Old preconceptions Vs something new

My parents were both public school teachers. My mom, dad and older sister each have masters degrees (my sister has two). Education has always been a big part of my life. When I wanted to learn martial arts, I studied internal and external, soft and hard styles so as to get a well rounded experience. I have a 16 year background in several schools of massage and bodywork. in 2014 I ventured into functional neurology to facilitate my work. I have had to stay mentally flexible to grasp some complex perspective shifting paradigms I didn’t know I would come across. I have put myself in challenging learning environments where I felt less than smart on many occasions. Happily, I have found answers to many of my questions. I know from experience that you must risk not knowing something to learn. Some of the techniques I use in my practice are based on cutting edge evidenced based research. I apply novel approaches to resolving dysfunction in every session. What I do is a culmination of science and intuition tempered by clinical experience. I use neurological receptor work, autonomic work and manual structural work that most people have not seen in practice. The effect can be dramatic and people refer to it as magic because their former therapists or doctors don’t know this work. Clients playfully call it magic or Voodoo because they don’t understand why they feel better all of a sudden. The only time it is an obstacle is when new clients second guess experiential data because it doesn’t align with what they know.  Some people need to make sense of  all things new and phenomenal. It can be unbelievable that things can change in an instant and that there is hope when no one else could help them. They don’t believe the speed of changes in the nervous system because they don’t have experience working with the nervous system. They believe that progress has to be difficult, deep or painful because that is their reality and their experience of trying to change things. Some people become skeptical and are left cynical by the lengthy process of maintaining hope. Some people can’t conceptualize the therapeutic value of something they don’t understand.  Some people see the “magical” neurological changes and and return for more work but some people simply don’t know what to make of how the changes came about and they don’t come back. These folks can’t ever articulate why they don’t want to come back in follow up correspondence. They don’t know why they have these issues and don’t know if I can help but also don’t know why they don’t want to give something new a chance. Some people need to decide if feeling better is more important than understanding what is wrong.

Chronic dysfunction is traumatic

For some people, learning something different to what they have been told is overwhelming. It is easy to overwhelm some folks unbeknownst to them (yes you- the one denying it is true for you). This directly relates to the lack of stability of their prognosis. Stagnant and uncertain diagnoses made by the doctors, PT’s and or any other forms of therapeutic treatment undermine a hopeful outcome when year after year, they don’t tell you what is wrong. Overwhelm is a source as well a product of autonomic distress and a hallmark of chronic musculoskeletal dysfunction. The cumulative affects of years of uncertainty on the psyche are obvious to the trained eye. Chronic pain or idiopathic discomfort over a long time can be traumatic. Life is an isolated existence for people living with an unrelenting pain that is illogical.  It is easy to feel unfairly persecuted. Dissociation is a common coping strategy whereby we learn to ignore certain uncomfortable feelings.  Prolonged use of this defense mechanism can make us lose our connection to our whole as we fragment parts of our reality and way we experience the physical.  Dissociation is compounded with the coexisting muscle inhibition and hyperfacilitation patterns that simultaneously compress and destabilize the joints. Chronic stress, fatigue, neurological disorganization and compensation patterns in the body make it hard to understand what is going on in your own body. A chronic sufferer’s “normal” is not normal. Some otherwise self aware people aren’t ready to change the one thing in their way. They often choose not to believe that they need to do any self examining in order to learn. Some people are willing to change and just don’t know how they are delaying their progress.  The unfortunate spill over that this neurological overload creates even affects our attitudes and beliefs negatively.


Are you intellectual or Neurotic?


At times I have a drive to learn that only slows down when I find specific answers. I was raised by educators. I believe that I am an intellectual. I try to answer all questions about what I can do or what I am doing in a session but some people want to gain an intellectual understanding instead of a kinesthetic one which isn’t fair to anyone involved. Unfortunately, some people get frustrated  before they can actually understand the mechanism behind the work. They don’t give it a chance. In a world that places intellect over feelings, sometimes just feeling better isn’t enough. Some people understand how complex their issues must be and are OK not fully knowing what is going on. Then there are the people who want to instantly understand concepts that took me years to grasp. I often wonder if people think i can’t possibly be as smart as I claim. I don’t know what they think I have to gain by being dishonest. I wouldn’t still be in business if I was. Some people have an aggressive yet nervous questioning approach because of the uncertainty and confusion around the pain in their life. I often experience people firing off questions until they run out of things to say. They can seem lost and don’t know how to “hand themselves over” without questioning each step of treatment. I feel bad and want to help but I can only help those who want my help. In an attempt to understand why people in need who would potentially benefit from but be put off  by novel forms of treatment they simply don’t understand, I did some research. I only wanted to overcome my limitations in explaining concepts and uncovered the plight of great minds in education.  I found some compelling answers about how we learn as adults, how we limit ourselves and why you should try something new.

