Articles I've Written

Body Magazine – February 2010

Healthcare has taught us that we can be ‘fixed’ or ‘cured’ with surgery, medicine, machines; external remedies focused on the expectation of a return to a pain-free lifestyle. 

However, for many people, these things don’t ‘fix’ them. There is much more going on.  This is where the missing link of myofascial release therapy comes in.

The therapists at Quantum Healing Massage Therapy specialize in the John F. Barnes Myofascial Release approach; a safe and effective hands-on approach which allows patients to heal themselves with the facilitation of a skilled therapist.

Every cell in our bodies is made of fascia that surrounds and infuses every structure.  Fascia's job is to act as a protective mechanism, tightening down to protect us from further injury from such things as repetitive movements, surgery, falls, trauma, limiting beliefs and emotional holding patterns.

When events in our lives are too painful for us to handle for any reason, our fascia acts as a container, storing physical pain, emotional pain and even memories for us so we can get through an event where protection is necessary.

This fascial tightening is only meant to be temporary. Fascia is meant to return to it's normal, wavy state after an event has passed. Over time, if left untreated, fascial protection becomes our own personal straightjacket, producing symptoms that are both both physically and psychologically damaging. It feels as if you are walking around with a vice on your head, or around your knees or chest; or as if you are tired all the time; or like something is painfully crushing you. That “something” is the straightjacket of fascial restriction.

Myofascial Release therapists facilitate healing by applying gentle, sustained pressure into a client’s fascial restrictions. Through dialogue and focused touch, clients restore their innate feeling awareness, which drives the process of myofascial release.  The power of myofascial release comes from a person's full awareness of their holding patterns; then becoming aware of letting go of them. This awareness is what leads to long term freedom from symptoms.

When there is inner awareness of what it feels like to let go of your own restrictions, you reconnect with your body's self-healing abilities. Taking off the straightjacket of pressure allows every part of you, right down to your cells, to function as they were meant to.  It’s what leads to permanent elimination of pain and other symptoms. It's what leads to authentic healing.
 

Body Magazine Article December 2010

Disease is Not Really Hereditary
What the New Science of Epigenetics Has Discovered

Up until about 15 years ago, if a biologist had said most hereditary disease is not really hereditary, he or she would have been laughed out of the lab. However, when the unexpected results of the Human Genome Project were revealed, the possibility of a theory other than genetic determinism (the theory that genes carry our characteristics) began to emerge.

I will skip the scientific details here. If you want to know how the conclusions were formed, you can read Dr. Bruce Lipton’s book Biology of Belief.  It’s a great read and written so the non-scientists among us can understand it.  What the research has revealed is that less than 5% of the population has an actual birth defect where they are the recipients of an altered gene. For the remaining 95% of the population, when we get sick or have a disease, the culprit is not the gene. Our genes work perfectly fine. It’s the signal sent to the gene that is malfunctioning.

So what does this mean? It means genes control nothing. Genes are responsive to the signals of the environment outside our cells. And to control gene activity by environmental signals is the new science of epigenetic control.

To quote Dr. Lipton: “So, all of a sudden, we go from a biology where we looked at the genes as these devices that control our lives. People think that if they walk down the street, some day one of their genes is going to turn on them and this gene is the culprit; that this gene caused the cancer. When it turns out, no, that’s not actually how it works. The gene can only be activated when it’s in response to an environmental signal, mediated by our perceptions. What we believe drives which activities our cells carry out and which ones they don’t. In epigenetics, you can change your biology, not by changing the genes, but by changing the perception to the environment.”

Another word for perception, Dr. Lipton states, is what we know as our beliefs. Our beliefs are the filter through which we perceive and respond to our experiences. Our cells also respond to our beliefs and determine whether a gene is activated or not. It took me a while to get my head around this concept. My first thought was: you mean to tell me that my genetic makeup is not running the show? That I was born this way because of what I perceived, even while still in the womb? Get serious. Yep. Even though we don’t remember what was going on when we were developing, our cells were reading and responding to our environment. Yes, some of our beliefs were manifesting even before we were born. So, saying that you inherited X condition from X relative is actually, I inherited the perception/belief system from X experience. . . hmmm.

So for all those who believe they can alter their health through their thoughts and attitudes, epigenetics has just backed your belief with science. If you’ve resigned yourself to dealing with a certain hereditary condition or illness, what would happen if you could change that? People do it all the time. Instead of resigning themselves to the fate of their mother or father, they make a decision not to manifest disease and take charge of their health – physically, mentally and spiritually. These are truly courageous people who inspire us to challenge our beliefs about what is possible and create lives that empower them and those around them. I have the privilege of working with many such people everyday.

In my practice I use an approach called Myofascial release to access the fascia of the body. Through various facilitation approaches, I work with clients to release subconscious holding patterns embedded in areas of hardened fascia. Releasing fascia rehydrates their cells, restoring an environment then ripe for proper gene activation. When genes can be appropriately activated, proper functioning of the body systems can occur. Disease and its malfunctions cease. On a deeper level, myofascial release helps to restore productive (as opposed to destructive) perception. By teaching clients, through touch, movement and dialogue, to become aware of what they’re feeling or perceiving in their bodies and what beliefs are driving these perceptions, they can then choose to make changes that will better serve them. When they do this, they then have a path to restoring their health and wellbeing.

