“THE LONGEST JOURNEY YOU’LL EVER TAKE IS FROM YOUR HEAD TO YOUR HEART.” —GARY ZUKOV
Both physically and metaphysically, the neck may be described as the intermediary between what is above and below it: the head and the heart. It houses the organs, tissues, and bones related to communication and expression. The neck is home to most highly moveable vertebrae, and the cervicals give us the capacity to see from many perspectives. Symbolically, the neck is related to our ability to express what is in our heart and what is on our mind. Imagine your neck as the garden hose of your expression. If the head and heart are in conflict, the hose may become twisted and barely drip, be cut off completely, or be on full blast. If there’s a kink in your hose, you may experience yourself withdrawing, going silent, biting your tongue, swallowing your feelings, or grinning and bearing it. If you’re overriding feeling in favor of thinking, or vice versa, you may notice feeling disconnected and voiceless, or you may swing to the other end of the spectrum by exploding or lashing out. When thinking and feeling feel disconnected, you may notice your neck tighten, become limited in its vast range of motion, or simply hurt. How do you organize the flow of your expression?
One way to balance the flow of our experience and expression is through the skill of matching. Matching is the ability to describe or name what you feel, sense, and/or notice, without adding or taking away anything from your experience. You can change and shift the pains in your mind, heart, and body (particularly in your neck) by expressing what is fundamentally true. It is an integrity move to match your inner experience with your outer expression. When our inner and outer worlds are mismatched, we often feel stuck, cut off, or twisted up. The type of matching we advocate does not require explanation, justification, or even a goal of improving how you feel (although this may happen as a happy side effect of matching). Matching is simply the practice of being with the emerging sensations around your neck and describing these as precisely and nonjudgmentally as possible. YOUR
Bring your attention inward. In other words, presence all the sensations you are currently experiencing in and around your neck. Allow a moment of generous breath to invite your awareness to this part of your body. From a place of presence, become curious and open yourself to discovery as you inwardly or outwardly say, “Hmm …” Maybe write down what you notice. Let’s explore. If your neck had a voice, what would it sound like? What would it say? Can you imagine your neck expressing as a color? A temperature? A texture? Or can you describe specific sensations on the surface or in the depths of your neck? What is the mobility of your neck: Does it feel easy to move? Do you feel free and responsive or tense and short? Notice what happens as you become willing to be with and express the sensations you are experiencing. Oftentimes, our relationship with a specific area changes as we connect to it. What surprises you about your neck? Notice whether you’re moving toward or away from your neck’s inner expression. What does noticing your neck remind you of? What kind of stories do you tell about your neck? Is there something you can appreciate about your neck? With repeated practice of matching your experience by describing without explaining, you may even notice new sensations in other places. A softening, or perhaps a wider sense of aliveness.
Maybe the pains in your neck are simply the result of poor body mechanics or holding patterns, and can be resolved with a massage or an adjustment to how you are holding yourself. Check in with how you hold your head when giving at the table, interacting with digital devices, watching television, walking, or driving. Notice whether the pillow you sleep on is too firm, soft, fluffy, or squishy. Maybe your neck project comes from a previous fall, injury, car accident, dental trauma, surgery, or something congenital. In our experience, it is rare that resistance is caused by one singular event. Rather, painful projects often present themselves with a combination of symptoms and intermingling preexisting conditions. Are you willing to open yourself up to all the possible ways to support your alignment and heal your neck? To be a holistic health-care provider and educator, it is our goal to look at, consider, and address injuries, pain, and resistance from a 360-degree perspective. Becoming fluent in all the languages of the body and being able to presence, face, and acknowledge what’s emerging in the moment facilitates deep healing.
Thank you Kathlyn Hendrick for teaching us how to Match
*Check out the full article in Massage and Bodywork Magazine May/June