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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Getting Out of the Box With Yin & Yang



The following is a “conversation” I had with a colleague on Facebook regarding a study she posted that revealed how one’s thoughts of the future or past influenced the movement of the body in a forward and backward direction. I share this as an example of how easily we allow ourselves to be trapped within the “box” of who we think we are with our roles and identities we attach ourselves to. When we are not willing to go outside of our box, the outside world will come to us and this can either turn out to be a “battle” where we fight to defend our boxed-in beliefs and thoughts or an opportunity to stick our heads out of the box and finally learn something new (and actually allow ourselves to grow from it). The colleague is termed Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists as the name of her group on Facebook and can also be seen as her “box”. The conversation is as follows:
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists "..thinking about past or future events can literally move us." Physical movements correspond to the metaphorical direction of time.
"Those who thought of the past swayed backward while those who thought
of the future moved forward
." Ideomotor movement, sensorimotor systems linked to ideas/perceptions of time and space. ...Implications for movement therapy in general, maybe. Have people think about a given idea and become conscious of which way their body moves to express that idea. Barrett, are you reading this?
Michael Jocson
In clinic, I've also noticed this sway laterally when thoughts of past or future are brought up. It depends on the client's overall emotional/mental/physical issues and whether there's a dominating reason (yang) or feeling (yin) tendency. This brings up the connection between the mind and body and the physical symptoms that PT's treat when there's a disconnect.
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
Do you have a neuroscience link about that Michael? I don't speak or understand yin/yang lingo.
Michael Jocson
No specific links but you can interchange the eastern lingo of yin/yang with the western understanding of the right and left cerebral hemispheres and their corresponding relationships to the body and mind.
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
So... what would yin and yang and hemispheres have to do with each other?
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
There is an area here to have a discussion thread, if you would like to expand a bit.
Michael Jocson
No need to expand on a discussion board; yin/yang is the concept of duality, ie. black/white, right/wrong, left/right where polarities exist and when the two opposing (and equal) forces collide, tend to cancel each other out or integrate. The cerebral hemispheres work together and yet each have their own distinct characteristics. This is evident in CVA conditions and I believe there was a famous TED video of a neuroscientist who experienced a stroke and was able to describe it.
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
Concept of duality? This page is about, among other things, placing a neuroscience base under manual therapy, not promoting a-scientific concepts. Just so we're clear.
Michael Jocson
Clear. I think there's a misunderstanding. How can we place a neuroscience base for manual therapy if we do not understand what science is? The origin of the word "science" means "Knowledge by study; to separate one thing from another, to distinguish". The whole foundation of science is based upon duality. To say the concept of duality is a-scientific exposes the ignorance. In science, or in this case, in neuroscience and manual therapy, we have the observer (ie. therapist) and the observed (ie. patient, physiological effect, etc). This is the duality. There's nothing mystical or "new-agey" or unscientific about it. What holds us back in the profession is the inability to see the forest for the tree.
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
Third person and first person perspective is not what I'm commenting on. I'm commenting on yins and yangs being brought into a commentary on the neuroscience of something. Yins and yangs are either a-scientific, pre-scientific, anti-scientific, or pseudo-scientific, or else a combination of all 4.
Michael Jocson
Thank you and you revealed a lot with your last statement.
Neuroscience and Pain Science for Manual Physical Therapists
As did you in this conversation. Have a nice day.

So as you can see, what started as me sharing my experience to reinforce a study, ended up being an exposing of an imprint this therapist had with the words “yinand yang”. Irregardless if I tried to explain these terms are the same as the concept of duality which is the foundational basis for science and all “scientific” inquiry, she was unable at that moment to get past the words “yin” and “yang”. Isn’t this so true in how our tightly-held beliefs prevent us from understanding others?

I noticed in my former profession of orthopedic manual physical therapy (OMPT) there is a conflict between the old ways of thinking and the newer ways where people are starting to realize that the latest evidence through “scientific investigation” are revealing the old beliefs that were once held to be true are now being proven “not so true” and this appears to be the case with the orthopedic manual therapy evaluation and with spinal manipulation as two examples. The OMPT box is starting to breakdown and it is the choice of the “OMPT” therapists to find the courage to live outside of that box and learn from new terms such as “yin” and “yang” and not eliminate what they already know, but more so to build upon it and create something totally new. Or they can choose to defend an already sinking ship.

The thing about duality is that both sides are of the same coin. Whether you’re in the box or out, you can learn from both perspectives. It is when we attach ourselves to one or the other in separation that conflict, struggle, and suffering occur. So the question I leave you with is this: Do you want to learn and grow or do you enjoy suffering?

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