The Fascial System - how to embrace your innate complexity

**Hey readers! Here is another excerpt from my second book. I would love to hear your thoughts, questions and insights. xoxox

I was a bully when I was younger, and I was also bullied. I was sweet and empathetic, and I loved telling jokes, playing tricks, and making others laugh or cry. I was sentimental, caring, and loved a good cuddle, and I was also determined, competitive, and obsessive compulsive when it came to practicing basketball. I had bouts of self-love, hope and positivity, and I fell into stints of negative self-talk cycles and would get stuck in feeling ugly or not good enough. I would have a few days of eating to live, a few days of living to eat, and would go for weeks in a cycle of starving myself all day and binging for hours in the evening. I developed a habit of craving the rush I would feel from taking what wasn’t mine, lying, or cheating, just because, perhaps just to feel something other than numbness or despair. One day I could feel so open, loving and generous, and the next day I would close down and push everyone away. I spent years feeling lost, treading water in a sense of lack, convinced I was broken, and impulsively harming myself just to feel something other than confusing depression and lethargy. 

So, who or what is the “real” me? Growing up in a religion as I did, I was taught that there is “good” and there is “bad.” There is “godliness” and there is “evil.” Naturally, I was confused as to which side I fit into.  

What if we are all a complex mix of good and evil? What if we are a mosaic, everything and nothing all at once? A matrix of all possibilities, and a new expression unfolding moment to moment. I now see the importance in the lessons we learn as children - the boundaries, the separatism, what is mine and what is yours, what is black and what is white, etc. We need to learn the parts that make the whole, just as we need to learn the various systems of human anatomy to understand basic function. However, if that is where we stop, we are missing out on the most important lesson of all...we are all one. We are whole and complete as a complex structure that is so much more than the sum of its parts. When we do not come back to wholeness - as integrated humans - we become fragmented, traumatized, delusional, and lost.  

Among the many trainings, workshops, books and conversations that have lit my fire in the past few years, learning about the Fascial System has been one of the most groundbreaking additions to my daily inquiry and fascination. I have enrolled in a myofascial yoga teacher training with Christine Wushke, and have had several moments and days that left me in a transcendental state due to the curriculum and experiences I have encountered. 

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In a nutshell, fascia refers to the connective tissue that surrounds every layer of every organ, cell, and structure in your body. It is composed of elastin (which allows the body to move in every dynamic plane possible), collagen (which provides the strength and structure of the human form), and a gel-like substance referred to as ground-substance (which is the fluid that fills all the space in the extracellular matrix; i.e. the space outside the cell). Our body is so wise, because the fascia is a wise system that works like an organ in and of itself. It has become more clear in recent years that traumatic memories, implicit memories, habits, and our general history is stored within the body. And when we address the body, rather than simply the thinking or language ability of the mind, we can heal and transform at a much more successful and efficient rate. 

The Fascial System surrounds, interweaves, and interpenetrates everything in the body and allows all body systems to be integrated. The fascial system is the membrane that everything in the body arises out of. Fascia is fibre-optic and is the pre-sensing organ, before the Nervous System. The Nervous System is embedded in the Fascia, and highjacks the entire body anytime is receives a signal of “danger” (which is far more often than necessary nowadays). The Nervous System reacts to posture, movement, thoughts, ad chemicals of our inner-pharmacy. It’s job is survival, so it is extremely sensitive and animalistic in nature.  

Biotensegrity refers to the balance of tension within the body that allows movement in one area of the body to ripple appropriately through the web-like matrix and impact every corner of the body. When the fascia is tight, it lacks healthy mobility. Overtime, if the localized tension is not released, this puts undue pressure on nerves and blood vessels, which creates adhesions in the fascia that will spread like a run in a nylon stocking, wreaking havoc on the body. When lack of mobility is sustained, the gel-like substance that fills the space between the collagen and elsatin strands hardens, making movement even more difficult and restrains the assimilation of vital nutrients and communication channels through the body. One of our vital roles in this wise human body is to keep it mobile and ensure we redistribute localized tension so that the whole body is working together, and not creating black holes in the universe of the fascial system. 


From this perspective, we can understand tension in a new way. Tension is good. Tension is necessary. If the body had no tension, we would be a pile of mush. We need tension, and what we want is for that tension to be in integrity, balanced and distributed appropriately for desired movement.

My transcedental states have been brought on by the conversation and contemplation of the embryo, and how the creation of life parallels that creation of the universe as we know it. The first 6-8 weeks of the embryo, it is composed entirely of fascia, and there is no “brain” at this point of development. A really fascinating part of embryology is the order in which organs arrive. The first on the scene? The heart. It is formed on the back and moves up and over the head to land in the chest. The brain follows that same path and lands in the head as the heart settles in the chest. The fascia folds, twists, coalesces and fuses to form the various organs, structures, and parts that make up the human form. These parts come from the same substance. The human body is born from fascia. Even our skeletal system is created from crystalized fascia. Upon relaying this information to the students in the myofascial yoga teacher training, Christine then went in the direction of describing what she finds mind-blowing. She said that if you think of the “big bang” in similar terms, you can see that before there were these separate entities of planets and solar systems, there was nothing or everything as a single entity. Then there was an immense amount of power and energy that exploded out and expanded into the birth of stars, planets, galaxies, solar systems, and energetic systems that create the Universe. We look up now and can see the many different parts, the uniqueness, the separateness, yet, it all came from the same “stuff” - just like the human body all comes from fascia. “We are all one” took on a vastly new meaning as soon as this insight sunk in.

Every decision and action and thought is connecting and folding in together to create current reality as we know it. All possibilities are there, and exist in the Quantum Field (containing all possibilities outside of linear time and space). Your current reality unfolds, solidifies, grows, and becomes a unique expression moment to moment, just as a Human Fascial System.

To take this a step further, Christine introduced me to the work of Jaap Van Der Wal, PHD, a phenomenology embryologist from Holland. I listened to a podcast he was interviewed on (The Liberated Body), and was equally touched by his words and the passion behind his words. He says,

“It is not that first the body is formed and then we start to live in it, or start to be awake or aware of it. No, I think from the very beginning on, you can see that your body is a performance, that your body is a process, that it is a lifelong performance. And the entity that is shaping that is me, and me is, not only this body, but also the shaper, the realizer, the performer.”

He goes on, 

“Your body is not producing a brain, and then your brain is producing you. No, it is reversed. You are producing from day 1 to day last, you are performing your body. It is the primary thing you do. Every morning you wake up with a new body. It is not a machine. A machine is built up from parts. A computer is built from bytes and chips, and starts to function. But that is not what you do. You are constantly performing, shaping your body. You do not have a computer in your head. It’s an organ that might function as a computer, which is a poor model and comparison. It is not a computer, it is an organ that can function as a computer...Your body is a behaviour and your brain is just an organ of it.... 

The body does not have a soul, the body is the soul...Soul and body are not separate entities or separate domains, they are one...Therefore, it is not a body producing a soul or a soul producing a body, it is constantly in dialogue between the two dimensions. So we do not have a body, we are a body. And when you are a body, you are a soul that is a body. We are one, not two. We are of course a duality, but we are a non-dual duality, or a nondual polarity.”  

What a mind-blowing concept…”the body does not have a soul, the body is the soul.” Sit with that and notice how this perspective may shift the way you show up and move your body on a daily basis.

Intrigued to learn more?? I am hosting an 8 week online program called: The Four Pillars of Stress Resiliency, and learning how to use the information about the fascial system in your daily life is Pillar #4. Check out this link and reach out if you are interested in participating ;).