Spontaneous movement has the power to heal all illnesses. Many cultures have methods of spontaneous movement therapy – this type of bodywork can be found throughout history in many times and places. The purpose of this book is to encourage you to engage in spontaneous movement, and support you in healing yourself through this wonderful method.
Illness is always caused by an imbalance in the energy field. An organ or joint is either suffering from trapped energy, or is not receiving enough energy flow. The Chinese, in their wonderful simplicity say that energy does four things: it flows up, it flows down, it comes in, it goes out. Wherever it is impeded in these four movements, we tend to develop pathology, be it minor or major.
Spontaneous movement allows ones physical energy system to clear trapped energy. This is more likely to happen gradually than quickly, because the body is a creature of habit, and responds more readily to habits being changed in small increments over time than it does to sudden shifts. Therefore you must give spontaneous movement a chance to heal you by doing it regularly over an extended period. I don’t think of spontaneous movement as something I’ll just do for awhile, but as a part of my lifestyle which I’ll do until I die.
Sudden shifts, though, can and will happen WHEN YOUR BEING IS READY FOR THEM. Don’t try to make them occur. DON’T FORCE ANYTHING. Just let the spontaneous movement happen.
The biggest problem with spontaneous movement that I have found is that when I suggest to someone that they engage in it, the person is often too inhibited to allow the spontaneous movement to be effective. Most people have developed a relationship to their body which is highly patterned and deeply fixed. We tend not to be aware of this, for our body is our environments, and as Marshall Mcluhan says, “environments are invisible.”
One way to help a person over their entrenched psycho/physical patterns is to suggest that they engage in EXPERIMENTAL MOVEMENT, that is, PLAY WITH THEIR BODY – try out different movements. See how many movements you can think of to perform. Think of how many ways you can move your body. And as you this be aware of how some of them will feel much better to engage in than others. These are the ones you need.
You are best off moving slowly and fluidly at first. Slowly because when you’re being slow its easier to be aware of the physical feelings you are having as you move, and fluid, that is, not pausing, because you are then less likely to be consciously controlling the movement through choices.
I thought a long time about writing this book before starting it. I wasn’t sure what structure to give the book, but then decided that the book needed to be structured in the same way as spontaneous movement – spontaneously, as it unfolds.
Your body is a vast entity. It is a universe. It contains all your karma and your past lives. Your physical body is only a part of your body, actually a small part. As I describe to you some of the many possibilities of spontaneous movement I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed. Don’t try to do too many things at once. Stay with what you’re doing in the moment, and relish the release! Spontaneous movement is where fun and healing meet!
My suggestion is to start with just your head and neck. The neck is made to move in many directions, it is a being which loves flexibility. In astrology it is ruled by the sign Taurus, whose negative characteristic is stubbornness and rigidity. The challenges of living can certainly make a neck rigid. As we try to hold out against the difficulties and negativities we have to deal with, our neck can so easily go stiff.
As you move your neck slowly and fluidly you will experience places of restriction. These painful areas are boundaries of movement, where your body is telling you that this is a place of tension. Respect that message and proceed lovingly.
Here is one of the most important points in this book: YOU NEED TO BE AWARE OF THE TYPE OF PAIN YOU ARE EXPERIENCING WHEN YOU MOVE SPONTANEOUSLY. This is the key to your success. There is a pain which actually feels good. The good pain is your body telling you that you are helping it. An example of this good pain is getting up in the morning and stretching. You do this because your body wants to do it, because it feels right and good.
Listen to your body. When you feel a place of restriction, gently stretch into it. Try either holding the stretch, or you might try backing off from it and repeating the same stretch again, maybe even a number of times.
John Barnes, who is an authority on stretching says that you may hold a stretch anywhere from 90 seconds to 5 minutes! Always remember though, if your body says STOP, or THAT’S TOO MUCH, then stop.
Most people love to receive massage. Spontaneous movement is giving yourself an internal massage. And in fact self massage is another facet of spontaneous movement. As you stretch your neck you may reach up and massage it .
