The following is my non-scientific effort to distill from the tall stack of books by my desk how I see the body interacting and communicating with the environment (inside and outside) and ultimately with the stretching work I do. I wrote this for non-scientific readers to have a new vision of the some of the mysteries going on inside, as I understand them. I look forward to feedback and a discussion.
The Music of the Body
If we could hear the orchestra playing inside of our bodies, we would be awestruck at the complexity and brilliance that is going on just below our skin. I say orchestra, not because I imagine it to be musical in anyway, or maybe it is, but because of its perfect harmonies and rhythms. Exactly in ideal proportions. Everything in absolute balance, as long as we cooperate to some degree.
Those Very Busy Cells
If we plunge our bodies into icy rivers, they will struggle to conserve heat and keep us alive to the extent possible. But there is a limit to their capacity to make up for our blunders. If we cut ourselves, fibroblasts rush to the scene to begin making cells to fill in the cut, building the correct new tissues for that location. Macrophages troop in to pick up bacteria and the litter of dying cells and clean up the place. How did they know to do this? How did they know they were needed? How did they know where to go? How did the message arrive…local post office, telegraph, email? And how fast did it happen?
Every cell in your body (50 trillion) is covered with hundreds of thousands of specialized “antennae” (actually they are protein chains) to communicate with the inside and outside of the cell. Inside the cell some of the effectors (the active end of the “antennae” to start the communication from the inside) are calling for pizza (nutrition), some for garbage pick up, some for an important ingredient for a current project inside the cell. The receptor ends on the outside of the cell are standing by ready to catch the required item when it arrives. If it has the secret code, the receptor and the delivered item match up, like a key in a lock, so the arrival can pass inside and through a secret “gate.” No one gets in or out without their special code. In the case of the garbage pick up, the receptor is on the inside and attaches to the garbage, sending it to the outside of the cell for the pick up. Everything the cell needs to do its job is managed through this system. Consider all of those hundreds of thousands of “antennae” busy at the same time on every cell. Staggering!
We cannot conceive the complexity. Those cells are very, very smart and very busy keeping us alive and functioning. They can actually produce virtually everything our body requires…except water!
The Semiconductors Inside
What turns these processes off and on? Simply put…imbalances in the environment. That is both the environment inside the cell as well as outside of the cell. Too hot, too salty, too dry…the system flies into action to restabilize, sending messages to get what it needs. Since smoke signals have gone out of fashion, all messages are forms of energy. They may be converted to sound, light, words, images, pulses, vibrations, well maybe even to smoke since fire is a form of energy! Inside the body they use vibrations to communicate. Energy (vibrations) moves much faster than “stuff” like hormones, chemicals, and such, so these messages arrive almost instantly.
If your body were full of semiconductors that could pass the energy messages on around the whole system or where they needed to go, that would be as fast as a good computer…or maybe faster. And definitely faster than nerves. Well…drum roll…it is. Your body has 50 trillion semiconductors from top to toe. That thin membrane surrounding each cell with all of the “antennae” passing in and out meets all of the requirements to be a liquid crystal, and liquid crystals can serve as semiconductors.
Following this line, we should be able to communicate with our own cells through energy. Everything has a signature vibration…the various parts of your body, fluids, solids, colors, tones, plants, minerals, literally everything. This is how medical scanning systems work to portray what is happening inside your body. The scanner displays the variations in vibrations (healthy tissue, diseased tissue, blood, minerals, and so on) and identifies the source. If we can create a beneficial vibration and transmit that into the body, it could harmonize/synchronize/resonate with the cells it reaches on that beneficial wavelength to enhance or create change. We do this in meditation, in some forms of movement, in using crystals, aromatherapy, massage, acupuncture, some music and tones, in nature. By choosing substances, actions, attitudes, colors, or sounds with appropriate vibrations these can be forms of energy healing. The level that we can connect and do this for ourselves depends on how well we focus, our level of awareness, how much we can quiet the mind and slow down the body, and to some extent how much we trust in our abilities.
The Energy for Conversation
All of this back and forth vibration conversation takes energy. The cells produce their own energy in the process of opening and closing those “gates” mentioned above. The heart and brain are both large sources of electromagnetic energy (this is the energy we are referring to), but anyplace we have polarized ends or surfaces we have an electromagnetic field or energy. Tissue that is compressed (massage and some forms of movement) will develop a negative charge on one side and positive on the other creating an electromagnetic field. The flow of energy produced is piezoelectricity…electricity produced by the body and available to carry all of those messages.
Being in communication with your own body at this level is delicious. Feeling the energy flowing…you really can…as in Chi Gong and some other movement or meditation forms including Organic Stretching, is both empowering and humbling. I invite you to explore the ways you could use a two-way conversation with your body.
