Thursday, March 3, 2016

Thank you for visiting

More information about Rolfing, my background, and the services I offer.

Here is what some of my clients have said.

Scroll down for some of my ruminations on body, mind, and movement.

"Vagus" by Hugh Milne

There's hidden sweetness in the stomach's emptiness.We are lutes, no more no less.If the soundbox is stuffed full of anything,no music.If the brain and the belly are burning clean with fasting,every moment a new song comes out of the fire.The fog clears, and new energy makes yourun up the steps in front of you.Be emptier and cry like reed instruments cry.- Jallal al-Din Rumi 

Vagus is the domain of  'gut feeling' and includes covert, or secondary, awareness. Gut is Manipura, the third chakra, and encompasses the third and fourth chakras in the Sufi nine chakra system. It includes what are called Lower Dantien, and Hara, and what the Chinese call ‘Chi-Hia,’ or ‘The Ocean of Chi.’

In the Sufi cosmology, the belly is one of the core ‘subtle centers,’ or Lat’if (“Laah-teef”). The word ‘Lat’if’ encompasses ‘mystery,’ ‘great charm,’ and ‘beauty,’ and is used for all of the chakras.

When our belly is uncomfortable with what the client is doing or saying, or when our gut instinct leads us to touch their right arm, say, then we fill out the row beginning with the word 'Vagus.'

When we see someone behaving in a way that makes us sick, or see a traffic accident that gives us nausea, this is the channel 'Vagus.'

 In South Africa it is called, ‘Umbellini.’ They call it our most important brain. You could think of it as the body’s ‘second brain.’

The white people think that the whole body is controlled by the brain.We have a word, ‘umbelini’ (the whole intestines).That is what controls the body.My umbelini tells me what is going to happen.Have you never experienced it?- A Xhosa Tribesman, South Africa (the tribe of Nelson Mandela).
 When we become anxious, we get nausea and diarrhea. We feel ‘queasy.’ We call someone who is always depressed, ‘misery guts.’

When a parent senses into how their child really is, and whether or not the child is in trouble, or perhaps lying, the parent may ‘tune in’ to their gut to sense what is really going on.

“When I look at you my gut does not feel right,” they may tell the child. When we tell a lie, it changes our digestive function more than it changes our heart. Lying is consistently associated with a decrease in the slow waves of the digestive tract, as well as increased activity in the anterior cingulate gyrus of the cephalic brain.

Anxious mice calm down when they get an infusion of gut microbe from more mellow mice.
there came a momentin the middle if the songwhen he suddenly feltevery heartbeat in the roomand after that he never forgothe was part of something much bigger.- Brian Andreas
Whatever sensitivity develop in our lives, divine mystery, the Lat’if, will remain. But there are ways to discern some aspects of this mystery. To become more sensitive to our own vagus nerve, is one of those ways.

Clients tell us that everything is fine in their lives, except for their symptom – their headache, or their asthma. It’s an interesting statement, denying as it does the subconscious, the id, and the vagus.

Listen to me now: The symptom is the truth.

The symptom is the subconscious mind’s way of expressing what is out of kilter between the conscious director of my life, that is, my egoic self, or my identity or my personality. These facets of my being are all accrued phenomena, and ultimately insubstantial.

My vagus nerve, my biome, and my physical environment are all more substantial.

The subconscious aspects of the dreambody experience the drives, the dreams, the imperatives, the instinctive movements and decisions that go on to determine sleep, love, cognition, mood, appetite, and sensitivity.

We spend most of our waking hours not in touch with our inner world of feeling, we subjugate or suppress it, so that we may get through the day, and complete our ‘bullet list.’ Men, in particular, subjugate their feeling selves because they were taught, over and over again in childhood, that ‘men don’t cry’ and to ‘straighten up’ and ‘be like a man’ or ‘cowboy up,’ and not be ‘a sissy.’

In this way a person can go through forty years of life suppressing the world of feelings, the world below the neck. As Marion Woodman once pointed out, ‘Most people are dead from the neck down.’

To work with the vagus means to bring our self, and the world of feelings, into inclusion.

We have two brains: A cephalic brain and an enteric brain. When one brain gets upset, the other one does, too. The vagus itself can be divided, as Victor Porges does in his ‘Polyvagal Theory,’ into two departments. When people get the ‘butterflies’ before going on stage, or have an intestinal cramp during a job interview, their enteric brain is complaining. Heartburn can be the result of the cephalic brain being out of step with the enteric brain. And we can learn to listen to the information streaming in to our own enteric brain, concerning how well the client has integrated, or walled off, their emotional and feeling self.

