I’ve written a fair bit on this site trying to explain what i have learned while healing myself from a fairly bad illness/condition so that others may benefit. How I’ve now gone from being in a pretty bad way to where i am now (all well and good and getting stronger with every day). How those things that affected me (and so many others) are connected to many of the issues we see with health today – I’ve spent a great deal of time practising and playing with various methods and i’m now at a point where i understand that we will never truly understand the processes that are happening but if we truly learn to listen to the signals (and act upon them), we can trigger and continue to facilitate the bodies own healing mechanisms. We seem to have forgotten that as an adaptive mechanism (that has been adapting for a long time), the mindbody complex is very good at healing – if only we can lessen (or remove) those things that are preventing it from doing this and re-introduce those that assist.
One of the more powerful negative influences being our own mind – the “front brain” to be more precise (or less precise if we look at the whole left brain right brain idea in depth – see Tony Wright and Iain McGilchrist for more on this). If we can lessen the control/interference of this aspect of the brain we will have made a good start. Add to that some “play” with simple (anthropological) resting postures, a small dose of “focus meditation” (only necessary in the early stages) and utilising certain (very powerful) facial movements to our advantage and we’ve got something very special indeed.
I am aware that i have not exactly been efficient with words and it’s not beautiful prose – but, as they say, there is gold in them there hills. I’m going to try my best to explain the “techniques” i have learned/created (with assistance from a very good friend over in the good old US of A – you know who you are Mr. M.) and more importantly, try to convey the most important skill/practice, that of truly listening to your body – to listen to (and act upon) the subtle (and not so subtle) messages that will allow you to not only heal but to achieve a higher level of performance than previously thought in all aspects of life. I say this not to hype up the methods or techniques but we are going to be working with the system towards it’s optimal state of being.
“Play” is a hugely important aspect of all of the techniques below – the spirit of exploration of your own body in a playful manner – Simply moving and feeling, following the bodies urges to move in certain ways – it’s trying to tell you something – go with it and listen again. Don’t resist, go with it and do what it says. You can’t go wrong, just give in to it. It might tell you to do crazy things like stand still and do a huge smile. If it does, do it. It will then give you another signal.
I should make it clear that while the kisssmilebreatherepeat and kissing “techniques” are useful as short term management tools and long term adaptative tools (and feel great which is reason alone to try them), they are not necessary if you enter into the resting positions on a hard surface with persistence as that is the ultimate “reset” and will come with plenty of movement, both subtle and not so. Many of the movements will have you (your “front brain”) wondering what the system is doing, making you do that – but if you follow what is being asked of you, you will soon see why. Simply the suggestion of those other practices is enough. Try them once and see if you like them – if you do, the system will ask you to do them again. If not, it won’t – yet. Due to our overly stimulated modern lifestyles we do need intervention somewhere and these are one small tool to help. The resting is not optional.
Ok, we might as well get straight into it.
KissSmileBreatheRepeat – Smile when you breath in and kiss when you breathe out – smile a bit deeper, push the kiss out further – stretch those facial muscles. Do some small ones, tiny little puckers, it’s all exploring what feels good, what you need. Only breathe through your nose and allow whatever happens to happen – yawning, vibrations in the tongue/mouth, breath holding itself, whatever. Let it happen. If the mouth wants to stay in a kiss as you breath back in, it’s because it needs to – let it and it will let you know when it’s ready to move. Do this for 3 cycles, 5 cycles or 10 cycles. It’s up to you but the frequency of doing it is what counts, not doing it for ages each time. Doing 5 breaths like this frequently is just as good as having loads of time to do it. Oh and as i’ve already said (and i’ll keep saying as it’s important), “play” with it – This is fun, not serious – don’t worry about doing it right – if you are smiling and kissing and breathing (ideally through your nose), you are good to go. A particularly beneficial time to do this is as you settle into one of the resting positions below although any time is good.
Kissing – Use the motion of the kiss as a “reset” for your facial muscles, in particular the middle of the forehead and the muscles and fascia around the maxilla. If you live a modern “western” lifestyle, you almost certainly have a fair bit of facial tension and this is the motion that releases that tension. It’s like the valve at the top of the pressure cooker that is your body. Even as tension is released from other areas (unwinds/tremors/whatever name you wish to give them), the face is gathering more tension in response to these releases. It (particularly the corrugator supercilli with their relationship to “front brain” activity) will always have something to “say” about what’s happening – analysing, questioning – the kiss will release this – It helps get rid of any excess tension that the face is constantly gathering – Both from a muscluar point of view and brain activity as there is a connection between this expression and down regulating the “front brain”.
