I originally established this blog because I was interested in documenting my exploration of bodymind phenomena, my self and my own body.  I’ve been interested in body awareness, meditation, and physical health for many years now, and when I set up the blog, I thought that this would be my focus.  Sadly I find that I spend most of my time now working on a computer, and although I’ve been really enjoying both my work and the the exploration of elearning, net-label music, and mixing, it does mean that I spend very little time focussing on myself and what I need, in direct contrast to my life when I started my training as a massage therapist.

In recent times my life has been incredibly mentally focussed (apart from our recent trip to Mt Cook – our belated honeymoon).  I now find that I spend a lot of time in “headspace”.  I had an experience the other day of walking home after work.  My head was still buzzing with the events of the day (which had been quite stressful).  I started meditating, and instantly dropped back into the full kinesthetic experience of the present moment.  I noticed the warm sun on my skin, the slight breeze, the beautiful plants in front of me, and felt my body walking up the stairs.  It’s amazing sometimes how we can walk through the world caught up in our heads, and not notice the wonder that’s all around us.  However it wasn’t too much further along the walk home that I noticed myself back in my head turning over the events of the day again.

…and I’m feeling a bit dissatisfied with this situation.  I enjoy my life much more when it is in balance.

Back in 1999, I was spending up to 3 hours per day meditating.  This might seem like a lot of time, but the benefits definitely outweighed the cost to me.  Much of the time, I had an intensely rich experience of the moment, in which I felt unconditional love for the present moment, myself and the people around me.  This unconditional love radiated from the core of my being to connect me with everyone and everything around me.  I have never experienced so much joy, and fulfillment as I did at that time.  When I remembered this feeling years later, the realisation of what I’d lost brought tears to my eyes.

I’ve recently started meditating semi-regularly, and have started to tap into this again (although only for short periods of time).  I’m loving it, but this puts me in a space of intense polarity.  When I’m meditating (sitting or walking) I often feel this rich connection to myself, to the moment, and the peace and love that’s associated with this experience, but this is in stark contrast to my (more regular) experience.  My working life at the moment is intense I have far too much to get done over the next month, and there are new demands arising with almost every day.  My experience of this (the dominant) aspect of my life is pressure, and stress, and quite frankly I’m over it.

I’ve recently figured out what I think is a solution to the problem.  Over the next 3-4 years I plan to gradually transition my work-life to 50% programme coordination at Otago Poly and 50% private practice.  I haven’t completely decided on what I want to focus on in my practice.  I’m really enjoying working with myofascial release, and psycho-emotional body-work, so I might find a counsellor or psychotherapist to work with.  I’d like to experiment with the Bowen technique, and lymphatic drainage.  I definitely want to run meditation & stress management classes. I also figure that once my practice builds up a bit I should be able to focus on my climbing again.

I’ve blogged before about how I’ve been really getting into the CC music out there on the many netlabels that are sprinkled throughout the web, but I’ve also been getting into some mixing.

A friend of mine has a party at Easter every year, and I’m thinking about playing some music for it, but I am aware that I really need to practice my mixing skills.

Here’s a snapshot of where I’m at currently – Chill house.

Pretty basic mixing, and some of the mixes are less than perfect, but most of them are alright.  House is definitely much easier to mix than breaks, which is another style of dance music that I’m a fan of, so I’ve got some way to go before I’ll be happy playing in front of people, but I’ve got a few months….

Time | Artist – Track name | Album

0:00 | 6884 – This is supposed to be an intro | Here, maybe EP

2:24 | Deymar – Santiago | 20

9:53 | Angel Galan – Computer fun (deep mix) | Fun Computer

14:12 | Zuat-zu – Nove | 999

16:56 | Vincent Casanova – Take me beyond (Paul Keely remix) | Their finest hours vol 3 (Phlow-magazine.com)

23:15 | Breitbandkeiter – More | More EP

28:13 | Niwa – When she looked at me (I saw her wondering) | Netbloc vol. 16: Sweet sixteen

An interesting discussion on the subject.

Breakbeat merging into hill billy guitar, opera mixed with experimental ambient guitar, theme park music transitioning into glitch? Djet is back.

Russia’s grand master of audio collage, Alex Lisovsky a.k.a. Djet is back with his latest album of luscious deep ambience wonderfully mashed together with anything from classical music to 80’s electro disco to experimental guitar music. I was a fan of his last album, Nightline, but the progresssion in Livosky’s new release is plain to see.

