Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Appropriate movement is essential for healthy tissues and organs. Everyone is familiar with the need for exercise. It helps to lubricate our joints, strengthen our muscles, and improve circulation of our blood and lymph. Exercise causes release of endorphins, our own natural “feel-good” hormones. It is great for depression, lethargy and that general “stagnant swamp” feeling.
What I want to tell you about here is the need for motion, not only of our tissues, but between them. In order to function normally, our muscles, organs, nerves and vessels must all be able to glide freely alongside each other as we move.
“Nature abhors a vacuum, but fears immobility even more. Motion is a sign of life itself. . . From the infinitely large to the infinitesimally small, life is always in motion. . . Everything in the universe is in motion, whether of large or small amplitude, of high or low velocity.Jean-Pierre Barral, D.O., Visceral Manipulation
What Holds Us All Together
All our tissues are enveloped and held together by the transparent connective tissue called fascia. If you’ve ever prepared a chicken for cooking, you’ve probably seen this thin, transparent tissue enveloping each group of muscle.
If you haven’t seen fascia, you could envision it as a complex sheet of plastic food wrap that enfolds and connects every tissue in our bodies. Through the fascia, everything in our bodies is interconnected and interrelated.
Injury Causes Scar Tissue
When these tissues are damaged, they usually lose their capacity for normal movement. Damage occurs in many different ways, including surgery, tears due to injuries, repetitive stress (small tears repeated over time), breaks (ruptured ligaments, tendons & fractured bones), and damage from infection or other causes of inflammation.
All tissue injuries result in the formation of scar tissue. Auto accidents are notorious for causing this type of damage. The body creates scar tissue to knit itself back together, which is part of the normal healing process.
But there’s often a side-effect from scar tissue. Since its purpose is to glue torn things back together, it commonly binds tissues that weren’t meant to be attached to each other. This can happen any time there’s inflammation, which affects all the tissues surrounding an injury. The fascia, which I mentioned earlier is very susceptible to scar tissue adhesions.
Infections in the chest, abdomen or pelvis, and conditions such as endometriosis commonly leave behind significant scar tissue. Physical injuries and surgery are also frequent causes. Whenever scar tissue glues things together that nature intended to be freely movable, there’s likely to be trouble!
Try this Self-Demonstration!
This will give you a “first-hand” experience of the problem:
- Look at the palm side of your hand (with fingers together) and notice where the tips of your fingers are in relationship to each other. The middle one’s the longest, right?
- Now, keeping your fingers straight, bend them as a unit where they join your hand to make a 90 degree angle with your palm. Compare your finger tips again – looks different, doesn’t it?
- Now bend them back and forth and notice how they slide alongside each other, especially the middle, ring and pinkie fingers. Your tissues must be able to glide freely like this in order to function normally.
- Here’s the clincher. Grasp your four fingers with your other hand, squeezing them together with a couple pounds of pressure. Now, using your finger muscles, try to bend them like you did before, allowing the squeezing hand to follow along. Do you feel the resistance?
- Alternate squeezing and releasing your fingers to appreciate the difference it makes. Without the ability to slide freely past each other, movement is difficult and they can’t make it through their normal range of motion!
Adhesions Mess with Your Mojo
This is what happens in your body when scar tissue binds up the fascia between two organs, around an injured joint, or within a muscle. Adhesions change the mechanics of how your body, or an organ, moves. Like they say, it’s a drag!
Because everything is interconnected, if a muscle, nerve or organ is glued down, it will likely cause problems someplace else in addition to locally. Pain and inflammation are a common result of adhesions and abnormal mechanics. To learn more about pain and it’s many causes click here: all about pain.
In our example, there is not only a problem locally in your hand, but eventually there would be problems in your forearm, when the muscles eventually become strained from trying to move your fingers. Resulting strain in your forearm could then cause a shoulder problem, and so on, like a domino effect that began with a little scar tissue between your fingers.
Spine & Joint Health
The same principle holds true in your spine, and all the joints in your body. Your spinal cord must be able to glide freely up and down as you bend and move. Your spine needs elastic ligaments around its joints to maintain healthy function.
If joints become restricted anywhere in your body, it creates abnormal motion, causes wear, and irritates the nerves and surrounding tissues. A Chiropractic technique called Motion Palpation is very good at identifying these joint fixations.
Since everything in your body is interconnected through the fascia, scar tissue or restrictions in one area will eventually affect other parts of your body as well. Visceral Mobilization and CranioSacral Therapy are particularly effective in locating and releasing areas of restriction in the body’s soft tissues.
Your Organs Move, Too!
All our visceral organs (lungs, liver, kidneys, etc) naturally dance a slow-motion rock ‘n roll, back and forth. It’s a subtle remnant of their embryonic journey, and an expression of their life and vitality. If an organ is stressed or restricted in some way, its motion will be dampened, altered or absent altogether.
This change is detectable to those trained in Visceral Mobilization. In most cases, it’s relatively easy to restore the lost motion with gentle techniques. This correction is important for two reasons. First, the organs function best when their visceral motion is full and complete. They’re just happier that way!
Secondly, the organs are suspended from ligaments which attach to the spine. If an organ like the liver is restricted or otherwise stressed, the resulting tension is often transmitted to the spine, and will often cause fixation and irritation there as well.
When I was first learning Visceral Mobilization, I saw a client who was unable to lift her legs off the table because of pain and weakness in her lower back. We were able to clear 50% of it, trying all my tricks that usually worked for such things. Then, restoring a single lost motion of her liver immediately cleared the remaining pain. Her strength returned and she was able to lift both legs off the table with ease. All this occurred in the same visit. We were both surprised!
Your Body Has a Memory
Do you remember the times you fell down the stairs, wiped out skiing, sprained your ankle, hit your head on the bottom of the pool, or got in a car accident? Your body does! Not only is there some scar tissue left behind, but your tissues actually have a memory of traumatic events. As with the rest of the body, the organs can also carry old energies or emotions. The fact that each organ maintains its embryonic movement pattern suggests that the tissues do indeed have a memory.
