Change brings discomfort and a feeling of defeat. We try anything to help release emotional and physical pain but still feel anxious or depressed. We can be over the hurt but our body is still holding onto the injury- 'memory pain'.
Memory pain is when we continue our habitual patterns of reactions to stressors. This directly affects the way we feel about ourselves and others- mind, body, and soul. In order to begin to change, we need to allow ourselves to let go of memory pain. By letting go, we allow opportunity to change our neural connections that allow us to adapt to new circumstances in a healthy way.
The development of memory pains is unconscious. An example would be the demands of work or school create neural networks, and these networks are important to get the job done. The problem is when the demands are finished and we continue to live in this unconscious mental habit. We've conditioned our mental neural habits that can't be let go or changed. So much of life does not require these kinds of connections, but we end up using these same patterns to try to change. We have created dominant patterns based on stress and when things change, as they inevitably do, we have a nervous system attuned to a specific way of functioning.
When we try to change, like taking up a new exercise regimen or diet, we encounter an internal struggle that limits our ability to adapt. During stressful periods, we eat in certain ways and move or not move in certain ways - we have trained our nervous system for stress. In cases of abuse, injury, or PTSD, the memory pain is there; always influencing how we perceive and respond. A stress pattern is always ready for more stress - it's like a hammer that treats everything like a nail. The hardest part is most of the stress pattern in our nervous system is beyond our conscious control. The pain however can be very real!
So how do we make good neural connections that enhance feeling good and reduce those based on stress and memory pains??
The first step is taking up a practice of mindfulness, not just meditation but observing. Practice seeing without judgment, observing the memory pains and stress response. This is challenging because it makes us uncomfortable to the awareness of the problem but the practice and diligence of mindfulness begins to define the boundaries between how we feel and how we react. By practicing awareness we have more control of our choices to our response.
How do you know if you are practicing mindfulness? Besides meditation,Yoga and Tai Chi, or any number of mindful exercises, they require 3 things:
relaxation, breathing exercises or breath control, and correct postural alignment. Mindful massage/bodywork/acupuncture are essential modalities directly affecting memory pains because the nervous system is immediately aware and responsive to the changes.
We may not be able to adapt to every change that we want but we can choose to not be a broken record repeating stress.
Thai Massage Art
I grew up in a Thai/French family, where massage was a normal way to relax tired muscles and to give and receive metta; meaning compassion in Thai. Then I got into researching on Thai Massage. These are the things I learned:
The foundation of Thai Massage begins with mindfulness; the seed of beginning and being.
The importance of mindfulness allows one to bring awareness of what they are giving and receiving in the world. Compassion is the ultimate goal in Thai Massage. To give without judgement - in the end we are all human souls who need to heal. Good, bad, guilty, innocent, spontaneous, or addicted; we all need each other to heal.
From this basis, we move into the 5 precepts or “training rules” of the Thai Massage Practitioner, taken from Thai Yoga Massage Lotus Palm, Kam Thye Chow, ppg. 31-36, 2009:
1. “To undertake the training to avoid taking the life of beings.” This means recognizing all beings have a right to life and respect.
2. “To undertake the training to avoid taking things not given.” The practitioner deals with this through observing their daily actions, whether through interacting with others or what they eat.
3. “To undertake the training to avoid sensual misconduct.” This not only covers any misconduct of a sexual nature, but any over indulgence to the senses such as gluttony.
4. “To undertake the training to refrain from false speech.” This means honoring our spiritual growth and to always be engaged in actions that promote metta.
5. “To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness.” This means to not indulge in substances that can cause one to the break the other precepts.
A Thai Massage Practitioner not only tries to embody these precepts through daily observations but also through physical training, such as daily yoga, meditation, tai chi and exercise. The physical health is important because the quality of energy comes from the practitioner and if one doesn't uphold their health and intentions, the person receiving bodywork may not get the utmost good energy. The practitioner also has to be aware of the energy they give and take. This is why yoga, meditation and Tai Chi are really important training tools. It helps develop mindfulness.
What one eats is also important because it has a direct effect on how we process life and energy. The precepts and physical activity are the roots to a healthy mind of metta.
“In Buddhism, there is much talk of a skilled mind. A mind that is skilful avoids actions that are likely to cause suffering or remorse.” Kam Thye Chow, founder of Lotus Palm
Yin and Yang Symbol
We cannot deviate from Yin/Yang because they are the building blocks of all in the universe. Everything we are and everything we do is the action of the Yin/Yang.
Most of us have an idea about what Yin/Yang-opposites are: male/female, hot/cold, up/down, in/out. The oppositions are infinite and cyclical.
In China, the Yin/Yang is referred to as T'ai Chi (the Grand Ultimate), and was born out of Wu Ji ( Emptiness, Void, The Implicate Order - where there is no polarity or limit ). Yin / Yang gives birth to the five Elements, which manifests all there is in physical reality.
Chinese Internal Martial Arts tries to embody the theory through the work of past Masters in Shen Gong (Spirit work ), Qi Gong (Energy work) and Jing Gong (Essence work)- the Three Treasures. In fact, the first movement in Tai Chi Chuan out complete neutrality is Yang energy. The first spark. The Big Bang? .....rising, expanding to maximum, strong, full, and then...... yielding, compressing, ebbing, softening. Expanding and Contracting. So, from nothing .....becoming something, and back again.
Taoist Cosmology, Medicine, Numerology, and Sociology are based on these realizable principles.
"The Way gave birth to unity,
Unity gave birth to duality,
Duality gave birth to trinity,
Trinity gave birth to the myriad creatures.
The myriad creatures bear yin on their backs and embrace yang in their bosoms."
Tao De Ching
In the traditional Chinese Healing and Martial Arts, practitioners recognize the Yin/Yang energies and work with them and the Five Elements to create harmony, and be an honest conduit. Massage/Bodywork and self-healing techniques help develop a sacred space (seen as the Yin energetic space) whereby the Tao can enter and balance the Yin/Yang energies within oneself.
A good place to start is the breath. The simple in and out action of of the breath is our ever-present connection to Yin/Yang - vital to all metabolic processes of the body. It is like a flywheel gear that initiates the smaller and smaller cogs to turn. Where are the major of cogs running in your body and where have they ground to a halt?
Wu Ji Posture
As a Therapist, one has to coordinate their breath with the patient in order to blend and balance Yin/Yang energies. Also, to never force a technique or application out of sync with Yin / Yang. In regards to applying pressure to acupuncturist points.
Kikkawa Sensei said : " If you knock on the door and no one answers, and there are no lights on, do you beat on the door?"
Knowing the limits of Yin/Yang determines the difference between harm and healing.
In the Martial Arts, Qi Gong you don't use the same breathing you generate power with if you want to relax. One must be in control of ones energies of Yin / Yang, ceaselessly and seamlessly; to achieve physical and mental health, for self defense, and to be in accord with The Tao by letting The Tao inform his/her Being.
On all levels does Yin / Yang operate, but in these trans-formative arts we learn the skills of controlling these forces so we can eventually embody them and act spontaneously and purposefully,