My face is not symmetrical. Repressing my painful feelings froze the right facial muscles into an asymmetrical distortion. This led to the development of scoliosis, and not the other way round. I find it irritating when scoliosis is cited as the cause of some malformation rather than that distortion causing scoliosis.
However, as the traumatic memories release, I have become aware of how much tension is held in my face. Working on releasing the frozen atrophied muscles in my face has had exponentially affected my entire body, particularly my spinal alignment.
Face and Ventral Vagus Branch
The human face has 43 muscles, which can stretch, lift and contort it into dozens of expressions. This vast range of movements helps convey specific emotions we feel. It is also part of the ventral vagus branch (the social-engagement system )of the vagus nerve. Our facial muscles are the first to tighten in times of stress and tension
The ventral vagus controls the functions of the face-lung-heart and is critical to sending cues of safety, to the autonomic nervous system. When our face is tense our whole body becomes tense. Our mind-body is one inter-connected dynamic mechanism.
The Eccedentesiast – One who fakes a smile.
Those of us who grew up with violent or invalidating carers learned to hide our feelings. Many of us heard the phrase, stop the crying or I will really give you something to cry about, or ‘she is a cry baby, or ‘give (creepy pedophile ) uncle Joe a kiss, it’s his birthday.
We did not have a choice but obey and comply. We became eccedentesiasts – masked our pain behind a pleasant smile. The word is derived from Latin ecce, ‘I present to you,’ dentes, ‘teeth,’ and –iast, ‘performer. ‘ An eccedentesiast is, therefore, someone who “performs by showing teeth,” or smiling. ( Did not know there was a word for this till now). Fake laughter was my modus operandi of survival.
Though, we may fool others with our pretense our body cannot lie for too long. Moreover, doing something behind gritted teeth means suppressing our true selves. Gosh, now as the emotional hurt and rage release I can feel, the tightness in my face, jaw, and back of neck lessen. It takes a lot of psychic energy to repress our true feelings and pretend.
Asymmetrical Face and Scoliosis
My brain was split into two parts. My emotional right side of the face was a confused, screwed-up 13-year-old while my analytical left side tried to best deal with my ongoing environment. When our brain is split up like this, our facial muscles take on the shape of our incongruent brain functioning. And, thus our asymmetrical facial development moves down into our body and wham our spine has become misaligned.
According to Wilhelm Reich founder of armoring theory: Emotional armoring creates muscular armoring which then creates our character armor. The overall effect of muscular armoring with character armoring creates our individual personality.
I believe that my scoliosis was due to my internal state of disharmony.
Healing has entailed coaxing my right brain to release the pain. And nurturing my hurt inner child to help her grow up.
Some Ways To Get Your Face To Feel Again
1) Social Engagement – Enlightened Witness
The reason for our trauma and shutting down our emotions is mainly due to a lack of safe, supportive carers. Not surprisingly, we become numb from the inside out. And, to get out of this state of unfeeling we need another person to bear witness to our pain – an enlightened witness.
Furthermore, positive emotional interaction, mutual eye gaze, acceptance lead to the thawing of shame and repressed rage to activation of inhibited cortical circuits which were shut down.
2) Face Massage
A soothing face massage immediately triggers our relaxation response; sending the message to our brain – we are safe. Touch is primally encoded into our mind-body system. Slow and repetitive touch is the most basic of human interactions that were programmed in us from the time we were babies.
Alternately, you can give yourself a face massage. Just 2-minutes twice a day, particularly before bed is very calming. It helps release present and past tension. Doing this daily can dramatically improve the entire mind-body system.
Facial Self Massage with Tom Myers
3) Movie Therapy – Letting the Tears flow
Movie therapy has been very helpful in unlocking those blocked-out parts of myself. Movies help us reconnect with our emotions via our mirror neurons. Moreover, watching stories unfold and characters emote is an effective method for eliciting similar emotions within us. They made me FEEL again
Currently, my favorite is watching the TV series Grey’s Anatomy which has the right mix of drama and emotionality to help me cry and release my bottled-up emotions. Unabashedly crying has softened the hardened muscles around my eyes and slowly thawed the numbness around my heart.
4) Simhasana (Lion Pose)
Simhasana or the lion’s pose. is an easy and effective pose to get those muscles in your face to stretch. It is simple and can be done in almost any pose seated, cross-legged position, lying down, or even standing. You stretch the tongue out as far as possible while opening your eyes wide as possible looking upwards.
Furthermore, the lion’s pose stretches your entire face, from your eyes, tongue, neck and right down to your entire body You can actually feel the release within the core of your being. It effectively liberates the pent-up emotional energy. When you do this pose, think of all those times when you had to bite your tongue, swallow your pride, gag yourself, and feel those suppressed feelings being pushed out.
5) Epson Salt Treatment
Additionally, I have found applying Epsom salt extremely effective in releasing the tight muscles in my face. In addition, it supplies the much-needed magnesium to my stressed body. I apply dissolved Epsom salt with some castor oil and coconut oil on my whole body – very therapeutic. The muscles in my face relax and release the memories that are held there.
Facing Our Past – Releasing Unconscious Somatic Patterns
Releasing our unconscious somatic patterns takes time and effort. It means working on uncovering and unwiring those faulty thought patterns that keep us stuck in the trauma loop. When we process the blocked survival energy and get it out of our system, we reconnect to our life force and to the innate vitality of our body.
Remember, healing scoliosis is not just pushing the spine into alignment. It means slowly processing and bringing to consciousness those parts that were hidden and suppressed. It means we literally need to face our past and let it go.