While this is definitely not easy listening, being mostly fairly bleak, and often very intense or harsh, Livosky’s multi-layered compositions truly take you on an emersive journey. The music is at times reminiscent of early Skylab, or the Future sound of London although Djet’s style is definitely his own. The thing that makes Djet special is his meticulously crafted transitions between often radically different styles of music. Those who appreciate innovation and progressive music should have a listen. Don your headphones, shut your eyes & drink it in.

The one thing I would say against the album is that the mood is fairly bleak. Some of the album is a bit too warped and dark for my liking such as Soap Opera or Muddy Muse, but those who aren’t averse to a bid of the dark-side, will enjoy his creations here.

The album is really best listened to in it’s entirety, but if I was to pick out individual tracks, my favourites would be Belledance, Aloe, Dusty dreams and Southeast waltz.

Downloads

Heidi & I have just had the first holiday within 8 years with no kids.  🙂

Last Friday we ended up leaving Dunedin a bit later than we had planned, and got on the road just before 11am.  We drove fairly directly up to Unwin hut, just 2 km before Mt Cook village.

We got in about 4pm, and by the time we’d dropped off our stuff & quickly visited Mt Cook village for a weather forecast from the guides.  We then headed over to the Zurbriggen boulders.  To get to it you need to drive to the Wyn Irwin hut campground, then walk for a couple of minutes along the track.  About half-way to the memorial 50m or so to the left of the track is a large boulder with varied climbing & soft landings.  The back side is easy to walk off, or a good introduction to the rock for beginner climbers.  I would have loved to play around there a bit more, but I was feeling the need for some dinner, and I hadn’t cut my toenails, so wasn’t keen to wear my climbing shoes for long.

We went to bed early, and got up at 6am.  We were up at Sevastapol bluffs by 7:30am.  What a day.  We started by climbing The Red Arete, a 2-pitch climb graded at either 15/14, or 13/13 depending on the guidebook.  I’d probably agree with the first of the two options mainly because the height of the first bolt was ridiculously high.  Rock deluxe gives the second pitch 3 stars, and It definitely deserves it’s starred rating.  It was pretty cool climbing on nice rock, with long pitches.  Even though none of the moves on the Red Arete are difficult at all, and though there are heaps of holds, the variety in the angles of the rock mean that you need to keep thinking about how you are going to use them.  It’s a great intro to climbing in the area.

Our next climb was a three-pitch number on the same face.  After a short period of waiting for some other climbers to finish off on the route we wanted to do, I headed up the first pitch of Shark Attack (15).  This started off pretty easy, but kept me thinking especially in the second half.  The entire pitch was 50m in length which was easily the longest single pitch I’ve ever done.  The entire rope was hanging off me by the top, creating a fair bit of drag which was interesting.

Belay ledge, Pitch 2, Shark Attack

Belay ledge, Pitch 2, Shark Attack

Heidi - pitch 2 Shark attack

Here’s me and Heidi at the top of the first pitch (Heidi’s looking up at me, and I’m looking down at her).  Unfortunately it looks as if Heidi’s standing on the ground.  She’s not, she’s actually 50m off the ground on the a ledge.

The next bit of the climb was a scramble left up a vegetated ledge to a higher ledge and the belay point for the start of Mako.  After getting sorted out at the belay station, Heidi headed off up the rock with the rope on her back.  I could see she was struggling with the climb at times, but she flashed it (led it without a rest, or a fall).

This was my view at that stage.

Pitch 2 Mako

Pitch 2 Mako

I followed Heidi up, and by the time I’d gotten up past the bush on the right, I was feeling pretty impressed that Heidi had managed to lead the climb with a rope on her back.  This was only 1/3 of the way up the route, and it didn’t get any easier.  By the time I reached the top, I was shattered both physically and psychologically.  According to our guidebook this pitch was a grade 16 which normally should be well within my capabilities (when we got down off the climb and had another look at our guidebooks we realised that the other guidebook graded it at grade 18 which fits a bit more with our experience).  I was thinking ahead to the next pitch, also a 16 which it was my turn to lead.  I didn’t think I was up to another climb of similar difficulty, especially because my shoes were killing me.  Luckily Heidi had been up here before, and she convinced me that the climbing was easier going ahead.  Soon enough I found myself climbing up the final pitch of Mako (actually grade 15).  She was right.  It was much easier, and I didn’t have too much trouble finding my route up the rockface.  The climbing was nice and varied, overlaps with nice incut holds, traverses, and interesting moves, but nothing that was really difficult.  I topped out, belayed Heidi up, and it was time to rapell back down the face.

