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EBTV #12: Interview with Jeff van Dyk

Last week I had an awesome interview with my friend, Jeffrey van Dyk. We talked about the magical powers of body transformation. Check it out! Here’s the transcript. 

Jeffrey Van Dyk: Hey gang.

Erin Burch: We’re in Los Angeles and we just had a VIP day. A VIP day is six hours with me where we go through sort of soup to nuts what your body’s been doing, breaking it down, and then building it back up in a way that’s really more sustainable. I just want to hear from Jeffrey, what was your experience?

Jeffrey Van Dyk: Personally I want to say why I was interested in it, which is I ripped a ligament in my ankle 15 years ago and it clicks when I walk incessantly. The biggest thing for me was this shoulder has always kind of ridden high and when I work out and lift it gets really aggravated. I’ve been thinking okay gosh, if this is getting aggravated every time I lift, what’s going to happen 20 years from now if I keep lifting and keep aggravating it?

Those were the two big reasons, and also I have some big hikes coming up in the desert and my lower back gets sore when I hike for long periods of time. When Erin and I were talking about her work and about structural alignment in the body and letting the body move freely again I was like, “Oh, there’s parts of my body that don’t move so freely right now, maybe we should do that.” We’ve been here at my house in LA for the day and it’s been really, really cool. I feel like if you ever studied a lot and you feel like your brain is brrr, brrr, brrr because there’s so many new ideas, it feels like my body is doing that. My body is a brain and my body’s like oh, oh, there’s all these different places where I’ve been holding and I told Erin it feels like I’ve unconsciously had Aqua Net sprayed in different areas and all these different muscle groups and joints have been fused together.

I haven’t known how to unfuse them and these joints haven’t known how to unfuse themselves. Really I feel like my experience was, with your support, parts of my body learning how to release and unfuse themselves so that I have more articulation of different parts of my body that can then move freely in ways that things before were more like kunk, kunk, kunk. I feel like my body is sort of alive with all sorts of new ideas it has, and I think my brain will catch up with my body over the next couple days.

I’ve had a lot of massage and I’ve been to cranial sacral people and I studied Alexander Technique and I’ve done a lot of different stuff, but this is a first thing that I feel like really helped different parts of my body remember what they’re actually meant to be doing so they can do it effectively and sustainably.

Erin Burch: That’s exactly it. When you follow the body’s design, surprise it works really well. That’s basically what it is is recapturing that connection to oh, what did that feel like when it worked? Getting that to get back into the system so that there’s that recognition of oh right, I remember how that felt when I was a kid when it was just free and easy. Turns out that kind of stuff is actually something you can recoup.

Jeffrey Van Dyk: If there’s a takeaway, I think the takeaway for me is this and it might be something useful for you. One of the things Erin said at the beginning of the day is that our body is bugged, meaning if the FBI went and put bugs all over your house and could listen in in your conversations in your house, our nerves are like those bugs in our body. We have the ability to listen in and in the listening find what wants to separate that’s been fused together. If there’s one takeaway I would have it’s to take a moment, on a regular basis, and listen in, especially the parts that are like, “Hey, over here, this hurts.” Because it probably has some information for you that maybe you just haven’t tuned into yet.

Erin Burch: Yes, that’s exactly right. I think it’s really essential that we start to reconnect with our bodies. We think about our sensation as being outward focused and this gives us a way to actually take that and use an inward focus to learn from our bodies because our bodies are so full of wisdom and rich resource and information, and when we just take that moment it actually works to inform us how it wants to be worked with and it’s really brilliant when that happens.

Jeffrey Van Dyk: Yes, awesome. This lady’s pretty brilliant herself. Thanks much everybody.

Sounds good, right?

Find out about all that and more in my FREE 5 Secrets to a Pain-Free Body Cheat Sheet. Download yours and start unraveling your pain right away.

 

EBTV #11 Where Does Tension Live?

Whoops… got a sideways video today but still full of good information! Just listen to the audio if the rotate makes your brain feel funny.

Download my free 5 Secrets to a Pain Free Body Cheat Sheet to get my best tips on getting rid of pain right away. 

I want to talk to you about something that’s been on my mind a lot. That is where tension lives in your body. Why is this an important conversation? It’s a really important conversation because where tension lives in your body builds how your body ends up in the aging process or in pain. You see, tension is actually pain and aging in its infancy. I know that most people set their radar to pay attention to pain. That’s kind of it. A lot of times in the extreme, when pain is really big, then you go seek the doctor, or then you go look for other solutions. I get it,…I do.

