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Stress relief: learn to let go with the fascia healing of Jack Boyd.

Daily we are bombarded with excessive stimuli and a changing environment. We feel the effects of stress that seem to linger in our bodies in the form of tense tissue, fatigue, inflexibility, and pain. After a stressful day, our tissues can become cranky and irritable, with pain frequently diffused over broad areas like our back, shoulders, or neck. Stress continues to show up in familiar painful patterns that seem hard to escape. What can we do about it? Is it possible to get more permanent relief?

Let's look at the process of stress. So many times we react to our subconscious interpretation of stress by unconsciously tensing a familiar set of muscles. This could one or more combinations of tensing our jaws, our shoulders, or our neck. At the same time, we usually hold or constrain our breath and become more rigid as if to brace our self. Involved pairs of muscles consequently hold a high level of tension.

Noting a pattern, Dr. Ida P. Rolf felt we store our issues (emotional energy) in our tissue. Moshe Feldenkrais observed that all negative emotional expressions are accompanied by a shortening of flexor muscles (muscles that contract). Dr. Rolf further noted that an individual's level of erect posture depended on the degree of balance between his flexors (contracting muscles) and extensors (extending muscles). The energy in a chronically flexed body has to work just to hold it up; the person continuously has to add energy to that body to keep it going. This is exhausting and can lead to feelings of depression.

This is where fascia comes in. Our body is infused with a web of fascia. While a spider web is in a plane, our fascia is more like a three-dimensional sphere of connective tissue that connects everything with everything. It envelops and becomes the container of our body's components, including organs, muscles, and bones. Together with our muscles, Dr. Ida P. Rolf called myofascia the "organ of structure and support."

As our body's structure of support, fascia has a variable elastic and plastic quality that under stress will harden or "set" to accommodate a familiar movement pattern. We become "locked" in this familiar pattern. Some threads of the fascial web work will shorten, while others will lengthen, causing distortion. Our structure becomes unbalanced in the field of gravity. We then are forced to compensate by modifying our posture to feel more balanced. This, in turn, increases stress on a partial set of muscles that are forced to work harder to fight against the pull of gravity since they no longer are in balance. The surrounding overworked tissue gets irritated and sensitive, eventually even painful. Overall, the fascial system distorts and constricts, shrinking the internal space of this container. This throws all of the body's components out of alignment, causing abnormal friction, wear, and tear.

To interrupt this painful cycle of chronically shortened and stressed tissue, we first need to restore length, balance, movement, and eventually a different thought pattern. By focusing on the fascial relationships of our body's components, we can integrate our structure into a more efficient energy system. One of the most efficient and least invasive ways of doing this is through the process of structural integration (SI), developed by Dr. Ida P. Rolf. Practitioners of her methodology are trained either at the Guild for Structural Integration, the Rolf Institute, or in Hellerwork.

Structural Integration (SI) is a form of massage therapy and body education that focuses on lengthening and balancing our fascial network, organizing lasting change in our structure and integrating our components to make them more efficient in form, function, and fluidity. Rather than focusing on pathological patterns of disease, it supports the structural pattern of health, invoking health.

Simply by using controlled pressure, SI practitioners add energy to the myofascial system, causing it to "melt," expand, and lengthen, becoming more elastic and pliable. The fascial layers are organized and balanced, invoking a sense of health and well-being.

Experience stress reduction in several ways. Increase your ability to breathe: a primary goal of the very first session. As your chest becomes more flexible and expansive, more air is processed more efficiently. Less energy is consumed by the more efficient balanced system. Your awareness of breath increases as you are trained to follow your breath to help release your fascia. It becomes more noticeable when you inhibit breathing during a stressful event. And as stored energy is released in a particular area of your body, you might experience familiar feelings of earlier stress stored in that tissue. This presents a new opportunity to become conscious of familiar stress-producing thoughts. And finally, a balanced system is naturally not stressed. A feeling of wellness influences your positive attitude and interpretation of events around you.

try this

Great way to de-stress:

(1) On the right side of your neck, press the middle three fingers of your left hand into the top of your neck, just below the base of your skull.

(2) Slowly drag your fingers down and over toward your right shoulder while simultaneously tilting your head to the left. Your left ear should approach your left shoulder as you move between your neck and shoulder.

(3) Use only enough pressure to feel some resistance, which will give away with a feeling of "melting" the fascia.

(4) Repeat this motion several times, then switch hands to work the left side of your neck.

Jack Boyd, LMBT, uses the original Roll method of Structural Integration in his practice at Asheville Structural Integration, 830 Hendersonville Road, in Asheville, NC. Contact him at 828 230-9218 or at
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Title Annotation:breathe in
Author:Boyd, Jack
Publication:New Life Journal
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jun 1, 2005
Words:935
Previous Article:Healing begins with nature: Tom Wright interviews traditional herbal healer Rosita Arvigo.
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