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Breath, movement, and wellness: an exclusive interview with Donald Epstein, father of Network Spinal Analysis.

Dr. Donald Epstein is the developer of what has now become Network Spinal Analysis (NSA), as well as the Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI) methodology. He is the author of numerous articles, publications, and books including The 12 Stages of Healing, and Healing Myths, Healing Magic.

Q: How would you describe the importance of breath and movement in the healing arts?

A: Breath and movement are both integral to a person's experience of life and the quality and quantity of their response. When a person is restricted or excessive in his breath and movement, he is distracted from living life in a most adaptive and authentic way.

Most methodologies that are called healing methodologies, in my opinion, are in a different ballgame than I am speaking about. I don't mean that they are not serving an important function. Regardless of how natural or less invasive a method is, if the paradigm they are built upon is to control a person's experience of their body or adaptive response, or to restore that individual to his old self minus the symptom or condition, then we are speaking of a totally different approach. This requires different outcomes, and a different "yardstick" for successful care.

Q: So you are saying that if they are not incorporating breath and movement, most especially, then they can't really be a "healing" work?

A: If they are not at least considering an assessment of the breath and movement that is occurring as care progresses, then their scope and potential for healing is limited. A practitioner doesn't always have to instruct or create movement direct. Instead the practitioner needs to at least notice if it's spontaneously happening or not. For example, the practitioner might notice at what point in the consultation or intervention does the client breathe, or restricts breathing? At what point do they start or restrict motion?

Q: How does breath and movement play a role in both Somato-Respiratory Integration and Network Spinal Analysis?

A: Both Somato-Respiratory Integration (SRI) and Network Spinal Analysis (NSA) fall under the umbrella called Network Care. Let's start with NSA.

When an individual experiences stress physiology due to a stressful event, the expectation of a stressful event, or a memory or recurrence of the event, there is inhibition of the accessory muscles of respiration. The blood supply to the frontal lobe of the cerebral cortex is inhibited, is diminished. This is the part of the brain that coordinates conscious choice and higher human thought and development. A person is geared to focus on the outside, not the inside. They are set to battle or retreat, not to relate or communicate. Thus, they lose their ability to discern subtle cues within and around them.

A person loses his ability to be aware of his body. Not only does he lose the depth, range and spinal involvement with breathing, but he is not even aware of these changes. The individual is not aware that he is not aware.

The fundamental mechanism at the very basis of Network Care is that the person becomes more aware of his or her breathing. The gentle touch utilized in Network Care instantly results in a deeper, more natural, and spinally integrated respiration. Research demonstrates a person's awareness of breath is statistically linked to enhanced well-being and healthier choices. And so is awareness of their body movement.

Q: Can you say more about movement?

A: Within Network Care, the gentle touch to the spine is at the Spinal Gateway regions, which are basically access points into the system, so to speak. When a Spinal Gateway is contacted between the area of the neck and the back with a gentle touch, the brain is cued to connect to it. The mind and its transcendent awareness then allow for a new organizational strategy that basically puts parts of the body into motion that were not formally in motion. It produces natural and self-regulatory motions. It produces oscillation in the body, rhythmic movement that connects the individual to himself. The specific motion we see is the exterior sensory motor strategy of rocking a vertebra in what is called a somatopsychic wave. It is a byproduct of Network Care. It develops and is nurtured through this care. This dolphin-like wave and the rocking of the vertebra, tends to produce what appears to be a meditative state in the body and the ability to focus on the internal state even when the external stressors are getting rather intense. So a person can focus on the internal cues, and the adaptive response, rather than the cultural and habitual defensive reaction to the world. This is very, very important. And in Network Care, eventually, we work with people where the person can start using the tension as fuel to reorganize the system to new levels of organization.

Q: And SRI?

A: The idea here is that awareness of the body, its breath and its movement, and the allowing of the natural rhythms that develop produce an instantaneous merging of a respiratory rhythm and the body's somatic rhythm. Somato (body) Respiratory (breathing) Integration is designed to offer you new options in your experience of your body and your personal healing. It educates you to your body's rhythms and inner wisdom through focused attention, gentle breath, motion, and touch.

With SRI you will experience having the "higher" brain focus its attention on a region and/or sensation that was formerly repressed, discarded, denied or desensitized. This work allows for greater connections between your higher brain and your body, fostering the ability to focus your attention on your body and develop internally customized structural choices for your body and for your life. We are seeking a habit of embodied awakening

Many of our crises occur when we become "unconscious" of our body, or a region of our body, and take it for granted. Thus, we lose an important element of the interface between body and mind. It is easier to make frequent small reassessments and adjustments in life than to have life force you to make a sudden large change. The intent of SRI is to help lion develop the somatic habit of consistent "spontaneous reassessments, self-adjustments, and corrections of your body, its structure, and its relationship to your life. In this way, you can be more flexible and adaptable to the demands, suggestions, and encouragements of life.

Q: How can people connect with their breath and movement on their own, especially if they don't have access to Network Care?

A: Since there is nothing I know that produces the types of changes that we have in Network Care, I think a person should travel to get the care, because there is no substitute for it.

If you can't do that, then I suggest that you put your hands on your body directing the motion exclusively under your hand. Lie on your back, or be seated. Touch your upper chest with both hands, palms facing downward, and breathe slowly, and gently in through your nose and out through your mouth. Breathe just deep enough to feel your breath meet the rhythm of your chest rising and falling. Localize the area of motion to just the zone under your hands. Do not allow other areas of the body to recruit motion. Repeat this process for a few respiration cycles. Now do the same exercise with your hands placed at the bottom of your breastbone and breathe the same way. Then place your hands on your abdomen (near your navel) and repeat. Remember to breathe just into the area where your hands are placed.

If this exercise is very difficult to do in one of these regions, move to a different region that feels more comfortable and at which you can focus the breath and movement with greater ease. Let the peace you experience there spread to the region where you felt discomfort. Once you have found the "connection" in peace and can focus the breath and motion into just that area, then alternate between this area and the area of distress. When you hold the area of distress, get breath as close to that area of the body as possible, and moan or make the "sound of that area" which is the sound that area would want to make if it could speak. After the sound is made in this area (no more than thirty seconds on this area of distress), bring both hands back to the area of connection of peace. This is the basic SRI exercise. Make a sound of peace of ease or relief at this area.

Understand that all symptoms, all restrictions, all constrictions and all confinements in the body are there to help us to change our behavior or change who we are being. The difficulty is that we must develop new strategies to make that change. None of these changes are intellectually developed. They all organically just become "ah ha!" at the right time.

I am suggesting that the individual find an area of peace and bring the peace into the area of distress, because you could never resolve something from the consciousness that created it. And whatever area of your body is the anchor to peace, to the transcendent self and to wholeness, we need to amplify that so that is no longer background stimulation for the brain, but that is primary stimulation from the brain.

Dr. Simon Senzon practices chiropractic with his wife Susan and their associate Renee Graziano on Charlotte Street in Asheville, N.C. He can be reached at 828-251-0815 or www.HealYourSpine.com.
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Author:Senzon, Simon A.
Publication:New Life Journal
Article Type:Interview
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Feb 1, 2004
Words:1592
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