Alignment - Part 3

By Steven Lubka

Performing a Cranial-Spinal Reset

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Finally, I want to offer a technique for resetting the whole system when it is under stress. Anytime you feel tension or discomfort you can perform this to initiate a relaxation response.

The first step is positioning oneself in the above posture. The key points are as follows:

  1. You are lying on a firm surface
  2. The angle of your thighs to your spine is close to 90 degrees
  3. The angle of your shins to thighs is close to 90 degrees
  4. The ankles and feet are pointed
  5. The hips are positioned directly over each other, as well as all joints in the legs.
  6. The forehead is resting on the hands. It is very important that you are not resting the head on cheekbones or jaw joint. Resting the weight on one of these areas will be counter productive

Once one is in the following posture it is important to spent a moment attending to the breath. Allow the breath to shift into the lower belly, this will often happen automatically as the chest is pressed to the ground through the position. As one breathes they will feel an opening in the sides of the back. This mechanism of the breath force kicking back against the chest which is pinned to the floor serves to reset the spinal vertebra.

After one has spent a moment in the position it is time to address the skull. While in the position you now move to adopt correct oral posture. To really perform the reset you want to bring the molars together with a degree of force as you push the tongue against the roof of the mouth with 80% of the total force available to you at that time. If the amount of force available to you at the time with your tongue is enough to overpower the strength of the jaw muscles which keep the molars together decrease the force of the tongue. The aim of this is to release the jaw joint and it will only occur if the bite muscles are being engaged in this way. Performing this oral exercise while the body is rotated in this will serve to remedy any twisting of the skull, as well as the rest of the body. Once you have performed this on one side of your body flip yourself over and perform the same exercise on the other side. I recommend this highly as correcting the various ways the body is rotationally imbalanced is something which is often neglected.  

Finally, there is a quality which is essential the individual cultivates to really bring the total force of their being towards the journey of physical healing. This quality is the driving force of the whole process and if one were to do nothing else, I would simply suggest they cultivate it. The quality I am describing I would call , in my own words, a “felt sense” of the body. In other terms would could call it interoception and proprioception, the sensing of the internal condition of one’s body. This means that one must deepen their awareness of what their body feels like and be able to respond intelligently to the feeling state of the body. This carries emotional connotation as well. It is the refining of one’s sense of the emotional energies that circulate in the body, and the cultivation of a perspective of consciousness which is able to simply observe the impact of emotions without being drawn into reaction or identification with them. This quality can be cultivated through practicing continuous awareness of the various tensions once experiences in the body, as well as attending to each body part individually. What this means is to take a moment in meditation to feel what each body part is feeling. In one sense this is a coming home to the flesh, which we often turn away from or neglect. In another sense it is simultaneously important to develop an observer consciousness which is not attached to these things. This is a coming home to the spirit. If one does nothing else, cultivate these essential qualities.

I clearly remember the first time I ever tried to make myself feel better. Such a normal and commonplace action yet it struck me even at the time. I was 8 years old and I was looking forward to going to a favorite store when I found out it was closed. In that moment my mind reached for something else I could do to cope with the disappointment, something that might bring me pleasure. This is something we often do, and we even raise our children in this way. When there is emotional upset we seek something external to change our experience of those feelings.

However this represents a turning away from Self, from the ever present ground of being. It was my first encounter with the aspect of the ego which is focused on how it feels and is always desiring to feel better. What a mechanism! This was the beginning of my later drug addiction, at 8 years old. Addiction could not possibly exist in a being who is not seeking to experience pleasure and push away pain. And yet this function of egoic consciousness exists in many forms besides that of drug addiction. I think if we look at ourselves with an honest sense of inquiry we will find that we are all seeking a better experience most of the time. If we look with an even more discerning gaze we will also see that in doing this we actually create more pain for ourselves than if we didn't try to do anything about our negative feelings.

It is an important step in our journeys to heal the state of our body-mind, indeed this whole article has dealt with the process of healing. However, it is important to be aware of our motivation for doing so. Are we attempting to run from pain, to push it away as unacceptable, or are we seeking to meet our pain with the redemptive force of our loving attention?  For the rare individuals who are after Truth and not simply a better experience this is of the utmost importance. The path of self-improvement and healing is an ENDLESS path. One never reaches an end point. The only thing left for those who’s goal is something beyond this is direct insight into the nature of the Self. The act of trying to heal oneself or feel better is a pointer and a path in of itself, however this path does not lead to the ultimate goal. It prepares the seeker to be able to recognize and accommodate the divine perspective which will emerge later.

For me remembering the first time I ever engaged in the act of turning away from my pain, also always reminded that there existed something outside of it. It indicated that there was another state of being which was not concerned with how it felt and never attempted to change what was.

As always, this is a fantastic teacher for me. In remembrance of the Great Self, we turn ourselves towards our source , with endless devotion, without ceasing. The true God is a silent one, and a small one. There is nothing other than this.

