Your body is "Instant Messaging" you all the time.
These messages contain a unique cellular treasure waiting to be accessed. The discovery that your body (not your mind) is listening to you will transform your life. Your mind runs old programs, "defaults" to all that is familiar in your life, even when what's familiar is pain. The Alchemy of Self Healing will show you how to tap into your body wisdom that craves health and joy.
Take the Alchemy Quiz, follow the exercises, read the essays. At the end of 30 days, when you retake the quiz, you'll discover you have new resources and tools at your fingertips.
Jeannine Wiest, CMT, CST has created a week-by-week guidebook for tuning into the body so you can:
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Your Inner Reconnaissance
The goal of life is to make your heartbeat match the beat of the universe, to match your nature with Nature.
— Joseph Campbell
Everything is held together with stories. That is all that is holding us together, stories and compassion.
— Barry Lopez
The question to ask yourself is: Whose stories are holding you together? Did you choose those stories or are they your ancestors' stories, an inheritance by default? Are they your childhood shame stories, your "I am less than" stories, your "otherness" stories? If your answer is "I don't know," the truth is this: Part of you does know. There may be resistance to knowing, and in Cranial Alchemy work, we honor resistance. But let me repeat: Part of you knows. And that awareness can lead to relief when you realize that, cellularly at least, you actually do know it all.
The Cranial Alchemy process offers keys to keep you from being triggered and signposts for tracking the changes you yearn for in your life, whether those changes are physical, metaphysical, or metaphorical.
Simply by entertaining the idea that a part of you, in each moment, knows what you need can be a powerful first step. Next time you catch yourself saying "I don't know," I encourage you to add "right now." That's a truer statement.
The Alchemy Quiz: Rate Your Relationship With Your Body
Suffering is optional.
Transforming old, negative stories lodged inside is the key to bridging the disconnection between your body and your mind. Creating that bridge will enable you to create your life, business, and relationships in ways you might only imagine for now.
Ask yourself eight questions to help you track how integrated you are with your body at the moment. Your body is instant messaging you all the time!
1. What part of your body do you love without reservation?
2. How long did it just take you to answer Question One?
3. Which of the following best describes how that loved body part feels? A) Flowing like a waterfall, B) Glistening like sap on a tree, C) Smooth as a rock, D) Sparkling like a crystal, E) Other, please write it in.
4. Now, what body part frustrates you most?
5. How long did that question take to answer compared to Question One?
6. If you could have a conversation with the part you're frustrated with to explain your feelings, what would the conversation sound like? Give a voice to that part and flesh it out (excuse the pun) with as much detail as possible. Does it have an accent? (One unforgettable example: A workshop client's neck had a French cartoon voice.) Does it have a lot to say or very little? Give yourself three to five minutes and see what comes up for you, if anything. Which of the following fit? A) A loud argument B) A tearful monologue C) It's lost in translation D) A gentle whispered, "hello, how's it going in there" conversation E) I can't do this.
7. My daily level of stress is: A) Off-the-charts high B) medium C) low D) stress? What stress?
8. If my spine were an animal, I imagine it would be: A) A quick, gliding fish B) A buzzing bee C) A fossilized turtle D) An octopus E) Other, please describe.
Warning! My tally system is as non-linear as I could create it. The value of this quiz is not in the tallied number but truly in your experience of the inquiry. Tally as follows:
* Question 1: Ten points for being able to identify a body part you love without any "buts." Deduct five points if you chose your heart. There's a chance this is a cop out. Answering "heart" can come from social conditioning, a safe answer that might not allow a more authentic and unique truth to bubble up. You'll know when you re-take the quiz in 30 days. At that point, if "heart" is your true answer, you'll get your five points back.
* Question 2: If you answered Question One right away, 10 points. Less than a minute, five points. Up to five minutes and you're still not coming up with a part you love, zero points. (All of that will change after you've read this book.)
* Question 3: If you were able to easily give a description to question three, give yourself 40 points. If this was challenging, great. No points, but we'll work on that.
* Question 4: Notice whether you jump to an internal part or an external part. Either way, add five points. The practice of noticing can be healing.
* Question 5: Ten points if it took you a long time to answer this (three to five minutes), zero if you answered right away, and five points if you had to think for a minute.
* Question 6: Ten points if you didn't draw a blank.
* Question 7: Pretty much everyone taking this quiz is A or B. Five points for either answer. Eight points for C. If you answered D, you get 10 points for irony. Employing your sense of humor while taking a quiz is both healthy and creative.
* Question 8: Ten points for any answer and for gifting your spine with imagery. And if you were a fossilized turtle spine, there is a self-help exercise for that in Chapter 6.
80 points or over — The Fluid Alchemist
More than most people, you are in touch with your body, your creativity, and your ability to create. Cranial Alchemy can help you refine the tools you already have and will deepen your connection to the metaphorical, unseen support that surrounds you. You'll enjoy accessing your internal Direction of Ease so you can create your life, health, and relationships in a powerful and juicy way.