If you are interested in exploring some of the sources in that tall stack of books by my desk, they are all listed on this page of my website. Mind opening for sure!!
A final comment:
When I began working with Heather Wallace, to train in her pain therapy system, I wanted to understand how it worked, what was really happening inside. I wanted that depth to reassure myself and to be able to look for ways to enhance what I was doing. Those answers did not emerge. As I began working and then teaching on my own and creating Organic Stretching, that need grew rapidly. It took me into strange new arenas and enriched my overall appreciation of the wonder of life. I cannot tell you precisely what is happening. For one reason: we are all different. Our bodies’ histories are unique. The way we approach anything in life is individual. It is a journey with way-points, intersections, and detours where we can choose the next turn. This makes predictability very difficult. No tests have been done on Organic Stretching as a system. All I know “for sure” about the effectiveness of Organic Stretching is experiential—from my students when they have shared their breakthroughs, and many have been astonishing. My own experiences with these bodymind movements have changed my life–on both a physical as well as a spiritual level.
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What would it feel like to climb inside and live deeply? How could it change your life?
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Perception of aging comes most directly from your connective tissue system, yet it is the least studied aspect of the human body as judged by its scant attention in medical textbooks and education. It can give you a fluid, gracefully moving body or a stiff, restricted and painful experience with every move. In the second video of this series of Connective Tissue Talks, we look at the many roles played by this system and some of the ways in which it loses it “juice” and ability to support us in moving with confidence and grace, feeling vibrant and capable as we did when we were younger.
Please leave your comments and thoughts below, and if you are reading this on the home page, click on the title for a comment window below the article. Thank you!
Heather Wallace, the creator of the Wallace Method…a powerful, unique pain management therapy, died Sunday, 11 October 2015, in Minneapolis, MN. Her work had benefited thousands over the more than 25 years she practiced in Minneapolis and in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, where she spent winters in her cherished tropical home.
She changed my life…as mentor, friend, and teacher. I owe the development of Organic Stretching, my improvisational movement program (based on the principles of her beautiful system), to Heather and her encouragement and support.
Among her many passions in life were wall climbing, travel, and art…appreciator and collector. That is what brought us together at a Wednesday Art Walk in Puerto Vallarta, in 2006. Her home in Puerto Vallarta was filled with tropical inspired pieces from local artists.
She peaked my interest that evening, saying that she “sculpted bodies.” Actual physical bodies. I discovered that she didn’t mean liposuction or scalpels, but instead her subtle movements that opened the body to release tight restrictions which held the system in misalignment. It seemed a miracle when she eliminated very old problems. And so, thousands had made their way to her studios over the years to find in her system something no one else had been able to achieve for them.
Heather was happiest when she had a body on her table and a challenge to give that client freedom of movement and freedom from pain. Thank you, Heather, from me, the other Wallace Method practitioners, and all of the countless people whose lives you changed, often in very dramatic ways. RIP
Author Pat Henry and Heather Wallace making plans for the Puerto Vallarta Workshop in 2007.
Please share your memories of Heather and messages below. Thank you.
Why not include some compassion and curiosity in your gym bag along with your hot pink tennies?
Approach your body with compassion and curiosity to create changes you never thought you could realize. Set off a cascade of energy that enlivens and releases blocks. Explore inside and connect with the tissues surrounding every muscle, bone, and organ. Get more out of every exercise or workout by changing your intention.
Sound farfetched? Today, most of us would likely agree that we create our own reality. The concept first surfaced in 1963 in a Seth channeling by author Jane Roberts and became part of the New Age movement, gradually edging into mainstream. What our minds focus on we draw to us or at least become more aware of its presence.
In a similar way, we can also control the effectiveness of our workouts…
or exercise sessions by the intention we set as we work. Where and how we put our focus at each moment shapes what our bodies experience. Working very slowly helps hold the focus and allows the body to adapt and accept incremental changes as they develop.
Today, high percentages of men and women are unhappy or even loathsome toward their bodies.(1) With image, size, function, or pain underlying their feelings, approaching exercise with compassion could work wonders.
Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them humanity cannot survive.
If you want others to be happy, practice compassion. If you want to be happy, practice compassion.
In Organic Stretching®: bodymind movements the body is always in contact with itself, i.e. a hand or foot moving slowly along the opposite arm, leg, or the trunk. This hand or foot can transmit the energy of compassion through heat, pressure, and intention. The result is very powerful, even emotional. With practice that energy becomes quite strong and grounded.
Other forms of energy exercise using slow movements (but with less of the contact) include Qigong, Tai Chi, and some yoga programs. Slow weight training proves effective, in part due to the increased focus on form and breathing that slow work encourages.(2)
Imagine the atmosphere in a gym where everyone was sending compassion and love to their bodies!