Deepak Chopra, the well-known medical doctor and author, teaches that we live in a “holographic universe,” wherein every part reflects the whole. He states that every cell in our bodies remembers everything that’s ever happened to us. Visceral Mobilization and CranioSacral Therapy are two techniques that can help you release the energy held in your tissues from old traumas.
Your Natural Ability to Heal
Your body has a natural ability to heal itself when restrictions are released and balance restored. Just as your body carries memories of old trauma, it also has a memory of normal, balanced function. Living things have an innate ability to heal themselves when they are given a chance. All natural methods of health care and healing depend on this natural ability.
Visceral Mobilization gives us the ability to address hidden problems like scar tissue restrictions between visceral organs, ligaments or membranes, and old tissue memories. As we have seen, these “hidden” factors have a powerful influence on the way our bodies function. Visceral Mobilization and CranioSacral Therapy can help locate and remove many of these hidden influences, thus supporting our innate healing ability and giving our bodies a chance to heal.
The effects of stress are many and varied. Sometimes they creep up on us so gradually that we hardly notice their presence until we wake up and find ourselves in the middle of the frying pan.
Then, if we look back, we might wonder how we overlooked all the clues we can now see so easily in hindsight. Most Western minds are programmed to be task-oriented, and we tend to have long To-Do lists.
As a result, we may ignore certain clues that our lives are getting out of balance. But when things start to fall apart, it becomes more difficult to continue sweeping the evidence under the rug.
However, once we acknowledge that we’re feeling stressed out, we have the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons and make a few healthy changes.
This section is about learning the lessons and making those lasting changes that will allow us to create a healthier, more balanced life.
List of Articles
The Art of Being Your Own Best Friend
Cultivating Peace Series
Part 1 – Nature’s Attraction
Part 2 – Cultivating Stillness
part 3 – From Head to Heart
Here’s an article entitled “The Art of Being Your Own Best Friend” you may enjoy. Highly recommended!
Are you hard on yourself at times? Is it difficult for you to make time for exercise, healthy food, or nurturing your spiritual life? Do you take time for yourself to do the things you love to do – those things that feed your soul? What would your life be like if you treated yourself like your own best friend?
- Sharpening Your Saw
- Perpetual Stress
- Being Your Own Best Friend
- How Would Your Life Look and Feel?
- Looking In All the Wrong Places
- Being Your Own Best Friend in the Realm of Your Mind
- Being Your Own Best Friend in Your Relationship with Your Body
- Being Your Own Best Friend in Your Spiritual Life
- What Stops Us From Being Our Own Best Friend?
- Common Beliefs That Get In The Way
- Not Good Enough?
- But I Don’t Have Time!
- Rewriting Your Belief Software
- Self-Care is the Best Health Care
- Making it OK to Have Fun
- It’s Possible!
- How to Practice Being Your Own Best Friend
Click here to read the remainder of the article, or download the pdf file.
(the full article is 6.5 pages printed)
Nature – A Gateway to Inner Peace
© Dane Roubos, D.C.
Most people feel drawn to nature in some way. Some of us are die-hard nature lovers, attracted to anything from a potted plant to a remote, beautiful wilderness. Others may be drawn to a specific aspect of nature; water being the most popular.
What is it about nature that draws us? Exploring this for your self can lead to some valuable insights, so let’s take a look. Take a moment and imagine you’re having your favorite nature experience. Notice the “feeling” that comes when you think of this, and enjoy it for a couple of minutes before we go on.
If you have trouble connecting with a nature memory or visualizing it, try being with the accompanying photo, thinking as little as possible for a minute or two, with the intention of receiving it in your heart. It’s best to do this in a quiet place, without distractions. (Maximizing your browser window might help if you don’t see the whole photo)
Naming the “feeling” is not particularly important, but it’s often described as peace, stillness, unity, joy, love, etc. While all these are pleasurable, I think there is a lot more to our nature attraction than a pleasant feeling.
A Deeper Connection
Throughout our travels and backyard wanderings, Ariel and I have felt we were “feeding our souls” with nature, replenishing something that had been drained away by dealing with life in the complex, and often stressful, “civilized world” of human society.
I believe there’s another aspect of our attraction to, and need for, nature in our lives. Here it is (thunder roll please): consider the possibility that Nature reminds us of aspects of ourselves we’ve lost touch with, or forgotten. In other words, the good feelings we have when we’re around nature are naturally part of who we are. And these feelings, as good as they are, are probably only a faint glimmer of what is really there.
Deep in our soul rests a memory of our connection to Spirit, the Essence of Who We Are, beyond the confines of our body and mind. Here, we are whole and complete, without need for the conditional approval of society.
We embodied this sense of connection as young children, but gradually lost it as we adopted the beliefs of those around us, and learned to see ourselves as separate from God, Nature and each other. Our preoccupation with the growing demands and distractions of the world also drew our attention away from this natural state.
Most of us have forgotten this early experience because of the strength of our developing mind and our culture’s belief in this apparent separation. Spending quiet time with nature is a way to nurture this essential aspect of ourselves; keeping our batteries charged and our hearts connected to what is real and meaningful for us.
Even if you do not resonate with this idea, there are many benefits of spending time with nature in your favorite ways, particularly those which foster slowing your pace and quieting your mind. This, by itself, is known to relieve stress and improve health & well-being. You don’t have to be a card-carrying tree-hugger to receive some goodies from the trees!
Using nature to foster inner peace – a simple practice
The necessary ingredients are:
• A willingness to take time out from your usual activities, and allow yourself to be still.
• A quiet place in natural surroundings – it helps to have a spot or two close to your home where you can easily go for brief periods.
Get comfortable in your chosen spot. If you’re sitting, it helps to have your back straight (rather than slouched), so you can breathe fully and easily. Lying on Mother Earth is a wonderful way to absorb her calming energy. If you’re adventurous, you might enjoy a comfy tree!
