Can you parallel park a car? When you learned it was like, “Don't talk to me, don't turn on the radio, don't do nothin' until I get this thing in there.” After some practice you're now able to eat your sandwich, head bang and sing the Queen song that's playing while parking the car. This is an example of how the brain is pattern-forming—the more you practice something the better you get. However, “don't use it you lose it” also applies, so you've got to do it over and over. What happens is that the lower brain learns the pattern of how to do it so the higher brain is free for other things (like totally nailing those falsetto Queen vocals). This is really great, but after a while you lose the depth of this unconscious experience because it becomes automatic and you will actually not be able to change the pattern unless you consciously tweak it by using the higher brain. This is why professional athletes and musicians have coaches. They always need help bringing their patterns to the conscious part of the brain for increased efficiency. Speaking of the brain...
FACT: The nerve system is a dynamic, pattern-forming system that's always on the edge of instability.
We don't mean unstable like your uncle after too much eggnog... We're thinking about the snowboarder who is balanced on the precipice right before she takes the plunge. So there's stability in the nerve system, but it's right at the edge of it—and rightly so because lots of energy should be there to make a rapid change (think loaded spring). This is good because the system is supposed to be highly responsive to changes in the environment. The nerve system should also be dynamic. That means that a small change can have a BIG effect: the snowboarder leans forward just an inch to start rocketing down the mountain. Dynamic and ready to make a change at a moment's notice: both critical! Let's talk more about patterns humans use for power.
Picture a stream of water flowing through sand: the more the flow continues through that pathway, the deeper the groove becomes and the harder it is to interrupt the current. This is a metaphor for our years of unconscious training where these patterns or grooves become what we call the sense of self, your o
wn personal groove. Your sense of self is who you have conditioned yourself to be so that you can live “in the groove.” Living in your groove frees up energy to use the higher brain for other stuff more often, so you don't need to dedicate a lot of resources to remember how to walk or ride a bicycle. How you react to situations and events, your thought patterns and even the emotions that get triggered become automatic and unconscious. If your groove is at peak efficiency like Michael Jordan's jump-shot, that's great. The problem lies in the fact that the groove often turns into a rut and efficiency declines until the rut seems almost inescapable. Indeed, unless you put your attention to it (by using the higher brain), the pattern will not change.
When it comes down to changing unhealthy patterns (getting out of your rut) here's the most important thing to understand: every emotion, perception, structure, and behavior has a sensory-motor component in the body and in the spine. This means that each piece of your sense of self anchors into your physical body as a feeling, a way of holding your posture, or a way of behaving. Your spine reflects the patterns of who you have unconsciously been, everything you have pushed down or refused to accept, and every mask that you've had. These things show up as automatic behaviors of the spine so you don't have to think about them...it just happens. Many scientists agree that the spine and the spinal cord represent the stuff in the back of your mind, i.e. things you're not willing or able to deal with consciously. Some folks recognize that their neck or low back tightens or becomes painful when something makes them mad. Others notice the way they hold their body is much different in public than when at home. You may recall your posture changing when you get stuck in “stinkin' thinkin'.” When someone is depressed not only does the posture change, but the flow of energy and breath is also completely dampened or diminished. These are largely unconscious patterns of which most people are not aware.
The dynamic, adaptable body and mind should be able to create or extinguish these patterns depending on the demands from life. Imagine if 10% of the musculature around your spine is unconsciously hooked into your rough birth process, 10% is unconsciously remembering your first marriage, 10% is focused on not failing in the second marriage, 10% is remembering that old car accident, 10% is remembering the abuse when you were a child, and 10% is hinting that you're not good enough “because dad said so.” That's 60% of your body that is bouncing energy back and forth between these different pieces of your sense of self. In this instance your life is being largely run by avoidance of these areas rather than movement toward something else. Each of these different experiences have a sensory-motor strategy so that in the end you don't really have all that much energy to deal with the present moment. This is not a dynamic system on the edge of instability, ready to spring into action. This is a system that has a daily life or death struggle just to find the energy to make it through the day. Can you relate to this?
What we would like to see instead is a system that has learned from the past, but functions in the present so it can choose a healthy response for what's happening NOW. At Healing W
ave Chiropractic, our specialty is increasing the efficiency of your mind and body to retrain unhealthy patterns and habits. That's why our clients not only report physical changes (decreased tension and pain, better posture, more body awareness, more breath and range of motion, etc.) but they also experience changes in the rigid sense of self they have unconsciously adopted throughout their life. Soon the old anchors to physical, mental, emotional stressors begin to loosen. You begin to develop a body built by love, grace, joy, and connection instead of one still in reaction to past events. Your past will never get deleted, but now you can look back to reflect and say, “Wow... Look how far I have come!”
FACT: You aren't your job or your wounded childhood.
FACT: Your purpose on the earth is far more grand than just grinding through the suffering.
The biggest wounds in life can be converted into the biggest gifts for your own healing and for you to give back to humanity. If you want to break free of that rut and take back your life, we have the tools.