There is a chiropractor who has based a whole therapeutic system around stretching the neck forward and then with both hands gently pulling it down toward your chest. Try this, and then as you do it gently move the neck from side to side.
As you move your neck in all directions, try opening your mouth, stretching your jaw. Move it from side to side. Your tongue can stretch out – it too can go in many directions. When you stick your tongue out as far as you can you automatically constrict your throat, which massages your throat. This is a traditional yoga exercise to alleviate sort throat. As you do this you may what to open your eyes as widely as you can, as if you were surprised, and also stretch all your fingers out as far as you can.
The muscles of your face can also make many motions. Raise and lower your forehead, pucker your lips, make funny faces! Half of all the acupuncture meridians either begin or end on the face, and through massaging your face you can stimulate them.
The facial muscles are used to give social signals – smiling, frowning, recognition, as in a wink. It is social unacceptable to contort the face in all sorts of directions. This is one of the greatest inhibiting factors to spontaneous movement – the fact that we are all instilled with the idea that we aren’t supposed to move our bodies when we don’t have a purpose to do so. Moving the body randomly is something a child does until they grow up enough to learn to “be still.” When children engage in all sorts of random movements they are releasing pent-up energy, giving themselves some intuitive therapy. An adult can recapture the ability to do this.
For spontaneous movement to have a therapeutic effect the movements needn’t be big or drastic. Subtle, small movements can have much healing power. It can be hard for people to believe this, especially Westerners.
A lovely example of the power of subtle movement is cranial sacral therapy. In this healing modality the therapist makes very gentle and light contact with the patient and simply tracks with and supports the subtle and oftentimes almost imperceptible movements that his or her body is making. The results can be profound, healing all sorts of problems, from skeletal misalignment to difficulties with organ functioning.
Your body is always moving in an attempt to heal itself. If you can listen to it and allow it to engage in these movements, great healing can be the result.
Movement increases circulation, both of blood and chi, and it is smooth, unimpeded circulation that rids us of infection and can correct problems of misalignment.
I said earlier that spontaneous movement is giving yourself an internal massage. It can also be giving yourself in external massage as well. For instance, you can massage your face with your hands. You can tap your face with your fingers. How much sinus trouble would be helped simply by tapping the sinus areas with the fingers! Slap your cheeks. Pull your ears! Slap your neck up and down from the bottom of it to your skull, back and forth! Directly behind the bottom of your ears is an important acupoint called gall bladder 20 which helps the low back, ears and eyes, and which calms nervous energy. Slap in this vicinity.
I’ve studied a lot about acupoints and anatomical features of the subtle anatomy, but as I write I’m going to try to bring as little as possible of this into what I’m telling you, because I don’t want you to intellectualize the activity of spontaneous movement, or to try to figure out what you need. Such activities are fine, but my goal is to get you to move, and to do it in the way that a poet writes — from your soul! Experimentally! You can’t do anything wrong when you spontaneously move. Can a grain of sand in the desert be out of place? Ha ha! And even if it is out of place, the wind will make sure to put it back where it belongs!
If you’re ever sore from doing spontaneous movement, it could be either because you did too much, pushed your body too far, or maybe because you are going through a process of detoxification. When you are moving spontaneously, you are feeding yourself with fresh energy as you release old, stagnant energy. If you overfeed yourself, that is, try to make the process of release happen too quickly, you can get energy indigestion. Listen to your body, for it will tell you how fast it wants to go.
Have you thought of spontaneously moving your vocal chords? Let’s see what they do! Do they have some funny sounds to make? Some words to say? Remember, your conscious mind doesn’t have to be involved with this, or try to make those words or sounds make sense. Let the sounds out, and see what comes out.
Here is a fun exercise: Say a bunch of two letter words that consist of a consonant and a vowel, for instance bo, me, do, la, ja, ha, ro, etc. You may chant or sing these rhythmically, at any speed you want. Just enjoy the texture of the consonants, and the way all the different sounds feel. Repeat the ones you like best. You can also make up nonsense words, or say any words that come to your mind, be they single words or whole sentences.