Make it your choice to engage with nature for a brief time, instead of the many thoughts that are likely to come, demanding your immediate attention. That stuff can wait 20 minutes, can it not? Use whatever time period works for you – as long as it’s enough for you to slow down and connect. Even five minutes of good nature time can help you settle into a more peaceful space.
Allow your eyes to touch the beauty and life surrounding you, and open your heart as best you can to appreciate what is here in this moment. Absorbing the simple elegance of a flower, cloud or water drop can soothe a stressful situation by bringing you back to the present from anxious thoughts about an imagined future.
No words or mental concepts are required. In fact, words and concepts tend to get in the way of a deeper experience of your heart, which your mind cannot grasp. Your mind can only think about your experience – it cannot have it.
Close your eyes and allow your awareness to drop beneath thought and words. Nature’s sounds or a gentle breeze on your cheek might lull you into stillness. Follow your breathing and simply feel what is in your body, your heart, and the earth upon which you rest. When thoughts come knocking, simply return your awareness to your senses, body and breath.
Give this mini-vacation to yourself as often as you can, and let nature nurture your inner peace!
Peace & Blessings,
Go to: Part 3 – From Head to Heart
In Part 1, we looked at the gift of Nature and her ability to remind us of our own wholeness. Have you noticed anything new as you’ve spent more time with nature?
In this part, we’ll explore stillness, which will build on your experiences with Nature. When our mind slows down, we are more able to be relaxed, spontaneous, and in touch with the One from which we came. But first, we have to get past the “noise” which restricts our access to this natural flow.
We could say there are two types of “noise.” There is outer noise, which we hear with our ears, and inner noise, like the seemingly ceaseless chatter in our mind. This chatter is the product of our ego-minds, the part most of us identify with as “I.” Briefly, this is the “I” that believes it is our body, separate from everything and everyone else; even separate from God.
As part of this “outlook” on life, it generates a more or less continuous stream of judgments (opinions) of ourselves, others, and the world. It is the king/queen of right and wrong (usually assuming it is “right” and others are “wrong”).
Hamsters in Our Head?
This mind chatter can be likened to a crew of hamsters running on their wheels, with the same thoughts coming around again and again. There is constant activity, at least until they wear themselves out and take a little nap. Then they’re right back at it – they love to run on their wheels, especially when we’ve just had an argument with someone, and we’re trying to go to sleep!
We’ve all experienced the ego-mind’s talent for “disturbing the peace,” though there are many times when we are so identified with this “ego-mind” that we can’t step back and see it for what it is. When this occurs, we can only “react” to people and situations, usually in ways we later regret.
Another term that comes to me for this aspect is “amoeba-mind.” Amoebas, those cute little “mindless” blobs crawling around in the pond slime, demonstrate two particular behavior patterns common to humans and other creatures. They are seeking pleasure (or food in their case), and trying to avoid pain. It’s automatic, reactive survival stuff. It works pretty well if you’re an amoeba, but it can really screw things up in the realm of human relationships. You can probably recall an example from your own life in about a millisecond.
Some benefits of cultivating stillness are reduced “foot in mouth” experiences, and an enhanced ability to simply be present in the moment with whatever life sets in front of us, instead of reacting automatically. Stillness also offers the very best in stress reduction, because much of what people usually call stress is generated by our hyperactive hamsters. Now, there’s a scientific definition for you!
The heart creates the most powerful electrical field in the body; much stronger than the brain’s. Stillness fosters harmony between the electrical fields of the heart and brain, which has a calming and healing effect on all the cells of the body. But worried or pissed-off hamsters will discombobulate your energy field in a hurry (more scientific jargon)!
On a spiritual level, if our minds are restless, it’s hard to hear our Creator’s Voice speaking to us. Some refer to this as the “still, small voice within.”
Here is a quote from A Course in Miracles:
“Today He speaks to you. His Voice awaits your silence, for His Word can not be heard until your mind is quiet for a while, and meaningless desires have been stilled. Await His Word in quiet. There is peace within you to be called upon today, to help make ready your most holy mind to hear the Voice for its Creator speak.” (Workbook, p225)
The “most holy mind” referred to here is (I believe) the part of our mind still connected to, and in relationship with God (or The Creator, Spirit, Yahweh, Allah, the Great Mystery, or however you refer to the One from which you came).
The ego-mind (where the hamsters and amoebae live), is the part of our mind that perceives itself as separate from God, nature, and all our brothers & sisters, which creates an endless stream of difficulties.
On a personal level, this may manifest as fear, judgment, frustration, unhappiness, depression, compulsive achievement, greed, conflict in relationships, and other un-pleasantries. As a reflection of mass consciousness on a national or global level, it can become magnified into things like manipulation for power, deception, corporate greed, pollution, injustice, slavery and war.
“So, how do I get some of that stillness?” you ask. Easy, Wal-Mart has it on sale this week! Wait – don’t rush off, I was only kidding! Although if you observe advertising carefully, you will see that “happiness” is on sale almost everywhere, isn’t it? Well, the better you become at practicing stillness, the less susceptible you will be to manipulation by advertising’s little lies. So let’s get on with it!
• Willingness to set aside some time to sit with the likely discomfort of your restless hamsters
• Willingness to just let yourself “Be,” without having to “Do” anything. (Constant doing can be a distraction to avoid uncomfortable feelings that are trying to get a “word” in edgewise)
• A safe, relatively quiet space
A Suggested Practice
- Sit or lie in a comfortable position (no physical suffering required)
- See if you can sense where the majority of your awareness (or energy) is focused in your body. Most of us in Western culture tend to be focused in our heads.
- Gently bring your awareness down into the area deep in the center of your chest, in the area of your upper heart.
- See if you can sense a “resting place” that you “drop into” or where you feel “cozy” or “held” in this area of your body. This place has been said to be our connection with our Soul, or our Creator. Try “nestling in” and see what you feel.
- Let your busy hamsters take a nap. If they get restless, just turn on their TV and bring your focus back to your “resting place.”
If the TV doesn’t work, allow them be restless, without trying to do anything to fix them.
