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The Gift of Injury

I was working on Karuna’s toe this morning. Last year she injured her first digit in the back yard while playing with our fur babies. Karuna had kicked a tree root and substantially stubbed her big toe.

It has taken a long time to heal and we are still cleaning up the remaining ghost patterns. One reason why the toe has continued to be an issue is the emotional context of the event. More times than not, injuries happen because they indicate a lapse of mindfulness. From this place, our higher self is looking to get our attention through our body.

Let’s take a look at the emotional cognitive factors that Karuna was experiencing before she kicked her toe. The theme is busy-ness. It was a time of transition and there were a lot of tasks on hand that needed to be accomplished. This emotional context creates a level of anxiety that invokes the sympathetic nervous system response. The level of stress that an individual can respond to appropriately, with positive adaptation, is unique to them. This is why some people can appear to thrive in busy-ness stress loads while other people become overwhelmed.

Adaptation has a sweet spot similar to Flow-State Awareness. In Flow-State Awareness, the intersection of skills and challenge has an optimal range. This range is referred to as Flow. A simple explanation looks like this: We have our skill sets that meet a changing environment. When the challenge is not sufficient to tap into our skills, apathy is the result. We may experience lack of engagement. Conversely, when the challenge exceeds the capacity of our skill set, we are overwhelmed, and anxiety is the result. The sweet spot is the intersection when our engagement adequately challenges our skill. This balance of engagement to reach Flow-State creates a cascade of feel good emotions. No matter what activities or the skill requirements of our environment, from writing to athletics, and everything in between, stress is adaptation.

Adaptation has three basic outcomes; no change, beneficial change, and maladaptive change. Comparing this to the spectrum of flow-state awareness, no change would be in the apathetic spectrum. The challenge was not sufficient to invoke adaptation. When the challenge is sufficient to produce change, we experience either beneficial or maladaptive change. Beneficial change is the sweet spot when we are able to meet our challenges with appropriate skills. When our skills become overwhelmed by the challenge, the result is maladaptive change. Exceeding the capacity of beneficial change indicates that challenge has exceeded our skills or stress has turned into strain. This is a universal truth, and to mirror this truth, our emotional cognitive processing follows the same template.

The current of our emotional construct is perception, based on our experiences. Those experiences are either real or perceived. It’s like the movie that is running in our mind. It’s in constant motion 24/7. The mind is filling in the gaps between our memories with projected experience. We get lost in the ability to perceive what is real and what is not real. Our bodies are responding to the movie of our minds whether we are consciously aware of it or not.

The practice of mindfulness helps us to build up our capacity to recognize when the minded is projecting skewed information onto the movie screen. At a certain threshold, when the projected skewed information exceeds the capacity of emotional tolerance, the body sends SOS signals. These signals may be subtle, like low-level anxiety, or they may be overt to get our attention. In Karuna’s example, the level of busy-ness exceeded her stress threshold. Her body had been sending messages. The volume level of that message became substantial enough to pop her toe.

In this example, Karuna’s injury had a message. When that message is heard and acknowledged, then balance is restored, and parasympathetic healing can occur. The injury had a message. That message didn’t happen to her, that message happened for her.

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Keep the Container Safe: DNA™ Core Concepts

Let’s explore what sets Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment apart from other modalities and how this assessment tool can complement the other modalities you already employ with your clients.

DNA™ Core Concepts

  • DNA™ recognizes the most important quality in a therapeutic intervention: keep the container safe. To do so, we honor the highest priority of the limbic system. Keeping the container safe has a fundamental premise: displace maladaptive compensation rather than remove. If that compensation was put in place by the nervous system as a means to keep us safe. When we remove it, then the nervous system will need to come up with another strategy to fulfill the perceived need. This occurs within any combination of the emotional, physiological and structural aspects of our nervous system’s main priority, keeping us safe.

