“Zazen, Wabi/Sabi and then Chiropractic,” the previous blog, was written about posture in Zazen and how crucial in proper meditation. Improper posture will make the meditation called Zazen more difficult or harder than normal. Improper posture can be caused by many things such as a condition called subluxation in Chiropractic. In this blog, there will be additional information about posture, breathing, and mental state and how it can influence the quality of your meditation experience. To have the best meditation in ease is to eliminate conditions of dysponesis.
Before we talk about dysponesis, here is one fact. The human nervous system is innately geared towards survival of the whole entire body. This ability to survive manifests itself by efficient use of energy for all the metabolic and physiological process. These processes of survival are all based on the input from the environment that the body receives. Conserving energy or efficient use of energy to optimal function to express life.
Our body has sensory nerve endings that will take in information and adapt to any environmental changes. Lack of proper integration of this information will lead to misinformation to the brain and leads to dysponesis. Dysponesis is described by Dr. Christopher Kent,
“Dysponesis is a reversible pathophysiologic state. It is composed of neurophysiologic reactions to various agents and the repercussions of these reactions throughout the organism. The neurophysiologic reactions consist mainly of covert errors in energy expenditure. To the chiropractor, it is essential to develop clinical strategies which are effective in disclosing these covert errors in energy expenditure and correcting them.”
Dysponesis will lead to improper sensory integration, inefficient/imbalance in muscle coordination, disability, disease states, symptoms, and loss of optimal function to the human body.
There are many measurements that are able to detect dysponesis. Being able to visualize the body provides tangible measurements, although there might be some information will be missed. Traditional techniques such as the plumb line or bilateral body weights were used to make observable postural changes and weight distributions. Our body has a reflex, called the righting reflex, utilized by our eyes to make sure our eyes are horizontal to the plane for the most efficient energy expenditure. The plum line analysis and bilateral body weight distributions can show the muscle that is being over-utilized or underperforming for an energy efficient structure. (Dynamic posture in walking and running will be considered in future blog posts.) This method will reach its limits due to the complex and abstract nature of our dynamic body structure.
Modern technology has found a way to measure complex and dynamic body structure. Modern surface EMG equipment is able to display real-time action of muscle groups for excess energy expenditure. As we are sitting still, all of our muscles are contracting and relaxing to adapt to the sitting posture. Modern surface EMGs are very sensitive and able to read and measure every small contraction that is made by the muscle. With this measurement, we are able to assess efficient energy expenditure and in turn measure dysponesis.
The next measurement that is a bit more difficult to understand is the reflex control of breathing. For the purpose of this blog, breathing reflex will be discussed in simpler terms and the physiology will not be discussed. It is important to note, however, that breathing reflex is a very complex set of several reflexes and when there are inefficient breathing patterns the nervous system to shift a negative state of conserving energy for oxygen. Due to the importance of oxygen to our brain and body, breathing reflex is a highly controlled mechanism and this reflex is a primary concern for all physiological processes.
Breathing reflex is well known in many meditation techniques. Breathing from the belly instead of chest breathing. Chest breathing increases the speed of oxygen but less oxygen is taken in. In turn, you expel less CO2 and create hyperventilation and increase the fight or flight responses. If belly breathing is done properly, oxygen intake is increased as is the expelling of CO2. This will stimulate the parasympathetic system which induces rest and digest and promotes a relaxing state for a better meditative state.
Further research has been conducted to analyze breathing patterns. There are many patterns that are induced by uncoordinated muscle control of the breathing muscles. Most belly breathing does not emphasize on which muscles to contract. There can be compartmentalized breathing that is observable in the spine that is concomitant with breathing. Normal breathing should not be compartmentalized, decreased, or incomplete in the breathing pattern. The pattern in breathing should start from the pelvis. A respiratory wave moves smoothly towards the neck and moves back down the spine to the pelvis. If in any way this pattern is obstructed, there creates a lack of coordination in the breathing reflex and this results in dysponesis.
Final measurement will be our mental state in dysponesis. Meditation should be an exercise to help distressed mental states, although there can be an underlying condition that will hinder towards performing meditation for individuals. According to Dorland’s Medical Dictionary, dysponesis is a misdirected neurophysiological reaction to various agents such as environmental events, bodily sensations, emotions, and thoughts. Individuals with PTSD, ADHD, anxiety or other mental conditions may have difficult a time performing meditation.
To measure the mental state, there are many ways to measure such as EEG or HRV. Electroencephalogram or EEG measures electrical wave from the brain for the state of being which is mentioned in another blog “Stress.” EEG measures the state of the brain by stimulating the brain waves into a certain pattern, it will help the mental state to be more calm and meditative. It may help to see that meditative state but there are very specific requirements to fulfill the test and many things can cause the inaccurate reading if the assessment is not prepared properly and professionally. Also, EEG measurements are not readily available because it is very expensive and healthcare specialists are needed to perform the test.
Heart Rate Variability or HRV, on the other hand, is less expensive and measures the state of mental conditions like the EEG. HRV measures the real-time measurement of the cardiac rhythm and provides the quantitative assessment of variation in the time interval between heartbeats. HRV is able to show how your body is responding to stressors, the overall balance of the nervous system, and even fitness performance. Compared to EEGs, HRV tests shows more information about the overall function and energy expenditure which is dysponesis.
After finding dysponesis, addressing them properly with chiropractic adjustments will be much more specific and scientific. Does your chiropractor have all these assessments to address dysponesis?