- Simply be present and feel whatever thoughts or feelings come up for you without giving it words or explanation (stories from the mind).
- The trick is to be a neutral observer of your thoughts or emotions, without getting caught up in them. Let them rest in the spaciousness of your heart, without resistance or engagement, and see/feel what happens.
- When (not if) you find yourself caught up in something, simply let it go, and return your awareness to your heart.
- If you are so inclined, you can ask to feel your Soul or your Creator holding you now.
- Hang out here as long as you like, as you keep bringing your awareness gently back to your “resting place” whenever you get distracted. This may occur every 10 seconds or so in the beginning (not kidding now).
- Notice how you feel when you’re done.
In your daily life:
Give this gift to yourself as often as you can, and notice how your mood and life experiences change as a result. The more you practice over time, the better you’ll feel, and the easier it will be to deal with normally stressful life situations. You are literally creating a new way of being in the world.
When you find yourself “rushing” (in your mind or body), notice how you feel inside when you’re in that mode. Compare this to the feeling you experience when you’ve settled into a nice stillness place. Is rushing a “well-oiled” groove you slip into? If so, what’s the rush? Really, what’s the rush? You can create a new “habit” of Inner Peace.
Notice the pattern of your thoughts when your amoeba-mind is jumping up and down, or hyperactive hamsters grab your attention away from the present moment. Make note of any familiar themes, and see if you can discern their source in your mind (e.g: fear-based beliefs, judgments of yourself or others, etc)
Let yourself take a time-out to step back, observe, and then make a new choice. This will take some practice, so don’t give up! (Hey, I’m still practicing!)
PS – If you feel you don’t have time to practice stillness, you will find this article helpful:
The Art of Being Your Own Best Friend
Go to: Part 1 - Nature’s Attraction
Go to: Part 3 – From Head to Heart
In Part 2 we talked about Stillness, and placing your attention in your heart area (about in the center of your chest) as a way of calming the mind chatter that “disturbs your peace.” Perhaps this worked well for you and you are still happily “hearting” away. Or perhaps you tried it a couple of times and gave up or forgot about it because the results were not instantaneous or earth-shaking.
This is understandable because it is not an easy thing to do. The mind doesn’t want to focus its attention on the heart; it would rather spin its wheels and continue thinking it’s the one in charge; the one with all the right answers. If the truth be known, these lower minds of ours don’t care for this “stillness” business, and see no point in it.
In case your mind is having a little trouble remembering what stillness is good for, here’s a refresher: Stillness creates a calming and healing effect on all the cells of the body, offering the very best in stress reduction. Practicing stillness helps reduce automatic reactions to people and events and supports you in being calmly present in the moment.
Stillness allows an opportunity for our Creator’s Voice to get a Word in edgewise. And if that isn’t enough, practicing stillness helps those restless hamsters of yours to chill out. If your response is, “What hamsters?” please review Part 2.
Living from Our Head
Most of us in “civilized” culture have the long-standing habit of trying to run our lives from our heads – trying to figure it all out in advance. It is a pie-in-the-sky notion that doesn’t work very well in actuality. But we keep trying anyway because it is the only way we know, and we know it so well.
This is not to discredit all the contributions the mind has made to humanity over the centuries. It is important, however, to acknowledge what occurs when the mind, like a King without a Queen, refuses to share its dominion with the heart. All masculine (mind) without the balance of the feminine (heart) makes Jack a dangerous boy (or Jill a dangerous girl).
It looks to me like the mess we’ve created in the world is the direct result of too much head and not enough heart. In our attempts to control nature and other people, all manner of technological wonders have been created. Technology (mind) without compassion (heart) doesn’t usually solve the problems it purports to solve, and actually creates new problems, which the mind then rides out on its white horse again to try to fix.
Examples of this principle include things like bombs, chemicalized agriculture with genetically modified crops, building cities protected by levees, and drugs like thalidomide (caused birth defects). They appear to offer a solution in the short term, but eventually contribute to more (and usually bigger) problems in the future.
Not that you should immediately bring your mind in to the nearest recycling center – it does come in handy for such things as remembering where you left your car keys and balancing your checkbook, not to mention running a computer. As some wise person once said, “Don’t leave home without it!” (maybe that was an American Express card? Anyway, you get the idea.)
The trick is to use our heart and mind in balance when we are going about our daily activities and making choices each moment that will affect our future. This balance is particularly important when it comes to our relationship with ourselves, each other and with God. I will say more about this in a moment, but first I have a quick experiment for you.
A Brief Experiment
Take a moment right now and notice where the center of your awareness is in your body. Where does your primary sense of “I” or “me” live in your body? Hint: you are probably not sitting on it – but if you are, then drop your computer and go see your therapist immediately! Seriously, just bring your attention inside, and see where “you” live in there. If you’re not sure where you feel your awareness centered, check in at other times during the day and you will begin to get a sense of it.
If you can’t feel anything, there is a 99.99% probability that you are mostly centered in your head. Don’t worry – while it may be terminal if left to its own devices, it’s not incurable!
By now, you’ve probably discovered the secret location to be . . . (surprise!) in your head (unless you are a hormone-charged teenager, in which case it might be somewhere else . So what does this have to do with your life and your relationships?
Think of a recent time when you reacted in a negative or hurtful way to someone you love – something you were sorry for later (this is usually a no-brainer for most of us). Got one? Good! Now, see if you can recall, or sense, where you were “coming from” in your body at that moment. Was it head, heart?
If something “goes wrong” in your relationship with another, or you’re “beating yourself up” over something, you’re most likely coming from your head (or ego-mind), and you’re experiencing the results of action taken without consulting your heart. Said another way, a lot of suffering is created by the mind acting on its own, without the heart’s harmonizing influence.
So, how do you apply this wisdom in your daily life? As you have no doubt already discovered, it’s not an easy thing to change the head habit! But I’m here to tell you that if heart-centerd living is something you really want, it will gradually come to you with persistent practice. I’ve been consciously working on it for many years, and it gradually keeps getting better. Here are some suggestions.