Teach or Die / You can lead a horse to water…

Pedagogy is the discipline that deals with the theory and practice of education. It concerns the study and practice of how best to teach. Andragogy is the theory and practice of education of adults. It arose from the practice of pedagogy to address the specific needs in the education of adults as opposed to the education of children. The term has been used by some to contrast between self-directed and ‘taught’ education. Many adults don’t venture out and learn new things unless life demands it. Most stay in some sort of comfort zone unless forced to try a new career.


Seven Principles of Adult Learning:

Adults must want to learn. They learn effectively only when they are free to direct their own learning and have a strong inner motivation to develop a new skill or acquire a particular type of knowledge.

Adults will learn only what they feel they need to learn Adults are practical in their approach to learning. They want to know, “How is this going to help me right now? – Is it relevant (Content, Connection and Application).”

Adults learn by doing Children learn by doing, but active participation is more important among adults.

Adult learning focuses on problems and the problems must be realistic. Children learn skills sequentially. Adults start with a problem and then work to find a solution.

Experience affects adult learning Adults have more experience than children. This can be an asset and a liability.

Adults learn best in an informal situation Children have to follow a curriculum. Often, adults learn by taking responsibility by the value and need of content they require to understand and the particular goals it will achieve. Being in an inviting environment and having roles as an active participant in the learning process makes it efficient.

Adults want guidance Adults want information that will help them improve their situation or that of their children. They do not want to be told what to do. They want to choose options based on their individual needs.

Transformative Learning

Transformative learning theory focuses upon the often-necessary change that is required in a learner’s preconceptions and world view.  A defining condition of being human is that we have to understand the meaning of our experience. For some, any uncritically assimilated explanation by an authority figure will suffice. But in contemporary societies we learn to make our own interpretations rather than others. Because of this, transformative learning, occurs infrequently. While the learning process is rational on some levels, it is also a profound experience often described as a spiritual or emotional transformation as well. The experience of undoing racist, sexist, and other oppressive attitudes can be painful and emotional, as these attitudes have often been developed as ways to cope with and make sense of the world. This type of learning requires taking risks, and a willingness to be vulnerable and have one’s attitudes and assumptions challenged.


Transfer of learning

Transfer of learning is the idea that what one learns in school somehow carries over to situations different from that particular time and that particular setting. Transfer is extremely important for learning but it is a rarely occurring phenomenon. In an experiment, the subjects estimate the size of a specific shape then scientists would switch the shape. They found that the prior information did not help the subjects; instead it impeded their learning. Many people are more influenced by the surface of a structure than they know. In reality, the surface is unimportant. Nonetheless, people are concerned with it because they believe that it will give them background knowledge on how to do the problem. Consequently, this interferes with people’s understanding of the deep structure of the problem. Even if somebody is trying to concentrate on the deep structure, learning may be unsuccessful because the deep structure is not usually very obvious. Therefore, surface structure gets in the way of people’s ability to see the deep structure of the problem and use prior knowledge to come up with a solution to a new problem.

Empty your cup

An old Kung fu proverb says you must empty your cup before you can refill it. Kung fu masters of old knew that when a new student was coming to learn from them, it was easier if they hadn’t learned from anyone else. The understanding was that a student will often join a class with biases and bad habits learned from another teacher that will impede their learning a new skill. My Taoist martial arts teacher Wai Lam told me quite literally “Empty your cup?! That’s stupid!”  He took his right hand that was presenting the bowl put it behind his back and produced an empty bowl in his left hand from behind him. This gesture metaphorically explained the depth and possibility of the human condition. I am [almost] always open to learning something new that will benefit me in addition to what I already know, not in spite of what I already know.


Cognitive Dissonance

Cognitive dissonance is the feeling of uncomfortable tension which comes from holding two conflicting thoughts in the mind at the same time.

Dissonance increases with:

  • The importance of the subject to us.
  • How strongly the dissonant thoughts conflict.
  • Our inability to rationalize and explain away the conflict.


Learning = Death!

Studies suggest that the stages of grief and loss  exemplify the basic process of integrating new information that conflicts with previous beliefs. This means that there is an inherent loss (of power ie intelligence, certainty, control…) when learning something new. One must be open to letting go and it just may be out of their current realm of possibilities. There are plenty of reasons we don’t heal. Don’t let an opportunity go because you aren’t in control. You aren’t in control anyway. Keep hope alive that someone somewhere can help you. I have been that person for many former hopeless clients and I have a higher success rate than in the past. The proof is in the Put-in. I expect people to put in light work when I put in work. You need to awaken your own body awareness and learn to listen to yourself in a new way that will serve you. You can feed some on a meal but if you can teach someone to fish they can feed themselves for a lifetime. Most of my clients hardly ever come in anymore but it’s not because they don’t get it. They completely get it and don’t need my help. They are self aware and stable enough to know when something is off. When needed, we put out small fires instead of raging inferno’s. These are the people send their family, friends and loved ones in to find peace and try something new.

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