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A Year of Mindfulness: 52 Weeks of Focus – Week 13

Most of our Year of Mindfulness has been focused on our thoughts, and actions we can take to be more mindful of them. Last week we focused on the physical body with walking and this week we’ll focus on posture

Posture is important for our health, as good posture can prevent potential injuries and strengthen our bones, joints and muscles. It also says a lot about how we feel about ourselves. Standing or sitting with shoulders down and back, head high and a straight spine indicates our willingness to participate fully in the world, whereas a slouched posture indicates withdrawal or insecurity. Unfortunately, the problem lies in our ability to consistently remain mindful of the way in which we are holding our bodies.

Interestingly enough, a year or so ago when I was still doing yoga, both my husband and my dad commented independently on the fact that my posture was much improved since I started doing yoga. I hadn’t noticed a difference. I felt better in all kinds of other ways, but hadn’t noticed my own posture. I’ve always had the tendency to slouch or round my shoulders. Apparently I walk funny too: In college, a friend mentioned that she could tell it was me from all the way across campus in the dim light, just from the way I walk.

The chiropractor's clicky thing

The chiropractor's clicky thing

As a kid, I spent a lot of time at the chiropractor getting adjustments. My parents went too. I remember getting x-rays and being told that I had mild scoliosis, a curvature of the spine. I also remember this weird contraption that the chiropractor would use that made this clicking noise. He held it above the back and then moved his fingers around in it in a circular manner, dipping his fingers in a talc-like powder from time to time. I think it was supposed to sense the areas of pain or something. Funny, all these years later I remember that is was called “The Toftness Technique.” Sure enough:

Developed by I. N. Toftness over 50 years ago, the Toftness System is a low-force technique practiced by thousands of chiropractors the world over. It is one of the oldest and most researched techniques in the chiropractic profession. The basic theory of the Toftness System is that the nervous system has an electromagnetic energy associated with normal function. When the nervous system is not functioning normally  as when there is a subluxation  the electromagnetic energy is also abnormal. 

The basic theory of the Toftness System is that the nervous system has an electromagnetic energy associated with normal function. When the nervous system is not functioning normally  as when there is a subluxation  the electromagnetic energy is also abnormal. …

The ArthroStim is an FDA approved instrument developed by IMPAC technology in Oregon. It has been continuously refined and perfected over its 22-year history. It introduces energy/force/information to the body to realign segments and remove nerve pressure at a speed of 12 “taps” per second (12 hertz); it is a fast, accurate, low force and controlled adjustment. The ArthroStim gives patients a very specific adjustment, meaning that only the segment that is out of position is adjusted; there is no twisting, turning or “cracking” of joints. This technique permits adjusting in different postures.

Aa-ha! Apparently the Toftness Radiation Detector, or Sensometer has since been debunked as ‘hocus-pocus. The “ArthroStim” must be the stick that I remember, which felt like somebody pushing on a pressure point very hard with their finger. Huh. This explains a lot. Including why my parents took me there. Maybe it was just the scam of the year, like multi-level marketing and picnic table plans. I don’t remember my back or the chiropractic sessions causing any major problems, in fact they felt good, but the scoliosis diagnosis did kind of freak me out as somewhere in those years I read Judy Blume’s Deenie, about the girl who had to wear a social-pariah-inducing back brace to school.

As I gained weight as an adult, I begin to have occasional lower back issues that plagued me throughout my late twenties and early thirties, popping up now and then in excruciating detail. Over the years, I subjected myself to various chiropractic techniques, and finally, acupuncture (ouch!), none of which really seemed to give me any lasting relief. Thankfully, the pain would eventually subside on its own. (To be fair, I have since had acupuncture with a different practitioner for other issues, and found it very relaxing and rewarding. Also, I don’t have anything against chiropractic as a whole—it can feel really good and give temporary relief, and I know there are many different techniques. I’m not, however, convinced that it has any long-term effect on back issues like mine.)

Ultimately, I found a cure to my recurring back issues: keep those extra pounds off. No doctor ever thought to mention to me that the weight I was carrying around my stomach and thighs was putting lots of extra pressure on that turned hip and curved spine. Duh! Since losing 35ish pounds slowly over the last 10 years or so, and more rapidly since going vegan a few years ago, I have had few lower back issues. None at all in the last 6 years or so.

But back, no pun intended, to posture, and to yoga. Apparently yoga helped me to straighten up, literally. And with the time I log in front of the laptop, I wondered if my slouch has returned over the last year. Yet another reason to find yoga again somewhere in this town that feels right and is affordable.

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