Thursday, June 2, 2011

Half A Smile

I looked in the mirror a few days ago and was startled. I was smiling with both sides of my face. Now this may not seem much of anything except the day before I had only been smiling with the left side of my face. What happened?

There was an event that generated the physical change, but the realization that only half of me had been able to smile for I'm not quite sure how long caught me off-guard. Only my left side, my female side, had the freedom to smile. The muscle and sinew of the right side of my face was locked, gritting its way through life and turning the simple act of smiling into a chore. The same right side that was subject to sinus pressure, toothaches, earaches and eye strain over the last few years. My right side, which holds my liver and gall bladder, the seats of anger and frustration. And lately, I have been particularly angry. So what brought about the change?

Photo by Shawn Keagy
When I purchased my latest yoga class card at the wellness center I adore, I was given a complimentary cranial-sacral therapy session. A gift of healing had arrived. I have looked into cranial-sacral therapy in the past as a complement to the non-force chiropractic work I get every few months. Cranial-sacral therapy addresses the cerebral and spinal fluid in which the brain and spinal cord float, and the fascia, the connective tissue that surrounds muscles and holds other parts of the body together. Using touch, a cranial-sacral practitioner helps your body to remove blockages to allow for better communication and as a result, healing. I found the session to be a cross between the light touch and structural alignment of non-force chiropractic work (no snapping or cracking), and the deep relaxation induced by massage.

Before the session, I picked up the Angel cards that were sitting on the waiting room table. From the deck I selected a card that said, “Time to let your past go.” Uh-huh. That would work very well as a theme for the session. There was a lot of grief about the past in the anger that had been rising to the surface recently, and it wanted to be seen, acknowledged and let go. I repeated the words “let go” as a mantra while Lucien, the practitioner who facilitated my healing, worked on my body. I wanted to encourage all the cobwebs of tension that were no longer useful—not in the present tense of my life—to exit. What I didn't expect was to get my smile back. But I did.

My face looks different. I think I look younger, like the girl I remember before I started carrying the world on my right side like a warrior. And when I try to remember that girl, I have to reach back, way back to a picture of a toddler in a high chair with a grin as wide as the ear of corn she is eating. Before I began connecting with others by offering my help rather than just by being me. Was it possible to retrieve the freedom to be myself by retrieving my smile?

Since my cranial-sacral session, I have noticed a difference in my ability to weather the bumps in the road as they come along. Over the weekend, I found myself dancing in the surf with my daughter on a day too cold for most grown-ups to enter the water, and I really enjoyed it. It was not my usual mode of experiencing the joy via my daughter's smiles and giggles (which are pretty wonderful, by the way) but jumping and dancing in the surf for the simple pleasure it gave me. And these healing modalities just release physical tension, right?

Looking at my new, old smile, what startles me is how the physical limitations of my face were limiting my expression and not just my ability to smile. Research supports that the simple act of smiling can change your mood. What if over time the pressure in my life made it physically difficult for me to smile? And if it was difficult to shape my face into a smile, was that limitation in range of motion limiting my ability to experience humor and joy—limiting my ability to laugh at myself and to let things roll off my shoulders?

When I smile now, I see two definitive dimples. I feel my right ear rise up just a bit to match my left. And I breathe in, deeply. Lucien says that there is room for more release. A bigger smile? I'll take it.

1 comment:

  1. I thought you looked different today! Now i know why. Welcome back (in a way), and what a great entry into the world of blogging!