40 — 80 points — The Searcher
You've done some inner work but have either a lack of internal focus or a scattered focus in terms of how you "show up" for yourself and your projects and maybe what you believe is possible in your life. You could use some reliable new tools for whatever transformation you desire. Realizing that you have a treasure trove to search inside yourself is key. Pay close attention to the metaphorical level discussions. Be certain to give extra attention to those exercises that seem most foreign to you.
Under 40 — The Inner Apprentice
Work with the exercises in this book and watch yourself grow deep connective roots to the natural world, as well as gain the knowledge to shift perspective and calm your nervous system so you can reach your goals!
Now, put the quiz aside and keep it in a safe place. You may already have surprised yourself with an answer or two, which is good.
We'll re-visit the quiz in 30 days.
Physical, Metaphysical, Metaphorical — What is Cranial Alchemy?
Cranial Alchemy, the sensory and nature-based system I've synthesized, is partially based on Upledger Craniosacral Therapy and my experiential discoveries as a teaching assistant for many Upledger classes. But this book purposefully focuses not on anatomical terminology but on exercises, stories, and tactile connections. Cranial Alchemy's focus is on recalibrating your senses and improving your relationship to your body to the point where you trust your body as a wise ally.
Within this book, you'll be encountering a few technical terms. For example, your reticular alarm system (RAS) is a key element that aids self healing when lowered. Tip: You'll be positively lowering your RAS by doing the exercises in this book and making them habitual. This will likely happen whether or not you understand what the reticular alarm system (also called reticular activating system) is.
Nothing that enters your field of awareness gets past the RAS. As the body's gatekeeper, your RAS is the guy who is holding the velvet rope at a club and deciding who gets in (your body is the club). How you hold experiences determines, through time, your alarm's set point or, in keeping with our club and gatekeeper analogy, your RAS determines maximum capacity for your body: who is on the guest list versus who is attempting to crash.
Is there an abundance of incoming stressors or an overload of trauma to handle in your body? Often we're not aware of an issue until we can no longer compensate around it. The Alchemy of Self Healing offers you tools to keep you connected to yourself, to help you learn to listen internally in a nature-based practice so that your alarm doesn't ring off the charts before you notice a potential challenge. Instead, the slightest chime of symptomatic feedback from your body will show up on your radar to allow you to offer immediate attention.
As you may already have experienced as you took the quiz, at times internal listening can be daunting. But once you develop a listening, noticing practice, you'll discover internal listening is refreshing. The exercises in this book, offered sequentially, are your doorways to a self-healing, daily practice.
In addition to Upledger Craniosacral Therapy, the influences that have informed the Cranial Alchemy system include concepts I have gleaned from the Four Winds Inka Medicine Wheel as taught by Lynn Berryhill and Tomas Bostrom, as well as creative processes such as those I've adapted from Viola Spolin's theater games, key elements of energy healing work I have studied with animals, sensory musical connections, Reiki practices, and journal explorations.
In the 1970s when I was studying theater games, they seemed artificial. I had no use for them and I had no understanding of their value. All these years later, that has changed, and in true repurposed fashion, with modifications to the original games as they were taught to me, they now shine with authenticity and serve as body-based therapy tools in my work. This is a prime example of discovering a new perspective ("Wow, great tools, that theater mirror game dovetailing with mirror neuron exploration of empathy") from an old story. (Me at 18: "Ugh, why do I have to learn theater games? They're pointless torture.") Even 40 years later, it is possible to reframe anything.
In 30 days you can repurpose old, worn out stories that are not serving you but remain lodged in your body as energy. As you work through each of the chapters in this book, you'll create a custom practice that works for you.
As a healing facilitator, I embrace the idea of being inclusive rather than exclusive, and the work I share with you is a testament to that way of being. Because the holistic premise of my work and this book is that everything is connected, I encourage and seek the connectivity in healing and creative modalities. For me, the exponential value lies in where creative modalities and healing bisect, connect, and converge, sans politics. So as you read, you'll hear about the luminous energy field that surrounds your body concurrently with a favorite qi gong exercise, which just happens to help illustrate that field. Different conduit, same field.
Throughout the book you'll learn to play with three levels of awareness I have culled from indigenous healing practices, and you'll also learn to build from the four tenets of Craniosacral Therapy.
The purest definition I've heard of Craniosacral Therapy comes courtesy of Robyn Scherr, an advanced Craniosacral Therapist in Northern California: "Craniosacral Therapy is an educated, specific, non-invasive touch that supports your body's innate ability to heal." The key word here is non-invasive.
In this first chapter I offer you right away a few action tools so you can work on your own, utilizing the principles of Craniosacral Therapy. You'll learn what a Craniosacral healing touch consists of, and you'll have an opportunity to begin practicing it.
Why are Craniosacral concepts a cornerstone of exploration with this book? Developing a conscious relationship with your central nervous system is a key to success for the next 30 days and beyond! No other body system has the kind of powerful influence over your well-being as does the central nervous system. But remember, you need not possess an understanding of anatomy to follow this plan.
