Biodynamic Meditation posts on Instagram

I started studying craniosacral therapy in 2011 while still a massage student, after receiving it monthly for 3 years and understanding its sometimes-subtle but cumulative benefits to my health and well-being.

I started studying craniosacral biodynamics in 2013. Three days after learning it existed and hearing it described, I was in a class.

It’s a passion of mine. I’ve taken dozens of classes since, in both biodynamic and directive, Upledger-style CST. I’ve taken several classes multiple times and been a teaching assistant.

Craniosacral biodynamics works quite a bit with interoception, the “felt sense” in oneself.

A lot of the language in my classes was highly conceptual even though referring to felt states. There’s a big gap between concept and experience, between the map and the territory. It was frustrating!

What does the Breath of Life feel like? How do you distinguish the different tides? What does a still point feel like? How do you track potency? What about the different stages? What the heck is Dynamic Stillness and how do you get there?

I started experimenting with trying to sense these concepts in my meditation practice and had some pretty profound experiences, such as feeling like I was in the ocean and currents were flowing through and around me, experiencing a me-shaped hole of emptiness surrounded by dense energies holding me in place, the sense of being breathed, and the like.

But they were random experiences and I still didn’t know the names for them or how to get there. Hence pursuing more training.

Sequencing is important in a yoga class. You prepare carefully with easier poses and work up to the harder poses you didn’t think you could do — and then, wow, you’re doing them! It’s important in teaching and learning Craniosacral Biodynamics, too, guided by carefully considered preparation.

All of these states and experiences have helped me become more whole and healthy, wise and compassionate about our common human experience. They help me heal, and I do have experiences to heal from, still.

Samsara can be so rough.

I am an investigator, an Enneagram 5. I am driven by curiosity and learning and compassion. I came into this world to make a difference, and although side-lined by early difficulties, I’m doing it now.

Where I am now is this: I have a private practice in West Lake Hills, an old Austin suburb, where I offer two specialties: Craniosacral Biodynamics and TMJ Relief.

I also offer the same specialties in downtown Austin, at West Holistic Medicine.

And, I’m doing an experiment on Instagram. Every day I do a #biodynamicmeditation and post about it on Instagram. I choose images and music to accompany my words. It’s fun and growing, gaining followers, including teachers of Craniosacral Biodynamics.

If you want to follow me there, I’m @mareynolds. These posts also appear on my Facebook business page and on Tumblr and LinkedIn.

What’s behind this new endeavor? Well, if I could receive a Biodynamic session every day, I would! But I can’t afford it and don’t always have time.

However, I do have time to meditate every day. So do you, most likely, on most days.

So I practice Biodynamic Meditation and post about it, with an eye to eventually teaching it as a recognized form of meditation where the focus is on self-healing and restoring vitality. You can follow my progress.

Whatever we couldn’t process at the time gets contained energetically. Sometimes we experience releases and may or may not be aware of it. We feel more ourselves, more centered, grounded, vibrant, confident, resourceful.

Craniosacral Biodynamics greatly augments the body-mind’s ability to heal itself of dysregulation, stuckness, inertia.

When that energy is released, it returns to our overall vitality and well-being.

It accelerates wellness.

I’ve been practicing Biodynamics in meditation, in classes, and with clients for almost a decade. I am far from enlightened, though I have moments of deep presence and clarity about who I am, why I’m here, and what I want.

I am much healther, grounded, centered, aware, bigger minded, and bigger hearted than I used to be. And people who have known me for that long or longer have noticed.

This is where I am now, and I appreciate you reading about my process. There will be more to come, I’m sure. If you have questions, please ask!

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Bounce-dancing on a rebounder in intervals after eating is fun!

Factor #1: My friend Katie and I had dinner at a Mediterranean buffet restaurant recently, and she suggested we walk right after eating, citing studies saying that walking for a few minutes immediately after a meal stabilizes insulin.

I looked it up (you know me!), and it has a lot of other benefits. It boosts metabolism, speeds digestion, reduces bloating, increases endorphins and serotonin, promotes better sleep, helps regulate appetite, improves learning and memory, increases circulation for better delivery of nutrients, etc.

