“The spine is a conduit of consciousness. The shape, position and tone of my spine are in relationship with the shape, position and tone of my life” Dr Donald Epstein, Developer of NSA
For 20 years, a wave of wellness has been surging across the globe, and it’s called Network Spinal Analysis. If the wave hasn’t reached your area, read on for a condensed version of “What is Network Spinal Analysis.” Formerly known as Network Chiropractic, NSA is a body-mind healing technique that gives the body an opportunity to learn for itself a particular kind of motion, a gentle wave or undulation, and a natural wave-like breathing pattern that’s called Somato-Respiratory Integration. These kinds of waves reduce stored stress and prompt general well-being.
The developer of NSA is Donald Epstein, an American chiropractor from Colorado, who describes NSA as “a very gentle touch along the spine, especially in the vicinity where the spinal cord attaches at the neck and the lower spine.” The touch helps the body “self-organise” to develop new strategies that eventually lead to wellness in all areas, including physical, emotional and spiritual fronts. In practical terms, the user becomes more aware of his or her body, energy and breathing and may experience rhythmic, spontaneous movement on the table. Off the table, most people experience a decrease in physical ailments and stress; some long-time NSA users report relief from past physical and emotional traumas.
Here are a few highlights:
And if you’re big on privacy, you should know that NSA is a group experience. Treatment rooms commonly have a number of massage-type tables for several clients to use all at once, with the practitioner moving among them. Obviously this is good for the practitioner in terms of efficiency; it also boosts efficacy of treatment for individuals. When one person experiences a change in his or her body, the tides subtly change for the other people, too.
Don’t expect the practitioner to do anything dramatic. You won’t have your spine “cracked,” your muscles massaged or your body contorted by the practitioner. You won’t be invaded by anything like needles, drugs or electrical impulses. Instead, with a steady hand and a surprisingly concentrated look, the practitioner will guide you, or rather your body and most especially your spine, to make subtle self-discoveries that lead to changes at both subconscious and conscious levels.
The touch itself is very light, and at times the practitioner’s hands don’t make physical contact with the client at all, using an energetic approach instead. The work is based on the idea that most of us spend our adult lives in a defensive posture, literally and figuratively, as a result of accumulated trauma. Much of this defensiveness and tension is housed in our spines, affecting our alignment and posture. NSA allows the spine to move away from its usual posture towards a new and healthier stance.
It’s worth noting that in many NSA practices, symptoms of disease are not treated, and often not discussed. The theory is that NSA is an approach to wellness, not to disease. (There are practitioners who use the method primarily as a tool for healing, but NSA as a developing modality has moved well beyond healing. Its name may soon change again to WISE, for Wellness Integration and Strategies for Evolution, to better represent the broader, all-encompassing focus.) In addition to eating well, exercising regularly and following a meditative practice, NSA is said to take you the next step toward complete wellness. “It’s as if most people are playing Pacman on a 64K computer and Network can boost them to a Pentium,” says Epstein.
Okay; so what’s a session like? Rebecca Jackson, a long-term wellness patient of mine has being attending Discover Wellness since 2003 and can recall her first encounter of NSA.
“I had heard of Network through an excited friend and decided that I should pay David Aranda at the Discover Wellness Centre a visit, to see what all the excitement was about. Discover Wellness is a Centre for Network Spinal Analysis where you receive the treatment or “entrainment” (the lingo for getting worked on). I recall stepping into a beautiful, relaxed office, not unlike any modern-day chiropractic, naturopathic or holistic medical venue. I left my shoes in the reception and was soon ushered into the treatment room, which had a warm and soothing ambience, calm lighting, well-tended plants, and a soundtrack of rhythmic, vaguely ethnic (but gentle) music. I was able to watch others being entrained first; some bodies were quietly lying face down, some were gently undulating; some were absolutely writhing, in what appeared to be a pleasant way. I soon joined them lying facedown on my own table.
When it was my turn, David wiggled my feet. I think he was probably observing alignment or responsiveness or some other trait, but I read this foot shake as a greeting, sort of a “Hello, it’s your turn now.” Then he did what I’d seen him do with the others. He put a couple of fingers at the nape of my neck, touching, then not touching, then doing a finger dance on and above that gateway. The same at my tail-bone. While I was a bit apprehensive about some stranger poking my tail-bone, it wasn’t a problem because the experience was all very clinical. There weren’t a lot of words wasted in this session. He didn’t instruct, though he was willing to encourage me to do such things as concentrate my attention as if it were a laser piercing through the gateway or area he contacted.
I’d seen the other clients raise up a buttock or their neck toward his fingers, and then I found myself doing this, too. It wasn’t unpleasant; nor was it pleasurable, as a massage might be. It was mostly just odd to find my body taken over by a little bitty rogue wave, I was moving without volition on my part or any apparent force on his.
It was as plain as day that something out of the ordinary was happening. And it turns out this was the beginning of a dolphin undulation along my spine—his fingers had enticed my neck, followed by my shoulder blades, followed by my lower back and then my bum, to rise up in succession. Now, I don’t want to make this sound too dramatic, there was no writhing or leaping, just a gentle movement down my spine, as it began to “reorganise” itself. This somatopsychic wave, the opposite of psychosomatic, was the result of the body giving clues to the brain, rather than the other way around. So instead of the brain making the body act somehow, it’s the other way around: the wave temporarily amplifies any tension in the spine and moves it out.”
According to Epstein, the wave is not a “woo-woo” thing at all. Research indicates that “the wave temporarily suspends unconscious automatic behaviour patterns,” he says, “allowing the body a sense of safety,” and that leads to an opportunity for the body to read its own subtle cues that lead to new strategies that are more productive of overall well-being.
Good words, but would NSA treatment really make you a healthier being? Well, yes, if you are able to experience the “transformative” power of it frequently enough. What’s being transformed is the body’s lifelong protective stance that protects us from saber-toothed tigers, marauding villagers, and oncoming traffic, but also stresses us when there are no dangers waiting. NSA helps our bodies learn to let go a bit of the protective armour that, at a reflexive level, we “think” we need, and our hearts can begin to take over.
If you’re ready to let go, expect to make many visits; basic care typically lasts six to eight weeks, with two to three sessions per week. At the end of basic care, clients generally report better body awareness, stronger spinal movement, a dissipation of discomfort and more ease in releasing tension. After basic care sessions, most NSA practitioners encourage clients to continue with treatment. There are many who have been receiving Network for over two years, and that’s not uncommon. Epstein says that after three years of entrainment there is “no ceiling of wellness”—in other words, it just keeps getting better and better.
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Article written by David Aranda
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