Reflections on Ortho-Bionomy

I was cleaning out computer files this morning and found a page I wrote several years ago.  At the time I was a Practitioner, working toward my Instructor level.  I’ve been an Instructor for eight or nine years, so this has been sitting in my computer quite awhile waiting to be shared!

Summer 2004 I was coordinating the massage therapy group at the Summer National Fencing Tournament in Austin, Texas. I was excited to see how well my new found modality of Ortho-Bionomy® was helping the competitors resolve their complaints. Most of the athletes came for work on low back, shoulder or knee issues and this modality was especially helpful with the athletes I saw. Using the Ortho-Bionomy® principle of finding the area of most comfort, I worked with the fencers to reduce or relieve tight or stressed areas. They were very appreciative of the work and I was feeling happy to have been of some help to former, current and possible future Olympic athletes. The last day of the tournament, less than two miles from home, I was given an opportunity to see how well the modality worked in self care.

I was stopped on the frontage road during five o’clock traffic, watching for oncoming cars, when I was hit from behind and pushed into the traffic lane. Fortunately, I did not hit anyone traveling past me, but felt a sharp pain travel up my neck and behind my right eye, giving me a blinding headache. Managing to move into the nearest parking lot, I hoped the person who hit me would follow. After parking, I opened my door and immediately felt dizzy and nauseous. The lady who hit me asked if I was OK and started telling me her reason for propelling me into traffic. Nothing she said made sense to me. Everything was spinning and I was unable to bring my head to center, much less move it to the right. All I wanted to do was unscrew my head and get rid of the nausea and pain. I had just spent seven days showing athletes how to reduce their personal pain, so I went to work on myself. I closed my eyes and paid attention to where I felt the most comfort in my neck. To me, scanning my body internally, it felt as though my head was twisted as far as possible to the left. In fact, mentally, it felt as though my head were sitting on my body, looking behind me. In Ortho-Bionomy® they taught me to exaggerate the movement of the body. Since it felt as though I were looking behind, I continued mentally twisting my head counterclockwise, until I had twirled it three or four times. Physically, I moved my head as far as comfortable, to my left. When I found myself in a position of most comfort, I held the position and took a deep breath. When my body relaxed, my head started to unwind on its own. I tested my neck and could now move my head to the right with little pain. The headache was still there, but it was no longer blinding and I was no longer feeling dizzy or nauseous. Moving my head in every direction, I found only one painful position. I focused on moving my head 180 degrees opposite the pain and held the position for a few moments. When I rechecked, the discomfort and headache were gone!

At home an hour later, I looked for swelling, redness and discomfort in my neck, shoulders and upper back. I discovered a twinge in my lower back, and the right hip and shoulder were higher than the left. Exaggerating the high hip and elevated shoulder, I waited for the release. Less than two minutes later, my shoulders and hips were even and I was pain free! I was so grateful for my knowledge of Ortho-Bionomy® and more determined than ever to continue training to be an instructor. I want as many people as possible to know how easy self correction techniques for pain, tension and trauma can be with the gentle art of Ortho-Bionomy®.


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What is comfort?

As an Ortho-Bionomy instructor and practitioner, I talk to my clients and students about finding comfort. But what IS comfort?  Is it that soft, well worn shirt?  Maybe comfort is the sleepy feeling you get when you are sitting next to a warm fire in the winter; the relaxed way you interact with your best friend; the way your body moves when you float in water or how you feel when you hear a baby laugh.

Comfort in Ortho-Bionomy terms is looking for the way the body WANTS to be, move or interact. We exaggerate the current position (what is comfortable), involve the nervous system and wait for whatever change the body is willing to make to increase the range of motion or reduce tension.  But what if the body is stuck in a pattern and doesn’t understand how to stop or change?

We don’t grow unless there is an irritant or some pressure to move. Muscles put pressure on bones, so the bones lengthen and we get taller.  A new job gives us opportunities to grow, both in the position and how we react to stress, deadlines, new environments and expectations, co-workers and learning in general.  Feeling uncomfortable in a situation or within yourself, opens a door to change.  With Ortho-Bionomy, we give options. Does A or B feel better? One will have more comfort, the other more discomfort. By offering the choices, comfort or irritant, we bring awareness to where we are in space and time and the body decides what is needed at that time.  Perhaps it needs the extra tension in order to finally let go. Maybe the option had never been considered or recognized as a choice. Maybe it was just time for a change. Or, not yet.

The next time you feel out of sorts, pushed to your limit, out of your element, tight, tired, cranky, or just not yourself say Thanks for the opportunity to change. Take a breath. Adjust your body, your feelings, your outlook. Look at your choices, see the opportunities for change.  Acknowledge where you are and what is necessary AT THAT MOMENT.  Comfort and discomfort can both be something that feels good in the end.