 

  • DNA™ redefines muscle testing by combining both direct and indirect movement assessment strategies to provide a global picture of organization. Direct assessment strategies incorporate both the feed-back and feed-forward aspects of the proprioceptive feed-back loop. Indirect movement assessment, also known as indicator movement, allows the practitioner to assess movement, structure, physiological, and limbic functions that could not be accessed with direct testing strategies. When we combine Indicator movement with direct assessment, we can uncover hidden dysfunction within the neurological organization of the input/output feedback loop. Accurate evaluation of the response by the nervous system allows the practitioner to appropriately apply their corrective strategies.

 

  • DNA™ progressively challenges the structure to assess the response of the nervous system and structural integrity. Movement is a tangible benchmark, or yardstick, to evaluate the capacity of the nervous system and the ability of the structure to respond. There are two elements we are working with, the tangible and the non-tangible. The sensory motor system is non-tangible. The effects of the neurological inputs are affecting movement whether we are consciously aware of them or not. When we apply a corrective strategy to the sensory motor system, the only means we have to evaluate if that intervention is effective, is through movement. Movement will reveal three responses, whether:  the movement degraded, the movement stayed the same, or the movement improved. When the movement degrades or stays the same, we recognize that the corrective strategy is ineffective. However, when we see that the movement improves, we see a positive change resulting from a corrective strategy.

 

  • DNA™ uses the template of movement to compare how the involved players are working together in cooperation. The global/local/global model of assessment allows us to map the organization of the nervous system. Feed-forward movement assessment provides the opportunity for the nervous system to capitalize on compensation strategies. This allows the practitioner to then uncover maladaptive compensation. In DNA™ we introduce movement through the template of The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains. Both the kinetic chain organization and the governing principal action provide a lens to evaluate optimal movement.

 

  • DNA™ honors the symptom / causation relationship. DNA™ follows a line of reasoning that every symptom has a causation. And, that causation is then potentially a symptom of another causation. This line of reasoning allows the practitioner to follow the “causation bread crumbs” by using a laser-focused approach to identifying the source of dysfunction. The process of mapping dysfunctional movement provides the practitioner with the optimal entry point to introduce a corrective strategy.

Learn More About Upcoming DNA™ Seminars

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Assess the Global Picture First

An excerpt from the Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ Manual:

It can’t be overstated how important it is to get the global picture of your client’s presentation before introducing correctives. The reason for this is in the nature of compensation itself.

Maladaptation is a response to stress. That stress could be emotional, physiological, or structural. The intelligence of the nervous system employs a coping strategy to meet the needs of the environment. If/when that coping strategy is unable to meet the need, then the nervous system will recruit another strategy to help. This is how multiple players become involved in dysfunctional movement patterns.

When there are multiple players involved in the compensation, there will be only one primary pair. There may be multiple secondary compensations. If we remove a secondary compensation, we are creating a void in the container. Then the nervous system will need to come up with new strategy to fill the void. This is why clients can have adverse response to treatments.

By understanding the global picture of your client’s presentation before introducing correctives, you are decreasing the risk of going down the rabbit hole.  More effective assessment equals more effective treatment!

DNA™ takes the skills you already possess and puts them into a context that makes those skills more effective. When you employ what Joseph calls The Five Essential Skills with the corrective strategies you already use, the results of your work will have a quantum effect with your clients.  Click here to learn more!

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Ask The Right Question to Optimally Engage the Nervous System

There are a few misconceptions in the movement/bodywork community about manual muscle testing. The first being the term itself. Manual muscle testing is not testing muscles. Manual muscle testing is asking a question. Can the nervous system/structure respond appropriately to a particular stimulus. This is having a conversation with an input / output feedback loop.

The manner in which we engage in the conversation makes a difference. I like to think of the conversation as having two separate aspects. The first aspect is the conversation with nervous system. We are engaging the proprioceptive feedback loop. Can the nervous system respond to the stimulus at the periphery? The second aspect of the conversation is structure. Can the various connective tissue structures respond to vector, load, and duration?

