According to neuroscientist Prof. Milan Roth, a tight spinal cord or spinal nerve tension is the cause of most Adolescent Idiopathic Scoliosis (AIS). In fact, a tight spinal cord is the main limiting factor preventing doctors from surgically realigning the spine as straight as possible.
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How does the spinal cord get tight?
Even today, medical science has failed to pinpoint what exactly causes scoliosis. Moreover, does any doctor bother with checking the pre-onset psychosocial history of a scoliosis patient?
Research into adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) has shown its effects on the mind and body of a growing child. A child subjected to abuse, neglect or abandonment, has no other option but to hold tight the negative emotions arising due to the injustice heaped on to them. They have to, they are dependent on their caregivers.
Emotion Is Energy
Emotions are energy, when we are forced to suppress that energy it manifests physically as dis-ease in our bodies.
The spinal cord consists of nerves that connect the nerves in the body. It is a superhighway for messages between the brain and the rest of the body. Unsurprisingly, it is the first place where our emotions get stored.
Holding onto our feelings, literally manifests in the tightening of our bodies, particularly our spinal columns, leading to a tight spinal cord and eventually scoliosis.
Furthermore, even though we may consciously forget the emotional memory that caused us trauma, our bodies do not. The memory of the emotion stays stuck deep inside our bodies at a cellular level. And, stuck, it stays, till we process and release it.
Childhood Trauma & Survival Response
As children, we are unable to fight or flee in response to danger or pain. Being helpless and dependent, our survival response is freeze or fawn. We have to shut up our emotional part (EP) and dam up our, true feelings, pretend and let our Apparently Normal Part (ANP) carry on. But feelings buried alive never die, our body bears the burden.
When my mother died even though I was grief-stricken and fearful I pretended I did not hurt. And, when my cousin sexually abused me again and again, I feared I would be judged., I dissociated, that was not me. Then when my uncle began lusting for me and his wife accused me I covered up my terror with fake laughter. When my father threatened to throw me out of the house I stuffed my terror. Through all the many additional micro-traumas and woundings I held tight onto my feelings.
I had no choice, I feared that if I showed weakness I would be mocked and rejected. There is nothing more shameful than being unloved and condemned by your own family.
Fear and shame are closely interconnected. Fear of survival is a primal emotion, we will do anything to stay alive. The first survival lesson we learn in childhood is to keep our caregivers happy. Their feelings matter, not ours.
Moreover, if we don’t toe the line, we are shamed into acquiescence. Most of us are brought up in an environment of obedience and submission. We grow up fearing the consequences of ‘disobedience’ through our caregivers’ anger and ridicule.
This shame-fear dyad is 100 times exacerbated in children who have been abused – physically, emotionally or sexually. There is not only the fear of being hurt but also the burden of shame. The fear of danger and fear of shame drives us to hide these painful emotions.
When a convoluted intermingling of fear and shame defines our reality we are caught in a conundrum. We feel fearful and ashamed to admit our weakness and shameful and afraid that we will be mocked and derided. Fear makes us want to crouch and hide, and shame makes us shrink at the idea of being exposed.
Energy Of Shame
The energy of shame is a freeze stance, we subconsciously and consciously try to hide painful experiences from overwhelming us. we suppress and push it deep inside. We fear the shame of our dirty secret being exposed.
Not surprisingly, people who experience shame subconsciously shrink and feel small. Their heads are bowed and eyes downcast. They are afraid to look directly at anyone. Psychologically, their stance is of constriction and contraction. Is it any surprise that the body follows this mental posture.
Body-brain researcher Bessel van der Kolk states that ‘It takes tremendous energy to keep functioning while carrying the memory of terror, and the shame of utter weakness and vulnerability.’
Combating Shame Through the Body
Releasing The Tight Hold
Recent research on neuroplasticity shows that we can affect changes in our bodies via our mind and vice-versa. We need not let our past define our present.
Healing scoliosis or any illness starts with your mind.
First, you need to release the frozen emotions and let go of fear, shame and other negative emotions that are holding you down literally. It means delving deep within and loosening the grip of the implicit trauma memories held in the body.
Even today, modern treatment for scoliosis focusses only on the physical aspect. Instead of healing the underlying emotional causes that bind a spine into its scoliotic posture. No amount of pulling, stretching, pushing or, surgery is going to reverse this – unless one releases the suppressed memories held tight within.
For me, the way to accessing those long-forgotten memories have been through theta sound healing, sharing and writing away my emotional pain, while reconnecting my brain hemispheres via crawling. Lastly, immersing myself in the healing power of nature.
Releasing the shut off emotions have helped me shake off the tightness in my mind-body-soul. There is no doubt, all 3 are interconnected.
As feelings of safety, acceptance, and trust flow within me. that tight feeling is dissipating from my body. Neither fear or shame hold me down. The tight grip on my spine and life have loosened.
Nonetheless, it a miracle that my scoliosis has gotten better
The Body Bears the Burden by Robert Scaer
The Divided Mind by John Sarno
The Body Keeps the Score by Dr. Bessel van der Kolk
The Body Remembers by Babette Rothschild
The Emotional Brain: The Mysterious Underpinnings of Emotional Life by Joseph LeDoux