Rapell down

Rapell down

The rapell took ages, particularly because we were both so tired.  We finally got back to Unwin hut about 6:30pm after a day of climbing solidly for 11 hours or so. What a day!

I almost couldn’t be bothered with dinner.  Instead I lay down on one of the bunk beds and just vegetated for 20 minutes or so until I had enough energy to sort out some kai.  We went to bed pretty early again.

On Sunday neither of us really felt like climbing (our toes were too sore for one thing), so we ended up walking up to the Red tarns, which was a nice little slog up steps for 40 minutes or so up to a lake with a fantastic view of Mt Cook.

Red tarns

Red tarns

All too soon it was time to head back to Dunedin, but we stopped in to check out the Pukaki boulders on the way (although my feet were still too painful to wear Heidi Pukaki

Heidi Pukaki

my shoes).  It was fantastic trip.  We both returned feeling much more enthusiastic about life, the universe and everything.

Pukaki boulders

Pukaki boulders

I’ve been spending a bit of time lately on line checking out music released under creative commons licenses.  From time to time I come across DJ mixes of material that’s clearly copyrighted.  Tonight I came across Mixupload.com, which is a pretty good example of this.  Over 4000 house music mixes, with perhaps another 3000 mixes in other styles, much of it including clearly copyrighted material.

Got me wondering – surely this is illegal?  So I had a look around.

Tim Lee’s commentary – More on DJs, Mix Tapes, and Copyright Law provides a pretty good discussion on the matter.

In a nutshell, the situation seems to be that although mixtapes are illegal, many people believe they act as promotion for the artists, and therefore free advertising.  In general creators of mixtapes are not prosecuted presumably for this reason, but in some cases they may be.

What I wonder is in this time of digital technology why would anyone bother actually buying the original?  I’ve downloaded mixes before (assuming that because it was coming from a reputable source that it would be kosher), and have found it not very difficult at all to strip out the individual tracks that I like and throw away the rest thanks to Audacity.  I’m personally not sure the free advertising argument stacks up.

I think I’ll stick to music from the creative commons.  Leigh Blackall just put me onto CCMixter.  That’ll do me.

Over the last 9 years or so, I’ve regularly practised a meditation technique that’s a derivative of Transcendentatl Meditation, at times spending up to 3-4 hours per day meditating. You could say I have some experience of meditation using this method.

The meditation techniques are taught by a group of monks – the Ishayas, and they promote the idea that only someone who is a monk should teach these techniques.  One of the rationales for this restriction is that they are able to provide some kind of mystical connection with the brotherhood of monks through the puja ceremony which is believed to potentiate the techniques.

Training in the techniques occurs through First sphere workshops which are facilitated by the Ishayas.  These workshops run over a weekend, and typically cost in the realm of $495 in New Zealand.  These funds go towards supporting the Ishaya’s organisation of teachers.

This year I’ve been involved in teaching my students about Stress management, including a range of stress management techniques including breath retraining, progressive muscle relaxation and meditation.  At some stage this process led me to reconsider these externally imposed limitations.  Essentially I believe that I have the experience necessary to teach these techniques, and I have no faith in the idea that the techniques will only be effective if the practitioner is connected with the gurus.  I also lack faith in some other dogmatic aspects of the philosophy associated with the techniques, although I find the techniques in themselves highly effective.

In essence the techniques are just a series of thoughts.  How can a group of people claim to have the rights to a series of thoughts?

It’s been interesting observing my fears around this – Am I doing the right thing?, etc..  I guess long-held beliefs take some time to die.  Despite my internal struggles, I recently taught my current students these techniques, and it seems that some have experienced them as being quite beneficial.

I’ve also recently posted a page of instructions to WikiEducator for the techniques.  It’ll be interesting to see if I get flamed for this.

The New Zealand government is in the process of discussing measures to strengthen the existing copyright laws.  They are collaborating with other countries including Australia, Canada, the European Union, Japan, Korea, Mexico, Morocco, Singapore, Switzerland, United Arab Emirates and the United States on the Anti-counterfitting Trade Agreement.  Based on reports on the Ministry of Economic Development’s website, It appears that all countries involved in the discussions have agreed to the premises of the agreement, and are working towards implementation.  While domestic consultation is said to be part of the process, this is the first I have heard of it.
While on the surface this may seem a good idea, the terms of the actual agreement appears to threaten the openness of the internet in New Zealand.  Mark Harris’s submission covers the main concerns which many have with this act.  Colin Jackson believes that the implementation of this act could lead to ISPs filtering content from sites such as Youtube, and blocking incrypted services such as Skype.