Much of this tension is (usually) passed further down the chain to the neck, shoulders, back and beyond (masseters and trapezius in particular) as part of a coping mechanism – like storage. So the kiss is like an escape valve. Often after doing this your face will want to pull back into a smile/yawn and as we now know, go with it, allow those crazy yawns and other movements to happen – your mindbody is doing what it needs to restore your optimal health/state.
Doing the kiss while looking upwards is especially powerful (one reason being the “shortening”/relaxing of the superficial back chain which assists this process) and will eventually start a cascade of release throughout the body, not least because of the effect on other “circular” or “sphincter” type muscles and various nerves in the face/neck. Add a slow turning of the head from side to side while looking up and you can achieve some major release throughout the whole body. As well as looking up and rotating the head, moving body parts around when doing this has already proven highly effective with a number of people. Even something as simple as walking and activating the kiss release can reap major rewards. It’s all in moving (mindfully) and listening.
I find it also helps to think of the smile as acceptance and the kiss as the letting go. If you find a block/tension, try smiling at it (ideally a soft, Tao inner smile but not to worry, any smile will do) and then kiss to let it go. You can repeat this as often as you like. It can take time with major blocks but it will help. Not all blocks need acceptance but it won’t harm to smile at them. Eventually your face will adopt the necessary expression that is best for each block you come across and the expression will change when it feels appropriate but as a general guide, i find the aforementioned approach to be very useful at first.
Push that kiss right out, do short little ones – explore the chemistry and energy changes that happen in different positions – see what works for you, what feels good. Follow the urges and all will be good. Check in with the top lip too – see if it is forming a full kiss – it may not at first and you may want to work with little ones to get there as that feels best. It’s the feeling good we are looking for – it feels good for a reason – i know i’ve said that before but i’ll keep saying it until it sticks. Do it frequently and whenever you feel stressed – and when you don’t – do it for fun or just to look weird. This one is really powerful given time. The kiss/mouth has a direct link to our freeze response via the perineum/kundalini/base chakra. You only need to do a few at a time – and don’t be surprised if you get tremors or weird noises coming from your mouth after doing it for a while – and it might take a while but they will almost certainly start to happen. If you have chronic anxiety/OCD, do this when it gets triggered – as you are about to do whatever it is that you do – Going to wash your hands again – stop and kiss as you do – going to check the lights and kettle again – stop and kiss (if you remember, no worries if not) – still do the thing you have to do, be curious about what you are doing – do what the system asks – wash you hands until you stop – check the door 50 times if you have to – don’t think you are daft for doing it – just keep going until it stops – even talk to it while you are doing it – ask it to let you know why you are doing it, you are genuinely interested. However long it takes – it/you will get tired eventually. Try the kiss too though, you will be nicely surprised. Smile and kiss – accept the anxiety and then release it. It has no defence to that.
Resting positions with ” focus meditation”.
There are two main starting positions and they exist for specific reasons – One is protective and one is open and confident – one can be used as a stressor/kickstart and one is used to protect and allow healing through absolute protection and rest. As with everything , we need balance and between these two, we have it. Again, the element of play and exploration is key as you will be making adjustments to your position fairly soon – as directed by those urges. You will be amazed at how a subtle shift of hand position or wrist angle can set off a chain of release simply because you have found an opening into a “line” of tension, sometimes going from one end of the body to the other and whether emotional trauma, postural compensation or otherwise, it doesn’t matter – it just is and is doing what it needs to.
The first position is lying in (something close to) the fetal position (the ultimate reset) and the other is on your back with your hands by your side, palms up or down (depending on how you feel) just like the “corpse” pose (Savasana) in yoga. There are other positions we can use (and if you are tuning in and being told to start in something different, do it) but these are a great starting point for the reasons explained above. Lying on your back is also very effective with your hands behind your head, fingers interlinked like a pillow/cradle for your head. I won’t go into the postural adaptations that take place in both positions but they are hugely important, especially with regards to the trapezius/scapular region and shoulder rotation (and the rear deltoids which we will discuss another time – you’ll feel them soon enough). The effects of change here are felt far and wide.
