Your Spine is Three Dimensional
When you think about your spine, it’s likely your awareness goes to your back. Perhaps you visualize the bumpy projections of the vertebrae you feel if you lie down on a hard surface. But your spine has a front surface too. It’s composed of the bodies of your vertebrae. These are round and thick, each one cushioned above and below by discs. Your spine has depth--the front surfaces of the vertebral bodies project 1/4 to 1/3 of the way forward into your trunk (2/3 of the way inside your body from the front surface). Located just behind your vital organs, the front of your spine can be an emotionally vulnerable area.
The following is the first step of a practice for enlivening the front of the spine and for getting in touch with tensions that may be harbored there.
Count Your Vertebrae
Find a firm a chair that is the right height for your body and sit so that your pelvis is inclined slightly forward. (To understand sitting, see Lesson 1 of my DVD, Heal Your Posture)
Close your eyes and draw your gaze inward, attending to your breath for several minutes.
Now, envision the front of your spine, inside your body. Picture the way your spine curves slightly forward at your waist; and the natural backward curve behind your heart area. (This doesn’t have to be an anatomically correct picture, just your picture.) Now focus on each vertebra one by one, slowly counting to 25. If you start from the top, imagine and count 7 cervical vertebrae between the base of your skull and the bottom of your neck. Let this be a meditative process. Then count 12 thoracic vertebrae (the ones attached to your ribcage). Next, the 5 lumbar vertebrae—these are thickest ones just above and just below your waist; and finally your sacrum, the big triangular bone at the base of your spine. Even if you don’t sense each vertebra as you count, go through the ritual of mentally acknowledging each one. Next time you do this, start from the sacrum and count upward.
Open your eyes and stand, taking a moment to settle yourself on your feet. Be aware of support from your “back space”. Check in with any “posture zones” that might be unnecessarily tense. Notice how it feels to incorporate the front of your spine into your internal body imagery. Walk around with that awareness in your body.
I hope you find this process enlightening. In my next post I’ll share a way to take the exploration further.