The Power of How: A journal about The Alexander Technique and Movement

How your neglected sense of smell can supercharge your health

 

Sumatran Tiger demonstrating Flehman response (sensing pheramones through Jacobson’s organ)

Welcome to a journey through the 12 cranial nerves! (If you want to read the first of the series and watch the video, go HERE).

This is my second of four newsletters on cranial nerve “0” and it’s recently re-discovered vomeronasal organ which sits inside your nostrils. This organ contributes, even if only subconsciously, to our sense of smell. Pheremones send messages about territory, sexual availability (sniff sniff) and which species you are. 

The health benefits of breathing through your nose are a hot topic at the moment and mentioned on many mainstream health websites. Three main benefits of breathing through your nose are:

 

1) Increases oxygen in the bloodstream by up to 20%

 

 2) Slows and deepens your breathing, enhancing a state of calm

 

3) Improves diaphragmatic motion and elasticity

 

 Perhaps, if you are in touch with your subconscious pheremone receptor, you are less likely to wander into the tiger’s territory! But even if we’ve evolved out of that kind of sensitivity, these three benefits link into many other aspects of health and immunity.

I am an embodiment educator, so I’m much more interested in your felt, personal experience of breathing, and less interested in giving you a set of exercises to do or overwhelming you with science. I give you a prompt to explore a specific place, a specific nerve or organ, and invite you to notice if you use excess tension in your exploration.  It’s part of my job to help you become aware of and let go of that tension so that you can get the full benefit of your exploration and make your life better, easier, and more attuned to the natural world.

Tension does not help us learn. Openness and ease does.

So don’t wait to read more! Right now, as you sit there, notice the sensation of the air inside your nostrils. Sniff. Rest attention there. Inquire and be curious – what if there was a layer to your sense of smell that was totally unconscious, mysterious, deeper than scent.

Let your face relax. Notice if your face, eyes, or mouth space are tensing as you breath in when you sniff, and let that tension go. See if you can let the roof of your mouth soften and open gently as the air comes in. Consider the skin of your upper lip, right under your nose – is it soft?

How does the rest of your body respond to this focus of attention?

The vomeronasal organ connects through its nerve to your limbic system – emotional regulation – and to subconscious likes and dislikes that your body responds to directly and easily. Attraction and repulsion. Unfortunately, many of us learn to ignore our body just to get through each crazy day. Our health is compromised when we disconnect from our bodies – and this nerve is a super easy way to return to yourself.

I’ve found I can tune into it anytime, anywhere. It helps me calm myself down during difficult conversations. It keeps my mind from wandering during meditation periods. I can do it when I’m walking or even as I’m writing this sentence. The softening of my mouth and face frees my neck and spine.

Don’t miss out on this simple pleasure! Try this first, before you go learning a bunch of exercises. Just integrate it into each day.

If you are motivated to learn more, Cranial nerve “0” and it’s organ, the vomeral or Jacobson’s organ, are still a bit of a mystery to science so it’s not easy to find accurate information. Lyall Watson’s entertaining book about it was not taken very seriously when it was first published, but more recent research is revealing that his speculations were connected to reality.

There really is an art to breathing and it’s relevant to our health and immune system now more than ever during this time of COVID. Just because western science hasn’t been able to explain certain phenomena doesn’t mean that there is no explanation, or that we can’t trust our bodies when they tell us something makes us feel good.

I feel moved to mention that India, the source of Yoga and much of what we know about breathing, is in great need of our help. I am not a yoga teacher, but my dear friend Monisha Raja is and she is hosting this amazing benefit to raise funds for COVID relief and to raise up Southeast Asian Yoga teachers who are often not given the exposure they deserve.

Monisha has been teaching Yoga for COVID survivors and survived COVID herself. She knows what she’s talking about! The schedule will soon be released, please register if you feel moved to help and to learn from these amazing teachers.

 

June 13th, 2021 • No Comments

Feeling Anxious? The best breathing exercise isn’t exercise, it’s learning

 

 

Would you like to have easy access to free breathing, calm yet alert awareness, readiness for movement, and ease in your posture? I invite you to come with me on a new educational journey that will last for one entire year. I’ll be making one video per month and writing newsletters once a week on related topics.

We will start at the front of the brain and work our way down into the brain stem. I’ll guide you in an exploration of each cranial nerve, giving you visual images to stimulate imagination and awareness, and explorations that connect each nerve with somatic experience, postural rebalancing, and ease of movement.

There are 13 cranial nerves, though what you’ll find in most anatomy books is 12. Today’s video and newsletter introduce the first, most recently re-discovered vomeronasal organ in humans and its cranial nerve, which is often called vestigial because it is so delicate in structure. If they had given it a number, we would have to re-write all the anatomy books! I like to call it Cranial Nerve 0 for fun, but officially it’s called “N.”

I’m going on this journey because I’m discovering so much from it about the the core of the Alexander Technique, which proposes that all human activity is more effectively coordinated when our head is balanced freely on our spine. One obvious reason that this might be the case is that so many of our guiding sense organs are in our head, and the more easily and freely it moves, the more detailed, accurate and subtle sense information we receive.

