Causes of chronic pain and stiffness.
The essence of understanding the causes of chronic muscle pain and joint pain is in the proprioception. Proprioception is the awareness of the sensations of movement from muscle tissue and joint sources.
It is the feeling and perception of oneself. All skeletal muscles in the body have sensory cells and receptors which momentarily inform the brain what is happening with and within the body if sensation or impulse is strong enough to stimulate Cortex and we become aware of it.
If a muscle in tensed or shortened or loosened and extended enough, we should feel it instantly. We also have sensory cells in joints. These tell us how much pressure is on them, and that allows us to calculate the position and angle of the joint. The skin continually sends sensory data, and several internal organs have nerve endings which inform the brain about their state. Proprioception is, in fact, the entire established part of the central nervous system, from the sensors in the body to the sensing part of the brain. The sensual part of the brain is connected to the motoric part of the brain. The sensory information which comes from the body thus becomes the guidance for motoric orders which are going back to the same area of the body.
The sensory-motoric system works in such a way that we cannot sense good enough without movement, and we cannot move good enough without sense. As soon as we move, we should instantly feel this movement. With the help of constant return information, we can always know where we are and what we are doing. When we, for instance, want to lift a cup of coffee with a hand, we do not tip the cup with milk over and spill the contents of the cup of coffee. That is because the sensors in the muscles, skin and joints inform the brain at all times where the arm is how fast and in which direction it is moving. We are moving with the sensory- motoric return information.
AEQ method deals with problems that occur when we start losing the ability to feel ourselves and control movements because the sensory- motoric feedback system deteriorates and actions themselves become stiff and clumsy. If muscles and actions become stiff, that means that communication between body and mind isn't good enough and control of mind over body is not on the level that reality demands of us. Stimulation of sensory part of Cortex in lower and we slowly forget about them and lose the feeling from certain parts of our body. That is when a state called sensory amnesia kicks in. The sensory amnesia lowers the stimulation of the motor part of Cortex, and we lose the ability to control skeletal muscles appropriately and to have proper efficiency of our movement and life in general. Sensory-motor amnesia appears gradually and causes the person to forget how to move and tense muscles or muscle groups. We get stuck in our own body, but at the same time, our ego is gaining importance and power to be more important than body and feelings from the body. We become more and more like modern society; egocentric.
Some day after that it happens, that we turn our head and find out that the neck isn't moving quite as good, because we do not have primary control over the movement of our spine anymore.
We lie on our back, close our eyes and are completely still. All we feel at that time is "ourselves". But what exactly are "we" in the sensory-motoric sense? What can we be aware of?
Direct your attention to the essence of what you feel. The core of your body has five cardinal lines. The first one goes from the top of your head to the rump. A long line of the spine, like a stick. Two lines are both hands and two lines both feet.
In the basic form, we feel something similar to pictures which little children draw when they want to draw a person. The long line is the spine, two short lines for the hands and two lines for the feet, as well as a circle for the head.
If you direct your attention to your feet you will feel if they are directed up, if their position is the same on both sides, if the left one is different from the one on the right, you feel how much space there is between the backside of the knees and the floor, how much weight is on the left side of the pelvis and how much on the right...
Now think what part of your body you will move and then move it the way you planned in your head. Do that with your left leg, right leg, pelvis, core, chest, left arm, right arm, neck and head. Do the movements slowly and try to do them with low effort and without pain. Put your attention on what the body does and how you fell what is going on. Do that for 5 minutes and then do the initial scan again.
Are the cardinal lines the same, are they broader and fuller, maybe more complete and connected? Do you feel yourself more?
In this way, you get to know yourself through the first-person experience, and you come to a completely different image than others have when they are watching you through a third-person experience. The way you get to know yourself through a proprioception way is entirely different from what others see when they are watching you. When you are lying and feel yourself, you feel something that no one else can feel about your bodily processes. If you think about what I wrote at the beginning of this text, you will understand why mind and ego don't trust feelings and why the body has so little to say when the mind makes a decision on the action that body will have to do. It is for a good reason, not precisely wise to trust inner feelings. Most of us are proprioceptively illiterate. We are getting very good at watching the world and things around us and very bad at sense and respect ourselves. We start learning not to feel ourselves from our parents and become very good at that by the time we go to school.
Then one of the first things we do is that we send children to school and take away their vividness, jumping around, we tell them to "sit still", "watch the blackboard", "pay attention to outer world". That is how we gradually teach them to listen to the voice of the teacher and look at the blackboard. We show them that it is crucial to hear every single word; otherwise, they will get into trouble. We teach them that it is essential to see everything written on the blackboard; otherwise, they will get into trouble. We teach them to be better at sensing their surroundings, but not one bit to sense themselves and the processes happening within them. This effect is even stronger when we give them smartphones and tablets, video on demand and instant satisfaction. They don't learn and don't use the principle of reality in their life.
All that does not mean that the school system is bad. It is good. Among other things, it teaches us not to walk on the street but to use the pavement. The problem is that it does not prevent the loss of something that we have gained during the first few years of our life, which is how to become experts in researching ourselves. The first three to four years we use to do nothing else but spend our time researching our mobility, capabilities, we try out, learn from mistakes and are excited about every new move. No one taught us to walk, and no one taught us to coordinate our eyes and hands, no one explained how to turn from our back to our belly and back, no one taught us to crawl. You did not teach your children how to do these things. We learn these things through direct experience. Think about it.
When we slowly lose the ability to learn through direct experience, because we are too focused on our environment, and we don' have time and need tor that process. The body-mind connection starts to deteriorate. We begin to lose our functions because we no longer use them. We do not explore any more, watch ourselves, we do not check our state, because they're so much to do around us. Oh, it is already 8 o'clock. I have to be at a meeting at nine, step on it, eat fast, is it done yet? The phone is ringing?!? The teacher is always there and saying: "pay attention, or you will get into trouble!" Be careful, or a car will run you over, be careful, or you will lose your job. You all know how that is like!
The world is out there, and it is crucial to know it to survive. We have to direct our attention to that cause! Sadly it is this need to survive in the hyperstimulated environment in that changes our life from living to merely exist as living is feeling and to feel we need time to be with ourselves. Once we turn our back on our proprioception, we lose the central and conscious control of ourselves. This control is necessary to avoid patterns which cause an everyday stress.
Aleš Ernst, teacher of AEQ method level 5.