Saturday, September 5, 2015

How your mind shapes your spine

How your mind shapes your spine!!

by Dr. Stephanie Bridwell M.S,D.C.

    illustrations by Vanessa VerLee

It is a well established fact that unresolved physical, emotional, chemical and mental stress drain our life and health. But, did you know that the inability to rebound, adapt, and flex with daily stress also alters the shape of our spine? Our incredible spine is an extension of our brain and is the operating system our whole body and life runs on.  Through something called neuroplasticity we shape our nervous systems. Repetitive perceptions, behaviors, and structures strengthen nerve connections and the amount of life energy we have available is directly associated with the quality of these connections.

Understandably so, most people live with the assumption that tension is a bad thing and should be gotten rid of. However, science has shown that tension is a natural and potentially useful part of everyday life. The problem is not with the tension, but with how the body's defends and armors against it. Many of us that have been through a significant trauma realize that after we've gone through and are on the others side that the pain was actually an invitation for us to slow down, connect deeper, grow and evolve. Our suffering comes when, instead of using tension to connect and rise to the occasion, we resist and contract, binding the energetic flow and purpose of the tension. Highly charged events, like an end of a relationship, are meant to break us down so that we can dissolve the attachments to that version of ourselves, reorganize with current information and then build up to the next higher order version we are becoming as a result of the process. This article is to remind you that the only way over anything is, through. If you are reading this you are already on the right path and I hope what you learn encourages you to keep on going.          

In my career as a psychotherapist I witnessed how posture is an overt expression of a person's mental and emotional state. As a yoga teacher, I have seen people move their bodies into positions where hidden emotions were literally wrung out from their hiding places. Now,  in my work as a (NSA) Network Spinal Analysis Chiropractor I work directly with improving the nervous system's ability to sustainably change distorted programming so people can thrive versus merely survive. The nervous system is both an amplifier of signals from self to the environment and the environment to self. When clear of distortion we receive what is real, not the slant from our wounded, unresourceful selves and we send back out a clear message through our posture and other non-verbal communication of who we authentically are.

My teacher, Dr. Donald Epstein DC, the developer of research based evolutionary models of healing and living, including NSA, and through meticulous research has found that there are five main ways the spinal cord distorts when our energy is challenged. Particular stressors affect the adaptable nature of our physiology and put us into predictable defensive postures. Adverse mechanical tension on the spinal cord minimizes the body's natural self-healing and adaptation with the environment. These distortions are called the Five Phases.

File_005.jpegPHASE 1- Our REMEMBERING of the past. This phase goes into distortion when a person gets stuck on the idea that the past is responsible for their problems. In this phase, they will say things like, "if only (blank) didn't happen, everything would be ok."  They may obsess about how their mother was too busy taking care of siblings to have time for them. Or they may wish that they had more help with homework or dinner together as a family. They are convinced they would be happy today if this had happened. When this spinal distortion is freed a person may have a realization that their mom's busyness freed them up to develop creative play on their own or that dinner didn't happen because their parents loved them so much that they worked split shifts in order to put food on the table and not have to get babysitters. As the defensive spinal pattern is addressed bound tension is liberated into energy and with new energy we can see things from new perspectives.
Phase 1 involves the sacrum and occiput of the spine.

File_000.jpegPHASE 2 Fear or Anger
Have you ever seen people that walk with their head two feet in front of their body? This posture, which repetitively distorts the upper bones of the neck, happens when people obsess over time... not having enough time, not going to get there in time, there never being enough time... etc.  People in this phase rush around like chickens with their heads cut off. Their deepest fear is that they aren't going to be enough, because they will never be able to get things done in time.

File_003.jpegThe other version of this phase is prompted with the lower bones in the neck tensing and becoming mis-shapen. This phase is related to a mistrust in relationships. There is a building up of stifled anger as a result of holding back what needs to be expressed when we are offended, betrayed, our boundaries have been crossed or we just don't agree, but we hold ourselves back from sharing our experience. When lower phase two shows up people experience fear, anger and mistrust in people, sensing that others have or will betray them. In this phase, people get pissed off when someone isn't following their rules of how others are supposed to be with them. This is a mostly an unconscious way that we all use at different times to control the dynamics of our relationships by keeping them inside the box we are comfortable in. When they do something that is not congruent with our story we get rage-filled and the recipe for a intimate relationship is to share this.... hopefully! Sometimes we just get more stuck and depressed not wanting to lose love or hurt someones feelings. But there is much more energy in getting mad then there is in being sad. Anger leads to action and sadness leads to depression. Notice for yourself ... think of something that really makes your blood boil. What just happened to your lower neck? These spinal distortions and their personalities are very real. When you become aware you can begin the process of transforming them. As we heal the spinal distortions of this pattern we realize that no one can actually betray us. We are always connected to the oneness of all and when we feel separate it's because we disconnected our trust. People are people and they are always going to do what they do. The the gift here is liberating your ability to consciously respond vs. freeze.
Phase 2 involves the upper and lower neck vertebrae

