Authentic means genuine, bona fide, valid, true, faithful and real. Healing means to make better, restore, relieve, improve, harmonize, and make beneficial.
It feels something like this: an awareness of real internal and external harmony. A place of conscious existence wherein my feelings match my responses, where I am free to be my true self while being validated and valued for that existence. I naturally harmonize with those around me and benefit from the mutual space of flow where giving and receiving is as natural as the relationship that the moon has with the tides of the earth. It is genuine reconciliation.
The principles of the John F Barnes Myofascial Release Approach when applied and practiced by an experienced and skilled therapist can yield Authentic Healing. “They say” that the shortest distance between two points is a straight line, but unfortunately this is not the case with healing. We are by nature of being humans, dynamic and adaptable. However, patterns in the healing process have been observed among experienced therapists and can be seen in the stages that follow: Chaos, Waves, Assembling, Processing the Progress, and Layered Discovery.
CHAOS: Welcome to Authentic Healing! During this initial introduction to Myofascial Release: (the John Barnes’ Approach to MFR) you will be introduced back to your body. You will learn to receive MFR in the way that is most effective for you. You will be guided on how to tune into your own body and feel where it is restricted. You will learn about habits in posture, beliefs, and holding patterns that are subconscious. We often learn how and where we are “stuck” by the actual RELEASE of the restriction. Sometimes, after we have been freed from the restriction, we “realize” a burden was lifted. We learn to value and pay attention to our bodies, to tune in, check in, and honor that to which we have been made aware. We learn that our bodies are a compass and point the way to Authentic Healing.
Initially, we may feel “stirred up.” I liken this to a river dam (restriction) that has been loosened up and the debris is now floating down stream, seemingly in the direction the river is flowing. Actually, it is the loosening up (restriction releases) and the clearing of this “debris” which allows for vital energy to flow more easily in our body. Flow also applies to the rehydration of the ground substance, the gelatinous (think warm jello) substance where our fascial microtubules (think tiny flexible pvc pipes) are housed. Hydration, and thus added fluidity in the ground substance, which often feels like softening, allows the transport functions of the fascial microtubules(flexible pipes) to flow freely without being compressed or restricted.
This stirring up is referred to as the HEALING CRISIS and is a welcome sign that change is occurring. You may feel anything from “absolutely amazing” to “a little bit worse” to a “full on flare up of symptoms” in your body. This is progress, and you may feel a little worse, before you get better. It is important to report this to your therapist.
WAVES: This feels like riding the waves at the beach, coming from all directions, possibly with an under toe pulling, and then pushing. A roller coaster or zig-zag motion is another example. It feels like 2 steps forward and then one step back. It is experienced like forward progress that KEEPS getting put on hold. It can be frustrating!
“Healing tends to occur in quantum shifts not linear steps.”
~ John F. Barnes, PT
Think of it this way: it’s like an unraveling of a huge ball of entangled yarn. Have you ever untangled a water hose? Right when you think you have it, there is another knot, and you have to back track. Not expecting a smooth linear progression will allow you to fully feel what you are experiencing as you unravel the restrictions and ride the waves as they come.
ASSEMBLING: At this stage we begin to experience substantial improvement of our symptoms. We learn to integrate the changes that have been made and begin to see the pieces coming together. We get “AH-HA” moments, sometimes they are monumental and life changing! We see how our beliefs drive our behavior, our posture, our actions and reactions. We learn to stalk these thoughts and beliefs as they come up with a new awareness. We work less at “being aware” and we just ARE more aware. John also says frequently:
“Without Awareness there is no choice”
As they surface many times during CHAOS, we begin to ask ourselves if certain beliefs still serve us. We feel safe in therapy and begin to feel like we are more “ourselves” and want to take this authenticity into our everyday lives. We feel like there is hope, possibility, and a sense of renewal. There is less “regular” pain and struggling, adjustments are not as often, and there is a feeling of “I can do this.” It feels like getting your life back and acceptance. It is similar to the person who walks again for the first time after a stroke, she knows it is possible because she has felt the reality of it in her body again. Things are coming together. The perceptual shifts have occurred and it feels like rebuilding and restoration. This is empowering to each individual as we are identifying with our true essence.
PROCESSING THE PROGRESS: Healing is not an event, it is a process. Some liken it to a journey. When it comes time to go home from an intensive or a quantum shift has occurred during therapy, it can feel like the space shuttle re-entering the atmosphere. You have seen and experienced things from a perspective that few people get to experience. Your perspective has shifted. It may feel like isolation or alienation when you return. You feel “new and improved” and want everyone to see it and experience it too.
Be patient with yourself and others. They may not adjust right away. It will be up to you to integrate the changes that were made by feeling your way through it. You may make a step back and feel the WAVES return. This is part of the process. What has been realized and released by you, has not occurred for those around you. Love yourself enough to continue. Never give up on you. Take your time, do your Myofascial Freedom Program, live a centered life, and be true to yourself. Remember that we are all a work in progress that shows no progress, if we don’t work. Work, means do your internal work: stalk your thoughts, beliefs, do your home program. Ask yourself:
What belief is driving this reaction? What is my posture saying?
Do I perceive this as “pain” in my body?
What do I need to do to take care of myself?
Am I standing in my own power, or have I handed it over?
Checking in with your feelings is a huge part of processing and integrating. Bombarding our experiences on our family and friends may be a bit overwhelming for them. We have been out observing our existence from a different perspective. Being in the now is the most important aspect of this. Presence is where we find our personal empowerment!
LAYERED DISCOVERY: Remember that postural habits, old beliefs, and holding patterns require release and integration to overcome. The repetitive successful peeling away of the layers, like an onion, is necessary because we have dynamic bodies. We are each an integral part of a world that is always changing and thus encouraging our continual adaptation. Follow-up is necessary to continue to release the layers as they present themselves and to take the next steps towards healing. Remember that “GROWTH is the Goal…not a revision to a previous state of comfort!” Our goal with MFR is to help you, to help yourself return to a pain free, active lifestyle and to discover your unlimited potential as a unique individual.
***This article is taken from my own experiences with MFR as both a client and MFR practitioner and John F. Barnes’ Myofascial Release “Healing Theory Handout”
If you feel like you might be ready, consider asking your local MFR therapist for a “Mini Intensive” ( 3 to 4 day/multiple sessions per day). If you are definitely ready to commit to a change in your body and life and are seeking a Full Intensive Program or a Therapy for the Therapist (T4T) you can reach out to either of John Barnes’ flagship Myofascial Release Centers: The Sanctuary, located in Malvern, PA or Therapy on the Rocks, in Sedona, AZ.