(Song Dedication: Out of my Head by Begonia…As I sat down to write this song randomly came on the Apple music radio, I had never heard it before this moment…weird but true.)
Today is weird and not just ’cause it’s Halloween.
I woke up to my alarm at 6:38 and lay quietly enjoying the warmth of my bed until I really woke up to my son flicking on the light in my room at 7:00, already dressed as Ferris Bueller’s BFF since grade 5, Cameron Frye. He’s been planning his costume since the day after we let him watch the movie with us back in August. I know…questionable parenting…but it allowed us to have lots of conversations about teenagers and their relationships with adults and colourful language, amongst other things we had overlooked as non-parents the last time we watched the movie probably a decade before.
Once “Cameron” was dropped off at school to the mob of ninja’s, mindcraft whatevers and rainbow unicorns, I returned home to do some tidying. The house has become increasingly disorganzied (aka. shitshowish) since I have been busy with appointments and life and my husband had to unexpectedly leave for another consecutive week of work travel. It’s okay though. I have accepted what is and get done what I feel I can within my limitations, which is not much after 7:45 pm once the kid is sleeping; at which point I put my feet up to read on the couch or all together skip that respectable step and go straight to my bed, where I can also put my feet up (who cares if it’s 8 pm? as long as my feet are off the floor).
Yet still so far, pretty normal stuff. I got home and meandered about until I decided to tackle the dishwasher and kitchen. It’s just so easy to ignore the dishwasher with clean dishes – out of sight out of mind (sort of…or at least out of sight hope someone else will empty it kind of mind). I looked in the fridge to take stock of what groceries were needed, refluffed the throw cushions on the sofa (which is futile due to what my dog does to them 8 times a day) and tidied up the shitty styro tombstones that keep blowing around the front yard like tumbleweeds in an old western ghost town.
Feeling somewhat accomplished, I started a load of laundry on my way out the door…oh shit, right the laundry! I need to put it in the dryer (out of sight out of mind completely). …And I’m back, dryer is tumbling.
I left the house at 10:30 for a Chiropractor appointment. Other than my NUCCA Chiro treatments that helped me better manage my migraines and chronic pain issues, I had avoided adjustments to any other part of my spine out of fear. Fear of making things worse, more injury or aggravation to an already aggravated triggered neck and shoulder. But with my micro current pain treatments from my Naturopath, she strayed from my neck about a month ago, feeling the compulsion to scan my whole spine with her device, and since then, that has where our energy has gone to. It turns out, I have all kinds of disfunction happening in my spine; tip to tail (bone). I kind of knew this as well, but when chronic pain stretches over a decade or two, your memory can become pretty selective. Or at least my memory had decided the statute of limitations was up on those “other issues” and deleted it from my neurological scrapbook.
She had encouraged me to seek out a chiropractor to adjust my spine so her muscular treatments could be more effective. Made sense. But who did I go to? Who could I trust? She had limited experience with this field of health care locally so didn’t have a recommendation. I sat on it for a week or so and then someone reached out to me.
This someone didn’t reach out for chiro specifically but had recently been reading my blog after we met at her meditation circle at the beginning of October. Emma is a certified Alexander Technique (ITM) Teacher, which I had no clue about until she shared her website with me. It’s difficult to sum up so I won’t even try, but her approach to pain is all about working with our thoughts, emotions and our body and how we exist in space. That seems trite so I will also add that this approach to the body/mind/spirit isn’t about correcting posture or position it is how our being wants to be held in a balanced way in relation to our own bodily construction; our bodies are built to move and so the Alexander Technique prefers the term “poise” to refer to the natural state of the body for balanced and efficient movement.
So through discussion with Emma she has done some Alexander Technique teaching with me and helped me to notice the subtlest shifts in regards to how I have trained myself to hold my head. Energetically, I am now aware of the ideas I was trying to self-impose through alignment and posture; shoulders back and down, crown of head on a string, bellybutton to spine, long neck! I am constantly shouting these ideals at myself inside my head because I am constantly falling out of them. What I see now is I was using more muscle energy to counteract my “bad postural habits”, just adding to the already over-activated muscle groups that are screaming in agony by the end of my day (if the end of my day were around 4:00 pm).
Emma is teaching me another way to consider how I hold myself in space. And although we’ve only touched on the tip of the iceberg thus far (iceberg meaning my ten pound bowling ball head that balances precariously on my stick neck), I feel like this minor adjustment to poise and the ideas I have personally constructed around it are important in my wellness journey. She poses a simple alternative to what I thought was “right”; suggesting rather than using muscle to muscle my way into a perfectly balanced position; use the relaxing of the muscles to allow my balanced movement to become more efficient and at ease.
After a few days of this new awareness, I found myself contemplating how I felt about this ever so slight drop of my chin when I noticed the tensing in my shoulders and neck (which I was actually just doing again…sitting so erect at my laptop in the public library, it may have appeared a bit phallic?!) I realized I had some very definitive concepts about the position of my head. When I engage with someone, let’s say my husband, and I really want to make sure I am heard (even more so if the topic is heated) I lead with my chin. Muscles contract in my neck, head drops back and chin is out ready to come to my defence…and at the very least create an aura of don’t fuck with me. However, when I let those muscles go and my chin drops to a more neutral position I associate this posture with submissiveness.
Now if you’ve been reading my blog, you well know through your own inferences or psychoanalysis why this “positioning” would be something I’ve come to adopt. As an adult who suffered childhood trauma, I have taught myself yet another coping skill. It may not be tangible to anyone else, but that doesn’t matter, it is me, this is my coping mechanism and it has become quite problematic; especially since this mindset no longer serves it’s purpose because I am safe and no one can hurt me (expect myself). Oh irony.
Emma also gave me a book on this approach called Reaching Your Dreams and I am finding it informative and empowering, especially as a teacher myself. The whole give a man a fish vs. teach him to fish construct is something I believe in whole heartedly. Emma’s practice is based around this as well. You don’t have to have a teacher to learn, you can be your own teacher; if you have both it can be epically genius! F.M. Alexander subscribed to this, pointing out that he educated himself out of his limitations. Edison, Churchill, Wilde, Twain and Einstein are all additional examples of revolutionary thought who never fared well in school yet became the modern world’s touchstones of enlightenment and insight…that’s a whole other conversation though.
At the end of our second session, Emma was able to recommend a local chiropractor through her own personal experience. She felt he would be quite well-aligned with the work I have been doing.
So rather than run the risk of losing you completely I will continue the chiropractor story in another post. I think this one has said quite enough! When I read it over not only did I start it nearly a week ago and leave it dangling until today, I notice the apprehension in sharing my full story by giving you all sorts of extraneous details of my day no matter how mindful it seems. It was just me stalling because I wasn’t ready to speak the whole truth. But rather than archiving this and abandoning my creativity completely I will honour it and post what I have so far. With a drop of my chin and a deep inhale I can smile at it’s imperfection, which is my imperfection and these are the tiny adjustments I am making to bring peace and balance to my life. This is not submission, it is curiosity and inquiry, gratitude and release if only for a moment.