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Chinese Silk Pulse Cushions : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment - Part 2

By Steven Lubka

There are many ways to begin addressing spinal alignment, infinite ways really. I am going to outline some basic habits that can produce tremendous benefits. These are simple modifications to one’s lifestyle that one can implement immediately and don’t require complex explanation nor the learning of technique. Later I will delve into technique, but for now it’s best to start at the beginning. I will also describe how to perform a basic cranial-spinal reset.

The easiest way to begin restoring the muscular-skeletal systems of the body is through awareness, sitting postures, sleeping habits, and the mouth. If one can say that posture starts anywhere, it starts in the mouth. Many people never touch on this component and those that do address the mouth neglect the other parts of the body. Malocclusion, the development of a bite in which teeth do not properly connect and poor oral posture have existed as long as civilization has existed. Hunter Gatherer populations typically have excellent bites and good oral posture. This creates well balanced and beautiful facial structure. Civilized populations often have poor oral posture and misaligned teeth. There are many explanations for this but no definitive conclusion for why this is.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

See the difference?

Addressing oral posture keeps the skull sitting properly on top of the spine. Atlas chiropractors have found that by bringing the Atlas Vertebra into alignment it balances the rest of the musculoskeletal system.

To do this one must maintain a consistent awareness of their oral habits. Correct oral posture involves keeping the mouth closed, the back molars touching, and tongue on the roof of the mouth. The tip of the tongue should rest on the bump just behind the front teeth. To find this location simply make the sound “nah-nah-nah-nah”. The spot your tongue goes to is where the tip should rest. One should also attempt to raise the posterior part of the tongue so that it is pressing up on the palate. This is incredibly important but also very difficult for most people at first. It is important to simply do what one can do , if it’s only the tip at first start there, eventually you will be able to raise the whole tongue. One should hold this mouth posture at all times when not eating or breathing, but this is something you will work towards. By doing this you will not only take huge steps to balancing your spinal alignment but will over time improve the form of your facial structure.

By pressing upwards with the tongue while keeping the jaw closed you create an upwards force which moves the maxillary bone of the skull forward and a downward force which unsticks the jaw  and allows it to hinge properly. This can greatly help in alleviating TMJ and other jaw disorders  as well as improving breathing. This technique also helps train one in a practice of consistent body awareness which even on its own is a powerful restorative force.

Developing new sitting postures will confer great benefit as well. The most useful posture to learn is a resting squat. This will help to align the spine and bring greater health and mobility to the joints. A resting squat means the heels are flat on the ground and your butt is as low as it will go. For the purpose of a sitting posture it doesn’t matter if your spine is straight or curved. Find whatever way of positing your feet is comfortable for you, there is no one correct way.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

For most this may be challenging at first, but it will come easily eventually. A great way to make this posture one of comfort and ease is to spend 30 minutes a day for 30 days in it. The 30 minutes are a cumulative time goal, you simply do a minute or two many times throughout the day. Soon it will be easy. Try watching the sunrise every morning in a deep squat, with your bare feet on the earth. This will bring many benefits. The first is that it will ensure proper circadian rhythm which is crucial to your whole system. The second is that it will put you in touch with the electromagnetic field of the earth while developing your squat. It is important that you view the sunrise without glasses or contact lenses in as the early morning UV light will not penetrate glass or lenses. It is crucial this early morning light reaches your eyes because it is the signal which turns all your daytime metabolic and hormonal processes on. This will influence everything from mental health and dopamine levels, to proper melatonin production, reduce the risk of alzheimer's and dementia, and combat diseases such as diabetes, MS, and autoimmune disorders.

There are many other sitting postures one can use that will bring benefit. The traditional Japanese meditation posture where one’s legs are folded underneath oneself and you are sitting on top of your ankles is a good one. The half and full lotus meditation postures can also be useful if they are comfortable for you. There are many variations one could use, the most important thing is to simply start sitting on the ground and allowing your body to support itself instead of using chairs and furniture.

Along with sitting habits it is important that one also begins to develop the ability of the body to hang. Simply grab a tree branch and hang from it passively. If this is too hard to do with a tree start with a standard pull up bar.

Sleeping habits are the next key area to address. It is imperative that you get rid of your mattress and transition to a firm sleeping mat on the ground. All primates suffer from musculoskeletal problems however nature has given us a way to correct this. However one cannot take advantage of this while sleeping on a mattress. It is similarly important to get rid of one’s pillow but take one step at a time. Many of these sleeping postures create a mechanism where the diaphragm movement during sleeping in these postures resets the vertebra of the spine.

The first involves sleeping on the side using an externally rotated arm as a pillow. The shoulder that is used as a pillow is hunched and the feet are relatively pointed. One can also sleep with one’s head directly on the ground if the shoulder is hunched properly.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The second involves using both folded arms as a pillow.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

The third and my personal favorite creates an unwinding of rotational imbalances of the spine.

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

These all make fantastic sleeping and resting postures that will yield tremendous benefit simply from relaxing in these poses.

Here is what I was able to achieve in 2 years, from age 19 to age 21. I am now 23 at the time of writing this and have continued to experience great benefits from these kinds of practices. I did not even learn about the oral posture work until well after the photos displayed below. It held the key to correcting my forward neck posture.  

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

Alignment : Chinese Medicine Living

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Buddha Bracelet : Chinese Medicine Living