Often, when we find ourselves in pain due to acute injury we recede into a protective shell of limited mobility and asymmetrical motion. This shell can often lead to further injury and delay our return to normal daily function. As we engage in whatever therapies and practices of our choosing we find ourselves presented with a series of prescribed exercises and projected timelines of recovery. What is often overlooked in this process is the ability for our bodies to inform us as to what is needed in regards to maximizing the effectiveness of the therapies we have chosen as well as what may be needed but was not presented by our therapists. More and more I have begun to initiate my practice by pausing and asking a simple question inwardly, “what is needed?”. The answer comes as an impulse, a gentle desire to initiate movement in a certain way. To follow this impulse we must find courage and trust for our innate wisdom to guide us into our wholeness once more. In other words we need to be able to ‘go there’, we have the opportunity to enter into the area of injury with humility and the willingness to listen to the anatomy as our guide. We will need to quiet the voice that suggests “pushing it” and rather respond to the impulses of the body in the way a mother responds to an infant's wailing, with patience, gentleness and servitude. In my own practice this has been invaluable in overcoming injury and discovering new and fun ways of moving. This practice deepens again in the light of Spacial Dynamics in that we are engaging the spiritual aspects ourselves (forces unseen by the eye active in the physical realm) and the body can be refreshed, invigorated, and supported by the formative, energetic life-body (etheric body). Your body knows what it needs, your mind is not your brain and wholeness is closer than may seem apparent. Go there!
Why movement? In simplicity, because life is movement. From respiration to tectonic shift, sprouting beans to the crawl of lichen, no progression of development is without motion. The telltale signs of emotional and physical illness are a slowing down, a ‘hitch in one's step’, so to speak. We can recognize our friends and foes by their gate, they all have individual motion blueprints which form a key element of their individuality, in particular the hands express cultural and personal identifiers that give rhythm and emotion to social spheres. When we once again become whole after illness we feel as though ‘something has shifted’. What are your own expressions and gestures of elation and disappointment, what are the shifts? When we look at the triumphs and tribulations of personal human experience it is imperative that we examine the movement gestalt that was in tandem with the emotional, thought and social gestures of the individual involved in the outcome of any action. Will power is a force, a motion that is filtered through the lens of anatomical geometry as it exerts its vision in the physical plane through motion. The study of human spacial movement in relationship to personal and social health will provide a platform of capability when it is understood that movement is inextricable from all aspects of the human experience, the quality of which illuminates who you are, how you experience the world and how it is possible to progress.
On December 14, 2015 I had the pleasure of working with the crew of PV Squared, a photovoltaic installation company based in Greenfield Massachusetts. The purpose of the workshop was to address and replace movements that can lead to injury and fatigue; to look at how break times can be used to rejuvenate the spine and, explore the relationship of spacial forces to movement and physical strength. Preceding the workshop I had spent time observing and interviewing several crews and was not surprised to hear complaints of neck and lower back pain, wrist, elbow and shoulder problems as well as sore feet. One of the reasons I was familiar with the injury and discomfort described by the crew members is that I spent the better part of 18 years as a stonemason, gardener, and arborist. I remember all too well days of not being able to get off the floor due to lower back pain, being unable to turn my head due to slipping cervical vertebrae, and the searing, knife like pain of tendinitis in my wrist and shoulder; not to mention everyday aches. I personally was able to treat and overcome much of the above mentioned trauma through my study and application of Spacial Dynamics, and finished out my career in the trades relatively unscathed.
I felt fortunate to be presenting the work of Spacial Dynamics to a group of electricians because of their knowledge of ‘current’ in regards to the flow of electricity. The Spacial Dynamics view of anatomy is very similar to electricity in that it views the body functions as ideal when the current of ‘spacial streams’ surrounding the body is not disrupted or inhibited along its course. We began with ‘knuckle wrestling’ and ‘ring wrestling’ to look at how the amount of force needed to accomplish a task is reduced when a proper carriage is achieved. We looked at possible points of energetic disruption along the postural lines of the body. We explored how, the locking of the wrist, elbows and glenoid cavity of the shoulder as well as kinking the neck is like tripping a breaker which can lead to a decrease in strength while requiring more force to accomplish a task. By now I had their attention and we explored further in an attempt to redefine the shoulder to include the entirety of the thorax and the importance of ‘grounding’ one’s physical body through the legs when applying force, as well as not including the head in these activities.
