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Underlying Principles of Why NeuroSomatic Integration™ Works
One of the most effective aspects of this method is the use of sensory awareness by both the practitioner and the client. Mindfulness towards your body is the easiest, quickest way to feeling better all the time. It is a central component of NeuroSomatic Integration™ and Somatic Education because helping retrain your brain to change how your body responds requires mindfulness. There are just a few steps to the process, and once you’ve learned them, you’ll be on your way to a turning point in your health. Using mindfulness for health is not new, as a form of it is present in meditation, traditional yoga, t’ai chi, Feldenkrais, and chi kung. This particular form of self-sensing or sensory awareness leads to self-regulation that can be used everywhere in daily life to prevent imbalances or strain patterns from developing. We’re used to perceiving with other senses like vision and hearing, but we are not used to tuning in to our tactile and kinesthetic senses that are then left to subconscious decision-making.
NeuroSomatic Integration™ ( NSI ) also uses the principles that speak to the way your body thinks and processes information as it forms patterns, and assists it in consciously letting harmful patterns go. NSI realizes the body’s reasons for protecting an injury and provides new input before asking it to let go of its guarding. It views the body as an interconnected whole and seeks for the source of the imbalancing forces that may produce symptoms in a variety of places. This approach creates a milieu of neutrality in your system so it can detach from its cumulative holdings and begin to function again as an integrated whole. In this and many other ways, an internal environment is created in your system that promotes new learning.
Our bodies are incredibly intelligent, sensitive and responsive and uses communication systems that are unparalleled. They are scanning and reading our every move, each thought, belief, and intention with exquisite precision and speeds, some of which dwarf the speed of light. Consciously participating in this communication system can have remarkable results. Many of the pioneers of this type of bodywork system sought to resolve their own physical issues, and in the process discovered the power of sensory awareness as their problems resolved.
With a little adjustment in perspective, it’s possible to lead a full, active life from one end of it to the other. Prevention is far easier than finding a cure, but using meditative mindfulness in conjunction with physical well-being might be able to accomplish both. It already has for countless people! What we do during the day – how we use our body – creates changes in our muscles, joints, and posture. If we use mindfulness to keep the relationship in balance between our activities and their influence on our system, we’ll be much more likely to cross the finish line with all of our original parts and prevent being blindsided by a major health issue.
How Does It Differ From Other Methods?
There are a few key ingredients that make all the difference in what we call ‘wear and tear’ and these ingredients are incorporated into somatic education. Here, we teach the body how to return to balance by learning how the body hears, as well as how we can listen when it responds. We listen to how the system is receiving a technique (suggestion) and wait for it to absorb and integrate the technique, then listen to the tissue’s new status so we can be guided to which other forces may be acting on the symptom. If there is a pain in the knee, we check the forces built up in the hamstring attachment, for example, and feel how the knee responds; then explore the muscles directly behind and below the knee, and so on until the most prominent contributor to the tension reveals itself, the knee decompresses, and the pain recedes. Using the subtleties of this mindful ‘conversational’ approach, countless clients not only have be able to receive significant improvements in areas of pain or dysfunction, but have also gained knowledge in how to reinforce and retain the changes on their own. Clients can learn how to engage in conversation with their bodies and increase their ability to understand the feedback it gives. Back, neck, and joint pain are among the easiest to turn around when the home exercises are brought into the equation.
Another key difference with this approach is that we sense into where the lines of force from one area in your body are adding strain to other areas. For example, tension in the hands can impact the muscles in the forearm compressing the elbow, tightening the upper arm and shoulder, then pulling on the neck. Working directly on the neck without removing the other forces down the line won’t provide lasting relief. A symptom or dysfunction, a pattern of wear and tear or even arthritic changes can be caused by cumulative forces from sitting, out-of-balance posture, or from how the feet transmit forces up the leg while walking, hiking, running, dancing, skiing, playing sports, etc. Bones can capture forces rather than transmitting them, creating tension in the surrounding muscles that doesn’t leave easily until the pressure in the bone is released. By discovering these pressures and lines of tension and releasing them simultaneously, several areas that were compensating and reacting can all let go together and re-balance together in relationship. You will also gain insight into the patterns and learn how to get ahead of them before they create problems.
NeuroSomatic Integration™ differs from many hands-on approaches in the way that the educational aspect actually retrains the central nervous system. One of my teachers used to say that, “The muscles only do what the brain tells them to do.” By addressing the inner controller and regulators of muscle activity, somatic education enables the improvements to be more lasting. It also facilitates lasting change by making the way to reduce pain, and retain or regain balance available to the client. Developing a relationship with your body insures catching the imbalance at the level of a ‘twinge’ or ‘tweak’ instead of waiting until the symptom blows up into something more serious. If you’re already at the major symptom stage, the body will also be open if not eager to regain balance and reduce pain as quickly as possible.
More About the Technique and Its Benefits
What is NSI?