Nervous system response and structural durability are interdependent. Without the nervous system’s capacity to respond appropriately, durability would be compromised. Motor control and neuromuscular coordination are tangible responses of our body’s ability to cope with a changing movement environment. When we feel safe during movement, we have the capacity to optimally thrive.

There is a specific attribute of the kinesthetic conversation that occurs during movement. When we appropriately cue the nervous system to the neurological disorganization of maladaptation, the opportunity to learn, or upload input /output response becomes available.  There are optimal ways and less than optimal ways this happens.

I’ve created a progression – Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ — for the therapist to learn an optimal process for engaging with the nervous system of their client. There are three layers to this process.

The first layer starts with deconstructing and refining manual muscle testing. Movement assessment has the potential to accurately interpret the input/output of nervous system response. This has several sub levels and nuances.

The second layer is mapping. Mapping is a format to understand the unique presentation of our client. The symptom / causation relationship is investigated to arrive at the primary causation, or the primary layer to start employing a corrective strategy.

After we have the global picture mapped of our clients, we can employ the third layer of the DNA™ process, corrective strategies. Caution must be used when employing corrective strategies. Keeping the container safe is a primary concern when “do no harm” is the imperative. We cannot apply a corrective technique until we understand the causation and its source. If we remove a coping strategy or compensation, the nervous system will fill that void in the container. That something will more than likely be maladaptive. Instead, we need to displace a maladaptive compensation with a positive adaptive coping strategy.

Engaging the nervous system is a process of inquiry. As therapists we are learning to ask the right question.  When we ask the right question, the nervous system can be appropriately cued to the symptom causation relationship. This keeps the container safe so that the potential for change is fully realized.  Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ is an assessment protocol that allows the therapist to optimally utilize the corrective techniques they already have by asking the right questions.

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Anatomy and Kinesiology: Moving Beyond the Obvious to the Profound

I’d like to talk with you about an anecdotal experience I recently had with a client.

I had a runner come to me who was experiencing knee pain. If I had stopped in my assessment at simply looking at the function of the knee, I would have missed the primary driver of the compensation pattern.  Because I linked the relationship of the Anterior Kinetic Chain, and the core cylinder, I was able to correlate an internal oblique issue to the medial knee.  It’s not uncommon for ligaments to compensate for the burden when muscular function is impaired.  My ability to move beyond the obvious to a deeper level of inquiry – which is what we learn in Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ Seminars –  allowed me to get to the more profound root issue for my client.

Anatomy and kinesiology are two disciplines that give clarity to the interdependence of the structure and movement of the body.

Anatomy is the language used to describe the parts. These parts then fit together into systems that synergistically make up the whole organism.

Kinesiology is the language of movement. Through kinesiology, anatomy is given a context. If the language of movement is a symphony, the role of anatomy is to describe the source of each note of music.

Anatomy charts provide the fundamental foundation for understanding the names of bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, and so forth – the structure. Kinesiology then defines how each aspect of structure works together to create movement.

One of my teachers, early on in my career, imparted the importance of the breath, movement, and structure as being interdependent.

Movement is a translator to how the structure organizes, movement can’t lie. When the body is experiencing pain, the brain reorganizes movement so that we move around our pain instead of through it. This avoidance is a compensation to keep us in a perceived safe zone. As practitioners, our ability to see deviation in movement is paramount to assisting our clients. Often the walking gait is the lens through which we look during assessment. The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains provide a map of the gait.

The use of color in The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains illustrations imparts upon the teacher/student or practitioner/client, how the body organizes during movement. The kinetic chain charts further define how the body organizes in the optimal manner during gait.  Why the gait?  The gait is universal to human movement. From birth, our nervous system is prewired for developmental movement with the intention to get us upright and biped.  If you have interest in a more in-depth conversation on the walking gait, see my blog on the Master Template.  The synergistic organization, or sequential muscular activation, gives context to efficient movement and helps us to identify potential dysfunctional relationships that may not be obvious at first impression to the client or practitioner.

