The Physiology of Compassion

 Here is a link to a 25 minute lecture done at Stanford by Dr. Stephen Porges discussing the physiology of compassion.  It is fairly dry at times, but Porges himself is a compassionate person and I think it’s worth getting through if you’re interested in this topic. This applies to people dealing with stress issues–understanding how we shut down when our body has had enough push-back from the world around us.

Porges also briefly mentions posture in this lecture. For my students who are dealing with structural issues like back, neck, hip, knee etc..pain–their bodies have also dealt with a tremendous amount of tension from pain and also from the emotional bumps of life. They also feel deeply relieved and human again after doing AlignUp’s breath-core work and other grounding, meditative exercises that restore alignment at the same time. The body becomes stronger, not just muscles, but our nervous systems.

AlignUp isn’t about sitting up straight the way your Mama told you to do at the dinner table when you were twelve. Our bodies have an incredible design to lift and carry our weight in a way that frees up our movement, providing a natural flexibility–in fact–that automatically stretches us. The most amazing thing about this design though, is that it takes the weight off of us. When our muscles are supporting alignment (not being worked for the sake of it), or when certain muscle groups are lifting our weight into our bones–something magical happens. You feel lighter.

I think a visual explanation of it, as illustrated by Yolanda, is easier than a verbal one.

Though this video of Mike is an illustration of the same principle.

In addition, TRE is an incredible modality, something I practice most days. It is invaluable for letting go of the stuff we physically and emotionally hold onto from old strife or trauma. Our bodies need a chance to let go of the more intense things that happen to us, if they’re not given that chance, they are stuck with the task of holding onto more and more. We know this is happening because we experience fatigue, unpredictable anger, and have a harder time connecting with other people.

Even more simply, TRE is an incredible relief when we’ve over-worked our muscles with intense physical activity. It assists my students who are reviving their alignment by easing those changes in the body via a release of fascia that had been working too hard because of misalignment. Not to mention the emotional toll that life can take over time, even if we haven’t been dealing with trauma or unrelenting losses and stress.

When you come to see me, I find out what challenges you’ve been facing and then we use the tools that I teach that will address what you’re body has been dealing with.

You have to feel it. Partially because of the obviousness of that statement. But also because we often don’t know how much stress we’ve been burdening ourselves with until we start to let go of it.





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