My spine and I stopped very suddenly the other day. The rain coated road lifted our car up just enough to ensure we wouldn’t lose speed as we tried to brake for a car that ultimately rammed us. The Uhaul trailer that stopped us as we bounced into the turn lane barely budged. I think my spine was OK until the airbag deployed. It felt like being punched in the face by an exploding stick of dynamite.
We are water, mostly. If we were all water my spine and I would have just sloshed around in the car for a bit and come to rest without much fuss – airbag and all. The place where the fluid of us meets with the earth of us is our soft tissue. Our spines are a tapestry of soft tissue tendrils suspending our vertebrae in an extraordinarily versatile column.
I remember standing in our local climbing gym, watching expert climbers flow up walls I didn’t think a gecko could climb. Erasing their other body parts in my imagination, I saw spines slithering up the wall, bending here – giving there. We are serpents adorned with a few extra limbs. Our spines make all motion possible. Our spines are miraculous.
Beth, my Continuum teacher taught me to find the soft tissue of my spine and sink into its world. Laying on the studio floor I would follow my serpents breath as it hissed from a prehistoric place in my belly. Every tissue has a pulse, like a river current you can ride, floating to new worlds on its grace. What if you could make the tiniest cells that hold your body together stronger, more elastic – happier? Thats what I learned from Continuum.
Carol, my body worker and healer, started the process of supporting my wounded soft tissue just two days after my spine was injured. Her wise fingers found the most vulnerable muscles and waited quietly until they were ready to open up and let her in. She did not dig or massage, she let the muscles part until the spine’s soft tissue was resting in her hands. She just relaxed and held that tissue, until it could soften more and release its suffering.
I came into her studio feeling like a jig-saw puzzle, I left feeling like I had a spine again. Its hurt, rigid, and still in a state of protection, but its a little less afraid. There will be many such healings before my serpent spine is well again. This is a chance to get to know it better, to learn how to support it more as the years roll by.
Yesterday at dawn I found myself outside. Usually this is my time to dance. Closing my eyes I welcomed the serpents breath and felt it cloak my spine, searching for signs of soft tissue wetness. The pulse of that rythme was still there, though quiet and timid. My arms began to billow slightly into the air, I started to rock and the serpent relaxed a little more. So long as there is liquid to be found in my being, there can be healing. So long as the serpent still moves I am dancing.
Image: Serpent by Tony Hisgett from Flickr, used under
a Creative Commons license