The Realization Process with Judith Blackstone (LBP 068)

Today I’m talking with Judith Blackstone. Judith is the creator of The Realization Process, which is an integrated approach to embodiment for psychological, relational, physical and spiritual healing. 

Judith is a clinical psychologist and a meditation practitioner and student of contemplative traditions with more than 40 years of experience. She is the author of several books including Belonging Here and The Enlightenment Process, and she is also the co-founder of the Nonduality Institute which is dedicated to the science and practice of non-duality.


In today’s conversation we’re talking about “the issues in the tissues”, or how emotional pain gets bound in the body- and also how it can be released, what fundamental consciousness is and why it’s useful to attune to it, how your experience of gravity and your fluidity of movement changes with this embodiment work, what happens when people bypass their stuck emotional pain, and how this work can help what I call the “sensies” of the world- the empaths- to do their work and to live fully without feeling overwhelmed much of the time.

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Embodied Living with Mark Walsh (LBP 063)

Today I’m talking with Mark Walsh, an embodiment specialist who is the creator of the Embodied Facilitator training, Integration Training, Embodied Yoga Principles, and Purpose Blackbelt. His work in embodiment has taken him to a wide range of organizations and communities, from businesses in the UK, to the Middle East alongside the UN, the slums of Brazil, an HIV organization in East Africa, and many other places. In our conversation today we talk about what embodiment means, some of the ways embodiment is being misunderstood, how lives change with embodiment, what the consequences are of living in a disembodied time culturally, and, considering that the world is in a pretty inflamed place these days, we take on how those of us who work with the body can be activists- how our work makes the world a less traumatized and traumatizing place.

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Embodied Cognition and Health with Cathy Kerr (LBP 056)

catherine-kerr
catherine-kerr

Cathy Kerr is the director of the Mind-In-Body Lab at Brown University. Her research focuses on whether brain rhythms underlying body awareness and movement are actively modulated by mindfulness and movement practices such as Tai Chi and Qigong. Her hope is that understanding how these therapies work will have a positive impact on conditions like aging and chronic pain or functional disorders where these approaches have shown the clearest therapeutic benefit.

She joined me today to talk about the focus of her research broadly, but also to discuss a specific research study that is in progress which is looking at the effects of Qigong on distressed female cancer survivors.

