Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Session With the Jedi Master

Ready, Set, Jedi

Let's do this!

Somehow in the middle of the business of the kids school starting, my return to the stage, an extended family emergency and general life stuff, I managed to squeeze in another neuroplasticity session. This one was special because, Tamar who had started this work with my friend Gregg, was leading this one. If you missed my first post about this work you can find it here: Starting the Process.

I was really looking forward to another session and especially working with Tamar. Lynn was there as well since it was a learning opportunity for all of us. As usual Mike, my husband, came to observe. We opted for some music and got right to it.

I really had no idea what to expect, but here I was, new to all of this and I was meeting with the woman who made all kinds of magic happen in that movie. A lowly little Padawan in the presence of Master Yoda herself. She asked me to sit in a chair and move my hands and wrists to start. I was fine with that but keeping my feet on the floor was causing me major frustration. Hello, spasticity? F-off. How is a girl supposed to concentrate on her body when her body keeps interrupting like a toddler when you're on the phone?!?

We moved on to the the image of water. Floating on water, water around your brain inside your skull, water through your skull and floating your head forward. The image of my body being mostly water was lovely since my muscle tension usually gives me images of planks of wood, held together by rusting old hardware! In reality it is all fluid and therefore changeable. Movement in any direction is (at least theoretically) possible. Then she reminded me of the bony skull around the fluid and told me to bring it up in anticipation of a crown being ceremoniously placed there (does she have my number, or what?!).

Someone (or everyone) observed that I often turn my head to left and purse my lips in concentration. The things I don't notice could fill a book. Speaking of noticing, to keep up the idea of fluidity she asked me to alternate noticing the carpet, furniture and ceiling. Each "noticer" was a different character with distinct characteristics which informed their movement. All this was done while sitting and without breaks in movement. It sounds ridiculous, but it was riot. I was having so much fun and I think watching was entertaining everyone else.

Next I was up on my feet. My stupid, uncooperative feet. I stood holding onto a piece of furniture and we discussed being rooted. We attempted to get weight on both feet by shifting weight from one to the other by "ironing with the pelvis". It worked and suddenly I had weight on my underused left foot. She also reminded me to think rooted and upward. We experimented with different hand placement on the furniture for a bit until BAM I was a freaking oak tree again! Standing up! Grounded with weight on both feet!

I actually had anxiety that I would never be able to lift my left foot. I know my disabled readers are familiar with this horrible anxiety when a drastic physical change happens. After years of scar tissue build up on my hamstrings preventing me from straightening my left knee and then surgery to remove the scar tissue that I was TERRIFIED to bend my knee. I remember thinking "What if I could NEVER straighten it again?". It was a huge irrational fear. She asked me to walk holding onto the furniture, but I kept shaking my head no. I flexed my toes a little, but I didn't dare lift my left foot. Eventually, my overachieving nature overpowered the fear and I took a few steps. I paused between them to make sure I could still feel weight on my left foot.

Crooked Mirror Crooked Mirror

Next we addressed my mis-alignment. She compared me to an Indian dancer because I was standing (still grounded) in an "S" shape. She said "We need to bring your ribs back over your pelvis." I remember thinking "Yes, bring them back." because that's where they came from. Go home, ribs. Go home. Go home. Go Home! This was a lot trickier than I anticipated, but one should not underestimate the pull of a long standing habit.

As our time was drawing to a close Tamar wanted me to try the "shaking." I was thrilled because I'd seen Gregg do this in the movie and I was so excited to give it a go. The idea is to repeat a simple movement until your nervous system fatigues. In the movie this resulted in Gregg visibly shaking. I laid down on a towel on the floor and did a quick "check in" with my body. The big news was that I totally found the back of my right hip! Score! Then I was told to open and close my legs for a few minutes, but I didn't shake. I felt "hot spots." A burning in my left calf, low and mid back. I was so bummed.

Tamar talked about allowing all the labels to be lifted (bad hip, good knee, etc) which resonated even if it isn't as easy as it sounds. She reminded me to think of it as a journey which is a challenge for my goal oriented mind. She told me I just had to "study" until my body remembers. The thing that really stuck with me was that "All the damage from the CP healed years ago and now it's all just patterns." It's a lot less overwhelming to overcome a stubborn, set in its ways nervous system than a broken body.

1 comment:

  1. My name is Margot. I am Gregg's student in NY. I have had very similar sessions with Tamar. It's like she has a special power to reduce my spasticity just by lying on the floor with me in a fetal position. It's actually really simple in reality and feels like pure magic. My feet interrupted me too so Tamar put her feet over mine gently and that helped. My Left Coast Posse members also have issues jump starting shaking and I'm not sure why. I'v never had a problem starting the shaking so it's interesting to see you having difficulty. Good to know. You WILL get it eventually! We all have! For me starting the shaking is easier by using my arms only, as my legs are not yet capable of opening and closing that way. I have fear of bending my knees too. A physical therapist accidentally caused an injury to the back of my knee that caused it to swell and only Gregg was able to get me to understand that no harm would come to me as long as I was aligned properly. The terms "bad leg" etc were hard for me to stop using because I had learned it from doctors and did not see a deeper meaning behind it. When did you meet Tamar? This month? So glad you get to do bodywork! It has changed my whole life in the best way! Please write more bodywork posts! I also want to ad that I hope to be a mother like you someday. It's wonderful for me to see a mom who has CP. It makes me excited for my future!


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