NeuroSomatic Integration™ (NSI) is a comprehensive, hands-on form of NeuroMuscular Reeducation derived from many principles of osteopathy and Feldenkrais (in the tradition of Tom Hanna).
How Does it Work?
NSI creates change by using the body’s numerous systems of communicating with itself to deliver the input about the current status, as well as to remind them about their optimal baseline.
What Can it Help?
This approach is helpful for any type of injury or surgery recovery, reducing pain, inflammation, stiffness, soreness, and joint dysfunction very quickly, restoring balance. It also helps athletic and artistic performance.
What is Included in a Session?
It includes a brief assessment of contributing factors to the imbalance, hands-on corrective therapeutic methods, and movement recommendations.
Why Do We Need This Approach?
The awkward positions we have to be in while working in some professions over time can place strain on the body in ways that could throw vertebrae out of alignment, irritate nerves, and create soft tissue changes that permanently alter posture.
While hobbies are fun and feel wonderful, bending over for a few hours can often stress the low back, neck. and legs. A few modifications along the way in body mechanics makes working near or on the ground much easier.
Carpenters and several physical laborer jobs cause repetitive strain that can first appear like strength, but when the muscles remain taut, they eventually wear upon tendons and joints. This is easily preventable.
What is NeuroSomatic Integration™?
This method incorporates the principles and techniques of osteopathy including very gentle touch that listens to your body’s internal rhythms and monitors fluid dynamics as in Cranial Sacral Therapy. It also releases compression within bone, addresses motility of the internal organs, and helps to down-regulate sympathetic nervous system overdrive. Methods similar to positional release and muscle energy are employed to either passively or actively reset muscle imbalances, and more subtle techniques to ease stresses within brain nuclei are also employed where needed. When the ‘noise’ in the system is more pronounced, the pressure used is increased to insure that the system will be able to ‘hear’ and respond to the technique.
NSI teaches your body how to resume its original relaxed, balanced, resting tone by addressing several levels individually, then integrating the changes throughout your system. Dr. Hanna always used to say, “The muscles only do what the brain tells them to do!” and the brain gets its cues via feedback from the muscles, bones, joints, and global internal as well as external environment. It’s important to assure that these systems are communicating optimally with one another as well as with the outside world. Your body needs to be able to navigate space and gravitational load efficiently from within and without. In this comprehensive way, the results can be more lasting and the understanding of the origins of dysfunction can be more profound so that the client can more easily become self-regulating and prevent the same thing from recurring.
NSI is just as valuable to prevent issues from cropping up or to maximize physical performance as it is in relieving symptoms of dysfunction. As you learn more about what your body’s triggers and response patterns are and how to release and reset them, you’ll know how to return to balance at the end of each day so those cumulative forces don’t generate symptoms.
NSI is able to make changes by assuming the following about your body:
- It is very sensitive, responsive, aware, and intelligent
- It has specific ways of transporting information to itself about itself
- These forms of communication happen on many levels
- When disease, dysfunction, pain or discomfort happen, there is an obstruction or mistake in the information delivery systems accompanied by loss of awareness on a conscious level
- Re-opening the flow of communication and awareness serves the system in being able to reorganize itself – with guidance/facilitation of the practitioner – back into a state of health and well-being
- The body learns how to respond to situations. Showing it how to unlearn what isn’t working, makes it available to learn what does work.
- The brain isn’t locked into time or old habits, so no matter how long they’ve been there, they can be replaced by a new and better pattern
HOW DOES IT WORK?
The techniques use the body’s own language to teach it how to release contracted muscles or stiff achy joints and resume to relaxed openness. Both hands-on table work using soft tissue, bone, and joint mobilization as well as movement are used to signal the brain to make the needed changes. Imbalances may happen on one or several layers. Fluid systems may need to be addressed, the visceral organs, nervous systems, skeletal, soft tissue, energetic systems or even the brain may be at the root.
In a nutshell, the practitioner steps into that feedback loop and provides new info to the brain, whereby the brain can say, “Okay, so that’s where the joint is now and you need to have the muscle at the right length to let the joint remain in that spot – I got it! I’m rebooting the muscle now.” After a few repetitions to reinforce the release to the brain, the muscle and the joint that this is indeed the corrected length to support that range of motion and it’s verified with both position and motion, the system resets. Another way that it works is that techniques are used to bring conscious awareness to the part of the system that has become numbed due to shock, surgery, or adaptation to pain and discomfort so that you just don’t feel it anymore. It’s also very common to have begun using compensatory patterns that ‘turn off’ the weakened area and substitute other muscles. When methods are used to re-awaken these deadened areas, the body’s intelligence and self- corrective mechanisms can kick in more easily. When all systems that were ‘offline’ are back in touch with one another, movement is recommended to enhance integration.
