Self discovery

Brain Scans Show Distinct Differences in Sufferers of Chronic Fatigue Syndrome

Chronic fatigue syndrome is estimated to affect 1 million to 4 million people in the U.S. yet it remains scientifically misunderstood and typically dismissed by the general public.  For those who suffer from the relentless symptoms of CFS – malaise, inability to concentrate, tender muscles & joints, headaches and crippling fatigue – it’s most certainly real and at times can be debilitating.

Validating the realness of CFS, a new study out of Standford University School of Medicine sheds a bright light upon the syndrome. This study revealed how those with CFS actually have differences in their brains compared to normal brains.

Pain imageMost significant was the finding of a reduction in the amount of white matter – a network of long fibers that communicate between nerve cells. CFS is linked to chronic inflammation that is potentially caused by our immune system’s response to a viral infection – and such inflammation could be happening throughout the body.

Damaged white matter wasn’t really a surprise, but further investigation uncovered something profound that they didn’t expect. Brain scans revealed abnormalities in a bundle of nerve fibers in the right hemispheres of CFS patients. This bundle, called the right arcuate fasciculus, connects the frontal and temporal lobes and in the brain scans they had an abnormal appearance. As explained by their article, researchers distinguished this as a fairly strong correlation between the degree of abnormality in a CFS patient’s right arcuate fasciculus and the severity of the patient’s condition.

While more research is needed to further pinpoint these changes in the brain’s white matter and determine potential causes for CFS, this study provides comprehensive clinical evidence that CFS creates real physiological symptoms in the body.  John Barnes Myofascial Release can help manage the symptoms of CFS.  It may also lessen general inflammation through the release of interleukin-8 into the tissues during holds five minutes or longer.

Read the full study from Standford University here:


Willpower Woes? It’s Only a Matter of Time.

During this time of year when we review our habits and goals thoroughly, keep in mind that some things may be beyond your control, your self-control that is. This isn’t an excuse for being unaccountable, but rather, our brain’s reward system and perception of time could have as much to do with accomplishing our goals as our internal will and discipline.

will powerI found this interesting article in which researchers delved into the motivations of goals and self-control. Author, Maria Konnikova, helps reveal a bit more about how our brains work. Self-control is synonymous with delayed gratification and when we think of delayed gratification – not eating a treat now to be slimmer later, saving money now to pay for the honeymoon next year – we attribute our willpower in making it so.

Yet it’s actually not that simple. If the timing of the payoff is longer than expected in coming or comes at irregular intervals, we may give up too soon.  That leads one to ask: so when do you hold ‘em and when do you fold ‘em? It’s still up to you, but this article definitely brings up some interesting points on our perception of time vs. our mental willpower.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

Can you forgo a brownie in service of the larger reward of losing weight, give up ready cash in favor of a later investment payoff? The immediate option is hot; you can taste it, smell it, feel it. The long-term choice is far cooler; it’s hard to picture it with quite as much color or power.

In psychological terms, the difference is typically seen as a dual-system trade-off: On one hand, you have the deliberative, reflective, cool system; on the other, the intuitive, reflexive, hot system. The less self-control you have, the further off and cooler the future becomes and the hotter the immediate present grows. Brownie? Yum.

But what if the reality is a little different? What if the ability to delay gratification is actually more like the commuter faced with a crowded train platform than like a dieter faced with a freshly baked treat? A failure of self-control, suggest the University of Pennsylvania neuroscientists Joseph W. Kable and Joseph T. McGuire, may not be a failure so much as a reasoned response to the uncertainty of time: If we’re not quite sure when the train will get there, why invest precious time in continuing to wait?

Click here to read the full article.

Don’t give up on your resolutions to be healthier in 2015 just yet.  Time is on your side.



Silence your Inner Critic with Self-Compassion

Think of the way we talk to our plants, our pets, our grandparents, our children.  When we are speaking to these special beings, we emit words with the energy of love, compassion and kindness.  Can we say we speak to ourselves that way on a consistent basis?

holiday blog picUnfortunately for many of us, it’s a daily task to clean up the inner thoughts we have about ourselves – especially when crossing by a mirror.  Yet showing ourselves a bit of kindness could go much further to improving our attitude, and even our general well being, according to a new study I read about in Natural Health News.

The study researched women with regard to their body image and physical measurements, and found that self-compassion, rather than self-esteem, could be a vital means to increase positive body image and protect women from unhealthy weight obsessing and dieting practices.

As explained by the article, self-esteem comes from evaluating oneself as above average, whereas self-compassion is described as when dealing with feelings of inadequacy, despair, confusion, and other forms of stress, we respond to ourselves with kindness and understanding.

We may “know” our thoughts and food are connected – especially if you’ve ever succumbed to emotional eating – but as the article says, how we treat ourselves during difficult times seems to have bearing on how we feel about our bodies and food.  Self compassion allows you to give yourself a break and realize that struggles and imperfections are a mandatory part of life.  Everyone has to deal with them – even the ones who seem to have it all together.