Following these lessons we looked at the role of gravity when using a forward bend to give space to the vertebral discs and lengthen the spine. This lesson also explored the importance of symmetry in relation to posture and how the simple act of standing properly during ‘break time’ can help alleviate bodily stress. The phenomenon of oppositional forces or force vector, “going down, to come up” was also explored at this time. We looked at the difference between using a stretch to nourish the skeleton apart from the muscles; during this time I also worked individually with people who had ‘flat feet’ and got some amazed looks as their arches appeared with a slight ‘lift’ from the force of levity and proper weight placement.
For our final activity we further explored oppositional forces and the role of our ‘water level’, or how we “wear the horizontal plane”, in tasks that require lifting as well as staying emotionally cool. To do so we used ‘tight wire wrestling’, a game that requires lowering the ‘water level’ to achieve stability and strength. This is always a popular activity as it easily shows how we can alter our relationship to gravity to bring ease to tasks, as well as how it is possible to inhabit the space below our feet, perhaps even all the way to the center of the Earth. To further explore this phenomenon we finished by pounding stakes into the earth and pulled them by only using the lowering of the horizontal plane, many jaws dropped as the stakes lifted out with very little physical strain.
Overall I feel the workshop was a success, the majority of the crew had experienced the phenomenon of utilizing the forces of space to increase strength while conserving energy. I am thankful for the crews willing participation and look forward to seeing them again; it is also my hope that this work can begin to serve as a model for future workshops for skilled and semi-skilled laborers in the future.
Chronic Pain: Looking For A Way Out
We are often unaware of our bodies when we feel healthy. With perhaps the exception of enjoying a good meal or while lovemaking, we rarely perceive the body; rather, we perceive with our bodies when we feel whole and our health is sound. It is when we are injured or ill that we become “painfully aware” of the body itself. For those who suffer from chronic pain, this is a daily challenge that makes even the most routine activities a monumental task of endurance.
Spacial Dynamics views these conditions, in part, as a disruption of the body-space continuum. We have a body, a space we inhabit for a time, and we also have our personal space which is very much a part of our being and experience of the world. In order to function properly, the body needs to be informed of, and by, its surroundings through spacial perception; the spacial body can be likened to an invisible limb that reaches out into the world to bring perceptual stimulus to the body and the intellect. Reestablishing the rhythmic dynamic between the physical and spacial bodies can play a large role in an individual's ability to overcome chronic pain. While the physiological and anatomical causes of chronic pain vary widely, the resulting gestures are often similar. The sufferer’s awareness is continuously brought into the body, dimming the outside world. The sufferer becomes locked in a chronic state of contraction which leaves them exhausted and often disrupts their ability to connect with others and the natural world.
Using a wide variety of hands-on techniques and gentle explorations of movement, a Spacial Dynamics therapist helps to lead a person “out” of the body by bringing their awareness to the spacial aspects of themselves, thus opening a path away from an entirely mechanistic experience of the world. The experience can be likened to releasing the pressure of an over-inflated bicycle tire: when too full, the tire will give a bumpy, uncontrolled ride; when the pressure is returned to normal, the tire can “perceive” the road surface and carry the passenger comfortably down the road to the desired destination. Another analogy would be wearing a pair of shoes that are a size too small on a long walk, the shoes represent a spacial body that has constricted or even cut into the physical body. When the shoes are removed or replaced with a pair that fits, the feet can “spread out” or “breathe”, giving the owner much relief. The way we wear our space can greatly alter our relationship with pain and even eliminate it altogether if we find a way to “spread out” spacially. It is no coincidence that there is a high co-occurrence of anxiety and chronic pain; both conditions are accompanied by extreme contractive gestures.
