It’s been a big year, technically. I wonder what’s going to happen before it’s over?
At any rate, the latest development is a deepening of something I first heard from Judith Aston 20 years ago: the notion that change has a “tempo” or appropriate speed. I don’t think that I completely accepted the idea. For years, I’ve thought and taught that there could be an direct relationship between practitioner force and speed of change, and I think that’s part of the truth. But lately, I find that there’s magic in finding the match (again, thank you, Judith) between my effort and tissue release, and then staying at the unfolding edge of it.
It’s challenging to stay with this match for a long time. The biggest struggle is with my own patience. The reward is that this is the easy way—the way between waiting and forcing.
Over the years, I’ve learned many different ways to improve joint alignment…or, as I’ve learned to think, to break joint fixations. (I do believe that joint fixations are categorically different from run-of-the-mill myofascial imbalances.) The most important way that my methods have evolved in this realm is that I orient, more and more, to the central role of joint decompression.
When treating Type 2 joint fixations, I gradually came to believe that the easiest method was just to apply an adequate level of local joint decompression. (Decompression, or traction, of the whole spine is very useful, but a different effect.) Now, I have good methods for creating local decompression throughout the spine.
More recently, I’ve started to appreciate that I’ve underused this tactic in the rest of the body. Traction of one bone is profoundly different, in terms of effects on a joint, from tractioning both relevant bones. I’m quite excited about the results I’m getting. More soon…
I just attended my first Aston-Patterning CE class in about 14 years. Fortunately, I had all my roomies from that last course (Valerie Lyon, Beth Berkeley and Elaine Marquez) in the room with me again. It really was quite a lovely experience: Harvey Ruderian and Brian Linderoth brought their wisdom and experience, and I definitely advanced. This makes it even more exciting to think of teaching visceral manipulation with Lauren next year. More soon…
Postural or movement education should be about principles, first and foremost. What are some of the principles of neutral alignment?
- Neutral alignment effectively demands stabilization of itself (as does poor alignment). It is not an imposition or a struggle.
- Neutral alignment poises one segment on top of another, so that each segment is in its highest position. Therefore…
- The least crooked alignment is also the tallest alignment. In other words, we get shorter by getting more crooked.
- The feeling of improved alignment includes the sense that our musculoskeletal system is supporting us, not that we’re trying to hold ourselves up.
- Local body support is vertically organized: in standing, the front of the foot holds up the front of the body, the medial aspect of the leg holds up the midline of the upper body, etc.
I love thinking about how our bodies function in gravity. For me, the most interesting and relevant ideas are those that characterize the feeling of neutrality and harmony in position and movement.
- When we’re not deliberately doing anything about our posture, it’s a perfectly harmonious version of a pattern—even if the pattern is very crooked.
- If we change our posture, every part of the body has to change, if we’re to arrive at a different harmonious pattern.
- It’s effectively impossible for us to consciously understand and control where all our body parts are. Therefore…
- For us to arrive at a different pattern, we must deliberately change some body part or parts, and allow other parts to find harmony with that change.
Lauren is a strong example of a great teacher. Her ability to combine a rigorous intellectual approach with gentleness, warmth, nurturing and safety was amazing. She brought a tremendous amount to this group with her ability to give space to everyone so that we all felt able to be who we were and learn in our own style and pace without feeling “less than.”
Fiona P., Oxford UK 2009
Two summers ago, we were asked to write a chapter about Myofascial Balancing for an anthology about complementary modalities in pain management. That book "Integrative Pain Management," has now been published by Handspring Publishing! (You can even buy it on Amazon.) The book includes theoretical overviews of pain mechanisms and management and discussions of many different modalities. We're pleased that our thoughts are in there.
It's now been almost 4 weeks since we moved from Wallingford to north Shoreline. The house is together (more or less) and great! We have 2 workplaces now: a home office and a Seattle office (look elsewhere on the website for the new locations). It's an exciting change. Now I can get back to blogging!
For years now, I've been exploring the assessment and treatment of spinal joint fixations. During that time, my methods (presented in both the ACOM and MFB classes) have become more refined and consistent. My current method has a strong element of traction in corrective maneuvers. Lately, I've realized that one quick way of zeroing in on the crooked joints is by palpating the spine and just looking for the places that feel compressed. By this, I mean that you can try to decompress the spine with two hands, noticing where resistance to that decompression resides. I hope to help students recognize that the places that are crooked and the places that are compressed are the same places!
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