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What up, Sassy Pants?  Enjoying the heat?  I know I am.  It feels like summer, for the reals.

So, let’s talk about your adrenal glands.  Or, if that makes you uncomfortable, let’s talk about my adrenal glands.  Potayto, potahto.  See here?  I found a drawing of adrenal glands on the interweb.  Aren’t they cute, those adorable glands, sitting there like dunce caps on their little kidneys?  Interesting factoid:  your kidneys are the only abdominal organs not located within the peritoneum, which is a bag of fascia that holds all the others, like your stomach and your spleen and your liver and such.  Yep, your kidneys are behind all of those, just in front of and below your lowest ribs, if you’re coming in from the front.  Which means your adrenals are back there too, right up under your ribs.  Which is cool and all, until they get worn out.

Now, I can’t prove this, but I see it a lot in my practice and I experienced it myself for years.  I think your adrenal glands help to physically hold your lower ribs in place.  When your adrenal glands get worn out, your lower ribs suffer.  By suffer I mean they struggle to stay where they should, politely attached to your vertebrae, and instead tend to just sorta fall out of place.  And as anyone who’s ever had a rib out of place can attest, when your ribs suffer, nothing much matters except getting your hands on more vicodin.  And that’s just not a happy place to live from.  Trust me.  Under each rib head (the end that attaches to your spine) is a nerve ganglion, which is like a nerve hub.  Drop a rib on that and the whole area lights up like the 4th of July.  Fun times for all!  Unless you wanted to sleep, or breathe, or bend over, or anything silly like that.

So, how do your adrenals get worn out in the first place?  Well, adrenal glands, oddly enough, produce something called adrenaline.  Ever heard of it?  Just kidding.  We use adrenaline for all sorts of things.  Like escaping super-scary situations.  A moose sneaks up on you in the woods and you get scared and you get a huge adrenaline dump and all of a sudden you can run faster than you’ve ever run in your life.  Hooray!  Adrenaline just saved your life!  But the thing is, you also get a huge adrenaline dump when your alarm clock scares you.  Or a scary movie.  Or a super-loud crack of thunder.  But by the time you can explain to your adrenal glands that there’s nothing to be afraid of because zombies aren’t real (unless bath salts are involved) and it’s just a movie, it’s too late.  That adrenaline’s flowing through your veins and your heart is pumping hard so you can run away.

Your body asks for adrenaline at other times, too.  Like when we’re stressed out about that deadline for work.  Or if you have three shots of espresso.  Or if your body is worn down because you have the flu.  Or if your blood sugar goes up and down like it lives at Six Flags because you’re not careful about eating balanced meals and snacks at regular intervals.  Which is fine.  That’s what it’s for.  Adrenaline gets you through the rough patches.

But when it’s not so much a rough patch as it is your life, we run into trouble.  If you never take care to maintain a steady blood sugar, you’re getting adrenaline dumps all day.  If you never get enough sleep, so your alarm clock scares you every morning, that’s another rush, every day.  Then, you have two cups of coffee, to make matters worse.  If you hate your boss and work is stressful all day, every day, you’re burning through adrenaline like it’s going out of style.  If this is your life and then you get the flu, chances are you’ve just drained the last drop of adrenaline your body had to offer.  And now, your adrenal glands are pissed.  Or they would be if they weren’t so tired.  At this point, your adrenal glands feel like parents of newborn triplets.  They’ve given all they had to give and they need a nap.  A very, very long nap.  So when your ribs turn around and say, “Hey, can we get a boost?” your adrenal glands just give them a sleepy, incredulous look and go back to sleep.  And your ribs fall out of place.  And where did I put that vicodin?

Obviously, this is a situation that we should try to avoid.  But life happens.  And we all tend to go through rough patches that last longer than a few weeks.  So, you come to me and I do my best to get your ribs back into place so you can breathe and move and sleep again.  The thing is, that once you’ve drained your adrenals, it’ll take a while to get them back up to snuff.  Like months.  And that’s if you’re able to do everything you can to help them out, which you probably can’t, or you’d already be doing it.  So, your ribs may continue to thwart your desire for a pain-free existence.  Still, if your adrenals are drained you should try to get them rested and replenished.  Sleep, as much as you can.  Eat before you’re famished, and make sure you eat proteins and fats so your blood sugar stays as level as possible.  Avoid sugars (including alcohol) and caffeine as much as possible.  Try and reduce any mental and emotional stress.  Stop doing things you don’t have to.  Schedule a ‘me’ day once a week if you can, or take a weekend ‘staycation’ where you just don’t answer your phone.  Use your vacation days at work and stay in bed the whole time, or go for a leisurely walk.  Do all the things you’d want to do if you were the parent of newborn triplets.  And if at all possible, don’t let yourself get into this situation again.  It’s just not worth it.