With regards to chronic pain resulting from traumatic, acute physical injury, we often find a reflexive or contractive gesture that is similar to the gesture of those who suffer a physiological disorder or a psychosomatic-spacial condition. Many times, individuals will “pull away” from the injured limb and will quite literally cease from fully inhabiting the afflicted area. This can lead to sympathetic injury from a lack of physical symmetry, anxiety, and at worst, necrosis, the death of cellular life in the tissue. For example, a client came to me who had suffered a broken leg; even though months had gone by since the accident, she was still in pain, and the color of the leg was a deep, unsettling purple. We worked together for about an hour, using mainly hands-on techniques; and by the end of the session, the leg had returned to a normal skin tone. We then worked on walking while inhabiting the space below her foot. Using this technique, she was able to progress quickly in her physical therapy efforts that had plateaued before our work together.
In closing, one may begin to recognize the habitual gestures of chronic pain and learn to move in a way that revitalizes the body-space continuum. This experience is often one of joyful discovery and can lead to the body once again returning to its rightful function as a sense organ for the world around it.
It is estimated that around 15 million Americans suffer from social anxiety. A simple interaction can lead to feelings of dis-ease and “not belonging”; at worst, a person becomes stricken with panic and dread, even during the most routine of activities. Oftentimes people who suffer social anxiety feel like “everyone is looking at me” or cannot handle pauses in conversation. Others “feel invisible” or as though “the world is closing in” around them. It can be said that these individuals “do not feel comfortable in their own skin”.
Spacial Dynamics® is based on the theory that you have a physical body-- a space that you inhabit for a time-- and also a spacial, or “life-force”, body that is not contained or limited by the boundaries of the physical body. The life-force body gives form and support to our physical structure when in continuum with our manifest selves . Through exploration and experiments of movement, one can learn to perceive the life-force body and improve one’s physical and emotional well-being with spacial movement. In regards to social anxiety, the life-force body is most identifiable as the “personal space”. We are certainly aware when someone enters into our personal space uninvited, just as we also know the feeling of trusting another enough to invite them in. It is with the investigation of personal space that Spacial Dynamics® works to alleviate the phenomenon of social anxiety. The edge of the personal space can be likened to a garden gate, a place where we can meet the world outside of ourselves. Some people leave their gate open to the wind, allowing any critter to enter and do their will. This can be seen in the gestures of those who feel too much of the “pain of the world”. Others build a fortress wall that “keeps the world at a distance” but does not allow for meaningful interactions with others. Some build the gate much too close to the house (the physical body) and “feel the world closing in on them”. Through simple games and slow movement, one can learn to develop a stronger sense of one’s personal space and to recognize that the way one manages this space affects one’s emotional and thought life. We cannot always choose what comes at us in life, but we can choose where we meet it and how we react to it. In principle and practice, the mastery of one’s personal space is an invaluable tool for overcoming social anxiety. Spacial Dynamics® offers these tools in a fun and safe atmosphere. Please feel invited to take the next step.
ref: 15 Million Americans Suffer From Social Anxiety Disorder
In a world of unrelenting tumult and rapid change, there is an enormous number of people who suffer the physical and emotional effects of trauma. Whether as the result of warfare, sexual or domestic abuse, or even a simple fender bender, the residues of trauma can be distressing or even disabling to those who suffer them. A trauma can be defined as an event that changes our ability to trust our surroundings or as a pain that lingers after the event that caused the injury. In Spacial Dynamics®, we say that an accident alone is not the trauma; it is reliving the fear and pain as if the danger were still there, an unwanted response that has a negative impact on our lives. In a very real sense, trauma becomes a habit of gestures and reflexes, a painful skill that we practice through our daily routines and in our movement.
Spacial Dynamics® assists individuals suffering the effects of trauma by identifying the gestural habits of their injury and replacing those habits with the gestures of ideal health. We view the spacial, or life-force, body as the leader of our emotional and physical well-being; for every feeling or pang, there is a preceding spacial change that can be identified and corrected through movement. Spacial Dynamics® is unique in that it brings about change by reshaping the space around us; we start with “what works”-- healthy movement-- and then correct “what is” by inverting the gesture of the trauma and moving toward the gestural ideal of health. The exploration of “personal space” and “inner volume”, as well as balance, can be powerful tools in overcoming that which hurts us. Through the use of slow movement, games, and meditation, we can begin to see the “motion in the emotion” and begin to identify with something more than the limited identity of trauma. We begin to discover the beauty and freshness of ideal movement. Through this new lens of spacial movement, we find a route out of the reflexes of trauma and can once more become the architects of our own lives.