Is it too late to do anything about this?  Officially submissions on this act have been closed since July 28, 2008, and the government does seem to have made it’s decision.

Pam McKinlay has recommended sending a letter to George.Wardle@med.govt.nz stating either your support of someone else’s submission or writing your own.  I’ve recently sent the following email

Subject: ACTA

I’m writing to add my support to Mark Harris’ submission
I know that this is past the date for acceptance of further submissions, but to be fair many people who are interested in net neutrality and associated matters were not informed of the act, or invited to put their submissions to the act.
For this reason I believe that the consultation which has occurred around this act has been insufficient, and continuing to progress down the path which the government seems committed to is unethical without further in-depth consultation with all stakeholders.
Regards,

60 minutes of music designed for massage
Mixed by David McQuillan

This mix starts with some fairly upbeat music, then eases into deep ambience before picking up the tempo again, all over a 60 minute period.  It’s designed to match the psycho-emotional state of your client during a one hour relaxation massage. This is the first of many albums of this nature.

The mix kicks of with Delphzac’s mellow & funky Communique, before drifting off into the depths of dub with Astoe.  Nest’s Charlotte continues to take us deeper as piano drifts over luscious ambience. Deep meditative bells are followed by Winds within dunes, E-ritual’s wonderful track.  A  Rainy morning leads to a diving trip under the water.  Rupert Falsch from Germany finally picks us up and brings us back to shore with Fehlerengel. (keindesign_raum).  Then Crisposa really begins to rouse our client with the sparkling, lifting strains of Algo Cian.  By the time Modul’s playing something a little more upbeat, you’ll probably be leaving your client to get up off the table and get back to their day.

The recording is released under the creative commons attribution license 3.0.  This means that you’re free to copy it and distribute it as much as you want as long as you give attribution to me.

Downloads

I’ve come across some interesting research recently which illustrates some of the relationships between the connective tissue (or fascia) and the energetic transport systems of the body (namely the acupuncture meridians and the chakra system).

Acupuncture meridians

Langevin & Yandow found that most acupuncture points and meridians are located in areas where planes of fascia merge together (Langevin & Yandow, 2002).  Stimulation of acupuncture points should therefore create a stimulus which is propagated through multiple fascial planes.  Given the importance that many massage therapists are giving to fascial release work these days, working on and around the acupuncture points could be expected to provide maximal effect.

Measurement of the electrical conductance of acupuncture points has typically shown conductance of 10 to 100 times more than the surrounding skin.  It’s also been shown that acupuncture meridians are able to propagate electricity (Tiller, 1973; Reichmannis et al, 1976; Becker, 1990 as cited in Ho & Knight, 2008).


So how does this electrical conduction occur?


Sasaki found that collagen fibres bind water to them in particular forms (1984 as cited in Ho & Knight, 2008).

Collagen fibres

This “bound water” is then able to conduct electrical charge (Sasaki, 1984 as cited in Ho & Knight, 2008). It has been estimated that conductivity in the direction of the fibre must be at least one hundred times that of conduction across the fibre (Pethig, 1996 as cited in Ho & Knight, 2008). Conductivity increases with the water content of the collagen (Ho & Knight, 2008). Collagen aligns with lines of stress in the body, which typically run within the same planes as the acupuncture lines, so it is not improbable to suppose that the energy of acupuncture is conducted along lines run through collagen fibres.

How can one explain the increased conductivity of acupuncture points when compared to other points along the meridian?

Ho and Knight have suggested that…..

“acupuncture points typically exhibit low electrical resistances compared with the surrounding skin, and may therefore correspond to singularities or gaps between collagen fibres, or where collagen fibres are oriented at right angles to the dermal layer”  (2008).

Energetic anatomy of the chakra system

Interestingly, this is exactly what we would expect based on modern and traditional understandings of the chakra system and the acupuncture system.   Both chakras and acupuncture points are believed to act as energetic wheels or vortices which receive energy from the external environment.  Acupuncture points are held to have a similar structure to chakras, but to be smaller in size.  This energy is then said to be propagated through internal channels within the body.  The image to the right illustrates the energetic anatomy of the chakra system as described by Barbara Brennan (1993), and many other authorities.  Notice how the second suggestion of Ho and Knight (2008) is very consistent with this depiction of energetic anatomy.