The enteric brain is older than the cephalic. It originated when we were no more complex than a tubular undersea creature that stuck to a rock and waited for food to pass by. The enteric brain recognized where the food was in the tubular digestive tract, and managed the digestion of that food. As we became more complex, we added a second brain in our cranium, to manage locomotion and social organization, and kept the tubular or enteric brain as a primary, instinctive system.

The enteric brain is located in sheaths of tissue lining the esophagus, stomach, the small and the large intestines. It is a network of neurons, neurotransmitters and proteins that communicates within its own domain, as well as with the cranial brain. It has its own circuitry that allows it to act independently, to learn, to remember, and to produce what we call, ‘Gut feelings.’

When something comes out of us, ‘Straight from the gut,’ we are acting from our Vagus. We have 100 million neurons in the gut – more than in the spinal cord, and the same number as the corpus callosum posses. There are also glial cells in the gut, just as there are in the cerebral cortex.
We humans have about 100 trillion bacteria on and in our bodies; we only have 10 trillion human cells. So we are 10:1. We carry 4 trillion viruses. - Carl Zimmer, ‘The race to Create the Best Anti-Viral Drugs, Fresh Air, NPR, 04.18.12
 The vagus itself is composed of a few thousand nerve fibers. Thus vagus is a communicator between the two brains, but not a brain as such. I experience the vagus like a giant radio antenna, dipped in the social world, the world of feelings that rule the body, from the neck down.

The enteric brain plays a major role in happiness and misery. Most gastrointestinal conditions such as ulcers, colitis, and irritable bowel syndrome originate in the enteric brain, not in the cranial one, or in the egoic structures of the sufferer.

Both brains can get addicted to opiates.

Nearly every substance that helps to run and control the cranial brain is also present in the enteric brain – benzodiazepines, enkaphalins, serotonin, dopamine, glutamate, nitric oxide, and norepinephrine. The enteric brain sends and receives impulses, records experiences, and responds to emotions.

Our digestive tracts are host to about one hundred trillion bacteria, virus, fungi and other tiny creatures, the ‘gut biome.’As one gastroenterologist noted, ‘We are ten percent human and ninety percent poo.’

VNS, or vagal nerve stimulation, is a FDA-approved treatment that uses a small, battery-powered device to send signals through the vagus to deep cephalic brain structures that regulate mood. VNS is sometimes used in the treatment of intractable, treatment-resistant depression. The exact reason that VNS is helpful is not scientifically understood. - John Colapinto, ‘Lighting the Brain,’ The New Yorker, 05.18.15, p.75

It can be a helpful homework, a meaningful meditation, to take some time at the end of the day to review the principal events of that day.

In your first pass, review the events of the day as you saw or experienced them at the time. At the time you may have reacted or responded quite quickly, on a conscious level, or in an instinctive or habitual way, affected by your conditioning. Once you have done that, then do your best to drop deeper into your true self, and journey ‘below the neck,’ so that you can experience those same events at a feeling level. If this works for you, you may come to notice that your responses could have been different, and that these different responses would most likely have created a different relational fields around you. In addition, they may also have created a different tone in your own body, a different day, perhaps even a different life.

We only need the slightest shift in perception, and openness to the world of feelings, to release clarity of consciousness, and healing. Neem Keroli Baba, the teacher of Ram Das, summed up his entire understanding in the phrase, ‘Love Everybody.’ Ramana Maharishi noted, ‘There is no other.’ The phrase most of us know the best is Jesus observation, ‘God is love.’ If we can live in that place, our whole world changes.

Freud said that a case history should read like a short story. It should include everything.

Those with a physical problem prefer to hear an esoteric psychological explanation for their condition. Those with an emotional problem prefer to hear a down to earth, physical explanation. 

Here I speak of those, and there are many, who say, “I would be so happy, except for my (add a symptom in this space).” The real learning begins with accepting the wisdom and the potential for a better, more aligned life that is held within the symptom. There are none so blind as those who do not wish to see. And, the apparently stable often have greater problems than the more obviously neurotic.
So we say, ‘The creaking gate lasts longest.’

Copyright © 2016 Hugh Milne, Visionary Craniosacral Work® LLC, The Milne Institute, All rights reserved.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

How to sit up straight

Do you find it hard to sit up straight in a chair--is your tendency to try to hold yourself up until you get tired, then slouch back down?

You are probably holding yourself up with the wrong muscles--superficial instead of core muscles, the rectus abdominis (the six-pack superficial ab muscles) and the erector spinae (outermost muscles extending in long strips along the spine). These muscles cannot hold you up, as they aren't postural muscles; once you tire your posture will collapse.

Here's an easy way to engage your core muscles, which can hold you upright in a much more relaxed and grounded way. 

