• To keep the body in good health is a duty, otherwise we shall not be able to keep our mind strong and clear.

    - Buddha

“Un-Train” The Back Pain Cycle-Part 2

Healing Back Pain begins with a Two-Prong Approach that Targets the Pain both Mechanically and Mindfully.

Today’s blog post will cover the mechanical…

Healing back pain mechanically begins with eliminating the contributing physical problem and ineffective postural habit.

You and your family depend on a daily sequence of repetitive activities that you do all of the time.

Such as crossing the same leg when you sit, carrying your laptop over the same shoulder and even your daily commute to work which, if your drive, focuses movement mainly along your right leg and into your foot.

Eventually anything done the same way over a period of time will unbalance your postural muscles by throwing your body off center and leading to muscular compensation, physical tension and then to back pain.

You may not be able to determine which habits are having the most damaging effect. A postural assessment with a professional will help you see your blind spots.

A good place to start is with your sleeping position and the bags or cases that you carry daily. You can try sleeping on your other side, on your back or with a different pillow and begin carrying items on the opposite shoulder or with the other hand.

This allows you to exercise the weakened postural muscles while doing your normal activities, each time you do an activity in reverse you will be strengthening the weaker muscle group for the activity.

In as little as two weeks, this subtle change will create more balance within your body and you will feel less tension. You will also benefit by becoming more conscious, or mindful, of your postural habits. This will lead to greater self-awareness in all of your daily activities.

Pay attention to the little things. Like how you walk up or down the stairs and which foot you take your first step on. Do you lean your body forward feeling weight on the top of your legs? If so, then try using the back of your legs and buttocks with each step.

An imbalanced postural habit is often a muscular compensation that is relying on your strengths to protect your weaknesses. The problem is the weakness is not being challenged to get stronger and you feel ‘normal’ with the physical distortion caused by the muscular compensation.

A major area of concern for most people today is sitting at their desk in front of the computer and talking on the phone. You should be aware of:

  • putting the phone to the same ear with every conversation
  • hunching over in front of the computer and
  • using only the same muscles over and over.

Just by looking at the way someone is sitting and working at their desk you can predict the problems that will result from their imbalances.

Beginning to understand and work with your body from the perspective of the cause of your pain cycle is the first step to relieving pain and changing patterns of movement in your muscles, nervous system and meridian channels.  The second step is working with and changing your emotional habits that prevent you from fully recovering.

“Un-Train” The Back Pain Cycle-Part 1

Why does a successful treatment or postural exercise program work for some back pain sufferers but not everyone?

For most, it’s due to the partnership between the Mind and the Body. Your mindset and your individual emotional landscape shows through your physical structure. 

"Un-Train" The Back Pain Cycle!

"Un-Train" The Back Pain Cycle!

The cause of the pain may be unknown, or perhaps you’re sure that an injury has left you with recurring pain. Regardless, the only useful knowledge that will make you pain free and get you functioning at a healthy level of activity is How Your Mind and Your Body Work Together.

Our bodies works well when our minds works well and vice versa. The body’s meridian channels (energy pathways) are a direct path to creating balance in everyone’s body and mind.

I use a simple formula with most people: Healing pain is 50% physical and 50% mental. Healing can be encouraged by balancing the flow of energy in the body’s meridian channels during a Shiatsu session to help “un-train” the back pain cycle.

Pain, whether acute or chronic, may be frightening and, in my experience, is very personal. Standard medicine cannot measure it like an infection or broken wrist. No x-ray or exam can tell how much it hurts. Pain is an unique experience and everyone will experience and express their pain in their own way.

It has been medically proven that the exact injury experienced by a group of people will affect the individuals in different ways, depending on things such as:

  • The ‘circumstance’ in which your pain first occurred and returns
  • Your outlook on the pain, such as “this shall pass” vs. “this pain is a death sentence”
  • Your emotions associated with the pain. Does is make you feel depressed or anxious? Do you feel optimistic and know that it isn’t serious?
  • Your cultural influences determine whether you are stoic in your response to pain or tend to be more dramatic in showing pain to others

It is important to approach your pain with a two-prong approach that targets your pain mechanically and mindfully

The Five Elemental-Phases

A Shiatsu practioner must be versed in the functions of the five-elemental phases to thoroughly understand how to work with the body’s energy to encourage balance and harmony.

Each meridian is named after an internal organ. It is important to understand that the function of the specific meridian goes beyond the particular organ function.

Ki energy goes beyond organ function and is also associated with your emotional, psychological and spiritual health.