Energy and connective tissue

Fascia has a liquid-crystalline structure (Ho et al, 1996; Ho, 1997a as cited in Ho & Knight, 2008).  In a liquid crystal the structure is fluid, but all of the molecules are aligned in relation to each other by bio-molecular forces.  One of the interesting properties of liquid crystals is that a range of forces can lead to changes in the orientation of molecules or phase changes.  When a liquid crystal changes from one phase to another, the level of order in the crystal increases or decreases, implying that the level of energy stored in the crystal also changes.

Mechanical force applied to the connective tissue has been shown to produce a piezo-electric effect (Turchaninov, 2001).  In a massage context, compression or shear forces are transduced into electrical energy.  This electric energy should be able to travel along collagenous meridians.  The converse is also true.  Electrical energy when applied to connective tissue can be transduced into mechanical energy, or changes in the orientation of molecules within the liquid crystal (Turchaninov, 2001).

Other forces that influence the structure of the connective tissue and therefore lead to similar energetic changes are electro-magnetic fields, temperature and hydration (Ho & Knight, 2008).

The issues are in the tissues

One thing that bodyworkers have been noticing with the rapid rise of myofascial techniques is that these techniques are much more likely to stimulate somato-emotional releases than traditional massage techniques.  Ho and Knight have noted that “the [liquid-crystal] network will retain tissue memory of previous experiences” (2008).  This is again consistent with the relationship that appears to exist between the energetic system and the fascia.  Both chakras and acupuncture meridians are believed to be related holistically to physical health, but also emotional, mental and spiritual wellbeing (Judith, 1999; Brennan, 1993; Lori-ellen Grant, personal communication September 28, 2008).

Upper-crossed syndrome

Upper-crossed syndrome

A lack of comfort with feeling or expressing a particular type of energy is thought to cause a chakra to constrict, whereas addiction to a particular form of experience may cause a chakra to become locked open (Judith, 1999). This constriction or open-ness is likely to be represented in the connective tissue, and therefore in the posture of the body.  We might expect for example in the case of someone who presents with upper-crossed syndrome to have a fascial constriction in the area of the anterior solar plexus chakra, and for this constriction to be associated on a psycho-emotional level with disempowerment in some form.

A model for somatic bodywork

If we are are comfortable with the assumption that the evidence described here is adequate support for the existence of the acupuncture and chakra system, then it seems reasonable to use the accumulated knowledge of these systems as a conceptual model for somatic bodywork.  It is recommended that anyone who is interested in exploring these ideas further undergoes further study.  Anodea Judith’s classic text Wheels of Life (1999) is recommended as are Barbara Brennan’s Hands of Light and Light Emerging (1993).  A brief summary of some of the relationships as described by Judith (1999) is illustrated in the following table.

Chakra somatics

Chakra somatics


Further study

Chakras and the endocrine system, Timothy Pope

The Acupuncture System and The Liquid Crystalline Collagen Fibres of the Connective Tissues, Mae-Wan Ho & David Knight


References

Acupuncture meridians (2008). Retrieved September 21, 2008 from http://www.alltogetherhealth.com/Acupuncture/acupuncture.htm

Brennan, B. (1993). Light emerging – the journey of personal healing. NY, USA: Bantam Books.

Pope, T (2004). Chakras and the endocrine system . Retrieved September 21, 2008 from http://www.healingfromtheheart.co.uk/69701.html
Collagen fibers (2008). Retrieved September 22, 2008 from http://neuromedia.neurobio.ucla.edu/campbell/connective_tissue/wp_images/4_fibers.gif
Energetic anatomy of the chakra system (2008).  Retrieved September 21, 2008 from http://www.librarising.com/esoterica/chakras.html
Ho, M., Knight, D. (2008). The Acupuncture System and The Liquid Crystalline Collagen Fibres of the Connective Tissues . Retrieved September 21, 2008 from http://www.i-sis.org.uk/lcm.php
Judith, A. (1999). Wheels of life – a user’s guide to the chakra system (2nd ed.). MN, USA: Llewellyn Publications.
Langevin, H., Yandow, J. (2002). Relationship of acupuncture points and meridians to connective tissue planes. Anat Rec. 269,257-265.
Langevin, H, Churchill, D., Wu, J., Badger, G., Yandow, J., Fox, J., Krag, M. (2002). Evidence of connective tissue involvement in acupuncture.  Journal of the federation of American societies for experimental biology 2002 (16), 872-874.  Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://www.fasebj.org/cgi/content/full/16/8/872
Turchaninov, R. (2001). Research and massage therapy – part 2. Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://www.massagetherapy.com/articles/index.php/article_id/236
Upper-crossed syndrome (2008). Retrieved September 30, 2008 from http://www.watertownchiropractic.com/Upper%20Crossed%20Syndrome.gif