“What we perceive becomes our reality”
Just as the long distance runners muscles adapt to make him or her more efficient at this particular “skill”, so the muscles of the face adapt to being tense – the more often they are “tense” (reacting to stimulation, talking, multi tasking on a computer), the more tense they become. Constant over stimulation, much of which is negative, just look at “the news” that we in the “developed” world subject ourselves to. Amounts of stimulation that our brain has not had time adapt to – In the evolutionary blink of an eye we have lifestyles that we can not cope with – proven by the massive rise of “dis-eases” linked to “stress”. As a living organism we adapt to our environment. Those muscles that “tighten”, “shorten” affect the messages that are sent to the “brain” – Affects the chemistry and energy that happens in the brain. The “messenger” here is the muscles of the face/eyes/ears etc – and tense muscles send a tense message – you perceive that thing more negatively, more anxiously than you should – than is real. And so begins the negative feedback loop.
If we “feel” differently, we perceive differently.
The mechanics of this are simple – you perceive something – see something, hear something, feel something – and you react – how you react being dependant on what it is you are reacting to and how you “feel” about what you are reacting to. How you feel being dependant largely on your chemistry. And when your chemistry is out of kilter, everything is out of kilter.
When we alter how we “feel” – about the world, our environment, others, we change our perception of things – If we change our perception, the triggers for anxiety, depression, OCD and other challenges can just disappear – This is why the Pharma approach can often be highly successful in the very short term. How we feel is largely affected by the chemicals secreted by a number of glands in our heads/”brains”. That’s why these chemicals are “synthesised” and used in the treatment of these “dis-eases”. One of these glands (Pineal) has been shown to be atrophied at a very young age in “western” society – A combination of “poor” diet, additives, sodium flouride (water, toothpaste and other sources) and various other influences all play a part, as can not being breast fed (but not from a simply nutritional standpoint – it’s to do with jaw structure and muscular development), dental work, knocks to the head – and the list goes on – And while we can change and control some of these things, this method is concerned with what we do once these “dis-eases” have “taken hold”. We can bring about long term, permanent change through changing the way we “feel”/perceive and effecting muscular/structural adaptation to ensure lasting results.
One very powerful way of stepping into this loop and changing the course of events is “Play” – Play is an important part of this method – when we approach something as play, it changes our perception – it changes the way we activate the muscles of our face – we smile “from the eyes” and this changes the way our nervous system stimulates the limbic system and the glands of the endocrine system. It takes the “trying” out of what we are doing and in doing that, it takes the tension with it.
Look at something (an image maybe) that would scare you or make you feel uncomfortable. Now smile and think “play”. See how you “feel” differently – now i’m not suggesting for one second that we start smiling at horrible things or de-conditioning ourselves to genuinely nasty things or events but it shows you how you can change your chemistry/mood/behaviour through changing your perception/facial movements/language.
Certain movements of the face stimulate the secretion of certain chemicals. We know that smiling produces seratonin, dopamine, endorphins and other chemicals – We also know that the “type” of smile affects the particular “cocktail” that is secreted. We know that kissing stimulates the release of dopamine, oxytocin, seratonin and endorphins etc etc. But how does this happen on a mechanical level?. Simple. The movement of your muscles (some very small) stimulates the nerves to stimulate the glands to secrete these chemicals. Form your mouth into a kiss and feel the release, different in each stage of the kiss (if you go through the motion slowly). Form a smile and feel it – then imagine you are “playing” with the smile and feel the difference – think of something cheeky or genuinely funny and see what happens – You engage different muscles (small muscles of the eye, temporal lobe region etc) and you get a different sensation – This is chemistry – natures own medicine cabinet.
This is a technique/method that can help with a number of “dis-eases”. Many of the lifestyle related dis-eases we see in the “developed world” effectively come back to the same thing – Stress, tension, inflammation We can complicate this by looking at symptoms and parts of what are happening, using technical language to make ourselves sound more knowledgeable or the science more profound – but it effectively comes back to tension – to stress – to dis-ease. It shows when you look at the most recent studies (and treatments) into a long lost of diseases that many of them are using the same chemicals, just in different combinations, to combat many of these illnesses. The very chemicals that are part of what we will be working with naturally with these methods. In short, this will not only manage these conditions but eventually remove the very triggers, perceptions and tension/stress that cause them – curing them long term.
