Its been a while since I wrote about health….I avoid it, really I do. The topic is like cold lumpy custard in a buffet of French pastries – no one goes anywhere near it in blog-land. Yet journeying through this lumpy stuff is a big part of my experience, delivering so many ‘A-ha’ moments that, even if just for myself, I feel I must ‘get it all down’, plus the themes are invariably much broader than the human body they, on the surface (quite literally), relate to. Those who see this or who find my health ramblings, at any level, helpful will trip upon these posts if they are meant to.
Barring the reverberations to my health following some procedures I underwent earlier in the year to rid myself of toxic dentistry (posted about before), its been a tremendous summer physically-speaking. With the considerably lessened toxic load I was enjoying, encouraged by nothing much more than healthy eating, vegetable juicing and a surfeit of sunshine, the widespread pain related to fibromyalgia and myofascial pain syndrome reduced down to a near-negligible level for months and I’ve enjoyed one of my most active summers for years.
As September got under way, I experienced – with more than a little dismay – the usual flipping on of more pain switches. This week, the tightening and contracting continued, accompanied by deep ‘unexplainable’, widespread pain and regular nerve spasms, no doubt encouraged by some very significant solar flares that have been occurring.
Waking this morning into this old-old September scenario (of, basically, hurting all over, really profoundly), it was so easy to slip into the usual pattern of ‘this isn’t acceptable, I must do something to solve it’ and so I got back into looking for outside solutions, considering more myofascial therapy as well as – a new departure for me – some one-on-one yoga coaching – inspired by my husband’s new-found passion for yoga. Of the two, the prospect of returning to regular pain relief therapy – relieving as it is – was all too dismal, having gleefully trimmed from my life all these tedious pain-management routines and all they entail (the expense, the timetabling – which I loathe, plus the weekly/monthly reminder that there must be something ‘wrong’ with me that ‘needs addressing’ for me to be here on another therapists couch describing ‘symptoms’).
Enough. Jumping(!) out of bed, I ran a hot bath and vigorously body-brushed myself in the rising heat, ruminating on all I’d just read about the benefits of yoga in the relief of myofascial pain.
Then, of course, it all suddenly seemed so painfully (ha!) obvious. Yoga builds CORE strength. Myofascia is on the OUTSIDE; a single densely woven structure – like a spider’s web or a knitted fabric – that surrounds and so supports every muscle, organ, nerve and fibre of the three dimensional body we live in. Like a stretchy lycra bodysuit, its meant to be there in a supporting role, intended to hold various body parts in easy suspension so that they can function as intended…not to literally ‘hold things up’ and protect them, like the outside of a beetle. When the myofascia hardens and knots, goes into spasm and becomes quite unrelenting in a tightened, contracted distortion of what should be soft and fluid, it holds the body in a straight-jacket of pain and dysfunction. This strikes me as a myofascia trying to serve a purpose it is not designed for; a purpose better served at a far deeper level. A body relying heavily on the myofascia for support and protection must be missing a sense of having any core strength at all…or it wouldn’t have to do this!
Without core strength – profound, deep, inner strength – the body is forced to rely on the myofascia (outside stuff) to support it. When this happens, the myofascia goes into a state of total overwhelm: like the office junior suddenly handed the job of running the company, a task for which they have no relevant training or experience, the myofascia freezes in the face of its own unsuitability for the task and is inclined to think a non-negotiable firmness and an exaggerated show of ‘strength’ is what is called for in order to muddle by. As it sets about doing this, everything locks down and, inside the ‘building’, all the other members of the organisation are left clueless and unhappy – while the MD hits golf balls into a yoghurt pot.
Yes, I pretty-much knew this before, but it had never hit me so profoundly and in a way that reverberated through all the themes of my life.
Core strength is so much more than ‘something to do with muscles’; its a whole attitude to life, a way of being. I realised, suddenly, that while I am pretty self-determining in the way that I live and work these days, I have still been holding out for something particular to ‘happen to me’, to be validated by outside scenarios, in order to feel the completeness of who I am. In waiting for that confirmation email, those opportunities, this circumstance or that to unfold for me (these things take many forms, especially around our work personas), I have been subcontracting the provision of my personal strength to an outside entity… delegating my wellbeing to the will and behaviour of others and so the body, feeling the boss must be ‘out at golf again’, clamps back into the old familiar pattern of strengthening, tensing and locking down the walls. Its a subtle thing for me, these days, now that I control so much of my personal domain and yet I see the continued pattern of how I have still been giving away some of my own inherent ‘core’ strength to entities outside of myself.
This summer – a time when my body felt languid yet oh-so strong – was a time of ultimate self-determinism; I went entirely where inspiration took me, was waiting on nothing and no one. Come the autumn and ‘back to work’, this is harder to maintain…but not impossible.
Much more than that, I suddenly realise how key my body’s core strength is…how avoidance of exercise due to pain helps perpetuate the bizarre ‘inside out’ role-reversal that has become an old pattern in my physicality. Working on softening my myofascia with self-massage, good breathing and relaxation…that is, deep relaxation that starts in the mind as well as literal relaxation pauses during the day (I am all too prone to working too intently, for far too many hours, without even altering position) combined with serious efforts to build core strength has just become my new approach to a very old challenge, so breaking out of another ‘old pattern’ I had become stuck in!