The Nervous System is Fascinating.

When I started out as a massage therapist in 2003, I saw myself as working on bodies and muscles. 

Of course I not "just" working on bodies; I'm working on people--who change from day to day.

What people do and how they think, feel and approach life has an indelible effect on their wellness; and it directly affects how well I may be able to provide support to each unique individual. 

While each person is unique and every body is different, we do indeed share many basic physiological structures.

Running throughout our bodies is our magnificent nervous system:  the body's communications network.

Pressures on our nerves cause them to relay data to the CNS, which then directs our muscles to do what they do.

Our bodies may be perceived as living pressure gages.

When our muscles are tight due to chronic stress, they might be engaged because our nervous systems interpret social and mental pressures as *actual, present* dangers, and our bodies could be in protection mode.

In the process of protecting us, our immune systems may be inhibited, as resources are directed to our muscles, that have engaged to protect us. 

If we don't address the "danger," our bodies may stay in a state of constant alert, resulting in: tight muscles, an overly-engaged nervous system that prevents restorative sleep, and often, danger signals, resulting from muscular pressure on our nerves, may *potentially* be interpreted as pain. 

How much pain each body perceives varies as much as humans vary--it's a bit of a medical mystery. So many factors! So much variety in the human experience! Wow!

 When our protective systems are engaged, our perception may change, as we look for the "attacker" outside of ourselves, so we know what to fight, or run away, or hide from.  

How we perceive the world we live in may validate the nervous system's impression that we may indeed be in danger, and need to be on guard.

What we are thinking about, engages our muscles to be prepared for action--as if it were actually happening.

But We're Not in Danger

Not often, anyhow--at least not as often as our nervous systems may interpret that we are, or the *way* we are.

Our bodies have a protective system that kept us alive before we lived in caves; and allowed us to progress, as a species, to where we are today.

Interestingly, our protective system may be triggered by thoughts. Just thinking about something that happened in past, or may happen in the future, can trigger either our protective or reward systems. 

That's why it feels good to think about things that we like, and why it feels bad to think abut things we we don't like.  Our opinions engage both systems. 

The protective system is necessary to help us better navigate through life; to steer clear of the dangers. 

The reward system may communicate that we're on the best path for each of us, as long as the choices that we're making do no harm to anyone or anything else.

The reward system is the green light; the protective system is the red light. 

Green light; keep going.  Raise up your hands and celebrate gratefully this fabulous ride.

Red light; stop, breathe, and take a moment to asses: "Am I really in danger?" and if so, address it; if not, acknowledge that the opinion that set off the false alarm does a disservice to the self, and toss it. 

When our bodies are under chronic stress, due to whatever life may throw at us, and however limited our bandwidths may be for coping with all the things, our nervous systems may get locked into protection mode. 

As new body movement maps (tense muscles, compensation) get laid into the brain, we may lose the "relaxed" maps...and it may be challenging to find a destination we don't know how to arrive at anymore...or even remember exists. Hello, muscle memory.

The bodywork that I provided was intended to address the nervous system--using gentle techniques that relay a "safe" pressure to the body, which encourages the nervous system to communicate: "disengage." 

When the muscle is disengaged, it may be easier to find the tension that may be limiting movement; and I can more directly address the areas that require attention.

Talking walks before the sessions help to warm up our tissue through physical movement; as well as help us check-in with our bodies.

Deeper, conscious breathing during our session may help remove excess CO2 and introduce more oxygen to your system; and supports the practice of breathing *with* our bodies, instead of breathing on auto-pilot.

Our walks after the sessions help our nervous systems acknowledge the changes to our bodies, so that the effects of the session may be longer lasting.

KAT/Chao                                                             Cat/Cow

KAT- Kind, Authentic, Transparent

Chao(s)- The vehicle that takes us to where we BE

Cat- Yoga pose: Exhale

Cow- Yoga pose: Inhale

The KAT/Chao image is a reminder to set my "navigation" to KAT--because my vessel no longer prefers interacting with that which is not Kind, Authentic, or Transparent, and chooses to seek out that which is KAT.

The Chao reminds me that change is inevitable, and that life may be more rewarding and surprising when I allow chaos to carry me to where I am; as long as I listen to my body's navigational system, and change direction when I need to or pause to appreciate and celebrate the moment because it is just as necessary as changing direction.

They also represent the cycle of conscious breath, as in the Cat/Cow yoga poses.

Conscious breathing--slow, deep breaths--signals to our nervous systems that we are safe.

If we were REALLY, TRULY in danger (saber tooth tiger! mastodon!), we couldn't think to breath.  Our protective systems would be engaged, so our bodies would essentially be storing oxygen for the muscles to use during fight/flight, and not sharing; because it is doing its best to protect us, and ensure we have the resources we need to defend ourselves, or get away.

Conscious breathing is only possible when we are NOT actually in danger.

When we consciously take slow, steady breaths, it signals to our nervous systems that we are safe, so our muscles can disengage and release the tension they are holding.

It also introduces more oxygen into our systems, while gently stretching the tissues throughout our bodies.  Conscious breath, in my opinion, works like a pump. Slowly and fully expanding and contracting, may assist with creating space. The more slack there is in our bodies, the less internal pressure there may be within our bodies--which may support a more relaxed physical environment.

Allow your breath to fill you fully, and release it completely, ready for another inhale. Gratefully.

Because here we are.

Breath is life.

...Breathe easier...

And follow the P's: 

is it

1. Preferable 2.Pleasant 3.Practical

Preferable + Pleasant = Practical

*Practical Optimism is Practiced Skill*

so practice it

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