Ear Massage (Today’s Daily Presence)

For today’s Daily Presence, I am learning and practicing ear self-massage techniques. As a person diagnosed with trigeminal neuralgia, auditory processing disorder, Eustachian tube dysfunction, tinnitus and TMJ at various points in my adult life, this area of my body has dealt with a lot of strain and discomfort. As of late, my body’s latest “trick” is to turn one part of my left ear scarlet red out of nowhere, with a corresponding warm sensation, so the issues I have seem to be getting worse rather than better. I suspect that my botched root canal over five years ago was a major contributor to many of these ailments, as several of the issues are primarily or exclusively on the same side as the tooth I had to have pulled.

I did not know until today how many acupressure points correspond to the ear. (Side note: The link I’ve included unfortunately does not reference Chinese/Eastern medicine sufficiently in explaining how acupressure may work.) I found the pressure point on my outer lower lobe to be the one that was most relaxing. Unfortunately, my tinnitus started up again after trying the points on my inner ear, so I will have to stick to only a few of the recommended areas.

I also tried out a technique for massaging one’s ears and neck in order to promote the opening of a person’s Eustachian tubes. After trying it out, I found myself wondering again how much the severe neck tension I have also worsens any ear dysfunction from which I might suffer. I find it interesting to note how much the lymph system plays a role in our ear health.

Finally, with my left ear ringing, I researched whether massage can help to reduce tinnitus. There was a double-blind study published that indicates it can, but the specific trigger points were not included. I have not gotten a massage in quite some time, so this finding is making me tempted to try it out again!

The Daily Presence practice never ceases to impress upon me how many body parts we have and how much of an impact each one can have on our lives. In addition, I am beginning to be able to appreciate the complex interconnectedness within each of our bodies in new ways as I learn about how the systems that run throughout our body interface with organs, limbs and the like. Have you tried any ear self-massage techniques? If so, how did they affect your body?

Bodily Filtration (Today’s Daily Presence)

For today’s Daily Presence card, I chose the card focused on the lymphatic system. This is a body system I know little about in terms of how it actually functions. I’ve absorbed snippets of information, but, in investigating further, realized there is a lot I don’t fully understand. In order to pay mindful attention and honor an area of the body, I find more meaning when the biological processes involved are clear to me.

What I learned about the system is that it acts as a filtration setup for lymph, which in itself is a substance made of white blood cells that attack viruses and bacteria, as well as chyle which consists of fats from our small intestines. Lymph nodes are where the response to infections take place, so they swell when we are fighting off an infection because there are more white blood cells being produced. In addition, the lymph system helps to keep our body balanced in terms of fluids. Taken together, problems in these functions can spell trouble in terms of immune capacity as well as lymphedema (swelling) in affected areas of the body.

As I educated myself about how my lymphatic system functions, I found myself wondering how much it affects my experience of chronic pain and my general health and well-being. We can test our cardiovascular system with tools like a blood pressure cuff and pulsometer, but I am unaware of similar products to evaluate how well fluid is being drained or how well our lymph nodes are working to filter bodily invaders out. All I found in looking into this were “contrast MRI’s” and the like, although I’m sure basic bloodwork, with its white blood cell counts and all, gives some insight.

I also spent time looking into how to improve the function of my lymphatic system and was disappointed that there were few scientifically-reviewed practices available. One message I found repeated was the importance of drinking water to keep our bodies hydrated. If there are areas of poor lymph drainage, massage can be helpful but should be performed by someone certified in the process and only if a doctor recommends it based on a person’s medical status. Finally, the cardiovascular system is related to the lymphatic system, so improving cardiovascular health might help to reduce inflammation, which, in turn, may be beneficial to the lymphatic system.

All in all, I found myself both intrigued and frustrated by my exploration of the research on this topic as I do not feel as though I gained a full understanding of how it works or how to ensure I am doing what I can to improve its function. Whenever I get a professional massage, I feel queasy and odd for a few hours afterwards. I’m curious as to what my lymph systems “levels” look like after an experience like that. In thinking about my heart health, I will also consider now my immune system and how they interrelate. Finally, I find it highly relevant to how I work as a person to consider that our immune defense has a passive feel to it; to some extent, invaders are allowed to “flow” until they reach the filter, at which time all hell breaks loose and they get (hopefully) destroyed. To what extent do you bring conscious awareness to your lymphatic system? Does it represent anything on a spiritual or energetic level to you? Are there any actions you are taking to improve its function?