Wisdom Arrives

A state of open, relaxed receptivity may bring about novel insights.

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"The information you need is not that which you can obtain." - O.L Bear

I think a lot.
And sometimes as I think, I think about how everyone else is thinking, too.

All. The. Time.

I think my way out of problems. I think my way into them. I think about what happened, what will happen, what could I have done better, what would happen if, and what should others do. I think about what was said, and what was not. 

I was sitting on a mountaintop in Colombia, after paragliding for my first time. The experience was strangely relaxing, but after landing my stomach was doing flips nonetheless. So I sat along the vista in view of the city below, sun pouring its love onto my hungry skin, the sound of voices and excited tourists on the hillside, and for just a moment, I was one with my senses. Not thinking. Just taking it all in.

And then I had an intuitive download which could be summed up as this:

Wisdom arrives not through thinking, and not through linear processes, but through being present with experience. Wisdom transmits into you as aphorisms scrawled into your very Nature, embedding itself in your very being, or perhaps uncovering what was already known. Wisdom arrives, and it changes you forever. When the time is right, when the information that is being transmitted can be safely absorbed, wisdom arrives.

This is probably what people mean by a “religious experience.” It certainly feels divine.

Somewhere in the world,
In time’s winding labyrinth,
In a view from high above
In a tranquil afternoon
In a splash of color
In a look shared between you and another soul
In the sun’s rays on your soft eyelids and shoulders

There are answers waiting to be uncovered. They have been ripening slowly. 


Put the pause on thinking. Find your joy. Allow life to flow and the endless conundrums to dissolve in its bounty. 

 

Shadow Pain: Repatterning and Remapping to Heal Old Aches

How Rolfing Can Help

Photo: Martino Pietropoli

Photo: Martino Pietropoli

The typical recommended waiting time to receive Rolfing after a surgery or injury is 6 weeks. It may be more or less depending on the nature of the procedure or injury. After 6 weeks, the body has typically completed its healing process, and then the very important work of repatterning and remapping needs to be done. Let me explain:

Remapping: one of the reasons why acute pain turns into chronic pain is because the brain has deemed a certain part of the body “in danger” and as such, we are highly sensitive to any stimulus from the outside world. We may even register harmless input (like a person’s light touch or a gentle bump against an object) as very painful. After the 6 week healing has completed itself (and ALL tissues complete their healing cycle), people may continue to feel pain or restriction in that area. This hyper-sensitivity may not be because of damage to the tissue but because you are subconsciously protecting the area. The table below illustrates this concept:

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Effective remapping removes this subconscious over-protection. It occurs due to positive input, which can be from many sources; Therapeutic touch, pleasant movement, laughter, social engagement, and even affirmative language can reinstall pain-free confidence in a previously injured area. The languaging piece is incredibly potent. Look for bodyworkers, movement instructors, and medical professionals who speak about your body’s potential and strengths rather than what is wrong, or what will never be right. One example of this is the debunked myth of the chronic low back pain due to a bulging/herniated, or "slipped disk" (see above table taken from the US National Library of Medicine). It is a proven fact that most of us have some sort of disc issue, especially as we age, but without any reports of pain whatsoever. Therefore, there is much more to pain than damaged tissues. With this in mind, notice how you perceive and talk about your own body in your words and thoughts. 

Repatterning is about how we use our bodies to navigate our lives and the world. It is a big picture that includes how we feel about ourselves, our jobs, our friends, family and partners. In a Rolf Movement session I focus particularly on physical sensation: how does it feel to be in your body, how do the various parts speak to you, how do they relate as a whole? Does your pattern serve a seamless recovery post-injury or post-surgery, or can you resource your movements in a more efficient and stress-free way? 

In my experience, people are generally quick to be able to remap (likely due to neuroplasticity) but repatterning can take time, effort and patience. This is probably because our dominant patterns operate below the level of the conscious mind. Most of our patterns set in as soon as we attempted to stand for the first time as babies, and they were also subconsciously influenced by environmental factors like how your parents behaved. Our movement and postural patterns are intricately tied in with our self-identity.

We may think that by doing certain physical activities, like yoga or running or CrossFit, that we are learning new movement and postural patterns and it is enough. This belief is bolstered by obvious physical changes like weight loss and muscle gain. The truth is that we usually resource complex movements in the same ways we resource normal everyday activities, in other words, our original pattern is the foundation upon which we do all that we do. An example of this is if you overarch your back to stand up from a chair, you might also stress your low back to do squats or yoga poses.