In an earlier post, I explained how the meridians are either yin or yang. From the perspective of the yin and yang theory it is easy to understand the Chinese view of the Universe. Harmony in Nature is found in the perpetual movement of phenomena.

In this view, yin and yang maintain a balance between one another. Another view of this perpetual movement comes in the balance of the Five-Element theory or Five-Phase theory.

The five-elements (Earth, Metal, Water, Wood and Fire) describe the manifestation of ki during a specific phase-like the type of weather during a specific season. Each elemental-phase stands for qualities and correspondences.

The Five-Elements are descriptions of certain qualities that pertain to particular phases of change. The Metal Element is associated with the qualities of Autumn and with the balance between rest and activity. This is reflected in breathing: whether air flows easily from the world into the body an out again.

The Metal Element is associated with the season of Autumn and with the balance between rest and activity. This is reflected in breathing: whether air flows easily from the world into the body and out again, or whether there is a permanent struggle between what is taken and what is given back.

Each elemental-phase can also be understood as an energetic quality of a particular function.

For example, one of the Metal Element’s defining functions is exchange with the environment.

Your physical lungs inhale oxygen, bringing healthy ki into the body and exhale carbon dioxide, expelling a state of ki that is beneficial to plant life.

The large intestine also participates in the elimination of waste from the body. These functions are supported by two meridians of the same name as the physical organs, the Lung meridian (yin) and the Large Intestine meridian (yang).

They are in effect the yin and yang aspects of the same function- like the two sides of the same coin.

Not letting go of emotional pain and issues with the bowels, such as constipation, are commonly seen in individuals with an upset in the Metal Element.

Essentially, the five-elements relate to differing states of ki energy. The elements correspond to certain functions and processes of the body, as well as to certain parts, emotions and physical phenomena.

Through in-depth knowledge of the elements and their corresponding organs, body parts, senses, emotions and symptoms, a healer–trained in Traditional Chinese Medicine–can feel an imbalance of ki in a particular meridian pair and work with the body’s energy to encourage balance and harmony.

Your Body’s Energy Pathways

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, a person’s vitality depends on the subtle energy which flows through the body’s energy pathways. These pathways are called meridians. The meridians are classified in two groups:

  • First, the twelve regular meridians, which are associated with the functions of different internal organs. These channels flow to and from the hands and feet.
  • Second, the eight special meridians, which are not connected with any particular organ function.

Overtime, master healers learned that pressure on specific points on the body’s energy pathways would relieve certain symptoms. The next major discovery was that certain combinations of the acupressure points could also heal disorders that were caused by a malfunction in a certain organ.

By studying the relationship between the functions of the body and the acupressure points a system was formulated describing the energy pathways that flow through and connect the specific points.

Acupuncture ConceptIt is easy to understand the network of meridians and acupuncture points if you imagine your body as representing land. The meridians are your body’s main highways while the acupressure points are the gas stations. 

Just as people travel around the country by way of the highway and stop to refuel or get stuck in traffic or worse, run out of gas, your body can supply vital life energy to your internal organs and transform your emotional health by way of the meridians.

The body’s subtle energy, known as Ki in Japanese, concentrates within the meridians. The twelve regular meridians, mentioned earlier, run vertically along the body.

Each of the meridians are named after a physical organ, for example the Heart meridian, and is identified as either yin or yang.

Additionally, two of the eight special meridians are particularly important because they monitor the twelve regular meridians and have many important pressure points. In shiatsu, these two meridians are called: the Conception Vessel and the Governing Vessel and they run through the vertical midline in the front and back of the body.

The Six Pairs of Meridians and their Yin/Yang Associations are:

       YIN                            YANG                      
Lung (LU)                    Large Intestine (LI)
Spleen (SP)
                 Stomach (ST)
Heart (HT)
———–       Small Intestine (SI)
Kidney (KI)
———–     Urinary Bladder (UB)
Pericardium (PC)
—-   Triple Heater (TH)
Liver (LV)
————      Gall Bladder (GB)

It’s important to understand that the properties of the meridians are founded on the functions of the organs and not the organs themselves.

Besides the yin and yang divisions, qualities of appearance are further subdivided into five transformational phases. These phases flow into one another just like the changing of the seasons, they are known as the five-elements: Earth, Metal, Water, Wood, and Fire.

As stated earlier, each meridian along the body is identified as being either yin or yang and is then associated with one of the five-elemental transformations.

