integrative bodywork education

bodywork as restoration ecology

The best practitioners of bodywork seem able to integrate artistry with effectuality, and humility with intuition.  Their work involves cultivating deep trust and frequent doubt.  They are avid learners and strategic forgetters.

Bodywork’s fundamental challenge is that humans are complex systems. Phenomena like pain, movement, inflammation, and embodiment are not driven by single factors in the body.  Neither is their improvement achieved by single stimuli.  

To do our work well, we need treatment approaches that let us try reasonable things, observe network effects, and then evolve our model of what’s going on.  We need to practice as restoration ecologists.

And that’s what I hope you’ll find here:  Insights into working with the bodymind’s ecology -- crafted with good science, common sense, and valuable hands-on teachings.

what is a neurofascial approach to manual therapy?

To work neurofascially is to center your assessments and treatments on the interface -- both functional and anatomical -- between the nervous and fascial systems.  

This means 

  • locating and assessing the health of nerves within their containers, and then carefully working to improve their health and resilience

  • aiming to stimulate mechanoreceptors via their connective tissue environment

  • treating the body’s fasciae -- in skin, muscle, organ, and nerve -- as both structural elements and sensory organs

It does not mean

  • trying to change the length of fascial tissues

  • blaming every affliction on the nerve-fascia interface

  • believing that everything felt under the working hand is real

We desperately need physical medicine practitioners with skill in easing pain behavior, helping calm neuroinflammation, and giving people safe ways of moving when their nerves are irritated.  The aim of this site is to provide some hopefully useful models for achieving those changes.

what is embodied anatomy?

Embodiment is an exciting new field of study, with numerous useful approaches.  For our purposes we define it as “The skill of perceiving, identifying with, and expressing the internal state of the body in the present moment.”

 

To speak in a grounded way about this subject, it helps to develop artful connections between different scientific modes:

From the perspective of embryology, how did this body form itself in the first place? What are the deep kinships between the body’s various tissues, and can awareness of these kinships instigate a richer experience of them?

 

From the perspective of somatic psychology, embodiment depends on certain conscious and subconscious processes. Are you aware of sensory changes in your body? Do you respond to them as gifts, as nuisances, as threats? Are you able to relate dynamically with other bodies, and with space?

From the perspective of neuroscience, the key processes are interoception, proprioception, and affective self-regulation.  Where is the body in space? What are its physiologic signals? How does the brain integrate what it feels and how it feels about that information? Under what conditions do these brain systems learn/adapt? There is tremendous complexity in this field, but we can draw some careful inspiration for our daily embodiment practice.
 

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