Injuries and surgeries often add more disorderly noise to the mix, while what we want in a balanced body is a melody of poise and harmony in movement. Rolfing can help to instill a sense of effortless alignment, length, freedom and ease which is the basis of mind-body health. We need this solid, stable, balanced yet adaptable foundation in order to truly excel at any physical endeavor, including finding comfort and alignment in everyday movements like sitting, standing, walking and breathing. 
 

Scariest Moments on The Yoga Mat 

Yup, we all have them. 

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I LOVE practicing at home. As a teacher, daily asana self-study means I can instruct from my own experience of what to do—and what NOT to do.

In fact, I tried this exact pose you see above (chin stand scorpion) at home for the first time. Actually, I was on vacation in Iceland and enjoying a fiery practice in the living room of our chilly airbnb loft. I went for it, feeling excited and inspired and confident. The subsequent series of cracks in my neck were reminiscent of a chiropractic adjustment. I came down out of the pose, eyes wide with adrenaline, wondered momentarily if I had broken my neck, exhaled deeply and thought, “that was stupid.” I was lucky enough to laugh it off - and my neck was only a little sore the next day. The moral of the story is simple: know the “how to” basics before attempting a new asana. Now I know that the weight must stay mostly in the hands and the shoulders must remain active. Side note: I now practice this pose without the music from my cervical spine. 

That’s just one of many examples of scary moments I’ve experienced on my yoga mat. Pretty much every time I first attempted an inversion, I immediately fell in a ridiculous or embarrassing way. I bowling-balled out of my first handstand, landing on another student’s mat. At my first EVER yoga class, I came up into headstand, froze, and fell flat onto my back with an echoing “THUD.” 

It’s worth mentioning that not all scary moments need be about a physical experience. Sometimes asana practice can bring us face to face with thoughts, memories, traumas and emotions that we didn’t expect to see there (oh, hey, childhood gym-class trauma, you look good in Lululemon.) 

We ALL have experiences like these. Even those Instagram famous yoga-lebrities (read: yoga celebrities; Cute, right??) you see executing a perfect one-handed handstand split on the precarious edge of something you’d rather not see them fall off of... yeah, sometimes they fall. Sometimes they get hurt. It is part of the practice to pick yourself back up, lessons learned, and carry on. How’s that for a life metaphor?

I asked a couple of committed yoga students and teachers: What has been their scariest moment on the yoga mat? How did they overcome it, or is it still a work in progress? 

Greg McMahon, Professional Photographer @3dphotogreg

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"Doing Head Stand in an open room with a person in front of you, and not having the wall to stop your forward momentum from falling forward into the person in front. If I don't get a spot next to the wall in a room, and we do headstand, I always ask for an assist. I know how to get up into head stand well, but my balance is still off, and I tend to fall forward."

Lisa Apatini, Certified Jivamukti Yoga Teacher @aigirinandini

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"During my primary teacher training in 2013 I was deeply immersed in daily study for 1 month in Costa Rica. During the middle of the course, amidst much movement going on both within and with out, I found myself in the middle of one of our practice classes ready to have a breakdown. I did not know what would come out, in that forward fold, I faced myself facing myself, and I had to let go of what anyone would think or do in response to my process. Until that moment I realized I had always been holding my feelings back to a certain extent during practice. Remaining composed for reasons beyond being a disturbance to the class, for reasons of being unable to allow myself to be vulnerable. For feeling embarrassed, for being put on the spot, for being “that person”, for being everything that would only do a disservice to my honesty and authenticity. Unsurprisingly by teacher had sensed the moment coming and was right there over me cradling me in a cosmic yoga assist. So I let it go. It was loud. No one cared. I broke the fear. It was its time and place."

Gregory Weglarski, Owner of Yoga & Fitness Herald Square @greg_weareyfhs

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"Probably my scariest moment on the yoga mat was when I tore something in my knee.  I was doing a seated marichyasana spine twist.  I received an adjustment to go deeper and thats when I felt it.  I couldn't bend my knee much for the immediate days after that.  I went back to practicing hot yoga every day and after six months of dedicated practice it healed.  Practicing consistently and being gentle helped me overcome it.  When I practice now, especially when it comes to yoga poses that involve the knees in such way, I approach with awareness. There's no fear that arises now.  More of a feeling of gratefulness."

What are YOUR scariest moments? How did you overcome them? 
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