When the synergistic organization of our movement becomes less than optimal, or compensated, the result are over and underworked players. Synergistic dominance is the relationship between these over and under worked players. As a practitioner it is useful to have reference tools – like The 5 Primary Kinetic Chains Poster Set or Desktop Edition to help us dig deeper into the function and dysfunction presented by our clients.

Please leave a comment below about a powerful experience you had either as a client or practitioner where you or they went beyond the obvious to the profound!

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Integrating the Intrinsic Kinetic Chain in Assessment

Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment – DNA™ encompasses The Five Essential Skills that have a synergistic effect on the integration of breath, movement, and structure.

The Intrinsic Kinetic Chain (IKC), the KC focused on breath, has some qualities that require a complete assessment protocol. Many of the players in respiration cannot be evaluated using standard direct muscle testing strategies. Hybrid movement assessment – like DNA™ fills in the gaps left by direct testing strategies.

Hybrid Movement Assessment:

Hybrid movement assessment uses both direct and indirect manual muscle testing.  This assessment protocol offers several advantages over direct manual muscle testing on its own, as it allows muscles to be evaluated that normally cannot be tested directly. Indirect testing has several advantages which I tease out a bit more below (and we go into great depth in the DNA™ Seminars).

Completing the Feed-Back Loop:

The feedback loop can be completed. We can evaluate both feed-back and feed-forward motor sequences using indirect testing methods.

Functional Dysfunctional Movement:

With indirect testing methods, we can look beyond “can this function respond” to “can this function respond appropriately.” Simply put, even if the body can engage, that doesn’t mean it can engage appropriately. We can have function with an underlying dysfunctional component. Response to movement has a spectrum. The spectrum of hypo-tonic to hyper-tonic is key to changing an inappropriate response to the movement environment to an appropriate response.  Hybrid movement assessment takes our results a step further and can clarify otherwise confusing results.

Functional Compass:

The functional compass provides a road map for evaluating any joint in the body. The idea that we can isolate a muscle in movement is a false notion. We do have the capacity to isolate movement. Though we cannot isolate structure. Bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, and skin all work like a symphony to synergistically respond to movement. The functional compass provides the map to movement potential and helps us to understand the score of the symphony.

Eccentric Movement Assessment:

Movement has three key components. One is the concentric phase. This is where the “work” production occurs. The opposite component is the eccentric phase. This is where the structure dynamically stabilizes in deceleration. Eccentric movement protects joints at the end range of motion. The third component are the isometric stabilizers. The isometric stabilizers provide the dynamic support for both concentric work production and eccentric deceleration.

How do we apply The Five Essential Skills to the Subsystems (multifidus, TVA, thoracic and pelvic diaphragms) of the Intrinsic Kinetic Chain in DNA™ Seminars?

Multifidus:

The multifidus is a multi-segmental core spinal stabilizer. The multifidus unifies the function of the lumbar spine to the sacrum. There is a specific order to sequencing the spinal erectors and the multifidus. Here we learn to refine testing strategies and implement hybrid assessment with feed-back assessment.

Transverse Abdominus:

The TVA is a group of horizontal fibers that knit together the obliques and rectus abdominus. This is the introduction to the three pairings of musculature that make up the core cylinder. The core cylinder integration is necessary for the power generation of the anterior spiral kinetic chain. With TVA evaluation, we introduce completing the feed-back loop. Feed-forward assessment challenges the pressurization capacity of the core cylinder.

Thoracic Diaphragm:

The thoracic diaphragm separates the thorax and abdominal cavity. This dome-shaped muscle has two important roles. The first is to initiate pressurization changes that act on the lungs. The lungs are like sponges, and structural pressurization squeezes and soaks like a bellows bringing air to a fire. The second function is stability. The thoracic diaphragm works synergistically with all the compartments of the thoracolumbar fascia. The thoracic diaphragm cannot be tested directly, the movement that this muscle is responsible for can only be evaluated through hybrid assessment.  We spend considerable time refining hybrid assessment during DNA™ Seminars.