- Practice bringing your awareness/attention into your heart area as often as you can think of it throughout the day (or night).
- When you go into prayer or meditation, see if you can enter into this space from your heart. If your relationship with your Creator is more conceptual (thinking), see if you can “feel” the Creator’s presence in your heart, and/or pray from your heart.
- When you feel stressed in any way (any time you feel the slightest bit of emotional discomfort), remember to bring your awareness into your heart and hold it there for a while. A new insight may come to you as you do this.
- When you feel the urge to blurt out something hurtful, or do anything you’ll later regret, do your best to:
- Recognize that something painful in you is being triggered (and that whatever you’re thinking will seem completely “justified”).
- Keep your mouth shut and your hands to yourself. If possible, remove yourself from the situation and find a place where you can “be still.”
- Bring your awareness into your heart (and keep bringing it back to your heart when your mind starts arguing). Keep your awareness in your heart until you feel your balance returning.
- Be aware of energy (emotions) in other parts of your body as well. The solar plexus or gut area is a common place to feel this. The key is to simply view the emotion as energy, while letting go of any “story” attached to it. Feel it and allow it to move without physically acting on it, or making it up into something it’s not. An example of a story might be anything that makes you or another other person out to be the bad one, or wrong in some way. Such stories keep the “problem” anchored in place.
- Ask your Higher Power to show you what your own inner needs are (that are not being met), and to guide you in healing your own pain.
Number 4 is usually a real challenge. Yet, with persistence , it will allow you to gradually open up your heart and bring enough healing to those painful parts to soothe their reactive nature. It will help you gain mastery over those old reactive patterns that have caused mischief in your life. And yes, it will help you find more stillness, peace and love, and to share it with others – the stuff that really matters in life!
Please seek professional assistance if you are stuck in a pattern that holds any violence to yourself or others, or if the emotions coming to the surface seem too big to handle on your own.
May you be well, be happy, and be in your heart!
Go to: Part 1 – Nature’s Attraction
Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
You are probably already aware that there is a tremendous variety among chiropractic philosophies and physicians. It’s a big topic. I’ll give you an overview of my personal approach to chiropractic.
Old-time chiropractors talked about “innate intelligence.” This refers to the natural wisdom of the body and He or She who made it, and animates it. This notion holds that the body has the power to heal itself when any blockage to that “flow” of intelligence is removed.
Old-time chiropractic philosophy also holds that this innate intelligence, or “nerve energy” flows through the nerves to the tissues. I’m totally on board with this view, up to here, as are many chiropractors.
I’m going to diverge from our story briefly to tell you something really cool that we learned about in school. It’s called “neurotrophic flow.”
Nerve cells can be up to three feet long, and probably longer in most NBA players! The cellular fluid – “cytoplasm” for all you cell biologists – circulates along this long “axon.” That’s the part of the nerve that’s long and skinny.
An interesting experiment was done on some poor critter, and it goes like this. A tiny thread was tied around the nerve going from the spine to an organ – I don’t recall which.
This thread, acting like a tourniquet, impaired the cytoplasmic flow along the nerve axon, without impairing the electrical impulse that nerves are so famous for. Can you guess what happened?
The organ, deprived of some as yet unknown substance by the pressure of the tourniquet, got sickly. When the thread was released, it’s health returned. Now, neurotrophic research is all the rage. There is so much we don’t know!
Bones Out of Place
Traditional chiropractic philosophy also holds that “pinched nerves” impair the flow, and that these are caused by bones “out-of-place.” There are some differences that spring up at this point.
The Motion Model
I’m more inclined towards a functional model, based on motion. Every joint is held together by ligaments. Ligaments are what get torn when you sprain your ankle.
It seems a variety of factors contribute to tightening or shortening of particular ligaments around a joint. This could include tension due to stress, injury and subsequent scar tissue formation, chronic “pulls” from other ligaments or muscles, poor posture, inflammation due to food allergy, nutrient deficiency, etc.
This section to be continued . . .
When Adjustments Aren’t Enough
Dane Roubos, D.C. www.www.BodyMindPeace.com
If you have been to a few different chiropractors, you have probably noticed that we all tend to work differently, and sometimes the difference can be profound. I think this is a good thing, as the individuality of practitioners allows you a greater opportunity to find someone who suits your needs.
Chiropractic spinal adjustments are commonly used to restore motion to joints that have become stuck or “fixated.” While they are a valuable tool in treating pain or other symptoms, there are also many other factors to be considered. Spinal fixations are often caused by tension or restriction in other tissues.
Many things can impair the healing process, ranging from physical, to mental, emotional or spiritual in nature. This article mainly focuses on the physical causes of spinal pain and restriction. Since the muscles and other soft tissues are so responsive to our mental-emotional states, stress also plays a big role in back pain, headaches, etc. For more information on this topic, please visit the Stress Mastery category.
Problems Easily Missed
Just on the structural level alone, there are so many things that can cause trouble, and so much to know that 25 years of study and practice still leaves me committed to learning more. Much of the dysfunction is subtle, requiring special training to detect and treat effectively. There’s a lot that’s not taught in chiropractic college. It’s no wonder that practitioners tend to miss some things when doing an evaluation.
If your doctor has done a thorough evaluation, they probably discovered a whole raft of little problems that you didn’t even know you had. This can be important because of the profound interconnection of everything in our bodies. There’s a good chance that these dysfunctions are contributing to your symptoms.
For example, I have seen chronic hip problems improve after releasing a stuck sphenoid bone in the cranium, or allowing stored tension in a uterus or bladder to “unwind.” In addition, long-forgotten injuries can gradually cause trouble years later; in the same area or in some other part of the body.
If you are being treated for pain or other symptoms but not improving, it’s likely that something has been missed, and it’s probably time to look deeper. Since most chiropractors are pretty good at adjusting the spine, there’s a good chance that the roadblock is somewhere else.
Muscle groups become shortened for a variety of reasons including injury, chronic (long-standing) tension, postural or occupational stresses, etc. Shortened muscles restrict normal motion and tend to develop painful trigger points. They produce an uneven pull on their bony attachments, which can cause tenderness or pain, postural misalignment, or even joint degeneration due to mis-tracking.
