There was a time when I considered that our heads were ‘set in stone’, so to speak. I understood that it might be possible to improve your jaw muscle or put on a little weight and fill out in the face, but as for the cranium, the skull that contains the brain, well isn’t that made of bone. Bone being solid matter must be a part of us that grows slowly and then once we reach adulthood is set in shape. It is true that the skull is made of plates, but aren’t the plates joined together. After all, these are true joints unlike what we generally consider joints in the skeleton, the hip, knee, ankle etc., which are not joints at all but separation of bones. So surely the head cannot change in shape or volume.
Then I learnt to view the body in a different way. I learnt that it is not the skeleton that defines our shape and volume but our inner shape and volume that defines the skeleton. Our internal matter, largely the organs, have a density, volume and pressure and collectively our internal tissue is what gives our bodies their form. The curves of the spine are so because they follow the curves of our internal volume. It is the internal matter with its five sections, head, neck, chest, upper and lower abdominal cavities that gives our bodies their curvaceous form and is the bio-mechanical foundation of the structure and function of the body.
As a paraplegic I found my body drastically depleted in its inner volume with a collapsed shape and form. There was such depletion that my body no longer attained to a curvaceous form. The spine had become flat and my body board like. Without the inner volume there was no foundation upon which to base the use of the arms and so the exertions necessary to push a wheelchair caused compression of the depleted inner structure, further depleting that structure and deforming the rib cage around it.
Over the years we have directly addressed this primary inner structure and have enormously improved its volume, shape and form. The curves are back to my body and my spine once again follows those curves. My rib cage has come a long way in returning to the barrel shape it should be. In all this rebuilding of the inner volume and reforming of the skeleton around that volume, there will have been little change, if any, in the bones themselves. Bones are living tissue and will have a certain capacity to adjust over time to altered force lines, but it is much more a case of realignment of the bones due to improvements in the joints, as a consequence of improved inner capacity. So it is easy to see how our bodies and our skeleton can change in shape and form as we improve the bio-mechanics of the body, but it was still a shock to me when dramatic changes in my head began to materialise.
It was eighteen months ago that I first noticed changes in my head and it was a week of very dramatic change. To start with the top of my head expanded, almost opening up, but this seemed to bring the sides in leaving a narrow tall head with flat sides. The cranium then expanded giving me a large rounded head and an internal feeling of expansion, even buoyancy, and then all this was followed by a consolidation phase. It must be appreciated here that we are talking about very small measurements, although it feels like enormous change. If we were to take measurements, with a tape measure, during this process, we may not notice any difference; a millimetre maybe. However, the sensitivity of the hands and the sense of touch is truly staggering and extremely small changes can be perceived. We all know, when reading a book, that if we turn over two pages at once we immediately notice the difference in thickness even with very thin pages. Internal perception is also wondrous and although it is not always obvious what is happening, changes are always perceived.
Development of the head has continued throughout the last eighteen months and although it has never seemed as dramatic as the changes in that first week, it has continued with wave after wave of expansion and consolidation. It is worth bearing in mind here that all this development is the result of hundreds of hours of work on the head alone. I have lost count of how many waves of expansion and consolidation there have been, but it has often been on a weekly basis and this spring it all went crazy with, at times, waves of development happening daily! Through all this change my head has become slowly more ‘beefed up’. My jaw has strengthened and my face filled out. The other day someone looked at a portrait that was painted of me a few years ago and suggested that my face had been depicted too narrow. Considering the skill of the artist, I doubt this was the case and it is more likely that my face has grown considerable broader through all the head development.
The development of the head is of vital importance as we are rooted in our heads. A tree (as all plants are) is rooted in the ground; it is anchored to the earth providing the foundation for its strength. Its root system is also responsible for the absorption of water and nutrients. Above this are the leaves which are the tree’s digestive system and above them are the flowers, the reproductive organs. A human being is the other way up to a tree. We are rooted in our heads which are also responsible for the intake of food and water. Below is our stomach and intestines, our digestive system, and below that is our reproductive organs. An animal, incidentally, is a horizontal creature, a stage between the plant and the human. Just as the tree is anchored to the earth, you could say that we are anchored to the cosmos for our foundation of strength. It is as though we are puppets hung from the crown of our head, but let us stick here to a bio-mechanical understanding. Getting back to our primary core structure consisting of our internal tissues, our lower abdominal cavity is dependent, for its quality, upon our upper abdominal, which in turn is dependent upon our chest, which is dependent upon our neck and finally our head, or more correctly the internal quality of our head. Our skeletal structure is dependent upon our core pneumatic structure and our muscular structure dependent upon our skeletal. A weakness in the head will always be reflected in a weakness further down in the system and so the quality of our head is of vital importance in terms of the bio-mechanics of the human body.
Although the development of the head is a very exciting phase in my rehabilitation, it has not been an easy phase; change never is. Each wave of development comes with an expansion headache in the region between the temples. Occasionally I have to have a real rest day, but I usually manage to carry on with life, however, the headaches tend to make me subdued. All I can do is work through this and so I continue to put many hours of work into my head, which at the moment is done using gentle compression inputs with bare hands. Work is done across the head (essentially between the temples) and from back to front of the head, working on the occipital region at the posterior base of the skull. With a spinal injury, weakness extends into the skull upwards from and following the line of the spine. Much work is needed to expand the occipital region, drawing the occipital bone back out to created a greater anterior posterior depth to the head. I will continue with my endeavour.