Pelvic Diaphragm:

The pelvic diaphragm is the hammock for the visceral cavity. The pelvic diaphragm responds to pressurization changes initiated by the thoracic diaphragm. Similar to the thoracic diaphragm, the group of muscles that make up the pelvic diaphragm cannot be tested directly, the movement that these muscles are responsible for also can only be evaluated through hybrid assessment.

All four of the subsystem structures must have the capacity to function together as a team in a functional breathing apparatus. Evaluating the ability to work together as a team is a protocol called Long Series Kinetic Chain, LSKC – this assessment protocol is integral in DNA™ (read more in DNA Demystified and DNA – FAQs).

DNA™ is not a system where we try to see if a tool fits a presentation. That would be akin to seeing if the square peg fits the round hole. We use a more sophisticated approach that uses laser focus – through hybrid movement assessment – to ascertain what the nervous system needs so that the structure can integrate breath, structure, and movement.

The assessment skills I learned in DNA have proven invaluable with clients, especially athletes. I now have the ability to go beyond muscle testing and assess their feed-forward movement patterns. Learning how to uncover and treat breathing problems and hypertonic muscles has been a game-changer. Clients are getting faster, more lasting results because we’re finally uncovering the heart of their issue, which often means addressing ligament and joint issues. I use Joseph’s work every day and I’m so grateful to have taken his class. ~ Beth T., Breakaway Bodyworks, LMT

 

You’re invited to join us! Fin out about the next paradigm shift here.

 

 

 

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Putting the “Dynamic” into Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment – DNA

While manual muscle testing can be a powerful tool, movement is infinitely variable.  Because manual muscle testing attempts to put movement into a confined box with fixed positions, it has limitations. I have a problem with classical conventions that say “this movement is xyz muscle.”  Muscles do not work in isolation. Muscles work synergistically with bones, joints, ligaments, tendons, muscles, fascia, and skin. We can isolate movement; we cannot isolate structure.

 

The idea that if you put the body in a specific position you are testing xyz muscle is limiting. Some 15+ years ago I was seeing a Physical Therapist for a shoulder injury. My colleague brought out a two volume encyclopedia of manual muscle tests. Each muscle had three divisions. Each division had three positions: open, closed, and middle. That equates to nine possibilities to assess a particular muscle in the structure.

 

In the assessment process of DNA™, we take the process a step further. Instead of merely taking a “snap shot” of movement, we assess the complete “movie” of movement.

 

Movement has three components of players. One side of the tissues are in concentric action. This is the work production phase. The other side are the tissues that are lengthening. This is the eccentric phase of movement. This is often referred as the deceleration phase of movement. The third aspect of movement are the stabilizers that provide support for the movement. This is analogous to isometric movement though it is dynamic in application.

 

These three aspects of movement form a dynamic triangle that can respond to a changing environment. For example, the core subsystem in the Lateral Kinetic Chain creates a dynamic triangle that supports the pelvis/lumbar. The lateral hip stabilizers, adductors, and the opposite quadratus lumborum work together synergistically to maintain an upright axis of the spine when load bearing in the stance phase of gait.

 

Would you like to learn this paradigm shift in movement assessment? Please join us at a DNA™ seminar.

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Integrating Somatics on Retreat

If you’ve never gone on a silent solo meditation retreat, you might wonder why anyone would do this.  There are many good reasons, but for the purpose of this blog, self-exploration is the focus.  For me, this means exploring the somatics of the body in relationship to contemplation and my mind.