The Renaissance genius Leonardo da Vinci lived by seven principles, according to Michael Gelb, author of How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci. Bringing the first of these principles, curiosity, to bear on our bodies as we move, noticing in detail what is happening inside, encourages the awareness we need to make changes. Sensing a reaction far away as we reach a limit in movement in one area lets us see the connections across the length of the body. Explore that limit in tiny, slow motions to find all the edges of the limit and gradually soften the limit, noticing the changes to the rest of the body as well.
Being completely aware, curious, and compassionate can gradually unlock blocked tissues surrounding joints, muscles, and organs, relieving pain and permitting freer movement.
Explore some of the ways Organic Stretching®: bodymind movements can provide this experience through sample videos and information on the Organic Stretching YouTube Channel. Subscribe while you are there! Or check out the programs offered on our website. This link takes you to our new online program, and you will find more options under “Programs” in the navigation menu. Organic Stretching was derived from pain management therapy movements to provide a personal movement program designed and created by your own body.
Next time you go to the gym, be sure to pack your bag with “compassion and curiosity” right next to those hot pink tennies to get the most out of your workout.
References: (1) https://www.dosomething.org/facts/11-facts-about-body-image
Holidays can bring emotional turmoil from loneliness to painful memories to the sense that time is running out as another year winds down. It is a moment for gathering with your very best friends and family to share some mutual support and tender, caring words, and deeds. But if you have no best friends or family nearby, why not try to be your own very best friend? Someone who is always there and maybe knows you better than anyone else.
What would it take to become your very best friend?
Imagine that you are really needing a good hug when your BFF shows up. It is a dash for a huge hug…a very real hug…long and with feeling…one that can even bring a tear to your eye. Now Do It!! Reach all the way around as far as your arms will go. Close your eyes. Be the recipient of that hug. Pat your back and stroke your shoulders. Hold on until you are smiling and slowly release yourself.
Imagine that you are upset about the way things are going and on a typical harangue about how you could/should have done things differently, when your best friend arrives. What does your very best friend say to you about your situation? I bet it doesn’t sound anything like what you were saying to yourself! Imagine that you are your best friend and choose your words as a good friend would. Many years ago my older daughter stopped me in my tracks, “Mom, listen to how you talk to yourself.” She didn’t mean the fact that I was actually talking out loud; she was upset with the words I chose. I have never forgotten that valuable lesson, even though I have to repeat it from time-to-time. Talk to yourself like a very loving, caring friend. Tell yourself all the things you did right and what talents you have to help resolve the problem. Don’t waste energy looking for someone to blame…yourself or anyone else. Just switch the energy to taking care of you and reminding you how wonderful you are even when the results don’t seem to work out.
Imagine your best friend calling you to go somewhere…a new restaurant in town, an art opening, a concert…maybe something you would never think to do on your own. Many years ago, I was working for myself and realized that I worked late every evening, came home from the office, had a bite to eat, and went to bed with a book. It was a treadmill and taking a toll. I made a list of all kinds of things that I had enjoyed doing in the past or had wanted to do…10 minute things, an hour, 3 hours, and some might take a whole day. I cut the list into strips and put them in an envelope; every Sunday evening as I made my plans for the week ahead (mostly business tasks and goals) I pulled 3 strips out of the envelope. I accepted these as things I absolutely had to do and assigned them to their time slot in the week. Sometimes I had to research local facilities or offerings to find the item on the strip, so I got to know my community better. Sometimes it challenged me to do something I was not familiar with and a little nervous to try. I gained so much from that experience and had so much fun. Take yourself out on a date or do something totally new on a regular basis.
Take yourself out for a treat. For me, breakfast out always seems a bit decadent. I don’t mean a quick 2 scrambled with coffee on the run! Some place special with music or a view. Hide a $20 in your planner and don’t look to see where you hid it. When it shows up, that’s the time to do it. Like a long-lost friend suddenly popping in and wanting to take you out for a special breakfast spur-of-the-moment. Give yourself a big hug on the way out of the door.
One of the things we do in Organic Stretching has so much power for me to connect with myself in a physical way. It is sensual, but it is not intimate. I teach it in the first class of the two-month series…a basic move that connects everything else. We always stay in contact with our bodies so no part is flying around by itself out away from the body. This means, for example, using one hand to move slowly along the body surface someplace. Try it on the opposite arm. Close your eyes and let one hand slide up the other arm very slowly and with tenderness, in a caring way. Let the hand and the arm roll over and slide the arm along hand. Exhale and pause, feeling the connection you are making with yourself. Absorb the sense of wellbeing this can produce. Taking time for yourself makes such a difference.
Enjoy this time of the year with your New Best Friend whether you are alone or not. Look for ways in the New Year to reconnect and cherish you.