File_006.jpegHave you ever felt like you just want to be invisible? Your doing all you can to just get through the day or the party or event without anyone seeing you? How about all the things we do to feel loved? Have you ever changed who you were to fit in or violated your own rules to avoid someone else's disappointment? Feel into your body while remembering this... what happened to your hips and pelvis? It's hard to stand strong and balanced in our hips when we are betraying our sense of self. We will typically twist or rotate and misalign in some way to match how we are twisting around our own truth.
When our spine and nervous system let go of the defense patterns here, we realize that our unique identity is the gift we are here to give to the world. When we aren't giving it authentically, it is supposed to hurt, acting as a reminder to get us back on track. The gift here is being able to be seen for who you are. This will translate into taking charge of your life and developing true leadership. Through the surrendering of this defense pattern the tension in the pelvis is freed and we have the energy to LEAD our SHIP (leadership) authentically.
Phase 3 involves the PELVIS

Somewhere in our lives we each got praised or punished more for our mental attributes and academics than our creativity, finger-painting and ceramics. For this reason our range for pure enjoyment, ecstasy and reverence of life is narrowed. When this happens our mid-neck locks up and our inner thighs tense. It's like we are literally holding back a dam from breaking. What we are really holding back is our full expression. We trade thinking for feeling. When this distortion is corrected we find we can be more present with the beauty in each moment, remembering our hopes and dreams and beginning to feel the vitality in them again. We begin to savor the way we eat a peach, we drink slowly from our water bottle feeling the hydration move into every cell in the body, we pause to notice the scent of the ocean air and the symmetry of a flower. The spinal misalignment at our mid neck blocks the bridge from the head to the heart. When we live in our heads we miss the magic of interacting with life. There is a time and place to think: when goal planning, problem solving or remembering addresses or phone numbers. Passion has a much greater energetic value to your metabolic system and is necessary for a fulfilling life. Most thinking is simply the ego's way of justifying its existence. Ask how you feel about your thinking and then how you feel about your feeling you will be well on your way to liberation of bound mental energy and swirled into the ecstatic dance of your life fueled with the emotional intelligence the lights the flame of passion every human deserves.
Phase 4 involves fixation and misalignment in the middle neck.

File_001.jpegThere are two variants of this pattern. The first is a rounding forward of the lower neck and tailbone. This spinal cord tension pattern evolves when we feel violated in some way. This happens in those moments when we are sure something is being withheld from us. Perhaps it was a parent's love, fame and fortune, the dream job, the perfect relationship, or the desire to start a family. Somehow we internalize it as if we're the only one.

File_000.jpegThe other pattern involves the mid neck and hip swaying laterally out from under us in the position of “The Thinker'. There is a holding back of energy as one is waiting to 'get it'. The story is that they can't really be seen or be more involved until they understand themselves or the world better. Their thoughts become a way of hiding out. When this spinal pattern unwinds we begin to realize that nothing was ever withheld from us, but that life is actually sensitizing us to know what it feels like to go through certain challenges and situations because this is the gift we are here to learn and to share with other people. When the top and bottom of the spine contract it is associated with downsizing and preserving energy and when they are freed we get more connected to the flow of energy and resources around us at all times.
Phase 5 involves the neck and pelvis distorted simultaneously.

To try at home: Put your spine in these positions to get familiar with the outward expression of your nervous system’s inner world. Notice what happens with the spines in people around you when they are expressing ones of these states. You can learn to tune into the information and connect with each of these distortions and their consciousness states at any time. Eventually you may begin to see your patterns and be able to consciously change your position. Focusing your awareness and presence will automatically give you more energy for this healing journey.

For more coaching: Visit a Network Spinal Analysis Chiropractor located worldwide for more depth and personal strategies to take you further. Each of these spinal distortions are from a past time, being expressed now. A gentle, present touch in the right place starts the release the holographic pattern.

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