Your Face Will Get Stuck Like That

Too many humans walk this earth in chronic pain, miserably unaware they have the power to self-heal. There is a nasty rumor going around that has people believing their bodies will remain in working order without proper use. Just as planes rust on the ground - the human body was designed to move. It will fall into disrepair under sedentary life conditions.

Beyond a lack of movement, the body is subject to an unconscious education. Trained by trauma - both the physical and emotional body learn to cling to safety. We come into this world as fresh, mushy, highly flexible infants. As we mature, we injure our bodies, endure emotional bruising, and learn socially acceptable posture. When we do not practice daily, physical stretching, or stay mindful of posture - youthful mobility evaporates.

Physical trauma, emotional abuse, and heartbreak will store fear in the body, mind, and heart. The unconscious mind stays vigilant to triggers that may threaten reinjury, constantly scanning new environments for danger. When situations with context similar to those in which past trauma occurred, unconscious tension manifests - bracing for calculated impact.

Fascia is connective tissue - primarily composed of collagen and elastin that attaches, stabilizes, encloses, and separates muscles and other internal organs. Tension, dehydration, and lack of activity deform this connective tissue. Without moisture and movement, fascia becomes something like beef jerky holding our muscles and bones in order. When bodies become caged in dehydrated meat, range of motion depletes, and the glow of youth and skin plumpness decline.

When unconscious false alarms become too frequent and tensing is a repetitive reaction, slowly fascia will cement unnatural holding patterns in the flesh. Lending support to the parental hypothesis - "if you keep making that face, its gonna get stuck like that."

To illustrate this point more clearly - breaking an ankle in a bicycle accident is a manner of trauma. The ankle will heal, but every bike ride will likely trigger unconscious muscular recoil and bracing. Fascia will then nest in the muscles that remember the triggering event. Slowly the nest will constrict the muscles, straining the attachments, pulling bones out of alignment, and ultimately interfering with gait, posture, and sleep.

We are a sum of our habits. Sedentary life will freeze tissues in the shape of a couch. Injured knees may heal, but perhaps the pain still lingers for fear of reinjury. The tension born of that fear could be enough to undermine faith in all physical capabilities.

The "cure" lies in movement and presence. Pain is an unnatural state of existence. Beginning a mindful physical practice is the first step to rehabbing a sedentary body scarred by trauma.

Yes - I teach a physical practice. The subtitles of my instruction, however, liken yoga flow more to moving meditation. The focus I inspire on the mat engenders mindfulness practice off of the mat. It is mindful execution of movement and presence to unconscious triggers that truly support my clients' gaining strength after physical or emotional injury.

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