Your Atlanto-occipital Joint
In my last several posts, I’ve been drawing your awareness to the front of your spine. Releasing the tensions we hold within our bodies at this depth can restore mobility, ease and freedom we didn’t know were missing.
In the attached video you’ll practice a movement meditation that can restore mobility at the joint between the top of your neck and your cranium. This area so often expresses stress as rigidity, and is exacerbated by long hours spent in front of computer screens.
Tensions in the eyes and jaw restrict movement in the articulation between neck and head, and that blocks upward impulses through your midline. This diminishes spinal mobility.
A Meditation for Mobility
The meditation asks you to “draw” circles and figure 8’s using your uvula as a stylus. This flap of muscular tissue at the back of your throat takes part in speech and swallowing, and can be readily viewed in a mirror.
This is not a one-time exploration, but rather a practice I hope you’ll incorporate into your self-care routine. In practicing it myself, I find it challenging to keep my attention poised on the uvula. When my concentration wavers, the movement gets directed from someplace farther forward, more superficial, more vague. The circles and 8's can be as tiny as a sequin. When I can't manage arcs, I draw simple lines. When I can sustain my focus on the uvula stylus, the work takes me that far back into my midline as well. Visiting myself at that depth is always worth the journey. Please let me know how this goes for you.
NOTE: You are not trying to wiggle your uvula in this practice. Rather, you are using it like a marker or paintbrush.
(In searching for illustrations for this post, I learned to my dismay that uvula piercing has become a trend. The trauma of the piercing, and the weight of the decoration can’t fail to do harm to this delicate articulation of the cervical spine.)
NOTE: In response to a reader's question about where the tongue should rest during this practice: your jaw should be relaxed, with the tongue resting very lightly along the roof of the mouth–that’s its normal position. (pg 59 of The New Rules suggests the opposite of this, but I no longer agree with that!) For more about the tongue, see this post.