One of the most important aspects of this approach is in the way the nature of the contact itself establishes a measure of safety to the system so that it feels comfortable in releasing its guarding around an old injury, and then the forces holding the injury syndrome itself can let go. It’s always best to address the body’s reasons for introducing a pattern into the system before asking it to change. It needs to have its information updated first, otherwise it may cooperate initially, but will then reinstate the old pattern. Here’s an example: A common pattern that is so easy for us to create in our bodies from a basic daily activity is the one of cranking the neck over to the side to hold a phone while your hands are busy doing something else. The muscles on the side of your neck will assume that the muscles will be needed to be shorter for that function that they’re used for on a regular basis, so they become contracted, tight, then eventually stiff and sore for no other reason that forming a new habit, an adaptation.
The same thing happens with wearing high heel shoes. An activity or position that you are in repeatedly forms a habit. If you want to avoid tension patterns developing based upon these habits, one way to do that would be to use a simple exercise at the end of the day to open them back up to their original length with gentle motion that uses the opposing muscles to reset their desired relaxation.
WHAT CAN IT HELP?
NSI is very helpful in staying well and moving freely in your body, potentially greatly enhancing performance with increased responsiveness and suppleness. It can spare elders the cumulative wear and tear that leads to painful arthritis, aches and pains, loss of balance and consequent falls. It’s useful for both chronic and acute conditions alike. In cases of structural damage or deformation as in herniated discs, torn ligaments, or frozen shoulder, range of motion returns more slowly, but pain still diminishes quickly.
- muscle spasm
- repetitive strain
- arthritis symptoms
- joint stiffness
- frozen shoulder
- mild scoliosis
- post-operative adhesions
- computer syndrome
- stress-related tension
- reflexive imbalances from poor posture
- compensatory patterns from old injuries
- post-concussive syndrome
NSI is also preventative! Dancers, athletes, yoga practitioners, fitness trainers, runners, cyclists, martial artists, climbers, and surfers are some of the types of people who could improve their workout or maximize performance with this work. It’s not always easy to recognize when some compression or shearing patterns have set up in the joints, soft tissue, or within the bones themselves.
Very often the muscles and connective tissue like tendons or ligaments become more tight as a reaction to bone compression from weight-bearing activities like jogging, dancing, lifting (including carrying groceries, purses and children), or more work-related ongoing pressures from delivering packages, hammering, stocking shelves, etc.
Holding the arms out in driving or using the computer compresses the upper back in a way that can fixate or rotate vertebral segments and cause a chain reaction all the way down the back. At the other end, the compression onto the tailbone and up the spine from sitting can also trigger tightening in the low back and hips.
Although a great exercise like cycling can offer tremendous benefits in strength and aerobic conditioning, the repetitive action of peddling while being seated will tighten the psoas and gluts, and compress the shoulders and neck from leaning forward onto the hands while lifting the head. This and other types of positional strain can very easily be undone in time to prevent more serious inflammatory or degenerative issues arise. Be aware and take care when their early warning signs come. Get some work done first as soon as you ongoing stiffness or pain.
There’s a delicate balance to be found between flexibility and strength. Very often one is traded for the other, but using the principles and techniques of somatic education, both can be achieved. In fact, when a muscle is toned while also being relaxed when in use, there can be optimized flow of information through the nerve supply and proprioceptive cells, along with the circulation of nutrients, energy, oxygen, and a steady flow of waste out of the tissue field through the lymph and blood vessels
It’s always helpful to balance a day at the office where you’re flexed most of the day with a workout like swimming, where the muscles are being used in a more lengthened position. It’s also helpful to stretch at the end of the day into the opposite position than the one you’ve spent the most time in. If you’ve been sitting and leaning forward, stretch standing leaning backwards against a wall or over a large exercise ball. Choose a few movements where your body will be spread eagle with the extremities opened out away from the core, or with arms and legs behind you.
Whether active or passive while sitting, the point being made is that the muscles begin to learn that this position is being used so often, they might as well reset the ‘thermostat to keep it there because there is where it’s often needed. That’s how the body thinks and makes decisions based upon use patterns. When you stand up, the muscles won’t automatically return to their original length after they’ve reset at the shorter place. Here’s where having a few minutes dedicated at the end of the day to resetting your system can make a big difference. It’s also very helpful to add a few minutes of cardio to flush your system and get the cobwebs out if you’ve been sedentary for most of the day. You’ll probably sleep better as well.
We’re happy to be able to offer opportunities for you to help those you know who procrastinate in taking better care of themselves. It happens a lot where people will wait too long to take care of a symptom, or maybe have hopes that it will go away by itself like it did when we were teenagers. It’s always better to address those early warning signs the body gives us and it’s a gift that keeps on giving. Use this link to choose a bodywork option (each category includes a brief description) that best suits your loved one, or choose an amount to spend and let them do the picking. If you think the person would enjoy learning how to be mindful in doing exercises at home or out and about, the books are also available as a gift: https://neurosoma.boomtime.com/lgift