Bite of the Neck Muscles
On Wednesday evenings, I conduct
a 3-hour autoreg training sessions. As I write
earlier, I use electrode sensors to record changing
patterns of energy in the heart, blood vessels,
muscles and skin. After wiring my patients to
computerized equipment, one at a time, I lead them
into various autoreg training methods. Assuming a
comfortable posture on chairs ówith hands resting on
the thighs and the palms facing upówe close our eyes
and begin meditation and energy work.
After individual periods of
autoreg lasting ten to fifteen minutes, I ask my
patients to open their eyes. Next, I demonstrate to
them the changes in the energy patterns in their
various body organs with moving graphs on a computer
screen. In almost every session, I am able to
demonstrate dramatic energy changes in different
body organs of one or more patients. Almost all
patients experience some tissue energy responses.
With lights dimmed in the autoreg lab, the computer
screen graphically illustrates, in bright colors,
the changing patterns of the function of the heart,
muscles, blood vessels and skin. The combination of
objective changes on the computer screen and
perceptions of tissue energy within them is very
effective in teaching my patients principles and
practice of autoregulation.
On the Wednesday following my
conversation with Choua about negative energy
responses, I saw him tiptoe into the autoreg lab as
I led the group into energy work. He took a seat in
the back and looked around to see what others in the
room were doing. He assumed the same posture
everyone else had, closed his eyes and began to
follow my lead. I suppressed a smile, closed my eyes
and continued my work.
The first person I wired for
autoreg that evening was Sheila, a 48-year-old woman
who consulted me for sinusitis, chronic headache and
At the initial visit for a
clinical evaluation and allergy tests, I advised
Sheila to get some training in autoregulation
methods as I do for all my other patients. She had
done some biofeedback previously and was not very
eager to consider any other form of self-regulation.
Within weeks, her allergy symptoms and headaches
improved. After attending my autoregulation
workshop, she returned for autoregulation training
in our laboratory. I applied the electrodes and
other sensors for monitoring her various body
functions during autoregulation. After some
introductory remarks about what we were going to do,
I asked her to sit comfortably on her chair, close
her eyes and follow my words.
In autoregulation training, for
the first minute or so, I usually observe the
subject and his moving graphs on the computer screen
and note how cortical or limbic his state of biology
is (sharp fluctuations in graph lines with tall
peaks and deep valleys indicate cortical turbulence,
and smooth and even lines with gentle wave effects
reflect a limbic calmness). Sheila visibly stiffened
her neck as she closed her eyes, and the computer
screen displayed wild fluctuations in her graphs of
skin conductance energy, muscle potentials, heart
rate and the pulse pressure. This is not unusual for
many people and represents apprehension at not
knowing what will follow. Generally, such
electromagnetic fluctuations subside and I begin to
see objective evidence of a transition from a
stressful, turbulent cortical state to an even,
restorative limbic profile. This was not to be the
case with Sheila.
Within several moments, Sheila's
neck began to turn and twist. She frowned with
closed eyes. Her lips quivered and her jaw muscles
tensed up. A few moments later, she broke into
clonic, almost convulsive spasms of her twisted
neck. To witness sudden, unexpected convulsive
activity in a patient who appeared in good health,
of course, is not an unusual experience for
physicians. I had extensive clinical experience in
emergency medicine and surgical trauma cases during
my years in surgery and had seen people break out
into sudden convulsive activities on many occasions.
I am rarely unnerved in clinical settings. This
turned out to be an exception. I found Sheila's
sudden near-convulsive activity in her twisted neck
and her distorted facial features frightening. I
suppose because it was the first time I had started
out with a patient in a private office setting, very
much like someone's living room only to end up
abruptly in an emergency. I touched Sheila's hand
and asked her to open her eyes. Her clonic neck
contractions stopped as suddenly as they had
appeared once she'd opened her eyes.
"I forced a smile," I continued
with my story. "A faint smile appeared on Sheila's
face. We were quiet for a few moments.
"What was that?" I asked, in as
natural a tone as I could muster.
"Oh, it's nothing," Sheila
"Nothing?" I asked, surprised at
"It's nothing. It happens all the
"Happens all the time?"
"Yes! I am used to it."
"What is it? How often do you get
it? I mean, why didn't you tell me about it?"
"Happens all the time." Sheila
forced another smile. "I didn't tell you because I
thought there was no point to it."
"No point to it?" I was
"No other doctor ever believed
me. So I didn't see any point in bothering you with
this. I guess the doctors thought it was hysteria or
"Maybe it is. Maybe it isn't. Why
don't you tell me about it?" I coaxed her.
"Oh! Dr. Ali, there is nothing
anyone can do about it. You know it happens every
night." Sheila's voice quivered. "Every night, it
I looked at her in silence for a
few moments. She looked back at me impassively.
"Tell me more about it." I broke
"There is nothing more to tell."
"What happens afterward?"
"Every night it happens as I put
my head on my pillow and close my eyes. My neck
turns and twists and cramps. It hurts me awful."
Sheila suddenly broke down and sobbed. I offered her
some tissue paper.
"Do you want to stop here?" I
said without meaning to say so.
"Not really. When my neck hurts,
I open my eyes and the spasms go away. Sometimes I
sit up and think. Sometimes I try to read. Then I
get exhausted and try again, and again it happens.
This goes on all night. Every night."
"When do you sleep?"
"When I am totally exhausted with
pain and sleeplessness. Sometimes in the early hours
of the morning, maybe four or five, I finally dose
off for a few minutes." Sheila sobbed again.
I sat frozen as I listened to
her. Tolstoy thought happy people were all alike but
each unhappy person was unhappy in his own way. How
many Sheilas did he listen to? I wondered. How many
Sheilas are there in this world anyway? Living out
their lives in silos of sadness.
"Sheila, would you do me a
favor?" I asked her, recovering from my personal
thoughts. "Would you mind if we did this again?"
"What would that do?" she asked
"We might learn something," I
"Learn something?" Sheila smiled
again, in earnest, I thought, this time around. "Go
ahead, if you think it will help