Plus, walking with a friend is sweet. You get to catch up with each other and get some sun and fresh air and move. I especially love to go for scenic walks with my friends.

Factor #2: I love ecstatic dancing! It’s free-form movement to music. Dancing the 5 rhythms has been a fairly regular practice since 1995. I love the creative aspects of dance, letting my body move how it wants to move, exploring new movements, getting more familiar with my body, and becoming one with the music.

It’s a fun practice for self-expression and discovery, with health benefits.

Factor #3: I recently bought a rebounder so I can use it at home when the weather is bad or I don’t want to leave. (I’ve become a homebody.)

Rebounding is great for the lymphatic system, which cleans up metabolic waste and toxins in the body, improving immunity, and I’m all in favor of that! It has other benefits, too. Bouncing works the feet, calves, and hips (if you raise your knees), you can add in upper-body movements, and it is good cardiovascular exercise.

So…putting those three factors together, after I eat, I put on some music. It’s important to get the BPM right. I’ve found a couple of tunes that are 45 and 49 BPM. Not too fast, nor too slow, but perfect for bouncing.

Then I start bounce-dancing! I bounce with vigor for a minute, getting out of breath, exploring various ways to bounce (jumping, running, hopping, crossing one foot in front of the other alternatively, doing knee raises, adding kicks, scissoring, etc.).

Then I slow way down for a minute, minimally bouncing, maybe doing some upper body twists, letting my heart rate slow.

I alternative the vigorous and the slow phases, doing a minute of each, for however long the song lasts. It’s also a pleasure to discover new music for bounce-dancing! 10 minutes and experiment with the shortening the length of the slow intervals.

The beauty of bounce-dancing is it’s fun and it’s healthy in many ways. I’ve just been doing it for a few days as I remember to do it, and what I notice most is that I sleep better and have more energy.

Also, I love having strong feet and legs!

Just coincidentally, the New York Times just published an article on rebounding, aka trampolining, Bouncing Your Way to Better Health.

Preventing or slowing age-related cognitive decline

I took notes on Dr. Andrew Huberman’s AMA (ask me anything) — he’s the Stanford neurobiology and ophthalmology professor with a podcast on using science for many factors of well-being.

His AMAs only available to premium subscribers of the Huberman Lab Podcast. Yes, I really am that nerdy!

Dr. Huberman says that lifestyle factors can override a genetic predisposition to Alzheimer’s disease if started early enough.

He also mentioned that scientists are working on a method of early detection using visual screening.

By the way, a friend of mine defined aging as “continuing to live”. I love it.

Many of these tips are best started decades before the ages in which Alzheimer’s usually shows up, but are helpful at any age.

  1. Avoid environmental toxins: pesticides, toxins, heavy metals are neurotoxins. They damage your brain. That means eat organic food!
  2. Do not hit your head hard if at all possible. Give up risky behaviors, especially if you’ve already had one TBI.
  3. Get quality sleep at least 80 percent of the time. Deep sleep helps your brain clear toxins, and you can use sleep apps to measure this. Slightly elevating your feet seems to help. Seems to me this would work best for back sleepers, not side sleepers.
  4. Challenge yourself cognitively. It’s not just doing crosswords, it’s more like learning a new language, reading difficult material, learning new-to-you dance steps. If you don’t get frustrated, you’re not being challenged enough!
  5. Get 3 to 3.5 hours of Zone 2 cardiovascular exercise per week to increase blood flow to the brain. Zone 2 cardio includes walking, rowing, swimming, and working out on an elliptical or stationary bike.
  6. Do 20 minutes of High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) to release catecholamines for alertness, turning on neuroplasticity.
  7. Do 5-10 sets of resistance training to offset atrophy from aging.
  8. Your brain needs acetylcholine for focus and cognition. You can get it from food (eggs, especially) or take AlphaGPC in the morning, 300-900mg. Also: nicotine gum or patches — safe nicotine. Can ask your doctor.
  9. Eat a ketogenic diet. Also fasting.
  10. Take creatine monohydrate, 5 mg per day.

“I’m just the little one. Please help me.”

Sometimes life can be overwhelming. Trauma is an obvious example. So is simply having too much to manage coming at you all at once.