I am just back from a nearly two-week solo meditation retreat at Cochise Stronghold Retreat. Cochise Stronghold is in the Chiricahua Mountains Range in southeastern Arizona. This area is rich with history. The Chiricahua Mountains are rugged granite crags above the Sonora desert. Filled with cactus, stinging insects and reptiles, and plants wearing heavy-armor, rugged is an understatement. This range was home to the Chiricahua Apache Native Americans.

This particular section of the Dragoon Mountains is where Chief Cochise held off the US Calvary during the mid-1800’s.  The famous Geronimo was the right arm of Chief Cochise. Geronimo, a notoriously tough warrior, learned his landscape navigational skills amid the granite crags of Cochise Stronghold. During my daily hikes I would go off trail and imagine the kinds of rites of passage the Apache warriors might have engaged in that developed their skills to survive in this unforgiving magnificent land.

This section of the Sonoran desert is particularly wonderful for a meditation retreat. Cochise Stronghold Retreat is located on a canyon floor. The rugged skyline of granite peaks cap the spectacular view, contrasting against the deep blue sky. This area is famous for a rugged style of rock climbing that has roots in traditional ethics – meaning bold, ground up style of climbing that is rich with adventure and exposure.

I also like my retreats in bold style. This retreat I focused on somatics by immersing myself in kinesthetic and sensory awareness. The days were filled with a rich sensory environment. The mental heavy lifting was in the evening.

My retreat schedule had a “retreat-light” kind of regimen – opting for plenty of rest and relaxation — though the immersion was anything but light. My morning practices were indoors in the silence of my own mind. The afternoons I went outside for long hikes, easy bouldering, and some shop work as my seva (service) project.

Through the lens of somatics, I supercharged the classic four positions of meditation: seated, standing, walking, and lying-down.

I started with movement preliminaries. These transitioned into the dedication of practice. Then I would engage in an extensive walking practice. The nervous system was now ready for a reset in a lying practice. This was then followed with a seated practice – capped by dedicating the merit of the practice to all beings, as well as some friends and family who could use a little extra blessing. Each aspect of this sequence is interdependent with that which came before and the practices are complementary. The summation of the integrated whole is greater than the practice of each individual component.

The following is a summary of each of the aspects of this mindful movement practice:

Preliminaries:

The preliminaries prime the nervous system for that which follows. The preliminaries start with waking up the kinesthetic awareness in the feet. Then movement work progresses to full body.

Here is the list of progressions:

  • loading the calcaneus in inversion and eversion
  • lateral blade loading to activate the cuboid spring
  • loading the ball of foot to activate the navicular spring
  • making a circle from calcaneus through the forefoot
  • ball and foot squat with toes together, knees swing side to side to activate the cuneiform spring
  • Toe activation- lift, spread, ground, squeeze, and release to activate the intrinsic metatarsals
  • Talus activations- hip rotations, knee rotations, lateral blade tibia lever
  • split stance supination fibula rotations
  • split stance pronation/supination with forward and reverse engineering

Standing transitions to ball and foot squat. Each of the five positions of the feet follow the same sequence.

Five Foot Positions:

  • tip of big toes touching/heels slightly apart
  • heels together/toes apart
  • feet neutral/hip width
  • feet pigeon/hip width
  • wide feet/feet turned out

Movement Sequence:

  • standing in awareness
  • alternating heel lift/activate toes
  • mid foot quarter squat/spine upright and vertical
  • ball and foot squat

Dedication:

The following sequence is a salutation dedicated to all that is good in this world.

  • mountain prayer
  • reach arms to the heavens
  • mind
  • speech
  • heart
  • slow squat
  • standing on knees
  • reach heart to heavens
  • surrender
  • puppy
  • sphinx
  • cradled by the earth
  • press to cat
  • cow
  • child’s
  • bull frog
  • chair
  • mountain prayer

Walking:

Walking meditation has been traditionally a keystone to a mindful meditation practice. During my retreats, I add some somatic wisdom to this time-tested practice. Modern understanding of biomechanics informs the potential of each of the 18 positions of a 9-phase gait.

