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Issues in Our Tissues

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PostPosted: Tue Dec 03, 2013 12:19 am    Post subject: Issues in Our Tissues Reply with quote

The following question was posted in response to a Newsletter article called Issues in Our Tissues.

An interesting article thank you. I have attended many yoga and body working workshops where the practitioners use this same idea of 'Issues in our Tissues'. I do also agree that this may be the case however, I have asked many of the teachers at various workshops the below question and I would like to ask you it as well:

What is the scientific theory behind this statement and, to your knowledge, has there been any clinical trials or observations to discover what causes muscles and Fascia to hold on to trauma?

I ask this as surely there must be a chemical or neurological trace / pathway created by emotional trauma but to this day no one I have spoken too has any scientific information. I ask this out of utmost respect and, as a scholar of yoga, I know how many of the techniques described in the Hathayogapradipika and other texts have been proved to have scientific merit.

Any information you can offer will help me in continuing my mission to write a concise paper on this theory.

Many thanks for your time. Daniel


Hi Daniel

Sorry that it has taken so long to respond to you: I didn't know you posted your question until just now! I will try to give you some thoughts, but unfortunately, there is not a lot of "science" right now supporting the idea that our emotions are embodied, in fact most Western doctors would probably snicker at the idea, save for the fact that, as I mentioned in the article, we intuitively agree with many of these ancient Eastern observations: we know grief and sadness affect the lungs (called crying) and that anger management issues are more frequent in people who have damaged their livers (through alcohol abuse). These correlations are quite obvious, but the question is - why? What scientific map can we create to explain these connections of emotions and certain tissues and locations? I have not heard of such a map, but I can offer some speculations as to what such a map may include.

Recent work, cited by Robert Schleip and others, have shown that our fascia is highly enervated: there are proprioceptors (which measures where the body is in space and how it is orientated), nociceptors (which create sensations of pain), chemoreceptors (which measure various things like the body's ph levels), thermoreceptors (measuring temperature), as well as nerves that can contract the fascia, and nerves that can relax the body, dilate blood vessels and help us feel calmer. All this wonderful complexity exists in our fascia and affects our nervous system as well as our immune system. Of course our emotional body is also affected by what happens to our nervous system (think of the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems which control our rest and digest responses as well as our flight or fight responses: these are intimately tied into our emotions.) We also know, from the work of Ida Rolf and others, that trauma, emotional or physical, can alter our fascia, by altering our habitual posture and how we related to gravity. Contraction of parts of the body are common after an injury, but this contraction pulls us out of our normal, healthy alignment to gravity, which results in stresses building up within our tissues. As these stresses persist they create a permanent rearrangement within us, affecting the stresses on our fascia as well, which we have just seen affects the autonomous nervous system and immune system.

It is really not surprising that physical changes result in mental and emotional changes because the reverse is so obviously true. Look at someone who is depressed: you will see a slumped posture. As the Daoist long ago noticed, these relationships are circular and work both ways: put someone into a slumped posture and soon their energy levels drop and they don't feel so happy. But, have them stand up straight and tall, with their hands on their hips and their blood chemistry changes, they become more confident and even a bit aggressive. [See the article I wrote on Power Posing for more on this topic.] It is clear that we all have issues in our tissues, but the detailed maps working out exactly how this works are still being drawn up.

I hope this helps a little. Cheers, Bernie
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PostPosted: Mon Dec 09, 2013 11:36 pm    Post subject: Thomas Myers on Issues in Our Tissues Reply with quote

Here is a nice post by Thomas Myers (of Anatomy Trains Fame) describing how emotions become embodied.

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PostPosted: Thu Dec 12, 2013 6:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Bernie,

I think my question links up well with this topic. Working on 'these issues in our tissues' with yoga, the stresses in our body releases in different forms/ways. I had several experiences myself, that I started to feel pain, warmth, anger and crying. In my classes sometimes students experience also wanting to cry but feeling uneasy doing so. I just tell them that it is a way the body releases the stresses which are 'deeply' hidden in our bodies.
Crying is often seen as a 'weakness'. But what is it really, the water that comes out of our eyes. Maybe a simple explanation will help people to feel more comfortable crying and lose the dogmatic thinking of crying is a sign of weakness.
Thank you for your thoughts and again for this wonderful forum.
Om saha naa vavatu
om saha nau bunattu
saha viryam karavaavahai
Tejas vinavaditam astu
Maa vidvishavahai.
Thank you:)
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 03, 2014 4:25 am    Post subject: Finnish research team reveals how emotions are mapped Reply with quote

From a study done by Aalto University in Finland

Emotions adjust our mental and also bodily states to cope with the challenges detected in the environment. These sensations arising from the bodily changes are an important feature of our emotional experiences. For example, anxiety may be experienced as pain in the chest, whereas falling in love may trigger warm, pleasurable sensations all over the body. New research from Aalto University reveals, how emotions are literally experienced through the body.

The researchers found that the most common emotions trigger strong bodily sensations, and the bodily maps of these sensations were topographically different for different emotions. The sensation patterns were, however, consistent across different West European and East Asian cultures, highlighting that emotions and their corresponding bodily sensation patterns have a biological basis.

- Emotions adjust not only our mental, but also our bodily states. This way the prepare us to react swiftly to the dangers, but also to the opportunities such as pleasurable social interactions present in the environment. Awareness of the corresponding bodily changes may subsequently trigger the conscious emotional sensations, such as the feeling of happiness, tells assistant professor Lauri Nummenmaa from Aalto University.

- The findings have major implications for our understanding of the functions of emotions and their bodily basis. On the other hand, the results help us to understand different emotional disorders and provide novel tools for their diagnosis.

The research was carried out on line, and over 700 individuals from Finland, Sweden and Taiwan took part in the study. The researchers induced different emotional states in their Finnish and Taiwanese participants. Subsequently the participants were shown with pictures of human bodies on a computer, and asked to colour the bodily regions whose activity they felt increasing or decreasing.

The research was funded by European Research Council (ERC), The Academy of Finland and the Aalto University (aivoAALTO project)

The results were published on 31 December (U.S. Eastern time) in the scientific journal Proceedings of The National Academy of Sciences of The United States of America (PNAS).
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