Being fully in charge of our health can seem like a daunting task. That is why I remind people they are challenging and changing a very ingrained, society-wide belief system and that they need to take the pressure off themselves to ‘heal themselves’ right away. It can be a little scary to know we have the power to heal built into us.  Taking back that power is not an event. It is a process that happens over time as we integrate it into our lives. I remind clients they need to continue to use the medical system as a safety net – without guilt – when necessary. When myofascial release is used in combination with other forms of care for body, mind and spirit, you can accelerate your progress toward healing.
 

Fibromyalgia Article – Windsor Body – January 2008

Fibromyalgia

For the purposes of diagnosis, fibromyalgia (FM) is a painful, non-joint involving, rheumatic condition of at least three month’s duration, characterized by widespread muscle aches and specifically the touching of tender points at 11 of 18 specific spots bilaterally on the body.  Blood tests and x-rays may also be used to rule out arthritis.

For those who know someone who suffers from the symptoms of fibromyalgia or experiences the symptoms themselves, you may have felt some sense of relief at getting a diagnosis. Finally, the pain, sleepless nights, stiffness, depression and brain fog, along with numerous other symptoms, have been validated by a physician so you can now get proper treatment.

If you are a fibromyalgia sufferer, you may have felt improvement of your symptoms with various medications and medical interventions along with diet, exercise, bodywork, etc. but I’d like to open up the potential for healing even further.

What you may have discovered is that “healing” is not logical. Fibromyalgia and many other illnesses, cannot be put in a box where diagnosis A = treatment B. Traditional medicine looks at symptoms, gives the group of symptoms a label and then treats only the symptoms. Symptoms are only the tip of the iceberg! What has been missed is the treatment of the entire person. We are more than just chemical reactions. This model of medicine does not account for our minds, emotions or our beliefs.  The good news is many in the medical profession are aware of this missing link and have widened their views to include the whole person in treatment.

As a massage therapist I specifically treat the physiological system that influences all other structures and systems of the body – the fascial system. Fascia acts as a lever to our thoughts, emotions and beliefs. Fascia is a web of elasto-collagenous tissue that surrounds and infuses every structure and system of the body down to the cellular level. It even provides the scaffolding for our cells. It protects and communicates with the entire body via a fluid called ground substance which consists primarily of water. When you experience injury, repetitive stress, or emotional holding, the fascia tightens down to protect the body from further injury, creating a straightjacket of pressure that can literally squeeze pain sensitive structures, nerves, organs, glands, blood vessels and joints with up to 2,000 pounds per square inch of pressure. In many cases, when other treatments fail to provide relief, treatment of fascial restriction can help to eliminate the cause – the straightjacket of pressure – and the effect is elimination of symptoms.

For those who have watched or read “The Secret” or have found that changing your thoughts and behaviours has also brought improvement of your symptoms, you may find the treatment of fascial restrictions quite fascinating. You see, the new paradigm of health care understands that there is no such thing as a body and a mind. There is the bodymind – you cannot separate the two. So – fear, anger, hate, alienation, and hopelessness are not just feelings brought on by the mind. They actually physically manifest in the body and are held in the fascial web – the feeling intelligence of our bodies.

If you are looking for scientific evidence of the bodymind, Dr. Candace Pert, Ph.D., in her book “Molecules of Emotion” (and featured in the movie What the Bleep do we Know?) eloquently describes her experiments proving the existence of the emotional mind communicating via peptides throughout the entire body. She states:

“The tendency to ignore our emotions is oldthink, a remnant of the still-reigning paradigm that keeps us focused on the material level of health, the physicality of it. But the emotions are a key element in self-care because they allow us to enter into the bodymind’s conversation. By getting in touch with our emotions, both by listening to them and by directing them through the psychosomatic network, we gain access to the healing wisdom that is everyone’s natural biological right.

And how do we do this? First by acknowledging and claiming all our feelings, not just the so-called positive ones. Anger, grief, fear – these emotional experiences are not negative in themselves; in fact, they are vital for our survival. We need anger to define boundaries, grief to deal with our losses, and fear to protect ourselves from danger. It’s only when these feelings are denied, so that they cannot be easily and rapidly processed through the system and released, that the situation becomes toxic. . .  And the more we deny them, the greater the ultimate toxicity. . .  When your emotions are moving and your chemicals are flowing, you will experience feelings of freedom, hopefulness, joy, because you are in a healthy, “whole” state.”1

Dr. Pert goes on to state that we do store some memory and emotions in the brain, but the deeper, older memories and emotions are stored in the body and must be accessed through the body. In my practice, anything that we hold onto, whether it’s an old injury, an emotion or a belief – translates into tightening of the fascial system.

I see many people with pain walk in my door and literally they are ready to give up because their quality of life has deteriorated to just coping and getting by.  But for those who believe they can heal themselves with the guidance provided with hands on, compassionate bodymind therapy; for those who are open to treating their whole person – physically, emotionally and spiritually (the realm of belief systems), I have seen substantial improvement. These are clients that are enjoying life more than they thought possible.

