I’ve made some deep discoveries lately, and I am sharing here. Ramping it up. Getting real. Seems to be something I am called to do lately.
I was diagnosed with TMJ in my teens. For those who don’t know TMJ, it is a pain condition of the jaw involving tight jaw muscles, resulting in dislocation of one or both of the Temporomandibular Joints (the joints just in front of your ears that move when you open and shut your mouth for chewing, yawning, speaking, etc). I was told at the time to get plenty of sleep. And to avoid eating hard to chew foods or foods that tax the jaw (bagels, gum, etc).
Since that time, my neck has been my weak point – the area that hurts or aches when I have stress. It would start in my shoulders, or my neck, and creep up to my jaw and scalp. If not treated quickly, it resulted in either tension headaches, or TMJ pain and dislocations. At one point it was so bad that the pain literally changed my personality. My husband discovered (with some research online) that the changes were consistent with those who suffer from prolonged pain conditions. Poor sleep, irritability, and a list of other characteristics that were unpleasant to live with. Something serious had to be done.
I tried conventional PT, with a therapist who specialized in TMJ problems. He was good, but my TMJ was better… The relief was short lived. That is when I dove in to CranioBalance Therapy. I had met up with CranioSacral Therapy in my history as a Physical Therapist – many times, actually – but this was my first full-on treatment series. Seven treatments later and a huge improvement and prolonged relief were achieved, thank G-d.
Since then (that was about 12 years ago), the pain will still start creeping up on me, but I have slowly gotten smarter and will try to nip it in the bud – going for treatments before it gets bad. With treatment series over time, and with increased body conditioning and awareness, I am able to avoid or prevent the build-up of stress. That means that only if I really let stress sit over a long course of time will the pain begin. Good thing. But, this "Achilles heel" of mine still bothered me.
I looked into the emotional side of things. There are various areas that neck/jaw pain can represent in the emotional realm (family issues, control, stubbornness, refusal to be flexible). But even with deeper work and increased awareness, this was still something that cropped up for me.
And then, in one brilliant conversation with a dear friend and life coach, snap! And my neck feels freer and “airier” than I remember it feeling for over two decades. Here’s what happened:
I have been having a lot coming up for me from my past. I called on this coach to help me process it, as the tools I have and were using were not completely getting me through it (see April 27th’s post “Baring/Bearing the Soul“). In my conversation with her, I talked about the masculine tool I picked up as a child – the tool of protection. (Protection and security are primary male characteristics, meaning that men are genetically wired physically and emotionally to not feel fear like women do, and to instinctively react to dangerous situations in a manner that is protective to others, especially women. This is a huge topic on its own – masculine and feminine intrinsic energies and traits, one I will not get into here. For more, look up my blogs under the tags of feminine and masculine energy.)
Anyway, there were a few things that were happening in my life as a result of my having acclimated to this tool – defending myself when a "threat" was perceived even though it is not a threat to me now, in reality; self-reliance that was not at a healthy balance point; carrying around a masculine tool much of the time, which is exhausting --- and leads to neck aches in my case. Ah-hah! Wow. Relief. Almost instantaneously.
This was a big ah-hah for me. Major. Because the bottom line is, if I pass along this burden (remember I spoke about the loneliness that comes with carrying burdens around?) to He who really protects me, if I let G-d do His job, if I release myself to freely feel the safety and security that I naturally feel around my husband, if I just allow myself to LET GO of this masculine tool – walla! Free of neck pain.
Sounds unreal, right?
Those who work in the healing world, in therapy, and with natural remedies, have often come across the inevitable connections between the emotional and physical aspects of our being. For those who live more in the medical world, this may sound a bit out there. Bottom line, we are one organism, comprised of spiritual, emotional, physical and mental aspects. They are all interconnected. They do all affect one another, sometimes in obvious ways, and sometimes via more obscure connections. All in all, this means that if I am able to free myself from this old habit of self-protection, of carrying around this masculine tool all the time, then I can relieve myself of my neck pain. Amazing.
So here’s the thing. Change can happen spontaneously – one can become aware of an issue and spontaneously “recover” from it. That is, he can make the one way decision that this will now change. He will react differently. He has had an awareness shift. In our minds, this shift is instantaneous. In practice, though, in practice the shift is gradual and happens in baby steps. So I felt the relief right away, and it lasted a good few days, but now it does crop up now and again. Why? Because I have natural habituated triggers that I am programmed to respond to by using this masculine tool. And unlearning that, or learning new reactions, new ways of responding to those triggers, takes time. Each time a trigger comes up and my body wants to react in its usual way, I must respond differently. I must learn, for instance, to “unclench” – literally and figuratively – and just LET GO and remember G-d is protecting me. That’s a whole new pattern. It’s like a surgeon who is used to picking up one surgical tool to do a certain procedure, and then learns that there is a better tool to achieve the same thing. He now needs to reteach himself to move his hand three inches to the right to pick up this new tool he learned about off the surgical tray. (I know, funny reference – been watching a lot of Grey’s reruns lately. :) It takes time to learn a new habit in place of an old one. It takes time for the neural pathways to pick up the change as a new reflex.
But this is growth. This is the process. This is nature.
And this is exactly what we will be talking about and practicing this Tuesday at our Coffee Morning at Beit Roga – Internal Spring Cleaning. We will be uprooting old habits that no longer serve us. We will plant in their place, on the newly tilled ground, our dreams and aspirations so that they may become our reality. Before we can successfully cultivate our most beautiful garden, we need to make the ground conditions as clear and supportive and growth-optimizing as possible. We start with weeding.
Hope to see you on Tuesday morning at 10 AM!! (for RSVP venues and more details, see below)
With love and light,
Beit Roga Spring News
Coffee Morning at Beit Roga: Internal Spring Cleaning: Get ready to feel alive! Creativity is one of the big secrets to ongoing high levels of energy for women. So get ready for a morning of energy boosting creative expression at Beit Roga this Tuesday!! At 10 AM we will be gathering for coffee and some Internal Spring Cleaning - weeding our internal gardens and cultivating a space for planting and ultimate ideal growth of our dreams and aspirations. We will be utilizing various outlets of free self-expression (journalling and creating a Vision Board), with lots of Arts and Crafts mater