We in the “modern” world are subject to a vast amount of stimulation on a daily basis. With our hectic, multi tasking “addicted” lifestyles – Always “waiting”, ready for the next bit of news – another facebook post, text reply, email – another person to respond to, TV, radio, internet etc etc. This has a very detrimental effect on our chemical “balance”, producing/secreting cortisol, adrenaline and other chemicals associated with the sympathetic nervous system, inflammation and stress. As we now know, we (primarily) stimulate the release of these chemicals with the movement of the (small) muscles of the face, eyes, ears and mouth/tongue.
As mentioned above, these chemicals play a massive part in our overall health. Our mood (depression amongst many other “dis-eases”), behaviour (ADD, ADHD etc etc), inflammation (poor vagus nerve health). Whether it be the direct effects of oxytocin, melatonin , seratonin, DMT etc – or the knock on effect of having healthy melatonin production/secretion on the production of other “super” chemicals such a glutathione, the importance of these chemicals is hard to over state. I’ve already mentioned the long list of “dis-eases” that many of this chemicals are now being used to treat (particularly melatonin) but the implications are huge. Depression is already treated widely with melatonin and drugs that affect seratonin re-uptake. Anxiety is also treated with drugs that affect seratonin levels/re-uptake. Autistic spectrum “disorders” are now being linked with melatonin and seratonin – the list really is very long.
This is why the Pharma approach has become so popular in modern medicine. If we can alter/affect the chemistry, we can have a profound effect on the condition being dealt with. The problem here is that the synergy between the workings of the human body/mind (nervous/endocrine/limbic systems etc) are far too complicated – and the distribution of these chemicals in all their individual doses/cocktails so complex that we can never re-create the balance that the body truly needs – hence why you see one drug prescribed, only to be followed by another to balance out an imbalance created by the first one. It’s just way too complex to ever truly “treat” this way and it always will be.
As mentioned above, one of the important glands in all of this is the pineal gland. In studies performed in “western” society, the pineal gland is shown to have seriously atrophied in nearly all subjects by our late teens and early twenties. For something so important in our overall health this is not good. This premature atrophying is now known to be connected to alzheimers, dementia and other neuro-degenerative disorders as well as being directly connected to the ageing process. Studies done in “less developed” societies show pineal gland health to be good into the 50’s and 60’s.
Because of our “modern lifestyles” and the huge amount of stimulation (mostly negative – media) we are bombarded with daily – Particularly aurally and visually, we spend much of our time with our tongues (and facial muscles)”tight” – ready to respond to something – Always “thinking”. Like a lesser version of the fight/flight/freeze/protect (curl up into a protective ball) response – but with no actual “event” that utilises the chemicals being released – no actual fight in which to use that adrenaline. This constant “tension” results in an almost constant over release of chemicals (cortisol for example) that are useful when you need to fight or flee – but not so good when you have them constantly being drip fed into your system that doesn’t need them – or have a “healthy” outlet for them – the outlet ends up being being anxiety, OCD, “over thinking”. They are a primal response to deal with real problems (such as escaping death by large animal) and don’t do any favours to our health when produced and secreted in this way. The muscles stay tight, ready for action, telling our brain that we need these chemicals – even if what we “see” does not justify it, the message that is being sent by tense muscles is that we are “stressed” or in danger of some kind – that we need these chemicals – “what we perceive becomes our reality”. Imagine what would happen if you kept your bicep contracted for a number of days, as often as possible – it would eventually stay “tight” – mechanotransduction. That’s what is happening to our faces/jaws/tongues – only they have a very powerful effect on our chemistry.