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Comfort Zone


We all have been in a place of discomfort, anxiety, or even panic.  That place where the adrenal system is running full blast, sweat running out of our pores, hands shaking, breathing fast and shallow with a heartbeat faster than some rock songs.  Those times are easy to pull up in our memory.  Sometimes just thinking about an uncomfortable situation puts my body back in tension.

For me the edge of my comfort zone is ringed with barbed wire, allowing me to easily see what is on the other side, but pricking, holding and keeping me from easily crossing over.  That vast expanse of green, lush openness is just there, at the end of my fingers, but so far away.  If I really want over, I start walking, looking for the gate that will let me through.  Sometimes I take the wire cutters from my pocket and leave a gaping hole to the other side.  It just depends on my attitude (I have a lot), my support system (which is wonderful), and my desire to reach what’s on the outside of my safe zone.

The more I walk around, through, over or under those perceived fences of my comfort area, the larger the zone becomes.  Just like anything else, the more you practice the easier it becomes.  Teaching classes, students tell me the challenging thing is meeting or talking to someone they don’t know.  All those questions and fears running through their mind.  What if they don’t like me?  What if they don’t think I have anything important to say and ignore me? What if I say something stupid? What if they laugh at me?

If you don’t give them a chance to know you, you’ll never give yourself a chance to make a new friend.  Don’t worry about making a mistake, we all do at one time or another. Being able to acknowledge it is a great gift – to yourself and to them. It gives them the freedom to make a mistake in your presence, to be accepted. Isn’t that part of Ortho-Bionomy – to acknowledge where we are (making mistakes) and not judging ourselves or others for those mistakes? You can’t learn what works without learning what doesn’t. That formula requires you to make mistakes so you become better.

When I go out to a crowded venue, there are always empty seats, but they are next to people I don’t know. I’ve learned to take a deep breath, smile, walk over and ask if I can join them at their table. I’ve met some very interesting people this way and learned about places and events to visit in the future. Another way I expand my comfort zone of meeting people is to find something I really like about them, then walk up and tell them.  I met the most interesting couple the other day by commenting on her leg tattoo.  It was a pair of baby footprints that looked like the ink prints from the hospital. She visibly glowed and proceeded to tell me all about her (now) almost three year old.

Do something today that is a little bit scary. Comment on something the next person in line is purchasing. Tell them you like the color of their shirt. Just smile and say Hello. See what gate opens up for you. Notice if your breathing stays even or how fast your heartbeat returns to normal.  Or, if you’re like me, just take a big breath and jump out of that plane! DCIM106GOPRO

Posted in acceptance, attitude, concepts, empowerment, Experiences with Ortho, philosophy, reflections | Leave a comment


This also appears on my website:

I’ve been doing some repair and upgrade work around the house. In the process I have come to appreciate using the correct tool for various jobs. There are currently seven tool boxes in my home – down from 12. One tool box holds nothing but screwdrivers and pliers. Another holds saws, files and safety goggles. One has socket wrenches and bits. You get the idea.

Replacing my bathroom faucet required a screwdriver a wrench and some WD-40 to loosen the 30+ years of sediment. On my back, reaching around a pipe, I struggled to get the fitting loose. After 40 minutes and minimal movement, I called for reinforcements. I was convinced I was turning the nut and bolt the wrong direction and tightening, rather than loosening, the nut. My neighbor came over, with their tool box and handed me a socket wrench, rather than the clamp wrench I had been using. Within minutes, the nut and bolt were off and I had the new pipe and faucet in place.

Another project – installing a dawn to dusk light – required initially drilling, and then screwing in the fixture. While the screwdriver worked well, using the bit on the drill was even easier and faster.

These projects reminded me of the multiple techniques I have learned and use over the years in my practice. There are many ways to loosen that tight hip, but finding the tool that fits best makes everything easier.
Enter Ortho-Bionomy. When I apply the principles and concepts of the technique, there isn’t the struggle, frustration and wait to see if it’s what is needed. The client and I meet in the space that is comfortable for both of us. We acknowledge what is presented in the issue. Then together we find the correct “tool” or movement that allows them to find relief.

A long time ago I had some structural tightness. Nothing I did seemed to give me freedom of movement. In desperation, I saw a chiropractor. I say desperation, because my body doesn’t usually respond well to chiropractic. The chiropractor told me the pubic synthesis was stuck, and then hit me with a rubber mallet. No permission asked, nor given. Just a swift whack. It did loosen the joint, but I was bruised for six months. When I asked for the hammer, he asked why? I said I wanted to try it out on him. He said “No way.” I responded he didn’t ask permission to use the hammer. He said he knew I would say no. I then told him, if he knew, or even THOUGHT it might be No, then it WAS a no! Since that time, I have learned a very gentle, effective, Ortho-Bionomy move to release a stuck pubic synthesis. No hammer – rubber or not – is necessary. I have a better tool in my toolbox.

