Who’s the Alpha Dog? The Cell Membrane or the Brain?



Who gets the last word?

In BodyTalk: Part 1, we looked at the internal conversation inside your body…an unimaginable number of messages flying from cell-to-cell, nerve-to-nerve, keeping all the systems humming and healthy. But what happens when they don’t agree? Who gets the final word?

The first job of the cells is…

All of those 50 trillion cells in your body, that I wrote about in BodyTalk: Part 1, are geared to reproduce and build new cells…their default setting is “growth.” That is “growth” vs. “protection.”

They are creating replacements for the billions that wear out every day. For example, the lining of your gastrointestinal system is totally new every 72 hours. All of this effort uses lots of energy, but the act of production actually produces energy as well. A sort of win-win.

And one role of the membrane…

As each cell “hangs out” in the ground substance, the membrane is monitoring the properties in the surrounding matrix, looking for what the cell needs and protecting it from any undesirable intruders. The hundreds of thousands of “antennae” (actually protein chains) that penetrate the membrane of each cell are responsible for this job. When the receptors at the outside end of the chain, sense a threat (toxin), the cell moves away. When they sense the right nutritional (growth) signal, the cell gravitates closer, opens the gate to connect, and takes in those properties it needs for the work going on inside.

Part of that job is checking the ID or “fingerprints” for the waiting signal (property) in order to exclude any unwanted or toxic substances from getting through to harm the cell. Each of the receptors on the outside only permits one certain property inside. Each cell has receptors for every required substance.

Those “fingerprints”

(A short side story, I find fascinating.) Medicines are designed to mimic the “fingerprint” of substances (which are naturally produced in the body), and thus gain access to their target cells. But that “fingerprint” lets them into other cells as well!

I won’t go into the complex explanation for this, but simply stated: non-targeted cells with different functions, than the ones intended by the designer of the drug, can receive that property through the matching fingerprint. In this alternate type of cell, that property can cause very different results.

Medicine delivered through the blood stream goes everywhere the blood goes, winding up in cells where it is not needed and producing unintended results. Perhaps not all bad, but not necessary and sometimes very dangerous. This is why you see that list of side effects in the information about any medicine (prescription and OTC).

So what about protection? Who handles that?

We have two different systems protecting us: the internal and the external.

The internal protection system is the immune system that handles threats from bacteria and viruses. This protection is triggered at the local level of the cell by the immediate environment containing the toxin (bacteria or virus). If you cut your finger, there is no need for a body wide alert and shut down to manage the local problem. The cells involved call for immune system special forces to attack the invaders and to fix the problem. If we ingested something, it could involve a larger area, but it is still localized to certain cells.

The external-protection-response is for threats from outside of the body, of the “fight or flight” variety, which are picked up by our senses. The tiger emerging from the jungle, rumblings of an earthquake, fire, and so forth that cause a body-wide shut down of certain processes and segments of the body to conserve energy for “fight or flight.” The sensory system sends a message to the hypothalamus, which alerts the pituitary, and in turn that triggers adrenaline to flow through the entire body to produce the necessary shut down to the cells which have receptors for adrenaline.

The result of this shut-down process–sending blood to the extremities for action one way or the other and halting digestion, absorption, excretion, and growth functions including energy production for reserves.

Growth functions? Yes, the brain, our alpha dog, has decided that it is more urgent to do something about the tiger first and worry about conquering the bacteria on our cut finger later when the tiger is dead or far behind. The same would apply to cells busy fighting an invading virus or major infection. All growth functions are on hold, which includes the immune system.

Other tigers that trigger this reaction

Paper tigers can produce the same result as real tigers. The mind cannot discern the reality of the stimulus. The boss is bringing his wife to my house tonight; I haven’t got anything to serve and the house is a mess, no time to go shopping, no way can I do carryout! And what about the kids? My stomach is in knots, my heart rate is up, dashing home to pull this off. My mind created this “threat” and my brain has interpreted this as a real tiger, putting the whole system into operation. There is no valve to control the level of response. Stress is a tiger, even if it is a paper tiger. Nagging worry keeps the adrenaline flowing as well.

Many, if not most of us, are in a perpetual alert state. Living in this condition is damaging.

  • Impaired immune system.
  • Less blood delivery to the brain.
  • Depleted energy reserves.
  • Dying cells not being replaced and more.

It is unsustainable. The system cannot maintain living like this.

How can we handle it?

Everywhere today, we see articles on the value of meditation. That’s a very good place to start.

But, I think body awareness, as a focus, is primary. Meditation may be your avenue to become aware. Mine is movement through Organic Stretching. Slowly tuning into the body…every little part…to see where I am holding unnecessary tension. Mindfully releasing each pocket of tension calms my mind as well as my body. A moving meditation with your own body. Delicious!

Most important…realize that this condition cannot be simply dismissed and expect to live a joy-filled life in a happy body.

I would love to hear your experiences and thoughts. If you are on the home page, please click on the title of this post for a page to leave your comments. Thank you!

Note: the content of this article is my interpretation of portions of Dr. Bruce Lipton’s The Biology of Belief: Unleashing the Power of Consciousness, Matter & Miracles (Hay House/2008). If you find these ideas intriguing, there is a link on my book resources page to Dr. Lipton’s book and many more that have influenced my development of Organic Stretching®: bodymind movements.

Photo credit: FreeImages.com/AssassinM


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BodyTalk Photo


Part 1


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.


Please share your thoughts below on the Post Page. (click on the title above if you are reading this on the home page)

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Connective Tissue Talk #2: Where Did the Juice Go?

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!

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A Tribute to Heather Wallace


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's last Puerto Vallarta Workshop '07

Heather’s last Puerto Vallarta Workshop ’07



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.

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Compassion and Curiosity in your Gym Bag?

Organic Stretching


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.

–Dalai Lama


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



(2) https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/body-sense/201007/slow-movement-awareness-better-exercise

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