From my research, what I found out is that when you start setting your radar for something different, like tension, (like what your patterns are and really starting to decode what your body is trying to say to you all along) then you start to actually create a body that is much more sustainable. Paying attention to where your tension is, and lowering your radar and start saying, “Huh, what is it that I’m feeling?” Is really, really critical to building a body that you’re actually going to be comfortable living in for the rest of your life. Does that sound good? I know it sounds good to me.

I want to talk about where tension is. First of all, it’s a very common misconception that tension actually is in the muscular system, right? Everybody says, “Oh, my muscles, I gotta go get a massage, because my muscles are tight.” Let me talk to you about what tension looks like in a muscle. Each muscle fiber has a sleeve, has a little coating around it, and then the bundles of muscle fibers together has a little coating around that and the muscle itself has a little coating. All that coating comes together at the ends and bundles together to make the tendon that actually connects to the bone.

If you think about a muscle … what it does is it contracts and then it releases and it contracts and it releases. That’s what it’s built to do. A muscle is not that good at holding. In other words, there’s something called the tensile strength, which is really one’s ability to hold, and a muscle’s ability to hold is frankly not that impressive. What is holding then? It’s that connective tissue. If it’s actually located in the muscle, then it’s the connective tissue in the muscle and beyond that it’s actually the connective tissue in other places. What I found is that it’s in the junction places a lot of times. What does that mean?

If you consult a skeleton, for example, the junction places are where bones come together, largely. (View the video above for specifics.) For this guy here, I’ve got this green tape, these different areas highlighted here, because that’s where the tension tends to live. These are very common tension points.   Let’s just take that a little bit further. If you can tune into these areas, let’s say on either side of your sternum, which is the breast bone, and you find yourself in that forward posture, that area is probably holding. We try getting massage for all the muscles, but it’s not really the muscles that are the problem in this case. Notice how that pulling forward comes from tension deep in the sternum, or the breast bone.

What I’d like you to do is turn up the volume in that place. Actually feel that’s what you’re doing. That’s going to make it a little more uncomfortable, but here’s the cool thing about that, is that you have your hand now on the volume button and you could turn the volume way down and feel that sense of release and spaciousness through here. Another area besides the middle of the sternum here is where the collarbone comes together, meets with the sternum, like I said, junction places, and the first rib.

Let me just say, it’s a bizarre to even think about the fact that we have ribs all the way up here, but we do. The first rib is, as you can see on this side, is actually right under the collarbone and it sneaks under the collarbone and then comes back here and connects to the back of the neck, which is where this other green spot is. Here’s the beginning of the first rib, here’s the end of the first rib and guess what? These a problem areas for most people.

Tune into the area right here underneath your collarbone, right where the sternum meets the first rib and notice that that area is probably kind of tight. Increase the tension there and then decrease the tension there. Nice, right? Then let’s do that for the other end of the first rib at the base of the neck. This is a common area that people complain about all the time, never lets go. That’s a place that’s really like, “Oh, I wish I could get a massage there.” As it turns out, it’s a bone, not a muscle, but the tension is accumulating right at that junction place where the first rib comes together with the neck, the base of the neck. Tighten that area too and then turn the volume way down and you’ll notice that there’s a lot more space in this whole area.

Just one more to share with you, and that’s right here. Can you see that? That’s where that collarbone ends and the scapula, or the shoulder blade actually begins, that’s where they meet. Again, it’s a junction place. If you can go to the end of the shoulder here, tighten that up and then turn the volume way down and you’ll notice, again, that there’s a sense of spaciousness in that area. This is a very cool technique for you to apply. In fact, I shared it with my friend Sarah and she said that since that time she had not felt the same, she’s felt so much better. She travels a lot and she’s on airplanes and she notices that this area just doesn’t tighten up in the same way that it did. This is a very, very useful tool and I invite you to use it.

I have a cheat sheet in the notes above and I’d like you to check it out, because honestly, it’s not just for people in pain. It’s for people who want to build the body that’s actually going to sustain and feel good their whole life. This is my passion, this is my mission, is to actually teach people how to live in their bodies, so that they feel good for the duration of their lives. That’s really important.

