Author: Marisa Chadbourne, LMT, JFB Myofascial Therapist
Many scientists and bodywork therapists believe consciousness is tangible and can be touched. The fascial system, a super network of connective tissue is the physical doorway we can use to enter into consciousness. Fascia permeates our entire being three dimensionally, uninterrupted from head to toe—through every organ, muscle and bone, precisely infusing into each and every cell. Within this extraordinary system lies a network of communication that is comparable to the operating system of a computer. The brain acts like the hard drive as it signals our bodies to move, organs to function, and holds astounding intelligence all on its own.
At the same time, the operating system’s wondrous intelligence lies within the fascial system and is constantly reacting to our surroundings. Our entire being holds amazing brilliance and inner wisdom separate from the brain, resonating throughout the fascial system. This boundless connective tissue is constantly responding to our environment, thoughts, and feelings and has natural awareness of exactly what it needs to heal itself.
First, let us review some of the science proving the mind-body connection. In her book Molecules of Emotion, Dr. Candace Pert reveals this connection at work through the study of neuropeptides and their receptors. Every cell has its own receptors whose function is to receive messages. Neuropeptides are the messengers telling the cell how to react. While conventional science viewed the release of neuropeptides traveling a direct path solely from the brain to the cell receptor, Dr. Pert and others discovered differently. In fact, the chemical release of neuropeptides happens simultaneously throughout the body in the immune, nervous, endocrine, and gastrointestinal systems, in response to thoughts and feelings. Each of these systems formed what Dr. Pert called ”nodal points on a vast superhighway of internal information exchange taking place on a molecular level” proving that the brain is not the only communicator or the seat of consciousness.(1) Instead, this study shows the body has its own consciousness, which reacts to its environment, thoughts and feelings. Consciousness lies within our entire being.
Now, we can take a closer look at where this information exchange between cells takes place. The work of Dr. James Oschman reveals that cell communication happens throughout the connective tissue or extracellular matrix, which he refers to as “the living matrix”. This fascinating fascial system is comprised of elastin fibers, collagen fibers and a gel-like material called ground substance, giving the body its biotensegrity or structure and flexibility.
More importantly, the connective tissue is a continuous system that exists throughout the entire body. This living matrix is an intricate web of tough yet flexible fibers, weaving together like vines permeating each and every cell. The cytoskeleton of the cell, also called the cellular matrix, consists of microtubules filled with fluid and surrounded by ground substance. So one could say, each and every cell of the body has its own mini fascial system.(2) A histological view would show a nuclear matrix, within a cellular matrix, within a connective tissue matrix. Dr. Oschman explains, “As a hands-on therapist, what you touch is not merely the skin – you contact a continuous interconnected webwork that extends throughout the body.”(3) This living matrix has been further proven with endoscopic evidence provided by Dr. Jean Claude Guimberteau. His new book Architecture of Human Living Fascia challenges the current medical perception of the fascial system:
“This continuous network of fibers appears to extend throughout the body, suggesting that we need to rethink our understanding of the way in which living matter is organized. We can no longer view the body as a collection of cell-based organs held together by connective tissue. Instead, we must now see it as a constitutive fibrillar framework in which the organs are but local functional adaptations. Groups of cells with specific, specialized physiological functions are assembled within a multifibrillar network to form the organs. The cells are embedded in and supported by the fibrillar framework. This basic architectural pattern is the same for all the organs, as well as for the skin, fat, muscles, bones, tendons, nerves and vessels.”(4)
Therefore, the body is not a system of separate parts, but rather a continuous structure of sophisticated tissue containing connections that coordinate a beautiful symphony of communication.
Renowned Physical Therapist John F. Barnes, known as “The Father of Myofascial Release,” has been teaching this concept of the fascial system’s structure for many years. JFB Myofascial Release is a combination of structural and subtle energy work, which facilitates the body’s innate wisdom to heal itself while releasing fascial restrictions. As the therapist applies direct sustained pressure of five minutes or more into the tissues, the wonder of piezoelectricity (electricity or electric polarity due to pressure) occurs.
When piezoelectricity takes place, it leads to mechanotransduction, phase transition, and finally release or resonance.(5) In other words, when the fascia is stretched or compressed, it stimulates the piezoelectric properties of the tissue, resulting in the production of electrical fields. The collagen fibers that are embedded in the ground substance of the fascia act as a semiconductor and allow an electrical broadcast of information to be spread throughout the organism.(5)
Another profound phenomenon called fascial unwinding occurs, which releases tissue memory that has been stored within the fascial system. The release of this tissue memory allows for new neural pathways to be created and thus the shifting of electromagnetic energy, transforming energetic patterns. This all occurs when we allow the body’s intuitive wisdom to lead the healing process. Myofascial Release facilitates this healing process with compassionate touch in a loving and supportive environment, allowing the body to self-correct.
The fascial system is a sophisticated three-dimensional web of consciousness or awareness that is constantly responding to thoughts, feelings, and surroundings. Its magnificent structure orchestrates a symphony of communication and innate intelligence that is capable of self-healing. Listening to the fascial voice creates awareness in the mind and body, which makes quantum mind-body shifts possible.
1. Pert, Candice. Molecules of Emotion: Why You Feel
the Way You Feel. New York: Scribner, 1997: 340.
2. Barnes, John F. “Cellular Consciousness and Healing.”
PT Today – Mind & Body, 1996.
3. Oschman, James. Energy Medicine: The Scientific
Basis. London, United Kingdom: Churchill Livingstone,
4. Guimberteau, Jean Claude, Colin Armstrong, Architecture
of Human Living Fascia: The Extracellular
Matrix and Cells Revealed Through Endoscopy.
The Old Manse, Fountainhall, Pencaitland, East
Lothian EH34 5EY, United Kingdom: Handspring
5. Barnes, John F. Healing Ancient Wounds: The
Renegade’s Wisdom. Pennsylvania: Rehabilitation
Services, Inc., T/A, 2000: 328.