To Catch a Toilet…

I’ve been getting a lot of questions in the office about how I do what I do. For those of you who aren’t patients, let me sum up. I use all my senses to tap into inflammation, tightness, or general messiness in bodies. With that, I can follow a particular pattern from your toes all the way to the top of your head. I can feel how these patterns tug on your bones, muscles, and other soft tissues. The goal of each alignment session is to find a pattern or two and make sure what I felt at the beginning is gone at the end of the session. As I work with patients, I help them stretch, breathe, and even shift their eyes in ways that unwind the tension and give them space. I include gentle tool-based adjustments, toggle-release, or tapping on bones when the pattern calls for it.

It’s taken me lots of schooling, continuing education, and many conversations with mentors to admit that I’m wired differently. The technical term is synesthesia: where senses blend together so that a single sensation can be perceived in multiple ways at once. Common examples include people that taste colors, or smell numbers. I enjoy this video clip of Sheldon from The Big Bang Theory describing how he experiences different types of numbers.

I joke that when I was four I stuck a knife in an outlet and I’ve been different ever since. But in truth, it’s taken time for me to understand how I sense the world. Like Sheldon, this experience comes in all forms. For me, I can best describe it as a change in tone. The idea of tone cuts across many senses. From listening to music to comparing colors to measuring the done-ness of a steak with your finger, the tone of the thing - the vibration in the air, the way the light reflects off the paint, or how far your finger sinks into the steak - can tell you a lot about the world.

It’s kind of like catching a running toilet. You know how things in your house create a background noise; your HVAC, ceiling fans, refrigerator, etc., all have a hum or tone that go on continually. A filling or running toilet has a different tone. A few weeks back, one of my boys went to the bathroom early in the morning. As a mom, it’s not unusual that I notice movement in the house, but what caught my attention was how the tone of the house shifted with the flushing of the toilet and then stayed there. I tried to tell myself that I was imagining things, tried ignoring it, tried waiting a couple minutes, but eventually I got up. My husband asked what was wrong, and I said that a toilet was running. Eye rolls may not be visible at 4AM, but they can be audible. Ignoring his reaction, I found the toilet, fixed the flap, and returned to sleep.

This story illustrates two interesting things about my sensitivity. First, much like a house, there are many background tones in the body. And much like the running toilet, inflammation and messiness have different tones that stand out to me. When I find those tones, it’s almost like sticking a knife in an outlet - there is a magnetic pull or vibration that guides my hands and mind along a pattern in the body. As muscles relax and joints align, that pattern and its related tones disappear. At the end of an alignment session, the background tones are the only things that I can sense.

Second, much like the toilet, I first was annoyed by my sensitivity. In my small town, no one else experienced the world like I did. It made me different, so I ignored it, and even tried to science my way out of it (I have a PhD in cognitive psychology which includes the field of Sensation & Perception). Eventually, I realized that this different wiring, while eye rolling to some, is a very helpful gift. Especially when I use it to help people relearn how to unwind and reclaim their bodies.

So, if you’re ever at a loss to describe what I do in my office, you can imagine me chasing after a running toilet and you have all the information that you need.

Dr. Julie

Breathe   Adjust   Nourish

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