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Conversation highlights

  • What does her research focus on? The status of body awareness as a therapeutic mechanism and looking specifically at mechanisms related to body awareness in the brain; How neurons process and relate to body focused attention, primarily in the somatosensory cortex.
  • Became interested in body awareness originally a Qigong practitioner because of having a difficult chronic illness for 20 years. Cathy noticed that with her practice the sense of touch in her hands would change.
  • Started to wonder if body experience could be part of a therapeutic mechanism. Was it a way of signaling healing? Or a very active way of creating the placebo effect?
  • Initially began researching the placebo effect with Ted Kaptchuk at Harvard
  • In 2005 departure from work on placebo and learned the neuroscience of body awareness.
  • First project to look at the effects of body awareness within a healing technique- for that technique they ended up choosing MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction).
  • It was paradoxical because they were not a part of the mindfulness research community, and mindfulness as a body based healing technique not the majority view.
  • The study showed that after 8 weeks of MBSR training people were better at exerting pinpoint control over neurons in their somatosensory map.
  • Cathy's TED talk mindfulness begins in the body.
  • There is an interesting suta by the Buddha- the 4 foundations of mindfulness, and mindfulness of the body is the first foundation. Cathy wrote a review paper on this in 2013.
  • Cathy's teaching with medical students at Brown how to have immediate access to body sensations as an anchor for mindfulness.
  • This is an immediate way of stabilizing the mind. For many Western people their mind can be floating free and ungrounded and anchoring your mind in the body is very powerful.
  • Some people don’t even know that they can voluntarily shift their attention to their body. (story of a man who jumped away from his own hand because he was so startled when he shifted his attention to it).
  • Many people with chronic pain, and IBS don’t have that ability to bring the mind to the body. The reason is that they are already always preoccupied with these negative body experiences.
  • What’s really exciting right now is that The Davidson Lab has begun to look at the effects of mindfulness and exercise. They are bringing mindfulness off the cushion. It really helps people to understand a broader range of embodied approaches like Tai Chi, or yoga.
  • At the University of Washington Dr. Cynthia Price is working with assisted mindfulness in people with trauma. In  assisted mindfulness a bodyworker helps them to be and stay present while they work with mindful attention to body sensation.
  • Cathy's current study on the effects of Qigong on distressed female cancer survivors.
  • She chose Qigong because she wanted to see what would happen if researchers expanded the number of modalities they looked at in addition to just mindfulness.
  • There is a novel undertanding of how the mind and body relate in Qigong. The hope was that they could capture these ideas and understand them in scientific terms
  • Cancer survivors are really underserved and have a lot of psychosocial needs. About 30 to 50 % of them are actively fatigued and distressed for years following cancer remission. Is this chemo? Existential effects? They don't know but the main thing is people are not able to return to their full lives. The whole pink ribbon campaign doesn’t really capture this reality.
  • Gentle physical movement in a group can really transform people’s experiences. The question is why, and how does it work
  • Inflammatory cytokines show an up-regulated process of inflammation going on in the body. Especially in people who are highly fatigued. This process of inflammation is really important for many diseases.
  • There are now some markers in blood that we can measure- giving insight into this process of daily inflammation. They are associated with feeling sick and tired daily. If you are bathed in inflammation for years it can bode poorly for susceptibility for many issues like heart disease, vascular disease, it is associated with dementia... Getting a better understanding of inflammation is one of the main scientific tasks right now.
  • We know that if you are injected with one of these inflammatory cytokines you will get "sickness behaviors" like not wanting to get out of bed and feeling generally unwell... but we don’t know how to clear these inflammatory cytokines out.
  • There is an old Chinese folk saying- the mind (yi) leads the qi, the qi leads the blood.
  • This seems to suggest a solution to the puzzle of qi. So if you behave as a scientist you can measure the mind and its ability to focus on the body. You can measure the yi and the blood... So maybe that is a pathway of how mind intent or somatic awareness might have an effect on parameters in the blood like inflammation or the ability of the blood to flow through the body.
  • Embodied cognition: many philosophers have gone on this mind trip and have posited these ideas of brains in jars and brains in vats- that we can only look at brains. They are saying no there is a relationship between brian and body and body and world and if you miss that you miss everything.
  • Interoception research has been a very brain centered endeavor to the point where all the relevant processing is considered to takes place in areas in the brain. But in fact there is a lot of bodily signaling from the heart and other centers.
  • Neurons in the body have their own way of processing experience and an ability to send independent sources of information that are not simply sensory through-puts but are actual information processing. There are independent sources of information and embodied cognitive processing to help the body in the brain.
  • We want to measure different forms of connection between the hand and the brain. Want to see if that changes during the course of practice.
  • We hear a lot about consciousness. One of the main factors is something called a brain rhythm. The gama rhythm is of consciousness. There was a study in 2004 of Tibetan monks doing compassion practice gama rhythms go off the charts. It turns out these rhythms also extend into the muscles, and these rhythms of consciousness that extend into the muscles also relate back to the brain.
  • The beta rhythm is a stopping rhythm. It’s very operative in thinking and in moving. If you need to hold something in memory beta says no more info for a bit please. Beta becomes disregulated in parkinson’s disease. Measuring beta in Qigong. Looking at quality of information that the muscle spindle neurons send back to the cortex.
  • Curious about if that somatic awareness has effects on the ways that the muscles process information. Do some of those effects tell us anything about changes in blood flow or in inflammation?
  • The rubber hand illusion tells us that there is this very interesting multi-sensory body sensing capacity.
  • It tells us that our sense of the body is being knit together by these different streams all the time.
  • Their biggest hope with this study is that they will learn something new about how some of these body awareness practices like Tai Chi and yoga might have an impact on inflammation. It could be a novel mechanism for understanding inflammation. That’s the big home run hope.
  • Being able to have an impact on the distress of this population would be wonderful.
  • Cathy asks me is there a discussion about the intelligence of the body? How do I as a practitioner use that? \
  • I talk about the Liberated Body tribe- most of us are in a variety of manual and movement therapies. The thing that makes us all stand out is that we have a reverence for the body - we believe in its importance to life.
  • My life changes the more engaged I am with my body.
  • As a larger group the thing that makes us different in terms of the broader culture is that we talk about the body as something critical to a rich thriving life.
  • Cathy: there is so much wisdom in people who are carrying that out in a daily practice. There are so many of these practices across all cultures. There must be something universal about this, it's not just something people are making up. I’m excited about people engaging with the science.
  • Fascia research: We are all learning how the nervous system and the connective tissue scaffolding are so intertwined.
  • There is a lot of exciting sense of possibility. It’s like we discovered we have the amazon right here in the body.