Let’s talk about body awareness, otherwise known as your relationship with your body.  I’m sure you’ve heard people talk about someone who’s really “in their body.”  Or maybe it’s phrased as “she’s really grounded,” or “he has great body awareness.”  Maybe you know a professional athlete and their body is pretty much their whole life.  Maybe you are that person.  But for the rest of us, that can be really confusing.  What does that even mean?  In a culture where living exclusively from the neck up is not only acceptable, but is generally admired, something gets lost in translation when we hear about people who are “in” their bodies.

He’s got a good head on his shoulders.  But does he have a good belly beneath those shoulders?  Why should we care?  The thing is, your body is a super-duper-awesome source of information, but most of us aren’t paying attention.  Take a minute and think about all the information you’re getting from your body, not your brain, right now.  You know the texture of the floor your feet are resting on, and whether or not it’s level.  If you were to step on a patch of ice, your body would immediately know the difference between that and the dry sidewalk.  Your skin is telling you how warm or cold it is where you are, as well as if there’s a breeze or not, and what texture and weight your clothes have.  Your stomach is telling you not only if you have to eat, but if you’re nervous or relaxed.  And that’s just the beginning!  You know how you can feel it when someone’s staring at you?  That’s your body, not your logical brain.

Unfortunately, most of us learn to disconnect from all the signals our body sends us pretty early on.  We learn not to cry when that’s all we want to do.  We learn to pour a cup of coffee when our body asks for a nap.  We learn to sit still and get the work done when our body asks for a walk.  And if our body says “this situation is uncomfortable, I’d like to leave now” we tell it to hush up, sometimes with drugs and alcohol, sometimes by simply staying in a place that’s wrong for us.  In extreme cases, like trauma, we sometimes pretend that nothing’s happened and everything’s fine, when everything is exactly the opposite of fine.  And just like a toddler throwing a tantrum, if you ignore your body for long enough, it gets quieter and quieter until you really can’t hear what it’s saying anymore.  What a shame.

The fact is, your brain and your body are one thing.  They’re you.  Trying to separate them, or to pay attention to one and not the other is like saying you’re only going to eat the flour and sugar out of a cake, but not the eggs and the vanilla.  Good luck with that.  Also, even if you could accomplish that, it wouldn’t taste very good, nor would it resemble cake.  And if you’re only paying attention to your logical brain without paying attention to your body, you’re only getting some of the story, and it doesn’t taste nearly as good as the whole story.

This is part of the reason we see so many ailments that are normal in our culture today.  If you stop listening when your stomach says “I’m full,” you end up overweight.  If you don’t pay attention when your bones say “I’m tired,” you end up with colds and flus and depression that force you to finally lie down.  And don’t get me started on all the anxiety disorders that are so popular today.  Perhaps your body is telling you that something’s not right in your life.

If you’re one of the people who believes they’re a head with some other stuff below it, maybe you can try checking in with that thing carrying your head from place to place.  I know, that can be unfamiliar and strange just to think about.  But there are some really simple things to try to get you started.  First, take off your shoes, and take that body for a spin.  Think about all the information you can get from your bare feet.  What’s the texture of the ground you’re standing on?  Temperature?  Hardness?  Can you feel what’s underneath the floor?  Another thing to try is meditating on, or bringing your awareness to one specific body part.  Meditate on your stomach for five minutes before eating.  What is it really craving?  Protein? Sugar?  Fat?  Does it need a bowl of ice cream, or would two bites be enough?  Bring your awareness to your pelvis.  Can you sense the front and back?  Are your sit bones contacting your chair evenly, or is one more solidly connected than the other?  What about your breath and your lungs?  Does your breath fill only the front or only the back of your rib cage?  Maybe it only fills your belly or more of your right side than your left.  To start with, just notice these things.  This is your body talking to you.

Oh, and a couple more things:

Body Awareness is one of the big goals of Rolfing.
I know my ability to live “in my body” went through the roof with my first trip through the ten series.  And since then, I’ve been able to stop worrying about my weight for the first time since I was little, since my body takes care of it for me.  If you’re struggling with your own body awareness, schedule a session or three and let’s see what we can accomplish.

Thank you so much for your help with Demo Day!
Yesterday was my first ever Energy Work Demo Day and it was awesome!  Thanks for coming in yourself and/or sending in your friends!  Next month’s Demo Day will be a “normal” Demo Day where each mini-session will be a blend of structural work and energy work and it will be on Wednesday, December 14th.