect but it is strong and tight enough that it stays in place . Since I started wearing it, I haven’t had that unstable, painful feeling of my SI joint going out of place. Continue reading

Frida Kahlo probably had fibromyalgia

While continuing to learn more about fibromyalgia, I found something interesting: Frida Kahlo probably had it.

If you’re wondering what fibromyalgia is, the Mayo Clinic says it’s a disorder characterized by widespread musculoskeletal pain accompanied by fatigue, sleep, memory and mood issues. Symptoms sometimes begin after a trauma, surgery, infection, or significant stress. Women are much more likely to develop it.

One researcher, Manuel Martinez-lavin, says it’s likely the iconic Mexican artist Frida Kahlo had fibromyalgia. The bus accident that badly injured her at age 18 must have been quite traumatic and was followed by many stressful surgeries. The accident left her with chronic pain, well documented in her art.

screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-11-07-37-amThe Broken Column

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What people are saying after Zero Balancing

So far in 2016, I’ve done 96 Zero Balancing sessions ranging from 15 to 45 minutes in length. Most were about 30 minutes.

Help me make at least 100 in 2016! [I made my goal!]

The part I love most about giving my clients a Zero Balancing session comes after the fully-clothed bodywork has concluded, when the receiver slowly moves from supine on my massage table to sidelying to seated to standing, taking a pause after each movement, and finally takes a few steps around my office.

I ask, “What are you noticing?” Continue reading

No more ads!

As of November 2, you will not see any advertising on this blog! WordPress used to charge $100 to run an ad-free blog, which I thought was too expensive, given that I’m already paying them to run this blog.

The price came down, as I learned when I helped a friend set up a simple, one-page website. It now costs $2.99 a month, payable annually, to remove all advertising. I can afford that.

Thank you, WordPress.

It’s not that I’m totally opposed to advertising. A lot of what we do in our human interactions is marketing goods and services, when we praise or disdain restaurants, books, movies, massage therapists, cars, candidates, jobs, insurance companies, and so on. I use Google to advertise my business, and Moo.com for business cards, and lots of word-of-mouth.

Advertising is so prevalent in our 21st century American culture: on signs, billboards, the sides of trucks, bumper stickers, television, and rampant on the internet. It feels distracting, like I’m being yelled at or grabbed without my consent. It’s insidious and annoying.

I thought I could I ignore the ads, but when I began to use AdBlock, I must say it feels satisfying to view websites without the ads. I can appreciate the design, and it feels like a more peaceful, relaxing experience I can savor.

I know that some good websites rely on the income from ads. My response is, give me the option to subscribe without ads. If I like it, I might pay a few bucks to keep it ad-free.

I had no choice about which ads appeared on my blog. Wanting to be in integrity, when I saw a McDonald’s ad on my blog about wellness, I stopped allowing WordPress to freely run ads. (Not that I ever had enough views to earn anything.)

The single ad WordPress insisted on making me pay to remove is now gone. I hope you enjoy your ad-free experience.

Relieving forward head posture: full body myofascial release (aka Deep Massage)

This is the fourth post in a series about Cate and me partnering in bodywork to relieve her forward head posture. Click here to read the first post, here for the second, here for the third, and here for a special post about the Still Point Inducer.

by Cate Radebaugh

Since I was in Austin for several days early this week, I opted to go to MaryAnn’s on Wednesday instead of Friday. She told me that it was time for a full body myofascial massage and gave me the familiar intake paper with four sketches of a human body — front, back, and both sides — and instructions to circle where I feel discomfort, pain, tension, etc.

It’s always the same for me: neck and shoulders, lower back, and feet — so that’s where I made my circles.

Then MaryAnn went out while I undressed, got on the table, and under the sheets. I’ve had massages before, so I knew about putting my face in the little face holder, but she also had a special pillow with holes in it that I could put my breasts in, and that was wonderful, because typically, they get smooshed between me and the table, which is not so great. With my breasts in a safe space, I felt completely comfortable for the first time ever laying prone on a massage table.

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Cate uses the Still Point Inducer

This “in-between-isode” in our series of posts about working together to release her forward head posture is Cate’s review of the Still Point Inducer, which I lent her to try at home for a week. Read the first post here and follow the links to read the series.

by Cate Radebaugh

Last Friday — September 30 — MaryAnn lent me a red rubber thingy called a Still Point Inducer, which I put in my purse and promptly forgot about until Sunday, when I set about exploring its properties. It is one piece, neither hard nor soft, flat on one side and shaped like two little boobs on the other.

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It didn’t have any instructions with it, but I figured, since Mary Ann had been messing around with the back of my head, it would probably fit back there. After some fidgeting and fussing, I got the bumps settled at the base of my skull with the flat part on the mattress. All I had to do was move my head up or down to shift the position of the bumps, which shifted the feeling I got, which is kind of like big thumbs pressing into my head. Continue reading

Relieving forward head posture: integrating bodywork techniques, plus, a still point

This is the third post in a series about my bodywork sessions with Cate to relieve forward head posture. Go here for the first post, here for the second.

by Cate Radebaugh

This session on September 30 is hard to write about because it was so fluid. I’d like to start, though, with something I left out of my last post, which is, I have a hard time figuring out where I am on the table. I’m supposed to lay centered on it, but I’m either too far to the left or right at my shoulders and too far the other direction at my hips, and sometimes, the direction I think I’m going in is not the direction I’m actually going in. This is an issue with proprioception*, and probably explains why I bump into things a lot. I don’t know where my body is in space or where my parts are relative to each other.

Anyway, our first task every session is getting me aligned on that table. I keep waiting for MaryAnn to say “goodgodamighty, get straight, Cate,” but so far she hasn’t even sighed.

I don’t know what modalities MaryAnn used in the session*, and I couldn’t recall the sequence of things after I left because the session felt so fluid. One discrete experience flowed into another, except for the first one, which was me on my back while MA held my heels in her hands and pulled on both my legs at the same time. It really does feel like my legs get longer as she pulls on them. Continue reading