Once in one of these positions, we do what feels good/right – Your body will tell you what to do – you just have to follow the urges – “Oh, the arm is not comfy there – how about this slight change in position – ah that feels comfy – Oh, you want me to put that arm there – Ok” – Take the curious, playful approach and magic will happen. Those urges are there for a reason. Want to pull the knees up higher? -do it and see what happens -move them back down a bit, Ok, you’ll find it soon enough. We are not trying to find perfect alignment here – the body will do that (according to it’s plan, not someone elses) if you follow it’s instructions. One tip i will give though is that the ideal starting point (in my experience) for the fetal position is with the lower arm/hand underneath tucked under the head on a firm/hard surface – and straight out when on a much softer surface (such as a bed) as the curve allowed by a soft surface will (usually, especially with a sprung mattress) negate the need for a hand or arm to support the head (optimal angles etc). This will probably change very quickly (all be it subtly) but i believe it to be the optimal starting point. Lying your head on the underarm/hand can be tough at first so try it and when it says move, move. (This adaptation will almost certainly accompany major release in the rear shoulder).
We need to remember that we are looking to “become one” with the surface we are on and that doesn’t come straight away with surfaces that we are not adapted to. We are becoming yin to the floors yang. But instead of “forcing” a position (as with when we correct our alignment in yoga for example) and trying to learn to be good in that position, we are allowing the body to find that optimal position itself. Which it will do. It may have some curves and shapes on the way but it will get there – and when it does, it will be effortless. Call it reverse engineered yoga if you like.
Because we (most of us) have become so front brain dominated, receiving signals (and acting upon them) can be tough at first and that is why i will suggest the following to help you get started. Direct your awareness (attention if you prefer, not a strong focus though) to the area just below the nose – you can think of the breath going in and out of the nostrils, check how the upper lip feels or even take your focus to the inside of your mouth, just above the front two teeth and below the nose – all will do. Just be aware of how this area feels. Through the effect this has on the facial muscles/nerves, this affects brain activity in a way that is optimal for our purposes – equanimity. Then you follow the signals – which will come through much stronger when adopting this “technique”. Usually you will (first) be directed to tension in the eyes/forehead – go there and be with it. Do as “instructed” (move your face in a “funny” way, allow your leg to start shaking etc) and continue following, knowing that the better you get at watching whatever is going on, the better job the system will do at healing itself (you). If you get lost or the process seems to stop, return to the start and it will rapidly find it’s way back to where it was (usually via the forehead briefly in the early stages) and continue the process. One thing that can help is to imagine that you have a team of mini you’s inside you and they are running around fixing things – they come across something and yell at you “hey, shine that torch here would you buddy, we just need to sort this out and it’s awful dark down here”. You can even try this if you like – when you feel tension or pain, just say to them “hey, come and have a look at this area would you?” – “see if anything needs doing here” – then leave them to it and they will let you know when they are done.
This process is not pain free – you may well experience moments of depression, anxiety, anger, euphoria and so on – This is the “release” of emotional “trauma”/memories and should you need someone to talk to during these periods (and you have no one else) i am here to talk. This is an important part of the process and is why it is wonderful if you happen to have someone else willing to journey with you. There will almost certainly be “muscular” discomfort/”soreness” as “releases” happen to but continue to listen and it will work out. Being “with” pain is a wonderful way to release pain. Acknowledge it, sit with it and even be curious about it without judging or trying to change it and you (the system) will work wonders.
In the early stages, modern life/habits/external stimulation will try to pull you off course but the more you “practice”, the more they will have no pull on you as you will have changed. They will no longer be a distraction.
Obviously any significant postural change will be assisted by “nutritious” movement patterns to help re-integrate those adaptations. Years of (musculoskeletal) adaptation may cause a certain a mount of “pull back” when shifts happen – but with some simple mindful movement (applying the same techniques of following the messages as above), you can imprint these changes for good. A simple regimen of crawling (leopard crawl) with squatting as a resting position alone will do wonders, as will lots of walking and eventually sprinting (not straight away though, a little too intense while shifts are happening).
I think that just about does it for now, It will need re-writing no doubt but all the basic tools are there. Good luck and please let me know how you get on.