This past weekend I traveled up to Albany to help my mother of 72 move into a new home. It's amazing what one woman can amass and keep yet not need. My mother first of all is an amazing woman.
This past weekend, I got to do what it is I enjoy most... I got to teach and talk to a group of individuals ready to step out of the box. The "New Science of the Human Body" workshop is now my favorite two-day experience. Before me sat 30 individuals who are educators, teachers, students, and entrepreneures of "learning the body better". We spent 14 hours together looking deeper into the body than most models go. We defined by viewing microscopically this dynamic supporting, communicating system in the body that I call the "neurofascial system". This is the science that combines neuro-science and connective tissue research and shows why we all need to learn more about these two components of our body if we are going to maintain an active, healthy, pain-free lifestyle... not only better... but longer.
It is the profound work of Gil Hedley, Robert Schleip, J.C. Guimberteau, Elaine DeBeauport, along with my own empiracle study and passion that I am able to talk about this system as an expert of neurofascial application and research. This October I had the pleasure of speaking to 30 not only brilliant but diverse individuals spanning the fields of personal trainer, manager, and consultant to acupuncture, massage therapist, and chiropractor to expand their knowledge on how to help a body achieve greater efficiency and longevity.
Each person in the room stayed so present and in the moment, day one flowed without a hitch. A new model presented, and the embodiment begins! Day two began with profound quetions,(and long-winded answers on my side) to build on the ideas and impress upon them the importance of knowing more about the connective tissue and what I define as the "autopilot" providing every human body support, protection, and whole-body communication and is functioning out of our conscious control. We learned how to tap into this sytem without "over loading" the network that links our parasympathetic nervous system to our connective tissue.
To me, a weekend like this is a gift. The students, a treasure, the learning... priceless. As the months progress and the work sinks into the bodies of the participants, I can only wonder what the results will be. More on the evolution of the learning soon!
What is inflammation? Why and where does it occur? Ask 10 different practitioners, I am not sure you would get the same answer. The best way I can explain inflammation is to tell it to you from what I feel I know about inflammation. As a practitioner, I see it in my clients as often as I see it in myself. But for me, I am obsessed with the process and learning how to ward off the bad inflammation but also harnessing the good inflammatory responses that arise. Did you even know inflammation can and is a good thing at times?
Here’s how I see inflammation:
At the root of inflammation, is the body’s ability to protect itself. It’s a biological “take control and protect” reaction. It is at the heart of our immune system. Our body’s ability to deploy super quantities of specialized repair cells including macrophages and mast cells that signal other cells to react, while alterations in the production of certain chemicals is initiated…inflammation is in it’s first response a good thing. However, if this inflammatory response doesn’t shut off, more whole-body reaction begins. This causes a change in lymphatic and liver function, not to mention our mental state and over all sense of energy. All of this creates a build up of toxicity on both a mental and physical level and that, no matter how you define it, IS inflammation as we recognize it by symptoms. Joints that frequently ache, low energy, poor sleeping cycles. Inflammation is now, not a good thing.
This is the cycle that begins. In other words, inflammation is the body’s way of protecting our vital systems. Think of it like the airbag that deploy a moment before total impact to protect you from flying out the window. Certain forms of inflammation actually keep us from dying when we catch a cold or cut our finger. It is a profound cascade of sorts that both allows us to stay healthy but can make us sick in the same instance. Ultimately, it depends on the body’s unconscious reaction to stress and how it both turns on and, turns off the reaction that causes inflammation.
In MELTing, we describe this inflammatory response as being initiated by the autopilot system, scientifically called the Autonomic Nervous System. Unlike traditional schools of thought that might describe the primary response to be within the brain, the reality is the body is responding first, the Central Nervous System (brain) is only responding to a peripheral (body) signal. The autopilot is a system housed under the Peripheral Nervous System or body nervous system. This concept I believe has been a part of ancient movement arts such as yoga, meditation, and any hands on therapy techniques regardless of a scientific explanation being necessary. Not just in the mind, but in the body we can resolve stuck stress on every level whether it shows it self as a mental, physical, chemical, or emotional stress, our body can handle stress and return back to balance if the autopilot is functioning efficiently.