Download the cheat sheet. https://theburchmethod.leadpages.co/cheat-sheet/ I’d love you to check it out and give me some feedback on it. Write in the comments below, that would be awesome. If you like this video, then go ahead and like it. If you love it, then go ahead and share it, because this work just needs to get out there, this is so helpful. Try it out, let me know what you think, okay? Have an awesome day, I’ll see you next time.

 

EBTV #10 The Rigors of Aging

When does aging happen?

Well, obviously it happens when you’re old, right? What IS aging anyway?

We often think of aging as diminishing energy, mobility, increasing stiffness, loss of strength, thinning muscle mass, skin and hair, general slowing down, dulling of senses, loss of memory, decline of function, disease….? Doesn’t sound very appealing, does it?

Here are a couple stories.

How about Fatima, the Persian woman who climbed 60 steps each day with a newborn calf that grew into a full sized ox?

Or Milo, the greatest Greek wrestler who also used a calf to carry around Croton as it grew in size, He grew in strength.
Jack Lalane, 1984 (age 70) – handcuffed, shackled, and fighting strong winds and currents, towed 70 rowboats, one with several guests, from the Queen’s Way Bridge in the Long Beach Harbor to the Queen Mary, 1 whole mile.[42]

But what if aging didn’t begin with a number, but when your body suffers from abuse, stress, or dysfunction?

By dysfunction, I mean the malfunctioning of a structure, or when something is doing something it is not designed to do. Tension where it doesn’t belong, or excessive and prolonged stress on a structure

I’ve felt dysfunction in children as young as 3. What happens to the dysfunction as the child ages? Does it magically go away?

Once I had a gig offering massage for high school grads and noticed a plethora of problems in the making. Let’s follow this through their lives. What happens?
Does it get better?

What if aging is not a function of time as much as accumulation, compensation and dysfunction?

Aging doesn’t happen later, it happens in the NOW. It’s not a normal pattern, at least in the musculoskeletal realm. Dysfunction magnifies over time, stress acculmulates over time, but time itself is not the problem.

Tension is a reflection of dysfunction. First of all, tension is not a muscular problem. Connective tissue has a much more imressive ability to hold

Second, it is negotiable and I’ve proven it with myself and countless others. Michael is experiencing knee ROM and return form being bow-legged even after 17 years of it.

EBTV #9 Moldable Clay

 

People come to me specifically because their bodies change and they’re often surprised at how much they really change. A common belief is that our bodies can’t change. I want to talk to you today about how moldable this clay of our body really is.

I was a potter for many years.  I spent a lot of time with my hands in clay. What I loved about it was that it can be molded in any way, whether it’s on a wheel and you’re shaping with the force of the wheel, or if you’re hand-building with your hands. My hands in clay felt so amazing because as long as I had the skill, I could make it do whatever I wanted. It could be used in tiles or for wall pieces or for functional things or for beauty. It was amazing. It was very, very responsive.

What I love about handmade pottery is that my hands are all over the vessel. It’s like my fingerprints are being worn in the shape of a vessel. It’s imprintable, it’s responsive, and you can change it in any way that you want.

Now unlike clay, we don’t fire our bodies in the way that makes them completely set and nonnegotiable. However, there is a quote that says that, “What fires together, wires together.” The more you use your body in a certain way, the more it glues into that pattern. I spoke last time, in my last video, about patterns and how changeable they really are. The clay of our body is very, very moldable.

I have a client, Kaye. She’s 60 years old and she just looked like everything was being pulled down. I don’t know if you have had that experience, but as we age, a lot of people say, “ h, you know, I feel like I don’t have any energy,” or, “ Everything feels tight and stiff.” What I can do with this moldable clay is I can lift that up so that it’s more free and more fun and more joyful, and easier to live in.

I have another client, Martin. His knee was bone on bone. Of course I know that sounds extremely dramatic and like a sentence for surgery. “I have bone on bone. My surgeon says I have to have surgery.” I understand that and I get that. If you’re painted into a certain corner, it’s really good to have options, and surgery is an option.

On the other hand, when we mold the clay of our bodies into proper alignment, then what happens is that the pain that is associated with the bone on bone is no longer there. I teach people how to actually live in that zone of no pain even though they have the bone on bone, or no cartilage, situation. That’s powerful. All kinds of things are changeable that we assume are not. I work with bodies all the time, all day long. I’ve been working with them for almost 40 years. What happens is nothing short of amazing.