Right now, in early November 2022, politics and prospects for the future of the U.S. are in our faces, as well as our individual prospects for the future. Personal finances for those depending on Social Security and Medicare, civil liberties for (it seems) everyone but the “Christian” far-right, changes in how we work, the polarization of information sources, the influence of commerce and materialism, disasters from global warming, and so many loud, angry voices, often with guns.

We are living in what currently looks like a post-pandemic world, and we are trying to reorganize amidst a lot of uncertainty. There’s too much unease if you’re sensitive…and if you’re not sensitive, bless your heart and wake up.

I’ve been practicing something new to me. I ask for help. Every day. Sometimes multiple times a day.

I added a line I learned from constellation work to precede my plea. It refers to the innocent, vulnerable child inside all of us — no matter how big or old we are — who is given too much to deal with.

”I’m just the little one.

Please help me.”

You could call it a form of prayer, although I’m not particularly religious. It’s a message and a plea and an acknowledgment that this world of some sorrow is troubling.

I send this message out to whatever unseen power it is that is bigger than me. A higher power. God-Universe-Spirit (GUS), as some friends say. The planets.

I don’t know if there will be an answer that I can understand.

I open my heart and my mind when I make this request. It does seem to help me to at least feel less alone with my struggles.

I don’t know how help will show up. I just trust that it will.

Your help me come in the form of an inspiration to vote, if you’re registered but not in the habit, because this election could be the last election, in which case you will lose that right. Democracy requires participation. No choice means someone else makes decisions that affect you, your family and friends and community, your finances, your future, your freedom.

You may be inspired to become a poll watcher (or watch the poll watchers to be sure they don’t interfere with those voting).

You may be inspired to give people rides to the polls if you can.

You may be inspired to avoid the news until at least a week after the election, since that’s how long it takes just to count all the votes. Or even longer, since the courts will probably decide in some cases.

I hope you vote for peaceful and reasonable solutions to our problems and help stop the chaos.

A mystery: Unwanted shaktipat? Boundary violation? Free-range potency?

Decades ago, I experienced something that stands out amongst all my human experiences.

I was alone at dusk, listening to beautiful singing and suddenly out of the corner of my eye, noticing a lightning storm in the distant mountains.

Everything in me wanted to pay complete attention to this experience, to be as present and attentive as possible.

And as soon as I set that intent and tuned in to the sounds and sights, something very unexpected and unusual happened.

I felt a strong energy enter my body, piercing me from the top of my head to the bottom of my torso. Crown to root.

The energy was forceful but not painful. I didn’t see it with my eyes but had a sense that it was white.

It was forceful like lightning, yet soft. It felt like it pushed things out of the way to make a bigger, clearer channel. It had a huge amount of what I now know is potency, or biodynamic life-force energy.

And as soon as it reached my root chakra, it left, leaving me in shock, wondering what the fuck just happened.

I didn’t know anyone at that time in my life to talk to about this experience who wouldn’t have thought I was crazy, so I kept it to myself. It seemed like a very freaky experience. I even wondered if I was crazy.

Is my focused attention really that powerful? Did I draw it to me somehow? Who needs an experience like that? Well, apparently I did.

I did save my ticket stub to the Santa Fe Opera where this experience had occurred, on a night with singers trying out for opera directors and hardly anyone in attendance.

I later came to consider it my energy awakening.

Years later, it occurred to me that it may have been related to me starting a practice of hatha yoga a year or so before the event.

I began to think of it as being zapped by Source, and I was feeling a little satisfied that even though I started learning hatha yoga from a book, rather than an in-person or even an on-TV teacher, I must have been doing something right for this to happen.

Even now, decades later, I am convinced that the purpose of doing asanas is to open the energy channels, a step on the way to samadhi.

Later, I wondered if what I had experienced was a spontaneous kundalini descending. I believe it was, although I’ve never practiced much kundalini yoga — been to a few classes but was never regular with it.

It seems that kundalini rising (from root to crown) is a goal in kundalini yoga. No one mentions kundalini descending. Same channel but opposite direction.

My crown chakra is often open, and I wonder if that zapping left me with a more open sahasra chakra.