Resources

Dr. Cathy Kerr's Mind-In-Body Lab at Brown University

Cathy's TED talk: Mindfulness Starts in the Body

Cathy's paper in Frontiers in Human Neuroscience Mindfulness Starts with the Body

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)

Ted Kaptchuk and placebo research 

The Davidson Lab

University of Washington Dr. Cynthia Price

If you’re inspired to support the show, you can do that here. You can also leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher  , or simply tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

Interoception in Practice with Bo Forbes (LBP 053)

Bo Forbes is a clinical psychologist, yoga teacher, and Integrative Yoga Therapist. She and I had a chance to talk way back in season one, and today I'm delighted that she joins the show again. A central guiding theme of Bo’s work is with interoception, and she has put together the Interoception Tribal Council which is bringing together researchers, primarily neuroscientists, who are looking at interoception and its effect on the whole person’s health both physically and mentally. In this conversation we talk about some of the amazing research that is coming out these days, but we also talk about her own experience putting her interoceptive abilities to the test when she underwent hip surgery this year- which was her 4th hip surgery in 8 years. It’s a really beautiful story of living one’s practice. I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

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Conversation highlights

  • The creation of the Interoception Tribal Council- who is participating and what are they working on together?
  • How has interoception become a central part of Bo's work?
  • Bo talks about the study by David Creswell which demonstrates that mindfulness leads to reduced inflammation markers in the body.
  • Remarkably, these changes were absent in people who practiced relaxation without mindfulness.
  • The Default Mode Network of the brain- thinking about the past, wishing things were different, imagining what things will be- the tendency it creates towards a negative self-referential way of being in the world. "I am not worthy" or, "I will never get what I need" messages.
  • This DMN (Default Mode Network) plays a huge role in depression. Mindfulness separates this mode from direct experience. This creates changes in the brain related to depression.
  • The Creswell study encourages specifically people to pay close attention to their bodies- even to notice the negative feelings in their bodies- so he was leading them in increasing interoceptive awareness.
  • Bo's hip surgeries- two doctor errors and one hospital error led to 4 surgeries in 8 years. There was a strong PTSD issue with this, and a compelling narrative that made her look closely at chronic pain, the DMN, and interoception.
  • The idea that someone had damaged her body and ruined it forever was pervasive in her life. The tendency to look for and predict the same pain she had felt the day before. It made her very stuck.
  • Bo's choice to not be put under general anesthesia during the surgery- how that changed her interaction with the doctors and nurses.
  • How Bo used her interoceptive practice to manage the experience of being awake through the surgery. Her intimate relationship with her breath and heart rate in order to maintain staying awake for the surgery.
  • The direct impact the lack of general anesthesia had on her rate of recovery. For whose benefit are patients put under? Is it perhaps a protocol that has become so automatic that it never gets questioned? What happens when we question its necessity?
  • Based on the Creswell study, cultivating this interoceptive ability also likely has a remarkable effect on immunity and the experience of pain. It was amazing how many times in the hospital they wanted her to take something but she didn't need it because she only had some soreness.
  • It's also clear from this experience why we don't want to be in our bodies. Our bodies can be like a vacation home that you haven't gone back to in years and it's gone into disrepair- as you approach that home that hasn't been inhabited in a long time its intimidating.
  • We get deliberate training to be out of body and to focus mostly on what is coming in through the visual cortex. Trauma also makes us not want to be in our body. It doesn't feel like a safe space to be in the body.
  • Nervous system hyper-arousal is a form of collective trauma that we all go through in our culture.
  • Being disembodied is also a form of trauma.
  • Connective tissue has this amazing linkage with interoceptive awareness. Using self-care methods like Yoga Tune Up or MELT- these are objects without emotional load that can help us to check in with our bodies.
  • Just putting our hands on our bodies and bringing attention to our bodies and where our hands meet our bodies can be so helpful.
  • In modern yoga in our culture we have a focus on proprioceptive movement. We start with action, "do this". Then if there's time we will add in an instruction to breath. Then if we really have time there might be an awareness based cue. In [Bo's tradition] they reverse that. Starting with an awareness based instruction, from that place of awareness they can breath or move where awareness is growing.