Somatic Technique is a simple therapy that works with the muscle, nerve and brain to reset the signals to the muscle’s cells and restore their normal length. The client actively participates in the process, then repeats a simple procedure twice a day at home to help “set” the new pattern into their nervous system. This is usually much more effective than regular stretching.
Myo means muscle, and fascia is the connective tissue that surrounds and supports all our different parts. Adhesions form when scar tissue binds two or more tissues together. They usually develop from inflammation due to injury, surgery, or chronic stress in the tissues from repetitive movements or overuse. Tennis Elbow is a common example. Adhesions usually cause problems like those created by shortened muscles.
Active Release Technique, a combination of pressure, traction, and movement can be used effectively to break up the scar tissue and release the restriction. Clients can sometimes be taught to use the technique on themselves to speed their recovery. While it’s uncomfortable when done correctly, it is much less painful (and more effective) than common deep muscle work.
This occurs when scar tissue develops between a nerve and a muscle, or when a tight muscle or band of fascia squeezes a nerve. When adhesions are present, the nerve is tugged on during simple movements, causing pain and other symptoms. The most commonly known example is Carpal Tunnel Syndrome. Nerve entrapment conditions can also include Sciatica, or any pain, numbness or tingling in the neck, back or extremities.
Nerve mobilization techniques use specialized positioning and movement to restore freedom to restricted nerves. This approach can often clear up stubborn or mysterious symptoms that no one has been able to help. A simpler form of self-mobilization may be prescribed to continue the work at home between visits.
The CranioSacral system is enclosed by bone and fascia (connective tissue) which holds in the cerebrospinal fluid that bathes the brain and spinal cord. It includes the cranium (head), spine and sacrum.
This system is in constant motion, like breathing but slower. The subtle rhythm can be felt anywhere on the body by an experienced practitioner, who can follow an imbalance in the rhythm to locate its source. Dysfunction in this system often contributes to chronic health problems and a wide range of symptoms.
CranioSacral Therapy is very relaxing, and improves the results of chiropractic adjustments and the other techniques discussed in this article. Very effective by itself, it also helps to clear out many problems that prevent a normal healing response.
The lymph system is in charge of cleaning up the spaces in between the cells in almost every tissue of our bodies. If the lymph flow becomes impaired for any reason, metabolic toxins quickly accumulate in the tissues, resulting in irritation, mild inflammation, or even swelling.
Gentle Lymphatic Therapy is one of the best things I’ve found to reduce or eliminate painful trigger points in the muscles. It has also produced amazing results in “melting” some serious chronic spinal restrictions in several clients, when nothing else had much effect.
Irritation or Inflammation Due to Food Allergy
Food allergies are far more common than most people realize. Their potential effects on our muscles, joints and spine are even less well known. Yet I’ve had many clients who demonstrated significant aggravation of spine, joint or muscle aches & pains as a direct result of eating certain foods.
Wheat or other gluten-containing grains are a common cause joint or muscular problems, including headaches, back pain, and some types of arthritis. Whenever a client has recurring pain or other symptoms, or when they only experience limited improvement with treatment, food allergy is high on my list of things to investigate.
Body Memory of Old Trauma
The tissues and cells of the body are capable of storing memories of past trauma. This is especially true if the body is not able to disperse the force sustained by an injury, or if there was a strong emotional component accompanying the injury. This can form an “energy cyst” which can disrupt normal energy flow (as in acupuncture meridians), cause irritation in the local tissues, and lead to joint fixations, tight muscles, etc. The muscles and fascia can also store tension patterns created by injuries, leading to chronically tight muscles, postural distortions, pain, etc.
Helping the body to release these stored tensions and energy cysts can relieve tremendous stress on the system and greatly improve overall function, relaxation, mood and general energy levels. CranioSacral Therapy and SomatoEmotional Release techniques provide an effective way to “unwind” areas of chronic tension and release energy cysts. The process is slow and gentle, following the body’s lead. It is often necessary to clear out old trauma before other therapies can provide lasting results.
Many things can delay the healing process, and any therapy that is not tailored to the individual usually fails to provide lasting benefit. When progress stops, it may be time to look beyond what you’ve already tried. A broad range of practitioners and useful therapies are available to those who wish to explore more deeply.
CranioSacral Therapy and Chiropractic
© Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Chiropractic is one of the more popular “alternative” therapies available, and a growing percentage of our population has experienced its benefits. While the majority of chiropractic patients are happy with their results, many do not achieve the outcome they had hoped for.
CranioSacral Therapy Great for Sensitive People
Many of those with long-standing (chronic) problems experience the frustration of needing repeated visits to keep their symptoms at a manageable level. Still others just do not like being adjusted in the fashion common to the majority of chiropractors, in which a short, quick thrust is given. I have often found CranioSacral Therapy to be a great help for clients with these concerns. This is particularly true when physical trauma or emotional stress is part of the picture.
CranioSacral Therapy has been popularized and widely taught by Dr. John Upledger, an osteopath who researched the technique while teaching at the University of Michigan. It is a very slow and gentle hands-on approach to releasing chronic tension and restrictions in the body’s tissues.
Benefits of CranioSacral Therapy
CranioSacral Therapy works primarily with the connective tissue (fascia) that surrounds every muscle, nerve, bone, joint, blood vessel and organ in the body, including the brain and spinal cord. It uses a very light touch, sustained for a period of time, to release tight connective tissue around joints in the cranial bones and other joints of the body. This allows for greater freedom of movement and improved function.
Proficient CST practitioners can locate hidden sources of mechanical or energetic blockages that usually accompany chronic pain or other long-standing symptoms. It is common to find the actual root of the problem some distance away from the site of pain.
One of CST’s many benefits is a deep sense of peace and relaxation. Since stress is considered to be a significant factor in many illnesses, this benefit alone can be a powerful healing force. In addition, many people have trouble relaxing, and experiencing it in this way can help them learn to do it themselves.
