“You’ve got to suspend the illusion that you’re working on a physical body,” said Donny.
The line echoed through my mind all morning during my yoga practice. Not the buzzing mosquito thought kind of echo, but the playful contemplation kind of echo. Because it’s one thing to effort vinyasas hyper-focused on streeetchhiinngg your seemingly iron hamstrings as if they were tough leather that just needed enough force for enough time to finally achieve that perfect down dog (aside, that’s not even how stretching actually works). That’s working on a physical body. It takes a lot of work.
Then there’s another level more subtle. We can engage in the practice, still fully believing in the solidity of our system but conceding ourselves a little, playful imagery. Pretending that we could breathe into our third eye, imagining that our spine grows longer, imagining our hips rotating in their sockets. It’s fun, it doesn’t hurt, and it might help. So why not? We still believe we’re working on a physical body, but we allow ourselves to pretend otherwise, moving in the right direction.
It’s a whole different class to suspend the illusion that we’re a physical body and realize that we and everything around us is 99.999 percent space and energy. The rest is just solidified energy. And our mind moves, affects energy. All of a sudden, imagination isn’t just a cute distraction. It’s a powerful tool for shaping our body, our mind, and our reality. It’s not just every posture that matters now, but every thought, every moment, every emotion, every intention. Now that’s a way to have a potent yoga class. A potent way to live.
There are many things I love about Network Spinal. It’s effective, not just for back pain, but for all sorts of other physical conditions. It supports emotional, mental, and spiritual well-being. People under network care see real change in their quality of life. It’s sustainable, measurable, and progressive. It goes so far beyond just avoiding pain; it’s truly wellness care.
But in addition to and beyond all these things, I love this work because we can’t engage with it without questioning the illusion of a solid reality. This is where things get interesting. You may say weird, but I say exciting. Because when we start to see people’s nervous system’s come alive, their bodies start to move and unwind, and whole lives change with nothing more than gentle, little touches to their spine…well, this whole idea that it takes a lot of effort to make a lot of change simply has to go out the window. It suspends the illusion of a solid body.
It takes a lot of effort to make a change when we live in a world that’s solid matter.
That’s the Newtonian model, the linear model. A world ruled by F=MA. This means grinding a lot of hours to earn a lot of money, exercising really, really hard to get fit, starving ourselves to lose weight, and “working” hard to maintain our relationships. When we’re stuck in this paradigm, we build ourselves into a three-dimensional, linear prison. You know, a “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps” type of world.
But that’s not reality. Because our world isn’t a linear system; it’s a complex system. A system ruled by chaos theory—the quantum, not the Newtonian. We don’t necessarily have to work harder to make more money. We don’t have to work out harder or diet harder to be fit. We don’t have to fight to earn love. A little bit of effort in the right place can multiply to have exponentially greater effects in a completely different, seemingly unrelated area. A well-placed word could change our life. A chance encounter could change our entire career.
The reality is that we—and everything around us—is far more space and energy than matter (99.999 percent space and energy, 0.0001 percent matter). All wave, almost no particle. Even Max Planck, the godfather of quantum physics, said after studying matter his whole life that matter doesn’t exist! And this was a century ago.
Most of us have heard this by now in some form or another. However, for the vast majority of us, it’s just an intellectual understanding. Because despite knowing this, most of us spend our days in the illusion that we’re living in a concrete reality—Maya, the world of illusion, as the Buddhists would say. Because it’s not an embodied experience…yet.
So here I am, in a chiropractic seminar a couple of weeks back, and Donny Epstein, the creator of Network Spinal, is there telling us to suspend the illusion that we’re working on a physical body. And it’s not just talk—because we are learning and practicing and sharing a technology that allows us to experience this reality in our bodies. We have moments when we feel our whole system light up with nothing more than an ounce of pressure from a thumb on the back of our neck. And we simply can’t go back to thinking that more and harder is the best way to make a change.
This work allows us to move more and more into a lived experience of the energetic reality that we actually live in. Most of us, and the world at large, is stuck in a physical reality where it takes a lot of force to make a lot of change. We’re fighting pain, struggling to get ahead, and working on our relationships.
Sometimes, we move partway out of the illusion. Some of us have moments when we loosen our belief in a physical reality and taste a little something more. We taste transcendence in a yoga class, in a beautiful song, in the eyes of a lover. But we’re still trapped in the structure of our concrete beliefs. We’re too scared to let go of them, even though they limit us.
We choose the painful and familiar versus the thrilling uncertainty and possibility of the unknown.
We allow ourselves to be pulled out of transcendence by our schedule, by our phones, by our doubts, by our thoughts. It’s like we talk ourselves out of it because we don’t believe it could be that easy, that available, that playful.
But my work is teaching me that it can be. That when the bold anarchist in us suspends our belief in the structure of things, the door opens for energy, synchronicity, healing, serendipity, timelessness, and bliss. That’s what Donny was talking about. That’s where the fun is.
That’s the field I get to play in at “work.” But the truth is that it’s the same field that’s available to us all the time. All we really have to do is relax, loosen our grip on our thoughts, and play in the delightful nowness that is, well, right now. And besides, suspending a belief doesn’t have to be permanent. We can return to our concrete world up whenever we’d like. But if we do it right, I don’t think we’ll want it back.