Wonder and awe are a better strategy for wellbeing
Do you go into a tailspin of health anxiety when something goes wrong with your body? The older you get, the more likely this is to happen. This state of fear may be low level, medium level, or high level. It can be so severe that it becomes a diagnosis itself.
I used to live in this state even as a young person. Embodiment, for me, was often about control, worry, and looking good to others. Once, I was hit by a car on my bike, damaging my knee badly enough that I couldn’t bend it for a month. I also had chronic tendinitis in both arms and hands, and was told by a doctor that it would never get better.
I thought my dance career was over, and for a year I lived in daily fear. Maybe you can relate.
Many of my students are also in this state of health anxiety when we first start working together. This state, if it becomes long term, can increase negative health outcomes.
Thankfully, I was in the middle of my training as an Alexander Technique teacher. I got gentle, daily reminders about how to calm myself and release my musculature. I learned how to expand my attention to include my whole body. It was a totally different, non-fear based kind of embodiment that speeded up the healing process immensely.
When I started the video series A Journey Through Your Cranial Nerves one year ago, I wasn’t aware of just how much anxiety you guys were feeling! Now that I’ve completed the series my understanding and compassion for you, and for myself, have come full circle.
Today’s video is the last of a series of 12. Each video has education information and practical exercises you can do to discover how a particular cranial nerve works, which organ or muscles it supplies, and how it can function with maximum ease and efficiency.
Of course, things can also go wrong with each one. Folks on Youtube are looking for help on an incredible variety of problems and issues!
Embodied education is a powerful antidote to health anxiety.
Unfortunately, health anxiety is exacerbated by the dominant focus on pathology, diagnosis, and treatment. This trifecta is the core of medical practice; I just wish that folks had more access to basic education about their bodies too.
I’m all about cultivating an attitude of learning, wonder and awe towards yourself and your body. It turns out that wonder and awe is also good for you! Duh! Cognitive scientists around the globe are studying this emotional state to understand how it benefits our health and our society.
“Awe is an emotion of the superorganism.”Dacher Keltner
There is an overwhelming amount of anxiety around bodies not working the way they are “supposed to” on Youtube. Today’s video is just one example.
Search for cranial nerve 12 and you will find videos about what can go wrong with this nerve, how to tell if it’s not working right, and if it’s not working right which life-threatening disease you might have.
You’ll have 10 new reasons to be anxious if you weren’t already! Let’s try education instead, even if you are living with big health challenges.
Cranial nerve 12 innervates all the muscles of your tongue, which is core to your ability to survive (eating) and express yourself (speech.) It’s also a part of balance and posture, because it’s movement affects the weight of your jaw and head as well as the balance of your head on your spine.
There are the 4 intrinsic tongue muscles inside your tongue that help it change shape. It can widen or bunch up, curl at the corners, and make many combinations of those actions. There are also 4 extrinsic muscles, more about those below.
Your tongue is awe inspiring! It is so multi-talented that it gets support from 4 different cranial nerves (cranial nerves 5, 7, 9 and 12). It’s a muscle organ, like your diaphragm and heart.
How wonderful it is to just feel the sensation of your tongue inside your mouth (cranial nerves 5 & 7). How amazing is it that taste (cranial nerve 9) is so intricately connected to smell (cranial nerve 1). Find out how good it feels to softly mover your tongue inside your mouth without stiffening your neck!
Here is an image of the 4 extrinsic muscles, which connect your tongue to bony structures like the front of your jaw, your hyoid bone, or your skull via the styloid process. These muscles allow you to extend your tongue outside your mouth, or withdraw it inside, allow it to rest in your lower jaw, or raise it gently to the roof of your mouth.
We humans are sensitive creatures, and we are physically susceptible to the vibe of the culture we live in. This culture is largely about controlling, labeling, and fixing our bodies.
If we don’t embody wonder and curiosity more often, we get sick. Start looking what is working well right now, what feels good.
Cranial Nerve Sequencing is a great process to go through even if you do have damage, pain, or disease. I had one recent client who had Bell’s palsy in her face and tongue, affecting parts of her 5th and 7th cranial nerves. When she started to explore all of the cranial nerves in sequence, we found that most of them were working beautifully!
The nerves that were damaged started to improve much more quickly once my client learned how to shift more towards wonder, and away from fear.
Where one nerve or part of your body may have suffered some damage, another one can come in and help. You can devise new strategies to utilize all of the resources you do have to function optimally – for your particular body, with it’s particular history.
However you embark on this journey of wonder, I hope you set sail now. Nothing is more important for your health and wellbeing.