CranioSacral Therapy can be very effective when dealing with residuals of recent or past injuries. In addition to the physical damage and scar tissue formation, it appears the body often stores some “memory” of the trauma in its tissues. Later on, this usually manifests as chronic tension, as if the body is stuck in the state it was in after the injury. It’s as though the body is still trying to protect itself from further harm. This problem can also contribute to a wide variety of other symptoms, which are difficult to treat effectively with the usual chiropractic modalities.
I began to use CranioSacral Therapy seriously after attending Upledger’s second seminar. I started with two rather difficult cases, both suffering from chronic problems after auto accidents. I had worked with them both for a few months prior to this, using the best techniques I had developed over fifteen years of practice. This consisted mainly of chiropractic adjustments and some excellent myofascial (muscle and fascia) techniques which are usually effective for this type of injury.
While both had improved significantly since starting treatment, they had reached a plateau and it was time to try something else. Both clients responded well to my shift to CST, noting immediate benefits. One went on to complete resolution, and the other improved significantly beyond her previous level. I was sufficiently impressed to make this a regular part of my sessions.
During CranioSacral Therapy, it’s not unusual for a client to find a part of their body beginning to move around gently without their conscious intent. It’s an amazing experience to feel your body moving of its own accord. Some practitioners refer to this process as “unwinding.” It is thought that the inner wisdom of the body engages the affected areas and allows them to move in such a way as to release some of the trauma stored in the tissues. People often feel as if a weight has been lifted off after these experiences.
Another client had sustained a mild brain injury after a “whiplash” from a rear-end collision. One of her complaints was difficulty with visual tracking. She had trouble reading text on a computer screen because it was hard for her to follow a line all the way across and come back to pick up the next line below. Over a few sessions of “unwinding” with a focus on her brain stem, she experienced a 50% improvement in this problem. Some specific cranial work also cleared up the chronic pain she had in her left eye.
People who aren’t comfortable with the usual chiropractic adjustments can do very well with CranioSacral Therapy. A sixty-two year-old woman was referred to me for chronic neck, arm and low back pain after an auto injury. After a bad experience with another chiropractor, she was fearful of being hurt by the adjustments and could not relax into them. Using the gentle approach of CST, we were able to double the range of motion her neck and dramatically reduce her pain level.
She also experienced some interesting and ultimately beneficial “side effects” which she attributed to the treatment. She had difficulty expressing her honest feelings to people and usually put her needs aside to accommodate others. While she always felt better and very relaxed after our sessions, she would often feel angry and irritable the next day.
She thought she was beginning to let out some of the feelings she had kept inside over the years. She began to let people know how she felt, and to stand up for herself more. People began to comment that she seemed “stronger” and treated her with greater respect.
It Takes Time
If CranioSacral Therapy has a downside, it’s the time it takes to do a thorough session. While it can be a useful part of a 15 minute chiropractic visit, longer sessions are usually needed to get to the depth required for effective and lasting results.
This usually takes from 30-60 minutes, depending on the client’s needs and the therapist’s skill. Most doctors are not willing to spend that kind of time, and you’re doing well to find a doc who will give you 20 minutes. To me, the extra benefit is well worth the time.
Finding a Practitioner
If you feel drawn to explore CranioSacral Therapy, there are a few therapists in the Ashland area. As with any techniques or profession, you will encounter a wide range of skill levels among CST practitioners, from beginning to advanced.
To increase the likelihood of success, I would recommend that you start with someone who has completed at least the first three or four Upledger seminars, which include training in SomatoEmotional Release. Therapists with this experience are more likely to be able to assist you in releasing residuals from old traumas, if and when that is appropriate.
To locate therapists in your area, visit the International Association of Health Care Practitioners. Select CranioSacral Therapy in the Modality section and enter your zip code (or the first 3 digits of your zip to extend the range of your search).
© 1999 by Dane Roubos, D.C. (541) 821-3263
Published in Twin Cities Wellness
Mpls-St. Paul, MN
March issue, 1999
Lymphatic Drainage Therapy
A Hidden Key to Health and Longevity,
as Developed and Taught by Bruno Chikly, MD
Article © Dane Roubos, D.C. http://www.BodyMindPeace.com
Before we get into Lymphatic Drainage Therapy and what it can do for you, I want to offer you some basic information about the mysterious Lymphatic System, because most people don’t know much about it. I’ve tried to put some humor into it, because this science stuff can be rather dry!
The Amazing Lymphatic System – Keeping You Alive and Well on a Day-to-Day Basis
What is lymph, and why do we need it?
Our tiny blood capillary walls are only one cell layer thick, to allow for exchange of nutrients and waste products. But because they’re so thin, they’re also a little leaky. In fact, about half of the protein in the blood leaks out over the course of a day, along with other blood components and plasma.
These gradually seep into the surrounding tissues, filling the spaces between the cells. Since large molecules like protein attract water, it doesn’t take long before the tissues get rather swampy if nothing is done about it. There goes the neighborhood . . .
Fortunately, our bodies have a built-in sump pump to gather up all that protein and fluid, along with toxic cellular waste products, dead cells, cancer cells, bacteria, etc, and carry it back to the blood stream – it’s called the Lymphatic System. On the way back, everything passes through one or more lymph nodes where the bad stuff is broken down and any bacteria are destroyed – Yea
Since the lymph system isn’t world famous, you probably haven’t heard much about it, and may be wondering what all the fuss is about. Let me give you an example of its importance. Let’s say a couple of tiny juvenile delinquents snuck into your body while you were fast asleep and tied off all your lymph vessels, shutting down the lymph flow back to your bloodstream.
By the time you woke up the next morning, your body would be swelling up like a human balloon, you would feel like crap, and even calling in sick wouldn’t lift your spirits much.
It would rapidly progress from bad to worse, and within 24-48 hours you’d find yourself in the promised land (according to Guyton’s Physiology textbook). Unfortunately, through a technical oversight Mr. Guyton neglected to mention anything about the juvenile delinquents or the promised land. Oh, well, I trust you got the general idea.