Each of these 13 nerves has a separate and distinct function in your coordination and expression. Some are purely sensory, others are purely motor, and some are a combination of both. They all tend to get glommed together in the blob we think of as our “head” – but I’ve found it amazing to spend time with each one separately as well, because our senses and movement can get blurred by the lack of distinction. A common habit I can give as an example is that if we are sighted, we tend to over-use our visual system and underutilize other organs.

When have you ever heard anyone complain about “nose strain?”

The vomeronasal organ is probably in constant dialogue with your subconscious mind. Its nature is to process pheromones – the chemical signals related to sexual arousal and other attraction or avoidance behaviors in animals. There is much debate about whether humans process and respond to these chemical molecules – but my interest is just in the fact that we have this organ, and a nerve that still carries some information from the organ to our brain. Vestigial or not, it’s still a part of us.

It’s in cartilaginous tissue of the nose, rather than the bony sinus cavities between your eyes. If you lead the movement of your head from this mysterious organ, it’s lower down and further out in front of your body. I think of it is more mobile and a bit more mischievous. When I imagine it having a mind and interest of its own, I get curious about the air around me, the spaces just over my shoulder. I stop being so oriented towards the front and become aware of what’s to my sides and around behind me.

Here is an image that shows where the organ is, in relationship to the olfactory cells higher up between your eyes in your sinuses.

 

EXPLORATION:

Rest your sensory awareness on this more forward part of your nose as you breath in, and out.

– Does it slow your breathing down, or speed it up?
– Do you feel breath motion in other parts of your torso as well as your nose and sinuses?
– Does it affect the length of your exhale at all?
– Your inhale?
– What is it like to move your head from “interest in chemicals” at this place, instead of visual interest or sound? Is the balance of your head different in any way?

This is part of what I’ll be exploring in my weekly Mobile Body Alignment classes. Come and explore with us! HERE is a link to more information.

May 30th, 2021 • No Comments

How to succeed at feeling successful

 

Sketching ideas for my new website

 

People are always trying to sell the secret to success. Whatever it is, it usually involves an intense mindset that allows you to succeed against all odds, push through resistance, rise above the fray, separate from the pack. Except for most of us, visions of success involve being part of something greater than ourselves, participating fully in the world, in connection with other people. It’s a little confusing.

Here is the problem: they never talk about your bodyset!

Let me tell you a secret. A gentle bodyset has propelled me into the stratosphere of success. Success for me is defined by satisfaction in three areas:

1) Financial
2) Creative
3) Personal

A bodyset involves the inter-dependence between the way you think and the inner feeling of your body. Gentle thoughts make happy bodies. It’s not rocket science. Now I won’t lie – it’s taken a long time for me to realize just how important an inwardly gentle attitude is for generating revenue from my dream job, fully inviting my creative spirit into all that I do, and having time for a personal life even though I’m an entrepreneur. Of course, I tried everything else first. I hope you don’t have to suffer the way I did.

Here is my secret bodyset success generator that you can apply to any instructions you might receive from teachers, coaches, etc about how to have a successful mindset.

Add your body in by inserting the word “gentle.” These 4 “mindset” points are lifted straight from this Forbes article, so I can show you how it works.

1. (Gently) Ditch the Fixed Mindset and Go For (Gentle) Growth

2. (Gently) Adopt An Abundance Mentality, (Gently let go of) Scarcity Mentality

3. (Gently) Stop Fearing Failure. Instead, Be Willing to Fail (Gently)

4. Create a (Gentle) Long-Term Vision Instead of Only Short-Term Goals

You get my point. If a gentle attitude is at the center of everything that you do, it will bring you a certain quality of embodiment. Your body will respond to the quality of your energy and intention. A gentle attitude is one of the 6 Attention preludes that people learn in my classes, Embodied Learning Systems Mastermind Groups, and lessons. You find out about them below.

 

1) Mobile Body Alignment™ Intensive: 12 awareness points of the legs

Sunday, May 23, 1 – 4 pm EDT, $50. All Welcome! Go HERE for more information, if you are ready to register go HERE.
We’ll take a deep dive into the dermatome mapping roots of the 12 Mobile Body Alignment points of the legs. Only 12 registrants allowed so that we can really go in depth – so register soon!

2) Want an individual course of study?
My root practice, The Alexander Technique, addresses the use of the whole self: body, mind, and spirit. Mobile Body Alignment™  addresses each specific body part and segment of our nervous system, wrapping distinct and articulate parts back into a sense of your embodied wholeness. You can use it to target specific issues in surprising ways. It’s a super fun problem solving system! Book a single private session online or in person. We can design a course of study based on your specific issues and needs. If you would just like to meet and talk, you can book a free 15 minute consultation.

3) Embodied Learning Systems Facilitated Mastermind for online embodiment educators:
All Mastermind groups are currently full. EMAIL ME to be put on the waiting list.

4) The Experimenters Union is now open to all professional embodiment teachers. Go HERE to read more. Your first 30 days are free. We have two meetings a week (Eastern Daylight Times given): Monday nights from 5:00 – 6:15, and Fridays from 12:00 noon – 1:15 pm. Bookend your week engaging with colleagues who support you and challenge you!

5) Need to re-juvinate but still struggling financially during this dreadful pandema-recession? Check out my YOUTUBE CHANNEL.

May 15th, 2021 • No Comments