Think about the two bones in your arm. The ulna extends from little finger to elbow. The radius extends from thumb up the inside of the arm. Our tendency, sitting all day and working at a computer, is to forget about the ulnar side of the arm and to act as if the whole arm is just one radius, so we rotate that around and get carpal tunnel pinching. The same problem is behind tennis elbow, climber's elbow, etc. 

The ulnar side of the arm connects you to your core. So think about reaching your elbows down and out, like your elbows are wingtips and you're lifting them up. Feeling the stretch that goes right to the muscles between your shoulder blades.

Next, place your feet flat on the floor and feel your toes on the ground. Push the ground away with your toes. This activates core muscles in your low back (multifidi) and in the front (transversus abdominis, the extensor in the front of abdomen). 

It should feel easy to sit straight.

You don't have to keep it up all day long. But when you remember, push with the toes and reach with the elbows, as a nice reminder of what it feels like to be connected.

Monday, November 18, 2013

How to lengthen postural muscles

Tonic muscles, or postural muscles, are those that act to create posture--they help you oppose gravity and stay upright. Because these muscles are often overused or traumatized, they are often shortened or tight.

Vladimir Janda identified the following as tonic muscles (from this site):

  • gastroc-soleus
  • tibialis posterior
  • hip adductors
  • hamstrings
  • rectus femoris
  • iliopsoas
  • tensor fascia lata
  • piriformis
  • thoraco-lumbar extensors
  • quadratus lumborum
  • pec major
  • upper trapezius
  • levator scapulae
  • scalenes
  • sternocleidomastoid
  • upper limb flexors
All of these muscles are focused on in the Rolfing 10-series.

The key to lengthening postural muscles is to identify a vector for that muscle--most often, just get a sense of up-down. When you put your awareness on a postural muscle--say the bicep--project the length of the muscle out into space. Straighten your own arm, and push against the back of your forearm to try to bend your own arm. First put all your focus into only the muscle. Feel how the tricep struggles. Then think of the vector of your bicep and extend it out into space, projecting as if your bicep is very long. And notice how the muscle becomes very solid and almost relaxed even as you push against yourself. You have become about five times stronger simply by changing your focus.

The key to lengthening hamstrings is to change the relationship of your feet with the floor. Have your hamstrings lengthen through your heels and into the earth, and notice how they relax as you walk.

All the postural muscles deal with your presence in space, the relationship between inside and outside. They can be considered space muscles, not body muscles--and your way of looking at space can maximize their efficiency.

So as you're walking around during your day with a soft, peripheral gaze, think of extending vectors from each of the long muscles that support you upright. See how it feels.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

Peripheral vs. focal vision

One of the main organs that controls how we organize our posture is our eyes. We orient in space through our vision, and oftentimes, because the dominant eye moves to our own sense of gravity, we develop a tilt of the head--a postural lesion.

We can soften the dominance of one or both eyes by closing the eyes and noticing the feet. The baroceptors of the feet, which sense the ground and organize to it, get more sensitive without the vision setting up a clench of the ankles, a preparation to move toward what we are focusing on. Eyes closed, the feet relax--and that relaxation affects the entire posture, from knees to hips to shoulders and neck.

Of course, you can't move that efficiently with eyes closed. So you can try, instead, to change the gaze to a peripheral, broader one, instead of a focused one. Notice that when you soften your vision and widen it to reach into the periphery, your ankles remain unclenched--you have increased flexibility of your tibia (large leg bone) on your talus (ankle bone)--you're grounded rather than contracted. Notice how your hips respond when you change your gaze from focused and narrow to peripheral. The hip joints become more relaxed as your gaze softens and broadens.

Peripheral vision is about having what you look at come toward you. You become the wall--there is no more me vs. the other. It creates something called "postural empathy" and engages the mind on a subcortical level, which involves an awareness of pure space, an openness to all that is, without having to define it.

Focal vision, on the other hand, is about having your eye pop out to what you look at. It engages the mind on a cortical level, and thus makes associative judgments of what you see based on what you already know--linking images to your past history and existing knowledge.

If you want to get beyond your old patterns and habits of being, if you want to re-organize in present time, go to the periphery with your vision. Broaden your gaze.

The first session of Rolfing is about the relationship of the shoulder girdle (often referred to as G') to the pelvic girdle (often referred to as G). The relative position of G' to G will affect your breathing, your gait pattern, as well as the contraction pattern of your lower back muscles. G', in the chest area, is where we mirror relationships with others; if your shoulder girdle tends to be forward of your pelvic girdle, you might also think about bringing more peripheral vision into your awareness, as a peripheral gaze brings G' back and will change the entire breathing and walking pattern.

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Principles of Motion

I don't know the source of this because it was a handout from my kundalini yoga training, but I love the info--it's a great reminder...