Every living thing needs an effective system to remove and recycle waste from its tissues. Needless to say, the lymph system gives new meaning to the concept of sustainable living! Even subtle impairments can lead to problems.
Use this lymph trivia to amaze your friends!
- The lymph system filters about 1.5–3 liters of fluid daily
- There is three times as much lymph fluid (about 10.5 liters) in your body as there is blood (about 3.5 liters)
- There are 400-700 lymph nodes in your body which process and purify the lymph flowing through them
- Lymph vessels are found in almost every tissue
- Lymph is the only system capable of returning the “leaked” protein back to the blood (where it needs to be)
- The smallest lymph vessel cells (lymphangions) have spiral muscles that “squeeze” the lymph toward the heart in waves
- These cells contract repetitively about 15,000 times a day, with no time off for good behavior, and they do it all for you. Now, that’s selfless service!
- Lymph waves occur about 5-15 times a minute, and can be perceived by sensitive hands
- Lymphangions can be activated by light pressure stretching the skin in the right direction
- The lymph vessels have valves to prevent back-flow
- About 85% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Lymphocytes
- About 13-15% of the cells in your lymph fluid are protective immune cells called Macrophages
- These immune cells kick ass when they find cancer cells or foreign invaders
- A healthy lymph system does all this without you even having to think about it – it’s idiot-proof!
If the lymph system is so cool, why would we need a “therapy” for it?
Everything in the body is cool – in fact it’s all an awesome, mind-blowing miracle! Trauma from injuries or surgery will often damage the lymph vessels. Poor nutrition, inadequate exercise, inflammation, infection, exposure to toxins, and of course, stress, can all play havoc with the body’s tissues, including the lymphatic system.
Hopefully, this bit of background will give you a better understanding and appreciation, not only of the lymphatic system, but also what is to follow.
What is Lymph Drainage Therapy?
French physician Bruno Chikly, MD, was fascinated with the lymphatic system and conducted his own research into its function for many years. As he realized its profound importance to our health, he began to develop new methods to improve its function.
He discovered that it was possible to “feel” the subtle waves of lymph flow, and developed a “mapping” process to identify areas that would benefit from treatment. He also found that gently stretching the tissues around the lymph vessels in harmony with the “waves” would stimulate the little lymphangions, improving the flow in restricted areas and restoring health and vitality to affected tissues.
Over time, he created Lymphatic Drainage Therapy (LDT), wherein “Drainage” is pronounced French-like, as in “massage.” There are other schools of Lymphatic therapies, but they do not have the ability to feel the lymphatic flow and are therefore more general and mechanical in their techniques.
Dr. Chikly’s Lymphatic Drainage Therapy is a sensitive, gentle, light touch manual therapy that is documented to provide these benefits:
- Stimulates blood circulation & reduces edema
- Stimulates and supports your immune system
- Calms the sympathetic nervous system (stress & fight or flight) and enhances the parasympathetic nervous system (promotes relaxation, digestion, and reduces pain & spasm)
Trained health practitioners will immediately recognize the power of these fundamental benefits which promote healing of every aspect of our mind and body.
In the next section, I’ll share with you some of the many uses I’ve found for it clinically.
Mystery, Magic and Practical Application of LDT
Having been a student of Dr. John Upledger’s CranioSacral Therapy, and Dr. Jean Pierre Barral’s Visceral Manipulation, I was no stranger to perceiving subtle movements of bones, organs and other tissues in the body. But I admit I had my doubts about feeling the even subtler waves of low-volume lymph flow. While this concern proved unfounded, I’m still amazed that I, or anyone for that matter, can feel such subtleties in the body. This is part of the magic for me.
There is also a mystery to this work, and my work in general, regardless of which approach I’m using. While the client will usually have something they would like me to focus on, and I may have an idea of where the session will go, there is almost always a surprise; an unexpected “discovery” that emerges during the session.
One, or both of us will often have insights that connect the physical issue we are working on with a life issue they’re engaged with, or sometimes they’ll have a memory of a particular event when “it all started” which we can then clear out during the session.
When I’m surrendered to the “process,” as is most often the case, I’m intuitively drawn to related areas that are also involved in some way. Perhaps two or more organs need to be “reconnected” in their communication, or rebalanced in their relationship to take the next step in healing the underlying issue. How any of this happens will probably always remain a mystery, which is OK with me. I am only exceedingly grateful that it does, that people find it helpful, and that I get to be a part of it.
First, a little background. Since I started chiropractic college in 1979, I’ve been working with “fixations” or limitations in joint movement thought to be due to restriction or shortening in the ligaments surrounding the joints of the spine or extremities, and part of the “subluxation complex.” The typical chiropractic treatment for this is a forceful mobilization, usually resulting in the joint “popping” which people seem to either love or hate.
Over the years I’ve found that restricted visceral organs, muscles or other tissues could also cause spinal restrictions, apparently via their attachments to the spinal structure. I also learned that the main cause of a spinal problem was often to be found some distance away from the actual pain or other symptoms, which made the intuitive part so helpful
This was all valuable information, and gently working with these hidden causes often proved helpful in reducing joint fixations and the resulting nerve irritation that caused so much trouble for people. But it often didn’t completely clear out the fixations, so there was still a missing piece to the puzzle.
In the two years I’ve been using the Lymphatic therapy, I’ve found it has an amazing ability to “melt” many of these chronic fixations. It can literally dissolve a long-standing spinal or extremity blockage, and restore the area to free and full movement. If the release isn’t complete, the therapy has prepared the area for some gentle chiropractic mobilization, which will often finish the job.
I’ve also found that Lymphatic Drainage is great for restoring lost motion to restricted visceral organs. Please see the article on Visceral Mobilization if you’d like to learn about the importance of freely moving organs.
To locate a Lymph Drainage Therapist in your area, visit the International Association of Health Care Practitioners. Lymph Drainage Therapy in the Modality section and enter your zip code (or the first 3 digits of your zip to extend the range of your search).
To be continued . . .