The holiday season is hectic enough without you being unkind in your thoughts about yourself (or others).  Remember the best way to keep a healthy body and physique is to RELEASE the obsessing about it and actually accept and be happy with the body you have right now.  Just like when you show kindness and understanding to another person, they respond well, so does your own body when you think kind thoughts about yourself.

Be easy with yourself and give yourself permission to let go.

Releasing Pain – the Underground Network of Tissues

Our bodies are brilliant mechanisms of design that keep us moving and functioning throughout our lives.  Yet hectic schedules, stresses and poor habits degrade our resilient but very intricate systems.  Often people are dealing with pain on a daily basis and have no true relief.

Fibromyalgia, once thought to be a very rare disorder, is a word we see constantly in magazine and television ads that are selling pharmaceuticals.  Fibromyalgia refers to persistent, body-wide pain affecting the soft tissues, joints and muscles – fibro (tissue), myo (muscle), algia (pain).

As you know, Evergreen Advanced Bodywork specializes in John Barnes Myofascial Release (MFR) – a therapy using timed stretches and pressure to release the fascia.  Fascia is a fluid and fibrous, three-dimensional tissue that makes up 80% of our connective tissue. This fibrous, fluid, three-dimensional web surrounds, infuses and connects to all our internal structures – muscles, bones, blood vessels; even our cells. Those with fibromyalgia have compromised fascia, which results in amplified pain all over the body.  Any compromise in the fascia – a stiffening or inflammation of it – will result in pain.  Often people have no idea their problems are related to the fascia.

Considering that we are 70% water, and fascia is 80% of our connective tissue, a clear correlation exists between keeping the fascia hydrated and pliable – and being pain-free.

fascia2As explained in this stellar article  from MFR Brisbane, the fascia is our “meta-system,” acting as the body’s vital cell-to-cell communicator.  Dr. Bruce Lipton, a cellular biologist at Stanford University discovered that each cell in the body is controlled by its membrane and not the nucleus and its genes. When a nucleus is removed from a cell, the cell survives a few months. Conversely, when the fascia (membrane) of the cell is removed, the cell dies.

The fascial complex of the brain is made up of glial cells, which is part of the “cellular consciousness” of the body. Glial cells outnumber neurons 9 to 1 and are vital to brain functioning, but have long been overlooked by medical researchers.

The Brisbane article further explains how our bodies response systems are thrown off by injury, trauma and stress. Typically stressors trigger our fight or flight response, but there is another, less well-known “freeze” response where changes to the fascia occur at the cellular level. When this happens the tissue transforms from liquid (healthy) to crystalline or a solid (dehydrated fascia).  Fascial restrictions then develop that cause the fascia to stiffen.  Research as far back as the 1960s described it like this: “Where the fascia once glided over the muscles and nerves, it now places crushing pressure at up to 2,000 pounds per square inch.”

Such stiffness and pressure in these tissues is the makings of joint pain, fatigue, inflammation and fibromyalgia. The good news is the fascia can be returned to its normal, healthy state with continuous effort and proper release therapy.

Modern Western medicine may not yet hold a full grasp on the inner workings of fascia or how to see and measure it, but there is no doubt it has significant role to play in overall wellness.  Honor your body by staying hydrated, stretched and positive!

To read further on how fascia works in our bodies:

The Myofascial Release Approach was developed by John F. Barnes.  Evergreen Advanced Body Works specializes in MFR.  Call 901-496-2881 for appointments.

John Barnes MFR Resources

With it’s increasing popularity, you’ve probably heard of Myofascial Release.  Perhaps you’ve read about fascia in an article or heard it mentioned in a news report,  although you’re still not clear exactly what it is or its role in the body.  Maybe you even have several friends who have received MFR, but they all describe it differently.

For a deeper understanding of fascia, what Myofascial Release is, the philosophy of John Barnes’ style of MFR and it’s history, I’ve included a link to John’s archives.  I’m always available to clarify or answer questions as you work your way through the articles.

My current clients may find it helpful to read about some of the topics we’ve discussed in our sessions.  I would love to hear any comments you might have.

Happy Reading!

The Healing Journey

john picRecently, I attended MFR II with John Barnes in Captiva, FL.  The question was raised, “How long will it take me to heal, when will I be done?”.   As MFR therapists, we constantly work on our own healing processes.  Healing is a journey of discovery.  There is no focus on the outcome, just a willingness to feel and become more aware.  Once we are aware of what is happening in our bodies and minds, we can decide what to change, what to let go of, and what to embrace.

How long does it take to learn something new?  How long does it take to let go of old belief systems and open to new possibilities?  How long does it take to heal physical and emotional trauma?

As long as it takes us to feel, to soften, to open.

John shared this poem with us at the seminar.  I think it encapsulates the idea that we have what we need to change/fix/heal inside ourselves.  It is a message of hope.

“I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But,  it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in.  It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault.  I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street.”

― Portia Nelson, There’s a Hole in My Sidewalk: The Romance of Self-Discovery