Even later I learned about shaktipat, which as far as I understand is usually something a guru gives to initiate a student into his school of teachings — but only with the student’s agreement and consent.

As I understand it, shaktipat is more of a third-eye zapping. But I had no guru. What instigated that experience?

A little over a year ago, I experienced once again being pierced by energy, this time in my third-eye chakra. I actually saw the nearly-transparent energy coalescing in front of my face before it suddenly zapped my third eye/ajna chakra, going into the middle of my brain.

This time, I was with someone I’d just met that day. I don’t know if he gave me shaktipat without my consent or if it was spontaneous for both of us, or even if I somehow unintentionally gave myself or us both shaktipat!

I was simply too stunned to say anything, and I have no idea what his experience was.

If I knew how to give someone shaktipat, I would never do it without actually being a guru (not very likely), asking if they wanted to receive it, and only giving it if they gave their explicit consent to receive it.

It is shocking and invasive, not something to mess around with, although the benefit seems to be a clearing out of stagnant energy and strengthening the energy channel it penetrates.

It feels really fucked up to give it to someone without their consent. What kind of person would do that to someone they barely knew? Had he spent too much time in the nondual world to know how to interact responsibly and mindfully in the world of duality? I keep my feet in both worlds.

The experience was not sexual, but there was definitely an energetic penetration of personal boundaries.

Whatever amount of clearing out my ajna chakra may have occurred from that experience simply wasn’t worth it. My intuition was already pretty strong.

And then again, what if it was spontaneous for both of us? I’ve talked to a mentor who believes that free-range potency exists and that perhaps it was karmic. In a way, it reminded me of the proverbial romantic spark between two people, certainly igniting an interest, except much more powerful than I ever imagined it to be, and also not with someone who is available for a romantic relationship.

At this point, I sometimes wish it had never happened. I’ve observed this person being impulsive and presumptuous toward me since, and it raises my hackles. He is actually a pretty cool guy, someone I really want to like and trust, but I have set a boundary. Respect and mindfulness are important.

Trust can possibly be rebuilt, or actually, built in the first place, but only with accountability, respect, and honesty.

I am going to meditate on this: on this experience, on this person, and on myself.

I’d love to hear your input on this. Have you experienced anything like this? What would you do?

Jittery about the election? Here are some simple things you can do to reduce stress

I recently completed a 4-hour continuing education class in Ethics, Communication, and Boundaries through the Lens of the Nervous System. The instructor based this course around applying polyvagal theory in a massage therapy practice.

I want to share some simple things that anyone can use to reduce stress, because many of us may be feeling jumpy and tense, especially with an election approaching. 

Experiment with these and find your favorites — and use them as needed when your stress response is activated! 

  • Making your exhalations longer than your inhalations for a couple of minutes.
  • Singing and humming. 
  • Orienting to the space you’re in by slowly gazing all around you. 
  • Lifting your gaze and imagining the sun shining on your face, neck, and shoulders. 
  • Finding something that’s pleasing and telling yourself “I am safe and happy”. 
  • Making micro movements, dancing, doing yoga. 
  • Listening to calming music. 

Do you find yourself doing any of these without a thought? My mother often hummed when she was washing dishes.

Music and dancing are important parts of my life. I created a playlist of happy music with the help of numerous friends on Facebook who made recommendations. I’m capping it at 100 songs and will post a link to it on Apple Music when I’ve finished listening to everything…a lot of it was new to me.

I have noticed already that some of the happiest-making songs are about dancing!

 

Becoming the one

I have been single for a very, very long time. In fact, since before I turned 30…and I’m 60-something now.

I’ve had relationships, and I’ve also gone for long periods without being in a relationship. Child raising as a single working mother, graduate school, trauma recovery, helping raise my grandchild — sometimes I just didn’t have the time or the energy, or simply preferred solitude, which I benefit from greatly but never got enough of until recent years.

Got to know myself, appreciate myself, entertain myself, live life my way in peace and contentment.

As an introvert (but since people are sometimes shocked that I test as one, maybe I’m an ambivert, sharing qualities of introverts and extroverts), I actually enjoy my own company. I like making good connections with people. I have a few close friends and lot of friendly acquaintances. And I still prefer to spend part of each day in solitude.

