Living in our bodies
You are here. You are here, we read on a map posted along a city street or on a college campus. I always find that reassuring. We look at these maps to find our way when we are lost, and there it is, that little red symbol. There, I am, on the map, oriented in space. There are many other ways to get disoriented or lost.
Ask yourself where you are in your body. Where do you feel that you live in there? Many people point to their foreheads when asked this question. They identify themselves with the brain and locate the mind and spirit inside the skull. The body then becomes a vehicle to move the brain around. For some people, this feels comfortable, but for many, it can like one is trapped inside a cage, cut off from our vitality. I have to get out of my head, we may say.
Like many experiences, this feeling of being too much in one’s head and not enough in one’s body falls along a continuum, from a vague uneasiness to intense anxiety. It can be a response to work that requires a lot of mental focus, to a culture that is critical of less than perfect bodies, or to trauma that makes having a distance from the body seem like a good idea. It is easy to retreat from the body. We do it when we stare at our smartphones on the bus, or use a high tech bracelet to tell us how much exercise we are getting.
Sometimes this feeling of being outside the body is the primary issue that a patient brings for treatment to Open City, and sometimes it is a peripheral issue, not a concern at all. Sometimes the return to wellbeing provided by the treatment as well as the healing relationship with the practitioner is remarkable and immediate. “I feel like myself again.”, says the patient. Sometimes it happens more slowly, over a span of treatments and conversations. But always, the return to wellbeing comes through a sense of a renewed relationship with the body. After all, you are here.
Finding Stability in Times of Stress and Transition
“I feel calm, yet awake.”, a patient reports after an acupuncture treatment, sounding surprised that this is possible.
A study published in March 2013, in the Journal of Endocrinology,reveals the biology behind acupuncture’s beneficial effects on stress. The study examined the effect of acupuncture on rats subjected to the stress of exposure to cold for one hour a day for ten days. Rats treated with acupuncture prior to the 10 day study period had significantly lower stress hormones (ACTH and cortisol) at the end of the 10 days than rats not treated with acupuncture. Acupuncture helped the study rats to cope better with stress.
This may encourage you all to come in during this cold and rainy spring we are enjoying! We hope to see you soon. And as you chill out on the table, not a creature will be stirring, not even a mouse!
Beginner’s Mindfulness Class starting April 4, 2016
An 8 week course
limited to 10 participants
Class meets on Mondays from 6:30 to 8:15 pm
April 4th to May 23rd, 2016
Cost: $310 – $270 by March 19th
Class is small. Sign up soon to reserve a space.
Interested students, please contact Laura at 215-545-7040 or firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Schedule online at https://www.schedulicity.com/scheduling/OCHWKK/workshops
Payment is taken after a brief interview, to ensure the class is a good fit for the student.
In this class, Laura Hawley teaches beginner’s meditation and mindfulness practices. Students learn how to cope with stress and to enjoy life more fully by developing the ability to be aware of the present moment. Mindfulness practice builds a strong foundation for health and happiness. This class is designed for beginners, but can also deepen understanding and commitment for those with an established or lapsed meditation practice.
The development of a regular mindfulness practice is supported through homework with guided meditation and simple qi gong exercises.
Participants commit to practicing daily for 30 minutes.
Beginner’s Mindfulness Classes in 2016
Two 8 week courses
limited to 6 participants each
Evening class meets on Mondays from 6:30 to 8:15 pm
February 1st to March 21st
Morning class meets on Tuesdays from 9 am to 10:45 am
February 2nd to March 22nd
In this class, Laura Hawley will teach beginner’s meditation and mindfulness practices. The aim of the class is to learn how to suffer less and to enjoy life more fully by developing the ability to be aware of the present moment.
The development of a regular mindfulness practice will be supported through homework with guided meditation and simple qi gong exercises.
Participants will be encouraged to practice daily for 20 to 30 minutes.
Everything is connected
The muscles of the body are woven together in a richly multidimensional structure, as coach Brook Thomas describes here. She is writing about the importance of fascia or connective tissue but her description of it helps illustrate how acupuncture, which treats the fascia, works to release the muscles. The picture on the left shows a “muscle chain” – an interwoven system of muscles, tendons and bones that are involved in holding the body upright and stable. The picture on the right shows the pathway of the Tai Yang, or Bladder meridian used in acupuncture. This may help us to see why a tightness in the back might cause pain in the foot, for example. Ms Thomas explains how this give rise to the “dreaded domino effect”, or how an injury in one part of the body can give rise to pain and dysfunction elsewhere, because everything is connected.
Acupuncture as a system depends on the fact that in the body, everything is connected. We treat the back of the skull and see the achilles tendon relax. We treat the shoulder and see the gluteus maximus release. Understanding the pathways of the meridians gives the acupuncturist a set of maps of the fascia, and many ways to design an effective treatment. It seems magic in some ways, but it is no more magical than the way everything is connected in the human body.