So how you can start to play with this clay that is entirely moldable? What are the things that help to shape us?

One is breath. Now breath literally, obviously, only goes into the lungs from an anatomical, physiological perspective. On the other hand, the effect of breath goes everywhere in your body. When I breathe, every bone in my body is responsive to that breath. Breath helps to expand the tissue, which is the clay.

When breath is actually added with stretch, one of the foundational pieces of yoga, it helps to lengthen the tissues, create more space in the tissues, and feels amazing. I think this might be why yoga has risen to such popularity. People feel like their clay is moldable.

Finally, there’s a law in your body that says that your body responds to the pictures that you feed it. I’m going to be writing on this soon, so stay tuned. For today, just know that what you picture in your mind becomes the reality that your body lives. Start to notice what pictures you’re sending to your body. That’s what you’re living out, and you can choose what pictures you take in.

EBTV #8 Weaken the Pattern

 

 

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You know, I’ve been working with people and their bodies for almost 40 years. And I’m a really good observer, I watch, people and I watch how they move. I notice things that other people don’t notice. I’d like to share what I notice because, I think it’s interesting and I think you will too.

Did you ever notice how, patterns and habits, feel really strong? Almost like you can’t break them, for example, eating sweets at night or let’s say you have a habit of sitting a certain way.

Whatever it might be. There are a lot of habits and patterns. And some of those patterns are good and they sustain us and that’s all great. And then, there are patterns and habits that we’d like to see change. And they feel so strong, like you’re really up against something BIG and you have to push really hard against it.

And the thing about habits and patterns is that they actually get their strength based on repetition. Think about that. The habit is only as strong as the next time you repeat it. When you start to interrupt those patterns in, sometimes really small ways, you bring your awareness to them.   This begins the process of taking the power back from the pattern.   For example, if you have a habit of eating sweets at night and you start to do something to interrupt that pattern, like drinking water first. That’s a kind of a pattern interrupt, because it’s out of the ordinary. By doing something different, it shifts the power of the habit.Maybe the next time you do it, you intorduce another small shift, perhaps changing the portion just a little bit, or you do a happy dance before you eat the sweets. You can ask yourself, “Okay, um, do I, do I want this as much as I thought I did?” It’s a fair question, right? If the answer is yes, go ahead and indulge in the habit, and if the answer if no, then you make another choice. Either way, the habit is now yours because you are more in charge.

The idea is that you start to interrupt your patterns and you start to shape and shift them according to what you want, rather than just being at the mercy or at the reaction of whatever your patterns have been. A pattern is only as strong as the next time you repeat it. When you start to interrupt your pattern, even small ways or big ways, then you actually start to shift the strength of that pattern and then it doesn’t feel quite so overwhelming or overpowering in your life.

Now, I work with peopleand their bodies. And so, if you have a habit of using your body in a certain way, at first, it’s completely unconscious, right? It’s a surprise: “What? I didn’t even know I did that. What do you mean, I’m doing that?” Let’s say, you’re holding tension in a certain way, or you’re using your muscles in a certain way, or you’re iunconsciously finding yourself inside some pattern. And at first, it might feel totally overwhelming and you might not even know how to actually change it.

 

Bring your awareness to it: “Oh I notice that I do that. Oh, I notice again that I do that.” I teach people an alternative to their pattern, so, not only are they interrupting it, but they can displace it. Then they notice: “Yeah, this (old pattern) feel familiar and natural, but wait a minute, let me just notice how this new thing feels.” Often the new pattern will feel weird and even wrong, but by diving into the new feeling of alignment underneath the familiar pattern.

Why do all of this? The pattern that they’re using is giving them an outcome that they don’t want, like pain or stiffness/tighness. When I teach them about the pattern that’s more aligned and more essentially powerful and more according to the design of their body, then they have an option and they can start training themselves into the more desirable pattern, and eventually the old pattern starts to weaken and, and go away. And most importantly, the pain/stiffness/tightness goes away.

Patterns and habits are not as scary and overwhelming and overpowering as they seem at first glance. I’d like you tp practice that in your own life, start to bring awareness around your patterns and habits and your defaults. Start to notice how you sit. Notice if you always sit on one side, if you always stand on one side, or if you always cross one leg or the other, or you always notice that you’re on the phone and your one shoulder is higher.   There are dozens of little ways that we, that we default. Start to notice those little habits and start to bring breath and awareness to them. You’ll start to weaken them and that’s a really good thing. It feels very empowering.