So back to the science…
When inflammation comes and goes, the body is telling you it’s trying to manage stress on every level it comes in. But when inflammation becomes chronic, it’s the body’s inability to efficiently repair, protect, support and remain in balance that keeps us in an unhealthy, depressed, bloated, puffy, inefficient state.
Enzymes are a big part of the inflammatory process. They demolish damaged tissue so other cells and chemicals can create repair. Finally, in an efficient way the body senses the job is done… and the signal to continue to send an army into battle, is changed into a response to retreat and return to base. This response only occurs when the body’s repair regulator is able to return the body back to balance once a stress reflex has occurred. The repair regulator is housed within the autopilot. It is one of 3 regulators that are monitored for efficiency and balance.
Lots of things cause our body to set off the inflammatory parade from genetics to our environment and habits. Smoking, UV rays, pollution, allergies, and most importantly hormone and metabolism and our organ state (from nutrition to how we utilize a water molecule) are all players in our ability to stay balanced and efficient.
Our organs are constantly working to remain efficient even if we smoke, or eat crap like processed foods. This constant assault on our body’s autopilot system sends our body into an inefficient, unbalanced state. Intervention on a conscious level is essential in returning a chronically inflamed system back to a state of balance.
There are many levels of chronic inflammation from simple body ache to autoimmune disorders like rheumatoid arthritis and lupus. It has been linked to cancer, heart disease, and Alzheimer’s. Chronic inflammation in blood vessels causes deadly clotting leading to a heart attack. Many autoimmune disorders are in fact the body’s self-healing mechanism or “auto-pilot” gone haywire. Our own inflammatory immune response actually begins to assault healthy connective tissue cells found within and around joints, nerves, muscles, organs, and bones. This attack can turn connective tissue cells into pain receptors. It’s like the attack of zombies turning everyone else into zombies! The cells don’t die, they turn into torture cells that signal pain to our brain!
Now there are many different types of symptoms that can arise from inflammatory responses. It can be in the form of a headache, acid reflux, cramps, and even depression. In more extreme circumstances its severe joint pain, arthritis, heart attack, or even death.
Research has shown that sometimes a wound that doesn’t heal properly and is chronically inflamed can even become skin cancer! There are many researchers who are basing their studies on skin cancer in the science of the body’s autopilot or self-defense/healing mechanism and how it works. I have simply taken this science and apply it to the understanding of what I know to be the autopilot system.
By now, I hope you are thinking, “Sue! Is there a way to help my autopilot and restore regulator stay balanced so that I can help keep chronic inflammation out of my body?!” I believe, yes. I know there is a way because I not only help myself keep inflammation out of my body, I show others how to do it… and it works.
So how do we improve our body’s autopilot system to stay regulated and balanced? How can we actively partake in keeping this vital system working efficiently? Drinking water isn’t enough, it is essential, but not enough. Why? On a cellular level, if our body becomes chronically dehydrated cells stop absorbing fluids as the fluids surrounding the cells is toxic. In an attempt to keep the cell from becoming toxic, it actually kills itself by not absorbing fluid. It’s a viscous cycle that can become the onset of chronic dehydration leading to chronic inflammation.
There are many ways we can indirectly reduce inflammation in our body. We can eat foods we are not allergic to that are water filled like fruits and veggies, we can sleep in pitch black rooms and go to bed around 10 and wake up at 7, we can meditate… all of these things will indirectly help our body’s autopilot. And, of course, MELTing can directly affect the autopilot. Our techniques directly affect the dual neurological system that functions to keep our body balanced and efficient. This again, is the autopilot.
Learning how to MELT will help you deter inflammation… the common sign of aging. This month’s MELT Map will show you how to stimulate the fluid state of your connective tissue and quiet the stress reflex as a way to both reduce inflammation and improve autopilot functionality and performance. Try it for yourself and let us hear back from you a "feel better story"!
All the best in health and longevity~