Resources

Bo's beautiful post on her surgery experience The Beauty of Broken

Bo's article on the Creswell study in Yoga Journal

The New York Times on the Creswell study

The Creswell study in Biological Psychiatry 

Farb and Segal research on the Default Mode Network and depression

Dave Vago

Catherine Kerr

Mind and Life Institute Fellow Program

Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction

If you’re inspired to support the show, you can do that here. You can also leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher  , or simply tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

Interoception, Contemplative Practice, and Health with Norm Farb (LBP 052)

Norm Farb is a neuroscientist whose research focuses on the relationship between present moment awareness and well-being. He is in the department of psychology at the RAD Lab (Regulatory and Affective Dynamics Lab) at the University of Toronto Mississaugua. In today’s episode we are talking abouta paper of his titled Interoception, Contemplative Practice, and Health. We dive deep into what the benefits- and risks- are to honing one’s ability to connect with a sense of what is going on in our bodies, and what we appraise that input to mean based on our perceptions of who we are in the world.

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Conversation highlights

  • Norm researches how people develop habits that serve them well or cause suffering, and is focused particularly on contemplative practices.
  • Interoception is a sense of what is going on in our bodies. Bodily sensation comes from inside the skin- for example our heart beat is felt most through skin of chest. Interocpetion also includes what we do with that sensation- it is linked to our conceptual representations of what the sensations mean.
  • There is not a thing such as pure perception- nothing is unadulterated. We always try to fit our perception to our interpretation.
  • Even when signals are first hitting the brain they are already being compared to what it’s similar to.
  • Initial thoughts on interoception were naive in that people thought more interoception was good and blocking sensation was bad. Want to have access to bodily signals, but also to regulate how much impact they have over mood or decision making. It comes down to a person’s interpretive framework.
  • Most people out of touch with their bodies, but it’s too simplistic to say that if people got in more touch with their bodies they would do great. People with anxiety disorders have more awareness of their heartbeat. Interoceptive sensitivity is not a one way street into wellbeing.
  • Panic attacks are an example of interoception gone awry. It is good to have a ping of butterflies in your stomach when public speaking, but n panic attacks there is catastrophization. “What if this is actually threatening to me?”
  • Many contemporary health problems are a result of disregulated interoceptive processes.
  • When people are aimlessly binge watching shows or mindlessly putting food in their mouths- or whatever self soothing there is- they are trying to get away from some discomfort in the body.
  • Let the body be the canary in the coal mine. This isn’t to put the body above cognition- we can do incredible things with our minds- but there is a reason why intelligence doesn’t predict happiness for instance. We can get caught in a local maximum- doing the best we can do in a rational sense but that’s a limiting way of seeing the world.
  • How are you going to escape a depressive self justification unless you can open up to conflicting information?
  • Because the body is an untamed wilderness that’s a really rich place for inquiry.
  • How does interoceptive awareness get integrated? We don’t have strong neural evidence for how it is substantiated in the brain.
  • None of our perceptions are the actual thing.
  • in situations where people have the misfortune to have part of the spinal cord severed and cannot receive input from bodies still they still can have rich emotional lives.
  • Dimasio’s somatic marker hypothesis (in resources)
  • Anhedonia is an example of pleasure signals not making their way through to the representation map. People are living less rich lives when they are not tapping into their bodies- we are cognitive misers and most of us live a life based on what has happened to us.
  • A lot of the path is noticing things i do that make me or other people crazy. Without awareness that conditioning is running my behavior and conditions don’t change
  • Things might seem darker before the dawn because you are coming into contact with how you have been conditioned. You need to open the door and see how cluttered and messy the room is before you can clean it out.
  • Not all habit or behavior needs to be changed but to have deeper meaning one has to be around to witness what’s going on.
  • Presence is allowing oneself to minimize the need to change or regulate what is occurring right now.
  • At the heart of any regulatory state is a rejection of what is happening.
  • The pursuit of happiness as a goal is self-defeating. Allowing experiences to play out without having to react to them.
  • Agency- the feeling that one’s actions can effect desired outcomes in the world.
  • Any systems that fire together wire together. The more we respond with the same response it’s more likely we will respond the same way in future.
  • If you can do something to explore the quality of that stimulation you can starve the resources that would be allocated to responding to that stimulation.
  • Thinking “don’t eat ice cream” is suppressive and we know in long term it’s not successful. As soon as we take energy away from “don’t eat ice cream” it’s the strongest signal. Stick with the sensory aspect of the stimulus arc. In doing that it is literally not reacting with overt behavior- we give the signal the attention not the non-desired outcome.
  • How is interoception an intervention for chronic pain? There is evidence that paying attention to your body and not jumping into actions can turn down inflammatory markers. In the broader sense they are helpful because the suffering that comes from chronic pain is not the same thing as the sensory pain itself.
  • In chronic pain conditions there is a recurring threat message coming from the body. The secondary appraisals about the ability to live the life one wants effects quality of life to a much greater degree than the pain signal itself. Migraine sufferers completely shut down when they feel one coming on. Yet every moment of a headache is not going to be peak intensity. Not every impending migraine is going to have the same catastrophic effect.
  • How can people play with restoring interoception to a healthy state?