If you have pain, and want to do something empowering and effective to shift it, check out my cheat-sheet for doing just that:  The 5 Secrets to a Pain-free Body!

 

 

 

EBTV #7 Size Matters.

 

 

Download your Free Cheat Sheet for A Pain-Free Body to get my BEST tips for banishing Pain for Good!

Does size matter? Well, I don’t know about measuring external body parts, but I do know that size matters inside the body. What do I mean by that? Well, many years ago I was in a physical therapy course. The professor said something that changed my life forever. He said, “That the difference between pain and no pain, is one millimeter.” One millimeter. It’s  a pencil point. Teeny, teeny, tiny space. Wow.

I don’t know if you’ve ever had the experience where somebody says something, and you just feel the truth inside your body. Well that’s what happened to me. I felt the truth inside my body. I thought, “This guy’s onto something. I’m going to pay attention to this.” As I started to pay attention to it, realizing that if the difference between pain and no pain is this tiny little space, then two things are true. One, is that what’s responsible for pain is often compression. Fascinating. That means that the recouping of space in someone’s body is going to be paramount to what I’m paying attention to. Instead of chasing symptoms, now I had some way of actually gauging whether I was going to be effective at what I was doing or not.

That quote I call that one of my catalytic quotes. That changed the way I saw everything in terms of the work that I was doing in people’s bodies, and pretty much life itself. The more space we have, the better we feel. Whether it’s inside of our bodies, or outside of our bodies. What can you do if you have pain? Well, some kind of generic kinds of things that you can do are to breathe. Why? Breathing creates expansion. When you inhale, you actually increase the space in your body. Breathing helps to kind of create more space.

Imagine your spine lengthening. When you can experience that lengthening, you’re creating more space. They often talk about this in yoga. Imagine that you’re sitting, and you can actually feel your spine growing. That relieves some of the compression that you might have in some of your spinal segments. The third thing that I want to recommend is that you actually relax. Relaxation creates more space. Why? When we’re tense, we’re creating more compression. Now, the more space you have in your body, the more breath, the more length, and the less contraction.

I also recommend that you stretch. Stretching creates more space. When you stretch, you actually ask for the lengthening of your muscles. Not just your muscles, but also your connective tissue. Which is one of the big problems in the compression, is actually the connective tissue. Yoga is really fabulous for all those things because they increase your breath. Especially when you can combine breath with stretching, as well as lengthening the spine and relaxing. Now we’re talking about a system that actually helps you do all of those things.

Think about little kids. If you watch a family walking down the street and there are little kids, they’re just bopping around, they’ve got all this space in their bodies, right? There’s a lot of spring, a lot of movement, a lot of joy. The adults behind them, not so much, right? Not as much space, not as much springiness, not as much joy. I’m doing a little bit of research on the correlation between space in the body, and the amount of joy. I have a hunch there’s a big connection there. Stay tuned to find out.

If you experience pain, and are curious how to make it better and feel more empowered doing it, then download my cheat-sheet : The 5 Secrets to a Pain-free Body!  

 

EBTV #6: Steady Pulls!

Today I’m writing about something really, really important! Steady Pulls.

Now, I’m talking about the Steady pulls that show up in your body. They may not be the Steady Pulls that you like. Now you know, by the time you are in your 40’s 50’s or 60’s or beyond, you have patterns and ruts in your body. You probably cross one leg over the other one, preferentially, or stand on one leg more than the other one. Or even worse, you find yourself unconsciously in scrunched positions at the computer or watching TV.

You’re experiencing what steady pulls are doing to your body.

If there are steady pulling forces on your tissues, after a while you stop noticing them. We are amazingly adaptive creatures and it’s those steady pulls that act on your body. If you don’t realize they are happening, they can actually deform your structures and create premature aging.

Our brains are wired in such a way that we’re programmed to respond to sudden and immediate dangers. But the things that are most threatening today are the slow and gradual dangers… global warming, overpopulation, pollution, acid rain… and the decline of our bodies.

Because they are so slow to build up we don’t actually deal with them until they become critical, and by that time, it is often too late.