This tension that we accumulate in our faces/jaws/tongues affects the way we stimulate the nerves of the face on a constant, long term basis – and that effects the amount and type of chemicals released – hour after hour, day after day – and so the negative loop continues. This negative feedback loop continues (often creeping up on us due to the “slow” nature of it) unless we somehow step into the loop and do something about it. This is why “chronic” anxiety and depression don’t appear overnight. This is not to say that conditions can’t appear earlier as pre-natal conditions also affect tension “held” in the body (tense parent, tense child, position prior to birth) and we know about the process of birth and the effect it can have on cranial bone position and muscular tension – My wife and i have experienced this ourselves with our daughter in particular.
Spending time in nature, breathing “well”/diaphragmatically, doing a colouring book instead of watching (certain types of) TV, exercise, CBT – all useful tools in coping with these conditions but often not enough to reverse the loop as the facial tension remains and the constant negative stimulation wins the battle. An hour of exercise vs 24 hours of negative stimulation via tight facial muscles – a hard battle to win for the exercise. This muscular tension also affects the position/alignment of the bones of the head, creating “blockages” and imbalances in cerebro-spinal fluid and this is why cranio sacral work can be so effective for many people (Simkovich and Autism for example). These “misalignments” can also directly impinge on the performance of other glands, especially the pineal, which, unlike the rest of the mammalian brain, is not separated by the blood brain barrier system and has profuse blood flow, second only to the kidney. Cerebro-spinal fluid also removes metabolic waste from the brain so it’s unhindered flow is very important.
So, we effectively need to make the most of our own chemistry and try to release the existing muscular/myofascial tension to allow us to move forward. So what if we had a way to not only stimulate these systems to release these chemicals in the “right”/”helpful”combinations and the “right” doses – but at the same time we “reset” and release those things that were causing the “imbalanced” stimulation in the first place? What if we changed what we perceived through changing how we “feel” – so that we became something that wasn’t stressed or tense, overly anxious or depressed. If we could feel differently, we’d perceive differently.
Well we have and we can. And we can affect long term change, creating a positive feedback loop – and it’s all done using the bodies own methods, with no external stimulation or medicine required.
So, let’s get right to it.
When you smile, you “naturally” release chemicals that counter inflammation, improve your mood and your behaviour. This is a good thing. You’ve heard “smiling is good for you” but when was the last time you heard about it being used as a therapeutic exercise? We hear that kissing makes us feel good and we know the chemical output so again i ask, why aren’t we using this as a “cure” for anxiety, depression, sleep problems etc when it releases the very chemicals we need to help counter these challenges?
When we kiss, as in form a pucker of the lips, we stimulate the trigeminal nerve (and it’s branches) in a particular way, releasing seratonin, melatonin, oxytocin, dopamine etc etc – sound familiar? Once again we are stimulating the pineal gland and pituitary gland (amongst others). Here’s where it gets interesting though. We have two simple acts that can affect our health immediately and profoundly – and are easy to do – but slightly different types of stimulation provided (to the trigeminal nerve and then beyond) by the kiss and the smile release slightly different cocktails of chemicals and you can feel this when you do it. A smile that engages the temporal lobes and eyes is very different that a “fake” smile.
Going through the range of motion from smile to kiss (and back again), not only will you release this wonderful cocktail of health giving, mood and behaviour altering chemicals, you also help to give your jaw a “workout” helping to strengthen muscles that are weaker and in turn, help to align the jaw better .One benefit of this is that a better aligned jaw means it’s more likely that your tongue will sit where it should, with the tip almost constantly stimulating the place that is believed to be the meeting place of yin and yang, the meeting of our two main energy channels. Stimulation of this area is also known to help relax the maxilla bone and upper jaw musculature which affects our breathing positively, being as this area has a strong neurologically connection to the diaphraghm – when it relaxes, so does the diaphragm. No surprise here really, where we take in our breath is connected to our breathing apparatus! Better alignment promotes less muscular/structural imbalance and helps with relieving muscular tension. If we want to get precise, when we inhale, we stimulate a place known in acupuncture as GV26 (sympathetic nervous system – associated with fight or flight) and when we exhale, we stimulate GV27 (parasympathetic nervous system – associated with rest and digest). These play a balancing act between those 2 systems which help to maintain a state of homoeostasis (balance) in the body/mind. If there is tension there, there will be tension in the breath and then tension in the body and mind.