Doing exercises of this nature encourages the unconscious aspects of your being to express themselves and can trigger the release of pent-up energy.
When I was around 25 years old I was seeing a doctor, an osteopath, who gave me an article he thought I might be interested in. It was about another osteopath who had put together a room with padded walls and a sort floor. He had done this to give his patients a room in which they could be alone to engage in spontaneous movement. The room was totally private – it had no windows, and had been soundproofed – in case a person wanted to scream or make other loud noises in it.
The doctor found that patients with incurable illnesses, as well as patients who weren’t responding to any of the other treatments he offered were greatly benefited by going in this room and doing exactly whatever their impulses told them to do.
The question is, since this treatment was effective, why didn’t it catch on? Why aren’t many practitioners using this technique?
The same doctor who had given me the article on this technique said that he had known a number of other osteopaths who had learned homeopathy and who had stopped practicing it after awhile. “Why did they do this?” I asked, “is it because it didn’t heal the patient?” “No!” was the answer I received, “it is because it was too effective, because it worked too well! The cured patients didn’t come back. Homeopathy was bad for business!”
Years later I was taking a shiatsu class and the teacher gave us a hand out on a Chinese therapy known as “Re-do,” which is spontaneous movement therapy. This is identical to what the aforementioned osteopath with his padded room was engaging in.
The only difference is that in the practice of “re-do” you start out with two preliminary exercises to warm you up: First you sit in a chair and as you inhale you twist your whole spine to one side as you turn your neck and look behind you. Then you let out your breath you come back to a forward facing position. Next you inhale again and twist around in the other direction, then letting your breath out and coming back to the forward facing position. You do this over and over, twisting one way and then the other, for a number of times. This helps to limber up the spine before you engage in the spontaneous movement.
Next you spread your arms wide above your head as you lean back and take a deep breath in, and then as you exhale you lean all the way over from the waist and put your arms between your legs and your hands on the floor. You repeat this movement again several times. Once you’ve done this you flow into the spontaneous movement, doing whatever you want.
The three positions for engaging in spontaneous movement are: (1) lying down, (2) standing, and (3) seated. The value of lying down is that you don’t have to maintain your balance. A bed is good, as well as a carpeted floor or a floor mat. The down side of using a bed is that if you get too spontaneous, you could fall off, and so you’ll need to control yourself — at least a little!
A great spontaneous exercise to do in bed involves working on the hara, which is the area between the pelvic bone and the ribs, that is, the whole abdomen and all those organs below the diaphragm.
A good time to do this exercise is in the morning before you get up. Simply press all around on your belly! It’s just that simple. When you find a place that is sore or sensitive, gently massage it. You may also press down and hold. Don’t, though, cause yourself discomfort. Go at this in an easy, gentle manner. This exercise can stimulate all your internal organs, and as you work on your large and small intestines absorption of nutrients can improve, and elimination can be enhanced.
By the way, as you work on the hara its best to proceed in a clockwise position, as this is the directional flow of your colon.
When we engage in spontaneous movement in a standing position we can allow the i[[er limbs to have full mobility, stretching the shoulder muscles and joints, and bringing greater flexibility and freedom to the whole arm.
A great stretch for the arm is to hook the fingers over the high ledge of a doorway and allow oneself to hang a little bit. You can also bend the fingers backwards and place them against a wall, pushing against it to stretch the arm.
Do not assume that spontaneous movement is only for affecting the body. Our body is a reflection of our personality, as we release the pent-up stress in it an inevitable reaction will occur in our emotional and mental bodies. This is a wonderful process, for our body is a mirror of the other aspects of our being. Our body allows us to know ourselves, if we will just observe what is going on in it – turn our attention to what we are feeling.
The Tibetans have a meditation discipline known as dzogchen. Dzogchen is not practiced for a certain time each day, but is meant to be practiced all the time. It is the continuous attunement to the void, to the source of all existence. It is living in the moment.