I had a couple of relationships in 2019 with men in their late 40s that were fun at times but didn’t work out. Thank you, next, as the song goes.

COVID upended my sense that I never got enough alone time. When the world pretty much stopped in March 2020, I could not practice my work as a licensed massage therapist.

Remember that back then, we didn’t know how bad it might get. I did my end-of-life paperwork, wondering if COVID was going to take me out.

I felt deeply grateful for the people in my life, especially my family and closest friends.

I was at home with myself 24/7. I wore a mask to visit family members, one of whom worked in a hospital, because of my age. We knew then that COVID was harder on older people, but not why. I didn’t want to die or be hospitalized from COVID.

(Fast forward to now, October 2022. I still haven’t gotten COVID. I take good care of myself, am vaxxed and boosted, and I wonder if I’m immune.)

I had a gentleman friend with whom I spent time during COVID. He is a sweet, funny, heart-centered guy, and I was very grateful for his company, sense of humor, hugs, and stories. We are in a couple of communities together and share some interests.

At times I wondered if our friendship would evolve into something deeper, but it didn’t. There were so many unknowns then. I was pro-vax. He was on the fence. Our personalities were different: we were just not a partnership match. We simply gave each other much-needed support and are still good friends to each other.

Now that COVID seems like it’s mostly over (but who really knows?), I am re-evaluating, exploring whether and how I want to be in a relationship — a long-term, committed, partnership type of relationship.

I’m not in a hurry…there’s a lot to explore. I am learning a lot about myself.

I’m reading a book, Calling in “the one”, by Katherine Woodward Thomas, a licensed marriage and family therapist.

Guess who “the one” is? It me.

This book was recommended by a therapist, and one friend told me she used it and then met the man who became her husband.

The book is actually a workbook, with homework, that, if you do it every day, takes 7 weeks to complete. I’m doing it as I have time because some days are busier than others and I’d rather explore this topic thoroughly.

In a way, it’s about examining the barriers I have built against loving and being loved. It is guiding me through explorations of my wounds, agreements, beliefs, identity, intention, and wisdom that influence relating.

What are my needs in relationship? How can I make more space for love in my life? How can I know, respect, and love myself the way I’d want a partner to? How can I be the one for someone who has also done their work and is a good match? How can I be the one for myself?

I can live and am living a very fulfilling life already, in many ways. I love the work I do and plan to keep doing it as long as circumstances allow, even into my 90s if I am blessed with that much health and longevity.

I have family members nearby who no longer need me to mother them but whose adult company I enjoy tremendously. And I am fortunate enough to have a few really good friends that are interesting and loving people.

I do believe that having a partner who’s able to match me in needs for both intimacy and autonomy, communication skills, with whom I share some key interests, who’s actually available, could add even more fulfillment to the rest of my life.

So…I’m stepping out of my cocoon, dipping into the dating pool.

I’ll keep you posted.

10 years after she died, a tribute to Gabrielle Roth

One of my practices is ecstatic dance. I discovered it in 1995 in Austin, and it became part of my life. Gabrielle was my primary teacher, through teachers she trained and also in person.

Gabrielle was, well, not the inventor of ecstatic dance, since I’m pretty sure it was happening the moment humans began creating rhythm, perhaps even before then in response to nature’s rhythms, shapes, sounds.

She named these rhythms and sequenced them: flowing, staccato, chaos, lyrical, stillness. A wave.

If you’re not familiar with it, ecstatic dance is not performative. It is about connecting with your own body, moving from the inside out. We dance like nobody is watching.

I have danced with several of the people in this video: Kathy, Lori, Andrea, Vincent, Ya’acov, Jo, Michael, Amara, and I met Robert.

Watch Gabrielle move at the end.

and then I met Gabrielle | memories of Gabrielle Roth, 1941-2012

Most of my ecstatic dancing has been here in Austin, which offers many choices now, though we started as Sweat Your Prayers, dancing the 5 rhythms.

I’ve danced in Dallas, Santa Fe, Taos, Mill Valley, Santa Cruz, London, Montreal, and DC.

My primary teachers have been Claire Alexander, Lisa DeLand, and Oscar Madera.