The goal in any bodymind therapy is to balance and open up the flow of the whole body, creating physical and emotional agility as well as encouraging the replacement of destructive, limiting belief systems with life enhancing ones. This translates into a fluid bodymind and elimination of symptoms because the bodymind is not fighting itself. All the parts are gradually relearning how to work together, thus restoring the self-healing abilities innate to us all.

-  Patricia Howitt, RMT

1 Pert, Candace B., 1997. Molecules of Emotion: why you feel the way you feel: Scribner, New York, NY.


Windsor Body article – July 2009

What Language is Your Body Speaking?

- Patricia Howitt, RMT

In my practice, I often see clients who have been to various specialists; tried different medications; changed diet and exercise programs; even tried surgery – and still, their symptoms persist. Most show improvement with hands-on treatment, but there are times when symptoms return or do not show progress. At this point I remind my clients that although healthcare traditionally separates physical and mental processes for treatment, the body and mind do not know this. They do not make this distinction. They act together, always, without exception.

I have written previously on the connection between our thoughts and emotions and how these can manifest as physical symptoms in our bodies. Now, I would like to extend this discussion to how the communication between the body and mind happens.

When I was first introduced to mindbody treatment, I was told that listening to the body was an underdeveloped skill in most people. This was why my current treatments were not healing me. To become physically and mentally well again, I would have to relearn this invaluable skill. Today, my physical and mental health has gone from feeling like I was age 80, to feeling like I’m in my 20’s. I’m 40 now.

To relearn this skill, I had to become honest with what I didn’t know. It was a very humbling experience - one that opened my mind to my own healing potential.

I had always been one to come up with a rational explanation for my symptoms and illnesses. I wanted so badly to know why. I had a compulsive need to figure it out or to have someone give me a satisfying, logical explanation for what had gone wrong. Sometimes that answer came and sometimes it didn’t. But continually, I was left unsatisfied, saddened, even devastated. No one could help me. But, as I learned, with guidance, I could help myself.

The truth is, there are many things happening to our bodies that remain a mystery. That is, until we listen to them symbolically.  Our bodies do not speak English. Nor do they speak ‘logical’. They communicate with us via symbols and metaphors extracted from our thinking minds. They are able to plunge the depths of that giant filing cabinet we call our brain and extract an elegantly simple solution to our dilemmas in a fraction of a second. . They are much wiser than we give them credit for. When we reign in our busy, noisy thinking, just for a moment, we will hear the wisdom our bodies are communicating to us. A constant feed of valuable knowledge, 24/7.

I offer you a personal anecdote to illustrate.

There is a seminar offering to therapists on Women’s Health several times a year. It is a course that would benefit me greatly, both personally and professionally as I’m a woman and see many clients with female-specific health issues. However, being brought up as a PK (preacher’s kid), topics about female sexuality and sexual anatomy were not on the religious menu so to speak.  There was a certain amount of shame and secrecy involving what was known only as “down there”.

There came a point in time last week, where I knew I must take the course. A voice inside me was saying “you cannot avoid this topic any longer. It is time to face your fear.” Knowing this of course caused fear to come up and my thoughts quickly drowned out this knowing voice. Ignorance is bliss. Or so I thought.

Over the course of the week I developed a case of the runs. We’ve all had one. You can relate. This is not however a common occurrence for me and it only served to annoy me.  What an inconvenience! Finally, exasperated with the non-compliance of my body to behave, I exclaimed to my body “what do you want!” I took a deep breath, relaxed my body and waited for the answer. Then it came. “What are you running away from?” Slowly, the knowing feeling came and with it the memory of resistance to signing up for the course. The list of excuses I had made spilled out (it’s too expensive; it’s not a prerequisite to any other course; I don’t need to take it). Awareness dawned. I must face my fear and act or continue to witness this discomfort.

The following morning I called and signed up for the course. By that afternoon, the runs were gone. Then, almost as an afterthought, it occurred to me the anatomical placement of my newly vacated predicament – down there! I laughed. How ironic.

Reading the body is not rocket science. Sometimes it is so blatant we become blind to it – looking for a complex solution when a simple one is all nature is communicating to us. Fear causes the mind to become blind to truthful answers. Fear complicates our thinking and narrows our focus.  If we do not face our fears, we become lost in a bottomless pit of thinking. If the fearful thinking is persistent it will manifest as dis-ease in the body. When we listen to what our bodies are saying and are willing to accept the answer, without judgment or without expecting or needing a certain answer – we are facing fear. When we face our fears and listen to the language of our bodies, amazing healing can occur.

So what is your body saying?

Note: inspiration for this article same from the following books: Listening by Lee Coit; A New Earth by Eckert Tolle; Healing Ancient Wounds, a Renegade’s Wisdom by John F. Barnes; Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss; and many more.

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Heather Cornell, RMT, 137 King Street West, Chatham   •  Tel: 519-397-9222   •   e-mail: quantumhealing@me.com