1. Breath
Allow the breath to do the work.

2. Gravity
The physics of gravity–forces of up and down (ferris wheel); levers, pivots, joints and muscles
Laws of physics momentum:
- law of inertia: objects that are at rest, stay at rest. Objects in motion tend to stay in motion, in a straight line, unless an external force changes the direction.
- momentum: resistance (mass + friction)= motion
- law of reaction: for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.

3. Above down, inside out
Move from the navel point. Your core or natal nervous system is at your navel point. The actual navel center is two inches below the umbilicus (belly button). When you move and speak from here, you can be 100% behind the action of words.

4. Instantaneous axis of rotation
Maintain a stable and central axis.

5. Develop deep roots
Maintain a solid base. Establish the roots and set the navel point before moving or positioning the wings. Begin correctly. End gracefully.

6. Be aware of clear alignment.
Restrictions of big joints result in pain in smaller joints.
Wherever there is a restriction, there will be a compensation. (Physical, mental, spiritual)
Areas of hypo-mobility tend to be compensated for by areas of hypermobility.
If there is an area of weakness, other areas will compensate by contracting and restricting movement, in an attempt to stabilize the base.

7. Align all aspects and facets
Maintain awareness and focus by keeping the mind on Sat on the inhale and Nam on the exhale. Be aware of your thoughts and the architecture of the mind.
Flexibility begins in the mind.
If you start a posture correctly, with clear intentions, you will most likely end the posture correctly.
Maintain a specific dristi (eye focus in a specific direction)

8. Strengthen what you want to stretch and stretch what you want to strengthen.

9. Smile
The goal of yoga is happiness! Reflecting the goal on your face firmly establishes your desired outcome.
Maintaining this facial mudra, will let you know when you are using too much effort or when you have created excess discomfort
Smiling stimulates the immune system

10. Keep the outcome in mind.
The purpose to practicing yoga is to attain the attributes of a yogi. Beyond the polarities and into the blissful abyss.
You are the goal, be the person you want to be
Let go of what is not the essential you
The only time is NOW. The past is over, and the future is pure fantasy.
Utilize a command center beyond the body and mind. Use your reserve energy guided from the viewpoint of your Soul.

11. Vitality naturally becomes virtue.
Move from the navel.
Keep the heart open and the head follows.
A strong stable navel, will allow a full breath and diaphragmatic motion, allowing the heart to naturally open.

12. Commitment creates momentum.
Let go of patterns, stay focused, and go _through_ the exercise.
Do you best, with every breath, in every exercise and every kriya.
“Seize the Day.” Most exercises are 3 minutes or less. Get the maximum effect per second. Juice the moments, allow the Now to happen. Let go of the past, forget and future. Be here now!

13. Transformation is the path
We tend to fold on our preexisting creases. 

Monday, September 2, 2013

the shape of breath

We take on average 20,000 breaths a day. Because of this, the way we breathe is the single strongest reinforcement of postural patterns we take on in our bodies--thus, it is what creates the shape of our bodies.

The diaphragm is a flattish dome-shaped muscle that lies underneath the lungs. When we want to breathe in, the diaphragm contracts and pulls down, causing the chest to expand and the vacuum created to pull in air to fill the lungs. When we breathe shallowly, a shape of the body (barrel-chested) begins to be reinforced and the diaphragm may begin to flatten. This in turn creates less of a massaging effect by the diaphragm on the muscles and organs around it, and the result is less tonus and less ability to perform their functions.

The diaphragm interacts with a number of other horizontal structures throughout the body, acting in some cases like a lid and in others like a base in dividing the vertical lines of the body into compartments of support and energy transmission. When the diaphragm flattens or becomes less horizontal, all the other horizontal structures (the pelvic floor, thoracic outlet, and even the feet, knees, the palate in the mouth, and the tentorium--membranous structures in the head) are affected and in turn become less effective at massaging what they sandwich in the body.

I was thinking about how sometimes we get into yoga poses and are straining so much to force ourselves to look a certain way that the breath stops--or alternately, the breath becomes strained because the pose done in that way isn't correct for that particular body. The ability to breathe should become fuller if a pose is performed the way a body should perform it, because hatha yoga's intention is to horizontalize the diaphragms--to maximize the efficiency of the internal support network within the body.

Another context for the same idea: when I drive and get irked by other drivers my breathing becomes shallow--as if somehow, if I didn't breathe, I would block out the irritating thing that had just happened. But through not breathing, that's how the experience gets trapped in--and I become the irritation, because by not inhaling it in completely I don't give myself the opportunity to exhale it out. When trauma occurs, or something triggers you, breathe more deeply--and that's what creates the neutrality for the event to not stay in the body.

It comes from creating internal support. Everything we do should support the breath, and it in turn will support us.