The Four Tenets
The Four Tenets that underlie everything you do were first espoused by Dr. Andrew Still in the 19th century. These tenets flew in the face of the thought of the time, and a century later, Dr. John Upledger offered a slightly updated version, as follows:
1. The body is a unit.
2. The body is a self-regulating, self-correcting mechanism.
3. Structure and function are inter-related.
4. Movement is health.
The Craniosacral concept of blending and melding with the body's tissues and fluids expands to include working not only physically but also metaphysically and metaphorically. These concepts, along with the three levels described next, are the basis for the internal exploration in Cranial Alchemy.
Undoubtedly there are situations when working with a professional facilitator or health care professional is wise, and in certain cases, crucial. However, all too often we give up our power to experts because, in many cases, we are so disconnected from our bodies, our souls, and gut-knowledge, that it never occurs to us that we have any internal power to affect change for ourselves. As one client recently said, we may feel "blank inside." If that sentiment resonates for you, know that it can change.
The Three Levels of Awareness
"When did you stop singing? When did you stop dancing?" Traditionally, these were the first questions an indigenous healer would ask someone who came for help. The healer would then begin working with levels of awareness. I believe those kinds of questions are crucial, yet we never see them on intake forms.
Depending on the healers' lineage — Native North American or South American — healing work is done on four levels, or with specific connections to nature. In this book, we'll work with three levels of awareness that relate easily to everyday life. What are these three levels and what might they uncover for your creativity as well as your ability to create health and well-being? They are:
The Physical Level — Relating to nature as a matter of daily practice is one component of the Cranial Alchemy system. Within 30 days you may be noticing blades of grass growing between cement cracks as easily as you now assume there's a lack of nature in the city. Feeling depleted? You might not have to wait for a trip to Hawaii for renewal. You might not even have to leave your office.
Helping the body's natural healing mechanisms dissipate the negative effects of stress on the central nervous system is part of the process. Developing the habit of starting a conversation with your organs, with surrounding soft tissues and fluids in the body will help.
If the central nervous system isn't happy, no other system in the body can be happy. By sensorily imaging space within the soft tissue, allowing more balanced fluid flow in the body, you'll allow the body's self-healing mechanism to kick in. Stress-related dysfunctions such as fatigue, headaches, poor digestion, and anxiety can dissipate.
In terms of the body being a self-correcting mechanism — the fewer outside influences such as drugs to mask symptoms, the better. We want to suss out the root cause of an issue rather than mask the symptoms. I am not, however, advocating that you stop taking key medications; rather, I am suggesting that you take these medications mindfully. Chapter 3 covers in greater detail this idea of personal focus.
The Metaphysical Level — According to Merriam-Webster's Dictionary, the term metaphysical, which means literally "what comes after physics," was used to refer to the treatise by Aristotle that he himself called "first philosophy." In the history of Western philosophy, metaphysics has been understood in various ways. For the purposes of our work together, we'll refer to the metaphysical level as integration of the physical and the mental, a state that Cranial Alchemy successfully addresses.
Integration practice helps circumvent the fatal flaw of the primitive brain as it relates to the mid-brain and the neocortex. I learned this particular brain model via the Upledger Institute; however, I've also heard other alternative modalities explain it in slightly varying ways. Though some readers may have learned a five-part brain model in school or may wonder why I don't discuss the role of specific brain parts, there are plenty of research books that cover brain anatomy in depth. If words such as "neocortex" make you nervous, hang in there. A valuable brain connection is coming right up.
Cranial Alchemy focuses on the idea of spending more time experiencing and cultivating empathy, bringing that down into our body, tracking and experiencing art and nature at least as often as the time we spend memorizing mathematical tables. To quote one of my former schoolmates, the world-renowned cellist, Yo-Yo Ma: "Because the world economy is so hyper-competitive, much of the focus in education these days from Singapore to Shanghai to American schools is on STEM — science, technology, engineering and math. As important as that is, it is short-sighted. We need to add the empathetic reasoning of the arts to the mix — STEAM." And this brings us, literally, to our senses.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "The Alchemy of Self Healing"
Copyright © 2015 Jeannine Wiest.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Introduction Becoming an Inner Alchemist 17
Week 1 Inner Reconnaissance and Creating Touchstones
Chapter 1 Your Inner Reconnaissance 25
Chapter 2 Keywords for Your Nervous System 47
Week 2 Energy Signature and Learning From Animals
Chapter 3 Biography: Your Game… Widening Your Lens 71
Chapter 4 I Don't Kill Bug 93
Week 3 Navigating Levels and Tracking Neutral
Chapter 5 A Different Kind of Alteration 119
Chapter 6 Tracking Neutral-Is No Attachment to Outcome Possible? 141
Week 4 Music, Sound, and Daily Life Remedies
Chapter 7 A-B-A-B and Sometimes C-Music and Sound 165
Chapter 8 Remedies for Specific Situation 185
About the Author 217