Now, Stephen Covey had the right idea when he was talking about his famous quadrant, breaking down tasks based on where they were on the scale of Urgent and Important.

screenshot-2017-01-25-16-22-36

Urgent and Important things grab our attention and the we gravitate to them first, then as a counterpoint to that we sort of relax and find ourselves dealing with the non-urgent and un-important things in the lower right quadrant, which are the trivial things. Because of our brain’s wiring, we are also pulled into the urgent but less important tasks, and are easily distracted by them.

But Stephen Covey clued into something really important, and that is that the brain is truly a trainable organ! And when you train your brain to sepnd more time in the not urgent but important, you begin too spend more time in the “preventative” quadrant where you are actually the most effective.

The same thing happens with your body. It is more imperative than ever to train your brain to notice the grooves and ruts that you find your body in. Well, what do you do about it? You use the tools that we all have: Imagery and sensation. When you have those tools together, you can be more effective at impacting those grooves and ruts. When you have those tools together, then you can start to to align. What do I mean by that? Well, imagine that there is a dowel (round bar made of wood) that goes right through one shoulder and straight through the other one. If you imagine that, what you naturally start to do is line those shoulders up, so that they are “square.” And then if you imagine that there is a second dowel that goes from the top of your head and right through your spine, and you imagine that those 2 dowels cross in the center of your chest, then you naturally begin to straighten and lengthen your spine and your whole body becomes more aligned. In some cases, you can even feel the challenging of the “steady pulls” that are already there. That’s such a powerful tool. And the more you do that, the more you start to notice that your body shifts, and creates a “steady pull” in the other direction. That’s the kind of change I’m talking about!

In summary, we need to “train” our brains to notice those gradual things that we normally adapt to, and shifting them into “wait a minute…I have tools here!” I can use that dowel visual through my body and start to align my body naturally. Now you have the Steady Pull of Alignment!

Don’t forget to download my “5 Secrets to a Pain-Free Body Cheat Sheet” to get rid of pain and start feeling better in your body right away.

EBTV #5: If I Had a Hammer

It’s a new year! Did this last year go fast or what? I felt like the captain never turned off the fasten seatbelt sign because we were just going so fast, with so much turbulence the whole ride!

But, it is the new year, and in addition to all the celebration it’s a time of year when we start to think, “Now, what could I improve about my life and how would I like to feel better?” We turn to our fitness goals, we turn to exercise and we turn to making our body feel as good as we can.

As my trainer, Leo, says, “Motion is lotion.” I’m a huge fan of movement. Movement is better than no movement. When I look around at the people exercising around me, I see that they’re kind of killing themselves in the name of health and fitness. They’re driving themselves so hard and it’s really hard on the body. And they really don’t know.

When we’re working on or bodies, we want to make sure that the body is aligned. Let’s say you were hammering a nail. When we’re repeating movement thousands of times a day, we want to make sure that the nail is actually straight. Because if the nail is not straight every time, the hammer continues to put pressure on it and the nail is going to get more and more and more bent.

I’m passionate about people feeling good and being safe and being fit and doing it in a way that’s enjoyable and sustainable, because that’s really the point isn’t? The point is that we all want this: we want our body to last as long as our minds, and to enjoy it as long as we want. My work and research is about how to stay out of pain and actually reverse some of those things that we consider to be normal in the aging process, where most of us believe physical decline is inevitable. It’s not.

Ready to start off the year pain-free? Download my free 5 Secrets to a Pain-Free Body Cheat Sheet and start saying your goodbyes to pain for good. 

Stay tuned for more on how to live the life you deserve in the body you want to live in.

 

EBTV #4 Presents vs. Presence

December 20, 2016

It’s the holiday season again, and we are all thinking about presents.  We shop for them, give them, we receive them, sometimes we even re-gift them.  Culturally, there is a big emphasis on this practice, right?  I want to talk about a different kind of gift: Presence.

Presence, you know. The ability to be fully here and now.  This is the practice of paying attention to what is happening in this very moment.  To cultivate true presence in this day and age an efforted practice of re-wiring our attention away from the default. This is distinctly different from the mind’s habitual ramblings which most often drift into the past or the future.

What’s different about Presence?  Well, people can feel when you are present.  They feel attended to, seen, understood.  Wouldn’t that be a really nice thing to give this year?  Instead of having your attention diverted by the buzzing of texts and messages on your phone, try this:  put your phone away while you are in a conversation and give your attention fully to the person you are speaking with, to connection.    Notice things about this person that you never noticed before.