Resources

Norm Farb's site

The RAD Lab at the University of Toronto Mississagua

Norm Farb's publications

Paper we discussed: Interoception, contemplative practice, and health

Damasio- The Somatic Marker Hypothesis and the Possible Functions of the Prefrontal Cortex

If you’re inspired to support the show, you can do that here. You can also leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher  , or simply tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

Discovering The Line with Will Johnson (LBP 051)

Will Johnson is the founder of the Institute for Embodiment Training and the author of several books including The Posture of Meditation and Balance in Body, Balance in Mind. In today’s conversation we dove into what Dr. Rolf’s original concept of “The Line” was, and discuss its implications for both finding delicious support in our bodies and also for its ability to evoke our evolutionary potential.

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Conversation highlights

  • What is “The Line” and how did Dr Rolf define it? It's more like a koan than a thing...
  • The evolutionary implications in Dr. Rolf's teachings and intentions which have to a large degree gone by the wayside since her passing. Rolfing was not just to feel better, but was a practice that would liberate a different quality of consciousness.
  • The idea was that playing with upright balance in this way would liberate evolutionary energies that would manifest as a growth in consciousness.
  • When we get in touch with how we are withholding emotional expression this work [Rolfing] is more akin to something like meditation or spirtiual pactices. Dr Rolf would at times implore and beseech students not to view this work as a form of glorified physiotherapy.
  • The parallels between Buddhist teachings and Rolfing felt remarkable. From the earliest moments of Buddhism there was an understanding that if we can bring the upright spine to a condition of ever greater alignment that will allow the practices to begin.
  • The whole thing about creating the upright in sitting posture is it allows you to let go and relax. Relaxation is nothing more complicated that to surrender the weight of body in gravity. If your body is out of alignment, what happens when you let go is you topple over.
  • The Buddhist dharma is to let go. We have to be able to relax and you cannot relax and let go through a body that is not playing with balance.
  • Dr. Rolf's answer to a student question about how a Rolfed [aligned] body breaths, "In a truly balanced and integrated body as we breath in and out breath cause subtle motion to occur at every single joint in the body." It is a condition of really profound upright balancing where things are so relaxed that as you breath in and out breath can move through the body like a wave moves through water.
  • We talk about alignment in many realms and it’s this imagined perfect locked-in position. in reality, it is an exquisite unfolding of finding movement and ability for things to flow through. For relaxation to continue the entire body has to be subtly moving like an amoeba. If this is not occurring you are going into holding and freezing and relaxation goes out the window.
  • The majority of people somehow have gotten this crazy notion that stillness of mind depends on a still and frozen body. That frozen quality just locks people. Buddhist dharma has painted itself into a corner of frozen stillness which ironically also fuels the unbidden thoughts.
  • Yoda “there is no balance, there is just balancing”. Balance is not a condition to attain and then maintain.
  • Letting go is tricky business. We both stop ourselves from allowing these spontaneous flows, and we also come across people who are “acting out”. It’s about finding that place in the middle.
  • There are traditions where people are moving or rocking constantly like Sufi or the Jewish tradition of davening. The magic is in the allowance of these as spontaneous motions. 
  • Is there an anatomical structure that describes The Line? No- we're each different and it's about the play with balance, or the integrating force as we play with balance.
  • Relaxation is nothing more or less complicated that the willingness to surrender to gravity.
  • In most practices the body is viewed as an obstacle. I think that notion is crazy. We’re here, we’re incarnated, the body is literally going to be our vehicle.

