The Will to Move Forward
Last month, I shared two flowcharts to help you visualize a bigger picture of how everything within you is connected to all that is without you. We barely touched the surface and were introduced to start with deep breathing exercises to begin to take control of your life and Rein Your Health- NOW!, since this is the very first action taken by each of us upon our arrival on Earth. Most of us only take deep breaths to ease incoming strong emotions. It is an ingrained self-care tool that we all unconsciously utilize from time to time, and our lack of its use reflects how little we understand the body's functions and purpose. I've devoted many years to understanding neck and shoulder pain, but it wasn't until this year that my intuition kicked in and allowed me to see the answer that has always been in plain site! I know from experience when that uncomfortable twinge pulls in the upper neck or between the shoulder blades, the first response is to sit up straight and pull the shoulders back. But the shoulders are not designed to hold up the body! We instinctively know part of the issue is structural, that's why we pull our shoulders back when we feel pain, as it is an attempt to realign ourselves. And since those are not the correct muscles to isolate, our futile attempt to self correct brings us right back down into a slump.
The abdominal wall muscles, however, are designed to hold up the body. It's the core of our being. They are designed to hold up our body and guide our inner power- our breath! The beauty of the core muscles is that while strengthening them is good, it isn't necessary to obsess over exercising them at the gym or with yoga. All you have to do is bring your awareness to the center of your being- your belly. It takes quite a bit of mental power (willpower) to focus on anything, yet we are doing it. By shifting this power to the center of your being, you will become aware of how self-control cannot be sustained by just the mind. Centering requires so much mind power, it is difficult to zone out on the past or future. It is also brings you into now, where your body and mind are currently. Pain in the shoulders is a deeper sign that one is shouldering too many responsibilities. The perceived responsibilities is where the awareness is and remains. A great massage therapist who knows kinesiology chains can correct the issue momentarily, but if the deeper thinking patterns and unconscious actions that caused it in the first place aren't corrected, the issues resurface.
By shifting awareness to your center, you activate the abdominal wall and it automatically functions as it is meant too. A guide to activate the center, is to slightly stick your buttocks out. You are creating a J shape with your spine, engaging every muscle in the abdominal wall, and your shoulders naturally roll back. With your vessel now erect as it is meant to, your energy, or breath moves through it's channel clearly, unlike a kinked water hose. With your awareness truly centered in the middle of your entire being, you are more focused on what you are doing, where you are going, and who you are engaging with. This centeredness means you are less susceptible to injuries, mistakes, and emotional outbursts. With the pain now dissipating from the neck and shoulders and your body (and mind!) now moving more aerodynamically, you naturally feel more at ease and recognize confidence as something that grows within as your very own self-awareness, rather than by means of external activities. In this state, you are able to move without fear, which does in fact lower immune response!
The belly area is also known as the solar plexus, an energy center, or bundle of nerves that comprise the parasympathetic nervous system, which is a part of the automatic nervous system. The ANS is responsible for regulating the body's involuntary functions. By keeping your awareness here via activating the abdominal wall and using it properly you are also affecting the lower and upper energy centers in a positive way. Everything is in active order when your awareness is centered! When you will your awareness into your center, you WILL move with more ease in your mind and body. I will continue to focus on breathing and its effects on health. Stay tuned! In the meantime, start taking mental notes on any perceived pain or discomfort in your body or thinking as you practice bringing your awareness back to center. If it is a muscular issue, reach out! Let's discuss! Much Love!
Want to expand your understanding?
Check out how acupuncturist, Esther Gokhale, studied several cultures with no evidence of low back pain. Her work is in helping others correct their posture. This article has some great techniques on achieving your J curve: https://www.npr.org/sections/goatsandsoda/2015/06/08/412314701/lost-posture-why-indigenous-cultures-dont-have-back-pain
Evidence is quickly growing proving how emotions affect our immune response. For more on negative moods and inflammation:
Want to rebuild your brain's gray matter? See what Harvard had to say six years ago:
"Controlled breathing has a positive effect on the body by:
Lowering cortisol levels Lowering blood pressure Improving autonomic (the automatic system in our body that works behind the scene) response to physical and mental stress Improving arterial blood flow
Taken together, these elements add up to a powerful disease-fighting box of tools. Mindful breathing can help fight the progression of autoimmune diseases by bringing our body back into the calm part of our nervous system, the parasympathetic nervous system."
Engage in deep breathing by centering your awareness and center your awareness by deep breathing. It works both ways. "The physiological stress response is actually designed to be an asset. It speeds the heart rate and diverts blood away from the gut and to the muscles so we can run away. It constricts the pupils of our eyes so we can focus on our attacker. It dilates the bronchi of the lungs to increase blood oxygenation, and converts energy stored in the liver into fuel for strength and stamina. In short, it keeps us safe, says Esther Sternberg, physician and author of several books on stress and healing."
Great read if you consistently feel hypervigilant. Our thinking activates nerves, which activate muscles. Proper breathing helps improve immunity and posture via awareness allows the breath to flow correctly.
Need to quickly relax or are you sick and need to optimize oxygen quick recovery? Learn how to activate nitrogen oxide: