EL DIARIO - The Nation’s Largest Hispanic Newspaper
By Juan Fernando Merino
Alleviating Whole-Body Tension
Doctor Fred approaches the small portable table on which one of his new patients is seated. He gently moves Joe's neck to expose the posterior joints. Dr. Fred requests that he breathes deeply, and with extreme smoothness, touches a point ('spinal gateway') adjacent the upper neck vertebra. Seconds later, after making a few contacts, it is evident that Joe has entered a tranquil state, the muscular rigidity has disappeared, a rolling wave moves through his body, and remarkably the expression on his face is blissful.
The results are even more dramatic when Doctor Fred interacts with Sanja, a patient whom already has experienced his spinal care a few times previously. Only seconds after quickly touching these subtle spinal areas, Sanja's entire vertebral column begins to move with flowing oscillations in a series of spontaneous, graceful waves.
"Dr. Fred" (as he is called by patients and friends) is a chiropractor in Bound Brook, New Jersey. He uses the technique of Network Spinal Analysis (NSA), formerly known as Network Chiropractic Care, and an adjunctive method called Somato Respiratory Integration (SRI). For three decades, he has explored and taught diverse methods of natural healing, meditation and personal growth in different countries. In addition to caring for private patients in his practice, Dr. Fred frequently offers seminars and workshops to the public.
It appears that during an NSA 'entrainment' or 'adjustment,' only a delicate touch is needed at specific access points throughout the spine to elicit a powerful effect on the entire spinal system and, in theory, the higher brain centers. This process has captured the imagination of many neuroscience researchers. In fact, a recent study at the University of California Medical School at Irvine demonstrated that patients in Network Chiropractic Care reported significant improvement in: physical health and symptoms, emotional/mental health and symptoms, stress, and life enjoyment. Although physical symptoms changed most often within the first couple of months, patients reported their overall life enjoyment and quality of life continuing to improve year after year.
An NSA "entrainment," explains Dr. Kingsbury, develops two spontaneous healing waves referred to as respiratory and somato-psychic. These two waves serve to create new somatic (physical) strategies to dissipate the tension and to re-organize the function of the spine and the nervous system at a new level. The effect on patients who regularly experience NSA, according to the specialists of this branch of healing, is a dramatic change from states of physical defense and postural stress to an open, relaxed state. This increases inner resources and capacities to make healthier choices, to be more adaptable and creative, to transform physical and mental tension, to live in a more joyful state with greater overall well-being. I asked Dr. Fred the following questions:
Is this a type of massage?
"Not at all. If anything, it's a 'massage' the body does to itself, from the inside through the nervous system. Massage usually works at the level of muscles or connective tissue only, and for most of us it feels great, but quite temporary. However, what NSA does is address a deeper level of the physiology that causes the muscles to go tense in the first place. It involves the vertebral column, the spinal cord, the brain, the whole nervous system, and how these structures interface and react with our internal and external life.
Muscles do not have a mind of their own, they receive and respond to communication from the nervous system. When the nervous system experiences ease, the muscles and all the connective tissue naturally follow suit, and become more relaxed instead of locked in a type of 'defense physiology', a fear-based silent dread, and anxiety. Once the nervous system and the spine experiences greater ease and safety, it spontaneously exists more in the 'present moment'. The implications of this alone to our healing and personal growth are enormous at every level of our existence."
What are the implications regarding defense posture of the bodymind?
"When we get stuck in a defense disposition, one of the things that happen is that the spinal joints and muscles express rigidity and 'armor'. From there, many of us experience pain, stiffness, and feelings of restriction. Usually people adopt stress postures associated with the 'fight or flight' response. This is the frequent pattern most of us experience consciously or unconsciously in our lives to some degree.
It just doesn't feel safe to be here on the planet, or in our bodies. This armored state makes it almost impossible to express our greatest range of adaptability and the flexibility, to live our full joyous potential, to love more freely, or to make healthier choices. To the degree in which a person is locked in this state is the exact degree they relate and connect to themselves, and the world. Our entire perception and perspective of life is influenced and colored by our neuro-structural state."
How could this healing experience be characterized?
"It is a process, so it is cumulative over time. It allows the whole body, the mind, and the spine to unwind acute and chronic tension. The vibration of traumas, emotional wounds, tensions, and stress has been stored in layers of the physiology; and remains as a block, a walled-off or trapped region. My opinion, based on three decades in private practice, is that much of this tension could have been there for a very long time, even starting with birth trauma in some cases. The body remembers and stores this energy, especially along the spinal structures.
Dr. Epstein, my mentor, is fond of saying that, "the spine IS literally the back of the mind – it's where we stuff our stuff" and also, "the body will store and 'weep' the tears the eyes refuse to shed." This healing work manifests a new strategy of body awareness, connection, and release. NSA and SRI help release this somatic armor and 'reset' the system to a relaxed state of 'present-time consciousness', to ever greater ease and peace."
Sounds like it induces a state of meditation?
"The word "meditation" can be a confusing term meaning different things to different people. I see it this way.... when the usual 'static', 'noise', stress, and adverse tension of the nervous system reduces dramatically during an NSA session, then automatically the 'chattering mind' settles down to an inner state of ease, quietness, and serenity. Some people imply 'meditation' is about thinking or pondering an idea - to me that is a superficial layer of the meaning. The deeper experience is one of less or no thought connecting to the field of quiet, serene consciousness underlying mental and emotional activity. The intimate connection between body (nervous system) and mind (consciousness) is what is at play here. More peace in the physical nervous system equals more peace in the mind.
That is a very common experience in our practice using NSA, and when applied regularly, it appears to produce a cumulative baseline, so to speak, of a transcendent expansive inner peace, a deeper connection to pure calm awareness, or wakefulness. This is 'the peace that surpasses all understanding,' which the ancient and modern spiritual teachers have expounded upon for thousands of years.
What I find so attractive here is that these 'higher states' or 'peak states' are initiated and ignited in and through the physical body. The concrete body itself is the meditation vehicle - the fuel, the mantra. How so? I use a computer analogy to explain; with entrainment sessions, the 'hardware', so to speak, of our entire system becomes 'upgraded', advanced, and refined so it can now effectively download and use the higher level 'software' of our deeper nature. If we attempted to run the most current software in a computer that is 25 years old, it will crash quickly or not function at all. Upgrading and advancing the spinal system is essential. Also, remember that a nervous system experiencing more ease and greater function is associated with the health of all other body systems, including our immune system, an important added bonus, a side-benefit, so to speak."
The immune system?
"Yes, of course, the emerging field of psycho-neuro-immunology has garnered huge interest in health-related disciplines over the past 20 years. The negative effects of adverse tension and stress on our overall health, well-being, and immune capacities is well-known and documented by modern science. Remember every body system, including the immune system, requires a robust neuro-endocrine communication to function normally. In addition, most physicians agree that acute and chronic stress directly causes, complicates, or is associated with large percentage of all the diseases and ailments. Research studies have shown a significant positive effect of chiropractic, in general, on the biochemistry of psycho-neuro-immunology.
What other results can a person expect?
"We acknowledge and experience a consistent clinical truth; 'to the degree that a person can connect effectively to their interior, is exactly that degree they can connect with the outer world'. What we have found is that this technique initiates a deeper connection and direct experience of life's innate healing energy and rhythms. So, automatically it ushers the person to another level of transformation and wholeness not usually experienced, it literally changes the quality of their lives from the inside - out. This may show up in innumerable wonderful ways in their outer life at home, in relationships, at work, at play, spiritual practices, etc… and solid scientific studies have confirmed these changes, as stated earlier."
A new strategy for personal growth?
"My personal opinion is yes, based on direct experience. When the life-energy 'floodgates' are opened, a personal evolution of wholeness and greater awareness can take place more rapidly. Remember the computer analogy I stated before: "when the tension in the nervous system releases, and a new refinement happens, we can begin then to access their higher 'software'."
Human beings have an enormous stockpile of dormant, under-utilized 'human resources' i.e. consciousness, compassion, love, creativity, connections, and insights, but if the 'hardware' (spine and nervous system) is not sufficiently stress-free, advanced, or refined it cannot realize or express this software or, sadly, only a very small portion of it. I believe and experience that our work helps this refinement and evolution take place in a natural, gradual, safe way."
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