Resources

The Institute for Embodiment Training

The Posture of Meditation

Balance of Body, Balance of Mind

Retreats with Will Johnson

If you’re inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful. If technology isn’t your thing however you can just tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

The Spark in the Machine with Daniel Keown (LBP 046)

Dr. Daniel Keown, who is both a Western medical doctor and a Chinese medicine doctor joins me for a conversation about his book The Spark in the Machine

We discuss many of the crucial things that Western medicine ignores- things like fascia, extracellular fluid, how an embryo knows how to organize around a seeming blueprint, and how your spirit affects your health. We talk about how fascia explains Qi, how and why jing and shen are better predictors of lifespan and health than a person’s genetics, what cancer has to do with fascia and Qi, how we are all built like crystals, what that has to do with piezoelectricity, and so much more. 

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Conversation highlights

  • Why do you begin your book with the question "Why can’t humans regenerate?"
  • It gets to the core of what healing is. The question isn’t how does it occur by why can’t we? In primitive animals they can regenerate limbs.
  • There is this myth in western medicine that somehow doctors heal you. What they really do it allow the healing to occur.
  • Chinese medicine knows and has always known that the space between the cells is as important as the cells themselves. The spaces in the cells taken up by extracellular fluid- it makes up about 40% of the body- so it's a huge amount of fluid. If you imagine your skin as a membrane that keeps everything in, and this is the fluid that bathes all of our cells, it’s also a communication medium. Yet there is no real concept of this fluid as being living and important in Western medicine.
  • Western medicine does not really have a philosophy of health.
  • Qi is the energetic blueprint from which matter is made manifest.
  • We are one cell that develops into trillions and trillions of cells in our perfect complex organisms- there is an energetic blueprint on how that forms, and that’s Qi.
  • Jing and shen are more real than genetics in terms of predictors of health and longevity. The big problem with genetics is that it is too complex. People think you have “a code” but that’s not how it works. You have multiple different codes- this is the science of epigenetics. If you are in a stressful situation you will tap into that "code" to get you through the stressful situation.
  • That’s an example of your shen, your spirit, affecting your jing, your matter. This plugs into why meditation is so important and why living a good life is so important- it resonates through your material body. The science of genetics is not going to go much farther, it is going to go into epigenetics.
  • Fascia explains Qi because fascia is like the skeleton that your body is built around. It is a web and then the cells grow into this web or are knitted into it.
  • Doctors and scientists will talk about how they can grow a heart, but they can't actually do it. They will take the heart of a pig, strip away everything but the fascia, then inject heart stem cells- they’re kind of cheating. The Qi is like the skeleton of fascia.
  • Chinese medicine devotes two organs to fascia- triple burner and pericardium.
  • When getting the degree in Chinese medicine a lot of questions that couldn’t be answered. He couldn't get a straight answer about the Triple Burner. so looked through an old book- Giovanni Maciocia Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine and saw the pelvis, abdomen, and chest-the triple burner described the fascia which separates it and keeps these compartments behaving like they should.
  • Acupuncture points are what surgeons use everyday. Google keyhole surgery and you'll see loads of videos, the hole they are putting it into is this space within the body- they blow it up with gas so they can navigate the body. Surgeons don’t want to cause damage in the body so they go along the pathways that are already there, which are the acupuncture points.
  • When bad things happen in surgery it’s always because they have broken the rule of never crossing fascial planes.
  • Cancer spreads through fascia- Cancer is just a break down of Qi. Qi is the force that keeps everything doing its right thing, and cancer is just a group of cells who decide damn you and they are going to go their own way.
  • There are mechanisms in the immune system that are designed to mop that up, and immunotherapy is one of the most interesting fields of cancer therapy, but you also have to address the underlying Qi disturbance.
  • How does the body self organize? People say it’s genes, but Qi is a more accurate description. Google frog electric face to watch it in action (in resources).
  • What is piezoelectricity? We’re all effectively crystals. Electrical current is happening all the time within our bodies- the collagen itself appears to be piezoelectric. This is why astronauts lose bone strength. They lay down calcium and phospohorus and this creates hardness. In space there is no more gravitational stress on bones- so bone cells, the osteoblasts, feel there is no need to do anymore building and so bones get slowly reabsorbed.
  • Within Western medicine there is a slight crisis among doctors- we have completely removed the concept of spirit or shen. As a result doctors are literally becoming dispirited.
  • The miracle of antibiotics is 50 yrs old- chronic diseases now are about looking deeper into society
  • We live in turbulent times but there are a lot of good people out there. 1% of bad eggs who are now at the top of society, and we need to reclaim society and part of that is going to be making medicine simple and about people again.