The gait chart has 18 positions which I call basic form. There are several other variations we can use to sophisticate the basic form. Reverse engineering, this is a reversed walking gait. 45/45, this adds the element of hip spirals into the walking gait. Warrior, this is a classic posture of extending the spine and lifting the heart. Side Crescent, this is a wonderful side bend to reach deeply into the core. And lastly, single leg stance torso rotation, this is a phenomenal developer of rotational stability. All these variations develop capacity in the thoracodorsal fascia, the major fascial sheet that all the muscles of the core attach into or act on.

Lying-Down:

Neurologically, the engagement of walking meditation, as I have presented, is very taxing to the nervous system. This phase of the practice is restorative. We are recovering from the arduous focus of the 18-point walking gait (found in the DNA™ Manual). There are four positions I cycle between during retreat: 90/90 supportive breathing, supported cobbler pose, legs up the wall, and corpse pose.

Seated:

The previous practices have primed the mind/body/spirit for optimal seated meditation. I now take a comfortable seat, feel my sitz bones press into the cushion, maintain a long upright spine, observe the breath, etc. These are a few of the common cues given when engaged in seated meditation. Depending on the style of meditation, the focal point of the mind is as important as sensory of the body. The two are essentially inseparable. Shamatha meditation means to peacefully abide and to be content with what is.  This is precious because then we can fully experience the present moment.

Merit:

Dedication of merit is the cap on the practice. Here I give thanks to my teachers for it is their shoulders I stand upon. It is their practices from which I have learned. It is all the Angels,  Buddhas, Bodhisattvas that have come before me that provide the template to have a practice. I dedicate the merit to all people everywhere that they may be free from all suffering and the root causes of suffering.

My afternoons were spacious to go hiking and explore the beautiful rock formations of the Stronghold. When I returned to the retreat center I would spend time hand-fininishing a beautiful mesquite pedestal for the Buddha that resides in the meditation yurt.

The evenings were when the heavy lifting occurred. My dreams where rich with past experiences. I would awaken from the dream state feeling conflicted with suffering. Each night a different cast member in the movie would show up for healing.  I found there is always more work to do and that even in dreams, it is a process.

Retreats often present themselves with timely challenges. The aspects of what needs to be worked on shows up. The way it shows up is through the interaction of mind, body, and spirit. Somatic practices build a bridge between sensory and that which is sensing.

I encourage you to make a mini vacation for yourself. Unplug from the frenetic activities of the world and fully immerse yourself into the contemplative aspect of deeply feeling you. Your investment in you is the greatest gift you can give yourself.

If you would like to learn more about going on retreat or adding meditation and mindfulness to your practices, please reach out to me at: joseph@movementmantra.com.

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Hardware/Software: An Interdependent Relationship

There is an interdependent relationship at play that should be honored when working with our clients: hardware/software. Hardware is our structure. Trauma, injuries, and surgeries all alter that structure. The body then heals those parts with connective tissue. Our body’s software is the nervous system responding to the interaction of the structure with the environment. Hardware issues also alter software. Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ explores the relationship of the body’s software interacting with the hardware. Hardware issues may require medical intervention that would need to be followed up with software integration.

Software hierarchy has many competing components. I use the word competing because the interdependence of various systems are competing for the available bandwidth and resources the brain has to cope with and respond to the environment.

Let’s explore some of the components of our software and how they can affect our hardware:

Emotions:

Emotions and psychological considerations are often an element that keeps people from healing. Sometimes it is a forgotten emotional trauma tape that is still running unconsciously. Other times there is a perceived benefit from remaining in pain or being injured. Finding the root cause of the emotional disturbance, whether an event or the perception of the event, would be a primary consideration. In a survival-based nervous system, the threat of emotionally charged perception, perpetuates the arousal state and an up-regulated sympathetic nervous system.