The Meridians and Their Elements:

Lung and Large Intestine — Metal
Spleen and 
Stomach — Earth
Heart and
 Small Intestine —Fire
Kidney and 
Urinary Bladder — Water
Pericardium and 
Triple Heater — Fire
Liver and
 Gall Bladder — Wood

Despite the actual definition of the word meridian, which means longitudinal lines circling the planet, the original Chinese concept of the body’s energetic pathways means to have the quality of a flowing river or stream.

Shiatsu and Energetic Healing aim to balance the flow of Ki throughout the meridians and to relieve any blockages. 

“One Gave Birth To Two”

Shiatsu relies on Traditional Chinese medical theory, which uses the philosophy of yin and yang. Beginning with male and female, day and night, hot and cold, summer and winter, everything in nature seems to maintain a certain balance of what appears to be opposites. 

The yin yang symbol perfectly illustrates the essential principles of the theory. The circle symbolizes the infinity of energy, or, ki. There is no beginning and no end. A curved, moving line divides the two forces showing constant flow of yin into yang and vice versa. Within the two colors is a dot of the opposite color. This shows that everything contains its opposite and that it cannot exist without the other. And, the two colors are proportioned, showing their relative balance.

The yin yang symbol perfectly illustrates the essential principles of the theory. The circle symbolizes the infinity of energy, or, ki. There is no beginning and no end. A curved, moving line divides the two forces showing constant flow of yin into yang and vice versa. Within the two colors is a dot of the opposite color. This shows that everything contains its opposite and that it cannot exist without the other. And, the two colors are proportioned, showing their relative balance.

This balance is described in Lao Tzu’s Tao Teh Ching: ‘the One begets the Two’. These ‘Two’ came to be known in Chinese as yin and yang, from which this system of opposition then gave birth to everything in the universe.

It is important to understand that yin and yang are understood as their mutual source (One) and subsequent transformations as one source of energy that creates into differing appearances.

Essentially, yin contains yang and yang contain yin through their constant flow into one and the other. As long as yin and yang are flowing into one another you are in a consistent state of balance.

Yin means the ‘shady side of a hill’, and is identified with the feminine aspects; water, quietude, the moon, and the night, while yang, means the ‘sunny side of a hill’, and denotes the masculine aspects; fire, noise, the sun, and the day.

The original ideograms of yin and yang clearly state that they are mutually transmutable and interchangeable as one, not as two fundamental entities, despite their dual appearance.

The quality of matter and substance is considered yin; this includes your body. The quality of movement and thought- the energy is considered yang.

The primary principal used to assess the individual’s state of life energy is yin and yang theory and it is used to describe the nature and location of the individual’s health imbalance. Each individual has a tendency to be either more yin or more yang in regards to their natural constitution.

If over a period of time either the yin or the yang forces dominate in an individual’s body or mind, then there will be an imbalance, which will manifest as recognizable conditions, or symptoms.

Your body also has aspects that are defined as either yin or yang. The yin side is the anterior side, or front of your body, and the posterior side, or your back, is yang. The anterior is yin because it has more areas that are considered vulnerable: your face, the front of your neck and your abdomen. Compared to the posterior side, which is more like armor and less vulnerable.

Balance vs Momentum… Going with the Flow

The movement of an ocean’s wave, from the expanse of the sea to the crest, from crashing against the shore to retreating to its watery origin, is balance according to Nature.

 

An Ocean Wave

An Ocean Wave

It is the advance of energy that appears to reverse force at the very moment it seems to loose stability. This movement is often described as the swinging of a pendulum along a linear plane. In actuality, it is the beautiful movement of energy along an ellipse.

 

The quest for balance appeals to anyone feeling unsatisfied and obsessed by society’s high demands. Somehow through excessive intellectualizing the meaning of balance in life becomes infused with rigid calculation and measurement. The balance sought is not an equal distribution of focus, or energy, on work, family, interests and healthy activities. Isolating an uncomfortable moment in your momentum and concluding that it is out of balance ignores Nature’s wisdom of change.

Balance is expressed in the continual motion of the Earth and reflected in the transformations of Yin into Yang. Balance needs momentum but that momentum of energy may appear to shift direction after it looses stability.  However, this is based on a linear perception of equilibrium, and the fact that energy does not appear to be proportionate does not mean that there is instability in the larger sense. 

In the artistry of vibrational healing, balance is addressed in your bodies, minds and spirits. Our idealized and conservative concept of equal distribution vulgarly confuses the process. The balance that our communities are trying to get a hold of needs to be taught as satiating your greatest hunger for a meaningful life with meaningful pursuits, even if they appear to be completely out of balance to outside observers. Your natural balance needs to gain momentum.

The more synchronized you are with Nature the healthier you will be because balance is the planet’s way.