Unwinding

DSCN5392It all began eighteen months into my illness during an acupuncture session. After lying there for about fifteen minutes, I felt tingling in my left foot, which then progressed up my left leg. Slowly and spontaneously, my chin started to tuck and my neck elongated. It felt like my head was being gently pulled away from my body. I wasn’t moving this way consciously; it was just happening to me. I could stop the movement at any time, but if I relaxed, it continued. It is an understatement to say that this was a really strange experience, but I wasn’t afraid and didn’t resist. The movement felt just like the cervical traction I had undergone to alleviate the pain of previous neck injuries, and that familiarity was comforting to me. It was also easier for me to accept because it was happening in response to acupuncture, and I knew that this type of treatment had been healing for me in the past.

A few days later, I woke up one morning and my neck began moving just like it had during the acupuncture session. Then, every day for a full month, right when I woke up or right before I fell asleep, my body would spontaneously move with new movements being added to the repertoire. The pattern of muscle activation and the timing were always different. Sometimes, there would be long-held postures; other times, slow or fast oscillations would occur. At first, the movements happened only when I was relaxed in bed. But after a while, my entire body would move spontaneously whenever I allowed it and in any position, even standing.

When I showed the movements to my doctors, they said they had never seen motions like that before. They told me it was obvious the movements were not in my conscious control, but they didn’t think they were pathological. The movements seemed to be related to healing because my overall discomfort lessened as soon as these movements began.The movements seemed to calm my nervous system and release the tension in the muscles and tissues of my body. On several occasions, my body went into its spontaneous movement while my physical therapist was working on a stiff/inflexible area of my body, and the area she was working on completely softened and felt like normal tissue.

Both of my doctors hypothesized that these movements might be a way my body was releasing tension and trying to heal itself. The movements seemed to be related to moving or releasing energy, because once the movement stopped, I would feel light tingling throughout my body, similar to how I felt during other energy work, like acupuncture and Reiki.

Later, when I took courses for the complementary treatments, CranioSacral Therapy and Myofascial Release, I witnessing many people moving in a similar way and found out that these types of movements are sometimes referred to as “unwinding”. I have also met other people who experienced these movements without having prior knowledge of them. Just like me, their movements were not directly linked to belief, group dynamics or the power of suggestion.

This was one of the most surprising experiences on my journey to health, and it helped me appreciate the natural, self-healing potential of the body. I also learned that not everything  weird is pathology!