By performing these exercises at the same time as we are secreting “feel good” and relaxing chemicals, it allows the movement to become easier, go further – “stretching” the muscles out of their tense state – Taking them through a range of motion they have probably not done for a long time. As this happens, you may well experience releases of tension – which can range from huge yawns to vibrations in the tongue, mouth (particularly the roof of the mouth) and eventually further afield if necessary – this is all good, it’s the body’s own innate healing mechanism, neurogenic tremors, doing their thing. Releasing stress, trauma and tension/”tightness”. Often you will also have an emotional release so don’t be surprised if you feel suddenly very happy – or sad, or aroused – any number of things can happen as the body sheds this “emotional baggage”. But again i will emphasise, Play with this – think of it as a game – that’s where much of the magic lies – You can push the smile a bit, go deeper, same with the kiss – if it wants to stay in a smile when you start to breath out, let it – it will soon return to a “neutral” position. If the breath wants to hold itself, let it, it will soon return to it’s pattern – if your mouth wants to make weird shapes, let it happen – let it all happen. The body tends to do what it needs to if you listen to it and allow it to – it will take you to the place where you need the most chemical stimulation – and often with our modern woes, this will be the kiss – Your own experience will be individual to you but the particular chemical cocktail during the first part of the kiss is wonderful if you are looking for pure relaxation. Play with it, feel it. Let your body/sensations guide you. Oh and obviously the more you believe in it, the more effective it will be too – the effects of belief are huge – on a chemical level. But i’ll say once more, remember to think “play”. The sensations and stimulation we are creating with these movements are (in part) an accentuation of the stimulation that the meeting place of yin and yang (meeting of energy channels/micro cosminc orbit/GV26 and 27 etc) receive when breathing. As alluded to above, this is one of the main reasons that breathing “well” has the effect it does – you stimulate that area in a “balanced” way – We are just increasing those levels – sympathetic on the inhale/smile, parasympathetic on the exhale/kiss.
Another positive effect of having muscular symmetry/alignment in the jaw (and stronger large jaw muscles from the “workout”) is the effect on our neck muscles (it’s all connected as we know) and how we hold out head – And therefore our posture. The Atlas vertebrae, which supports the weight of our head, acts in tandem with the hyoid bone (neck, throat) as a kind of “spirit level” for the body, profoundly affecting our posture. When the Atlas vertebra is even slightly out of alignment it can have a hugely detrimental effect on both circulatory and nervous systems too – so anything we can do to help this area regain “balance” is another positive. With the muscular releases talked about (earlier in this piece) thrown into the pot as well, you help create balance and alignment by releasing “tight” muscles/fascia and allowing the body to regain equilibrium.
All of the above will help with “good” breathing. If we are more “balanced” chemically, we will be more “balanced” in our mood/behaviour. This would mean we are calm (yet assertive) more of the time, leading to more relaxed face as we perceive things differently now – with time we will no longer have our unhelpful fears/triggers, the debilitating ones. As we know, a more relaxed face (particularly the upper jaw bone/tongue) means that the tongue completes that energy circuit/stimulates the trigeminal nerve and affects our chemical make up. When we have this “relaxed” face, that strong neurological connection between “that place” and the diaphragm causes the diaphragm to relax and we “slip” into natural, diaphragmatic breathing.
So – that’s me done i think – it’s not well written, i’ve repeated myself and i’ve no doubt missed stuff out as i’ve learnt a lot on this journey – I explain this much better in person (given enough time!) and i’m also sure i will make this site look nicer as i progress – but i’m still growing into this and the magic lies in the message, the method – not the style of this website. I have plenty of other subtle little tips to assist this process (and others) – other things that can take you to the next level when you feel ready – again simple stuff, many an extension of the above – Oh and making moves towards sleeping with no pillow but we’ll cover that next time. I am happy to share these and will if you either a) contact me or b) come back at later date when i have written more.
I think that just about covers it for now. Play, play and play again. Be open and let your body guide you – try to listen to what it wants, not what you want to achieve – you’ll get there much quicker if you really listen.
All the best