I had a very interesting experience when I took a course in drawing by Betty Edwards (of Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain fame) On the second to last day, we were drawing portraits of each other and I finally understood the relationship between artists and their muses.  When drawing my partner, I fell in love.  It was such a cool thing to allow my eyes to rest on and absorb the little things that made that person unique. Things I would have never noticed otherwise, because I simply don’t usually pay attention!

Not only does presence function to bring us into deeper connection with the people and world around us, but it calms the mind and brings us into deeper peace in ourselves. If I can remember to stay present, the worries of the future or concerns of the past don’t have as much power over me. In the present, I am free.

In resting in the moment and allowing our senses to relax and absorb what the moment has to offer, we create a connection that is beautiful and invites love to enter.

The holidays are notorious for creating stress with so many things to get done, so many things to consider, create and deliver.  Stress creates a sense of contraction: in our minds and in our bodies.  When we consciously relax, we cultivate a sense of spaciousness.  Joy lives in the spaciousness, and gets crowded out when we are in contraction.  To elevate your joy factor this season, make a point of relaxing and sink into the moment.  There really is no greater gift than your presence.

This holiday season, I invite you to give the gift of presence. It’s a practice built over time, so start small and give it a try. Give it to yourself, to your loved ones, and see how it feels to be fully and completely here.

 

EBTV #2 Danny and the Dishtowel

Now once upon a time, there was a little boy named Danny. Danny was young and he was running around, kind of crazy. The thing about Danny, is that if we peel back a couple of layers and look inside Danny’s body, we see that the fabric, or the tissue, of his body is free.

There are all kinds of three-dimensional movements and space. He can run and jump and play. Danny feels free in his body! In fact, he feels so free that he doesn’t really realize that he has a body! It’s light and fluffy and springy.

And then Danny, as a little adventurous boy, runs into some trouble. The teachers tell him, “Danny, sit down. Danny, you’re not very good at math. Hey, Danny!” This is going on and Danny starts to shrink a little bit in his tissue. His posture starts to take on those messages. He’s still pretty free, but not as much.

And then Danny has a fall on the playground and he hurts his neck, and it registers in his tissue. As Danny plays sports, he gets into all kinds of stuff. He has falls and he hits hard. When he jumps, he sprains his ankle and, slowly, that fabric inside that was so free and springy and yummy, starts to be compromised.

Now, there is still a lot of movement here. Danny is twelve or thirteen by this time. And fabric in his body is still pretty good. He can still do a lot. As Danny moves into his twenties and thirties, still pretty good. Forties, fifties, now the tissue, hmmm, that’s stiffness in the morning. That’s, “oh, I can’t quite do what I want, what I used to be able to do. I remember, as a kid, I was pretty free, but …”

I’ve seen Danny as an old man and he has pain now because this knee just doesn’t have the grace or the mobility that it used to, or his neck is painful and stiff. And slowly, over time, this fabric of Danny’s, which was once really loose and free and open and delicious has become compromised by the compensation of injuries, both physical and emotional.

If you think about it, compensation is really an interesting concept. Our body doesn’t actually go back to where it was after an injury, usually. That’s my experience, anyway. And so the body creates these shortcuts. These detours that become what we adapt to. They become the “normal.” And, because function is King in the body, (your body doesn’t really care whether you’re crawling, in a wheel chair or walking across the floor it’s got to get to the destination no matter how.) itwill take what it can get, even if it is compensation. Our bodies prioritize function above everything else.

Compensation is interesting because it doesn’t take a big glob of mobility out of one place. What it does is, it pinches a little bit off here and a little bit off here and a little bit off here.

It is amazing. I always say it’s like robbing Peter to pay Paul. And we subconsciously keep pilfering off these little chunks of mobility through our body in a way so that we can still function. And like robbing Peter to pay Paul, when Peter runs out of money, everybody’s sort of out of luck. And that’s pretty much what happens. There’s “aging” for you.

But, here’s the thing – it happens so slowly. So slowly that we don’t even realize it’s happening. It’s like the walls are closing in, but we’re so amazingly adaptive … that we don’t always register that it’s happening. We are so brilliant at adaptation. That’s our gift, but it’s also a downside.

Now, why do I tell you all this? I tell you all this because awareness of what’s happening in your body is absolutely critical to begin to change your reality! The more you know about what’s happening in your body, the more you can start to interact with it. Awareness is always the first step.