Resources

The Spark in the Machine- Dr. Keown's book

Space: 21st Century acupuncture- Dr. Keown's private practice and blog

Diagnosis in Chinese Medicine by Giovanni Maciocia

frog electric face video

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How We Form and Move with Joanne Avison

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The Bliss of Your Biology with Ged Sumner

If you’re inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful! If technology isn’t your thing however you can just tell your favorite body nerds about the show. It keeps the show rolling and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!

The Bliss of Your Biology with Ged Sumner (LBP 038)

Today's conversation is with Ged Sumner, the director of Body Intelligence Training, about his book Body Intelligence Meditation. This book posed so many fascinating questions about the current state of mindfulness education. For example: Is traditional meditation treating the body like a machine to be broken, and is it therefore anti-body ? And: Are we bliss-phobic as a culture and is that a part of the reason why we engage with mindfulness in the disembodied way that we (typically) do? This has certainly shifted my perspective on my own practice in a much more delicious direction!

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Conversation highlights

  • Meditation can be, in trying to escape or "rise above" the body, anti-body and can lead to dissociation.
  • What does it mean to "go into the cell" in meditation?
  • "The way to the formless is through form"
  • Is meditation treating the body like a machine?
  • What is the human drive to make things painful or filled with suffering? The body responds well to ease and success can spring from doing something with ease.
  • Is ease a radical concept?
  • "The body will readjust itself." Profound shifts in physiology can happen when we invite our own deep [somatic] intelligence to arise.
  • Proper meditation is like a body therapy.
  • Why does it sound ludicrous to people that we can shift our own physiology with mindfulness?
  • The way we learn biology can give the sense that all the cells are dead.
  • My "one thing"- when people ask me [Brooke] what the one thing is that I think most people don't realize about their bodies I say it is that we forget that we are alive.
  • The greatest miracle of all is that we seem solid when really we're 80% water- we are jellyfish essentially.
  • Most of us are just coping. Our nervous systems are cracking up all over the world.
  • How we're seeing more and more neuro-endocrine issues from this nervous system overwhelm.
  • The idea that thoughts need to stop [as in conventional meditation forms] is erroneous.
  • How does the vagus tie into our inner life?
  • What are some of the ways technology might be changing how we are embodied?
  • We have become too obsessed with pathology and not connected enough to what feels good.
  • "Biology is just another subject taught in school, but when you take away our beliefs, all we are is our biology."
  • The body is full of bliss, yet somehow we remove ourselves from it.
  • Have we become bliss-phobic as a culture?

Home play!

Let's do some somatic meditation shall we!?

First, do check out Ged Sumner's generous free downloads of some of the meditations included in his book. You can do that here: http://bimeditation.com/download-audio

Second, I put together this micro e-book with a somatic meditation (and meditation set up) together recently for a giveaway my friend Kate Hanley of Ms. Mindbody put together. That giveaway has since passed, so I wanted to share the goodies with all of you here. There are 3 files- the ebook Letting Go of the Busy by Saying Hello to the Body (which chronicles much of what was on my mind during the hiatus between season `1 and 2 of the podcast), and then 2 audios- one is for the meditation set up, the second is a guided somatic meditation.

P.S. I'd love to hear how it goes with your somatic meditations in the comments!

Letting Go of the Busy by Saying Hello to the Body- ebook

Resources

Body Intelligence Meditation by Ged Sumner

Audio downloads of Ged's somatic meditations

If you liked this episode, you might also like

Embodied Mindfulness with Jamie McHugh

Body Maps and Interoception with Steve Haines

Mindfulness Expressed in the Body with Bo Forbes

If you’re inspired to leave a review on iTunes or Stitcher I would be oh so grateful! It helps more body nerds to find their way to the show and connects us more as a community. Body nerds unite!