Ecstatic dance helped me get into my body and move in an authentic and pleasurable way, challenging myself to find all the movements, developing finer coordination and balance, being able to hold my space in a room full of dancers, connecting, becoming part of a community.

Over these many years through this practice, I developed an auditory-kinesthetic synesthesia, in which sound and movement are one. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to tune into my body and let what wants to move, to move with the music.

Dancers enjoy the fun of dancing. It’s not intellectual. It’s not serious. We are present and full of vitality, aware and responsive. We show up with who we are. We communicate nonverbally, inviting another to move with us, or moving into our own solo dance, with eye contact (or lack of it), using prayer hands, touch (with explicit consent), bows, moving toward or away, expressing with body language.

We tend to hug a lot, and we’re pretty good at it.

I’m so grateful to have found ecstatic dance and to have practiced it for nearly 30 years. I believe it’s helping to keep me young, and the older I get, the younger I get!

👣💚🙏🏽

For more of Gabrielle herself, she spoke at the Breath of Life Conference in London in 2009. Here’s the video.

Jaw issues? Now you can learn to treat yourself!

I am now offering Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues on Zoom!

Most people with TMJ issues (1) don’t live near a skilled intra-oral manual therapist who can help, (2) are frustrated by TMJ treatments that don’t last, and (3) would love to learn how to treat themselves, any time, any place, for nothing but the initial cost of learning! 

Teach a man (or woman) to fish, right?

It’s not hard. If you are willing to get your fingers wet and can tell the difference between soft tissue and hard when you apply gentle pressure, I can teach you to release tension in your often-overworked internal jaw muscles that cause so many TMJ issues.

The most common reason these muscles become overworked is clenching and/or grinding your teeth. These are habitual, usually unconscious, responses to stress that create strain patterns in your body that affect your TMJs.

I can teach you how to change these habits.

First, we’ll learn about your TMJ issues — your symptoms, history, habits, and co-factors. 

Next, we’ll do some exercises to help you relax and loosen up. 

And then, we’ll slowly and gently locate your internal jaw muscles and coax the tension out of them, at your pace and comfort level. You’ll need short nails, clean hands, and tissues for this.

One of the great benefits of working on yourself is that you are in control of the pace and pressure, like this curious baby.

And then you’ll test by moving your jaw around so you can actually feel the difference between tension and relaxation.

The new spaciousness might just be a revelation.

You’ll have all the skills you need to make your relaxed jaw the new default.

I record the working part of the Zoom session and send you the video afterwards, so you’ll have it to watch the first few times you work on yourself by yourself. It takes some repetition to change this pattern and the habits.

You can also schedule a free phone consultation if you have any questions afterwards. Or, schedule one if you have questions up front…this treatment may not be of much help for those with advanced TMJ issues, but it can help prevent them.

You’ll have the support you need to treat yourself with confidence. 

More about me, besides being the writer of all these blog posts for all these years: I am a bodyworker, board certified in therapeutic massage and bodywork. I’ve been doing this for 10 years.

I’ve been working in people’s mouths since 2013, have studied intra-oral manual therapy with several teachers, and have taught self-treatment for TMJ issues on Zoom in both private sessions and classes. 

Imagine what your life would be like without jaw pain, clenching, or grinding. Would it free you up for more of what you enjoy? 

Click here to schedule your 75-minute Self-Treatment for TMJ Issues on Zoom Session for $150. 

Do you have TMJ issues?

Treating them is one of my professional specialties! I would love to share with my wellness blog readers (you!) a page from my professional website.

Learn more about TMJ issues currently includes articles on these topics:

  • Learn to treat your own TMJ issues on Zoom
  • You can learn to stop clenching
  • Stop grinding your teeth during sleep
  • The importance of a good pillow
  • Portrait of a typical patient
  • Types and causes of TMJ issues, and exercises
  • What various professions do to help
  • Choose a practitioner that works on specific muscles
  • The link between restless leg syndrome and sleep bruxism
  • The jaw-pelvis connection
  • Foods and nutrients that can make a difference
  • The role of the sphenoid bone
  • Music and meditation to heal the throat chakra
  • Asymmetries in the rest of the body can affect jaw alignment