Physiology:

The squeezing and soaking action of coiling and uncoiling activates the abdominal viscera. If the organs are impeded in some way, then the autonomic nervous system will put the brakes on movement.

Structure:

Structure implies a hardware issue. Receptor response due to hardware issues will put the brakes on movement. The conscious and unconscious somatosensory afferent inputs trump motor control.

Motor Control:

Conscious motor control has many options for interacting with compensation and replacing maladaptive compensation with a beneficial coping strategy. DNA™ assessment strategies can address periosteum, joints, ligaments, tendons, retinaculum, muscles, fascia, and scars.

Periosteum wraps the bones, giving support for leverage of the structure to act on. In a tensegrity structure, the periosteum is the boundary for the inner bag. The bones act as compression struts so that the outer bag can leverage action. If the bones didn’t have the support of the muscles, the skeletal system would collapse.

Joints provide the movement fulcrum for the muscles to act on the bones. The position sense of the joint capsule informs neuromuscular sequencing.

Ligaments act as neuromuscular switches. The afferent signals inform the cerebellum which muscles to activate during movement.

Tendons transition muscle to attachment sites. The mechanoreceptors afferent signal inform the motor control center the load on the tendon.

Retinaculum wraps around tendons to provide mechanical support. The retinaculum supports the tendons so that as load is put into the tissues, the tendon stays in place. When the retinaculum rolls toward the joint, the mechanic support is reduced. Imagine socks rolling down the leg off the calf, retinaculum will bunch up. Active connective tissue strategies can unbunch and restore retinaculum width.

Muscles are for work production. They act on connective tissue to animate the structure. Without the support of muscles, the skeleton would collapse. The mechanoreceptors afferent signals inform length and speed of position change. The position sense of the muscles is an important contribution to conscious motor control and motor learning.

Fascia and skin complete the interpretation of position sense. Kinesthetic sense is the interpretation of conscious and unconscious somatosensory inputs. Those inputs are collated and prioritized.

Scars are a local disturbance that can create global confusion. Scars hold the emotional component of trauma as well as tissue memory. The mechanoreceptors in the tissue have become disrupted and need to have their afferent input reset.

Understanding the interdependence between our hardware and software informs the entry point while assessing and interacting with our patients/clients.

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It’s time to redefine manual muscle testing!

Manual Muscle Testing (MMT) implies the practitioner is engaged in the testing of a specific muscle by placing it in a specific position. By placing the structure into a specific position, one can line up bones, joints, connective tissue, muscle attachments, and muscle fibers.  However, the body will always look to spread the load of force over as great an area as possible – this is efficiency.  Instead of putting movement in a box by testing a specific muscle, let’s instead call this movement assessment. After we define the parameters of the movement itself, we can then have the conversation about the specific players that are involved in that movement. The next step in the assessment is to ask the body who is over and under-worked and what will get the underworked player/s back in the game to restore balance.
There is a spectrum of how muscle testing is used as an assessment tool. Orthopedic assessment uses muscle testing to act on joints to test joint structures and ligaments. That kind of testing is purposefully provocative. Physical therapists use muscle testing testing to grade muscle response to stimulus. While this kind of flavor is less intense than orthopedic, it can still be provocative. These professions are using muscle testing as a gauge for structural response. This does not take into account that the nervous system needs to have capacity to appropriately respond to movement.
Applied Kinesiology is a subset of Chiropractic. AK uses muscle testing to assess structure, physiology, and emotions. While less provocative than the previous groups, AK starts with the premise of how the nervous system responds to movement.
Applied Kinesiology is like the grandmother to DNA™. The grandfather would be physical culture and the movement arts.
Dynamic Neuromuscular Assessment™ is a strategy to have a conversation with your client’s nervous system. The global question you hold using this assessment technique is, “Can the nervous system respond appropriately to the stimulus of movement?”
Excerpt from the new DNA™ Manual distributed during DNA™ seminars!