How to reboot an infected nervous system
Accelerating “yogic” transformations via biophysics, by William Softky
Yes, the world seems less trustworthy every day. Politics is corrupted, science is corrupted, the law is corrupted, et cetera. Worst of all, education and the news are corrupted, so we can’t even know what’s true. It’s like John Wanamaker said a hundred years ago, “I know 30% of my ad budget is wasted, but I don’t know which 30%.” Except now we don’t know which 30% of our truths are false.
If we described this same situation for a computer, we would say the computer is infected with something, and it doesn’t matter what. Once you know a computer isn’t computing right — whether the problem is a bad disk, viruses, malware, spyware, corrupt memory, or bad wiring — you need to get it back to a known safe state. At the very least a reboot, at worst a clean re-install of its most basic operating system. The problem is that once you can’t trust your own operating system, you can’t trust anything it does. Period. The only recourse is a return to known safe ground.
People have had this problem since The Fall, and have solved it with the same solution. It turns out rebooting the nervous system is what Yoga, Pilates, Feldenkrais, pole dance, Tantric meditation, chiropractic healing, and a zillion other body-awareness practices have been providing such organic reboots for years, if not millennia. And there is an excellent chance their tribal forebears spent even more time moving in even more fun and effective ways, all the way back to the Paleo Garden of Eden. So these modern practices are reviving sensorimotor self-awareness, a.k.a. body-wisdom, which is the natural birthright of any vertebrate, especially a social biped. By one means or another, those practices focus both sensory attention and muscular intention on the very midline of the spine, and as a general rule, the more minutely and symmetrically you can control your spinal and breathing muscles, the better your body’s motor-architecture works. The spine is the center of absolutely everything important about what brains do, so if you can optimize that particular string of bones and that particular squeezing cylinder independently of every thing else, including the limbs and jaw, you’ve pretty much reset your motor architecture, and thus your cognitive and perceptual architecture along with it.
In this delightfully reductionist view, improving your life all comes down to how you feel and move your spine. Without burdening you too much about my own past (yet), I’ve spent the last several years trying to undo lifelong arthritis and virtual scoliosis, in order to feel my spine the way dancers and yogis do. It’s working, which has been wonderful for me in tons of ways. (Save that I’ve become more forgetful, which is most easily explained by the fact that a continuous-control spinal architecture isn’t supposed to store anything anyway. Archiving is for slower archiectural layers.)
I expect to spin out more detail later, but for now let’s end with a weird New Year’s trick to reinvigorate whatever practice you have now. See how your body reacts the way I expect (I swear by this technique myself, and find it quite addicting.)
Try this: press your incisors against an outward (convex) wall-corner, or dance-pole. Yes, really, push the notch between your two top front teeth gently againsst the most solid object you can find. Your face will look zombie-ish. It will feel ridiculuous, maybe even uncomfortable. This may be the first time in your life the bone of your skull has been truly connected and grounded, in both the DC and AC senses, through direct hard contact with another solid object. That lock-in gives the muscles of your neck something to work with, and to work against. So stand as still as you can that way for a couple minutes. I predict you will experience at least one of the following symptoms of motor-map change: 1) Suddden new sensations in unfamiliar zones of muscle or tendon inside of your neck, cheekbones, or "brain" ; 2) a sudden sound inside you like a click, pop, clunk, squish, rip, etc; 3) ringing in your ears or skull; 4)a sudden sense of calmness; 5) your neck or back moves more fluidly; 6) your balance shifts. If this exercise doesn’t teach you something about your spine, you now have a great reason not to read any more.
Enjoy rebooting your spine. Happy New Year!