Just as I have multiple tool boxes in my garage, I have multiple tools and techniques at my disposal during a session. Unlike my chiropractic experience, you always have the authority to say yes or no and have it respected.

Posted in Experiences with Ortho, respect | Leave a comment


Judgement – this also appears on my website blog

April 2, 2017

I made a weekend trip to Tulsa to see a concert recently. I had a great time seeing the architecture, watching artists blow glass, standing at the Center of the Universe (look it up), looking at tree sculptures and bronze statues, driving down Route 66 and of course attending the concert. I was in my own little world of exploring until I was jolted into a space I didn’t like, and reminded me why I am an Ortho-Bionomist.

Walking to the BOK center, just to gauge how long it would take from the hotel to the concert, we bundled up against the wind and cold. I had my coat, hat and gloves on and had wrapped my scarf around my head as well, to block out the wind. As we were going up over the bridge, a single car at the light, drove up very slow until it was even with us. The driver leaned out the window with a look of hatred at us. He stopped his car and kept glaring. We made eye contact with him, but didn’t speak, and kept walking. He finally drove up the street and disappeared around the corner. I checked the streets as we continued our walk, watchful for anyone standing or parked near our route.

I couldn’t figure out why we were the recipient of such hatred, then realized he thought I was Muslim. With my head wrapped up in the scarf, he thought it was a hijab. That thought cut into me. To realize there are still people out there who judge another based only on their looks. Before you say I’m hypocritical, I admit I did judge him. But I judged his expression, not his structure, his skin color or fashion sense. I judged his expression to gauge my safety. I (assume) he was judging me based on where he thought I was from or what religion I practiced, based on what (he thought) I wore.

The beauty of Ortho-Bionomy is the lack of judgment. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to become an instructor so many years ago. To spread the knowledge of how we can function easily, comfortably, and gently, without judging ourselves as being bad or wrong in our current mode. Once we accept ourselves, it is easier to not judge others and accept them as human beings.

I will continue to spread the word and the feeling of Ortho-Bionomy, with the hope one day we can all acknowledge our individual shortcomings and strengths with compassion and understanding.

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I’ve managed to stay fairly healthy and keep my office open for almost 24 years in business. That said, I realize how fortunate I am in my life.

My office spaces have burned; had the ceiling collapse; been sold out from under me to an new owner (who didn’t want me leasing from them); had dead rats; a frog that emerged from the toilet; and a huge skunk walking around the parking lot; thousands of flies (from said rats); ghosts (whether you believe in them or not); been flooded with smells (dead animals, feral animals, smoke, hair products to baking bread and chicken fried steak); had the phone line physically removed and tied multiple times around a ceiling fan while I was out at lunch; and several times a year, when I was downtown, had the parking blocked for city fair activities. Insurance covered me for the fire and ceiling collapse. Humor and family assistance got me through the rest.

Up until this year, I had an occasional cold or flu which closed my doors for a few days. Emergency surgery for a perforated appendix wasn’t on my bucket list, but thankfully I don’t have to repeat the experience. Again, insurance helped with the expenses and humor, family and friends helped me through the rest.

During massage training, we were advised to get insurance: health, disability, renters and car (for out calls.) I listened, and thankfully, followed through and purchased policies. Those were invaluable to me, when I needed them. What was even more invaluable was the help, support and care I received from family, friends and clients. That type of protection can’t be purchased. Thank you for being there. I hope I can repay the favor. Until then, I’ll pay it forward.

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Strange Patterns

These last few days I have been reminded how complicated our bodies can seem. Moving a tailbone released a tight rib. Swinging the right leg caused nerve pain in the left buttock. Working on the sacrum released tension in a shoulder. Working the left side of the spine and the right side softened. Tightening the abdominal muscles caused pain in the second toe on the right foot. Really.

Structural imbalances from tight, overworked or inefficiently working muscles, tension in fascia, nerve pathways and habits all contributed to the issues listed. Sometimes it’s easy to discover the connections, other times it’s a complete surprise. After twenty three years of working on a variety of people, I can recognize patterns. Plus I’m pretty obsessive about paying attention to how my own body reacts.

When a client tells me where it’s painful or how something moves, my mind is creating that pattern inside me so I can feel it in more dimensions. I’m not always successful. My own habits, accidents and structural issues are involved and need to be filtered from the mix. The more aware you are of your own body however, is the best way we can find the root cause. So when we are working on something and a remote thought pops into your head, let me know. It could be the specific connection we need to release your issue!

Posted in Experiences with Ortho | 1 Comment