The Buttafly Technique transforms posture – of that there is no doubt.
At the same time, using the Buttafly to both support and off-load the body in this unique way promotes a cascade of consequences that can be described as the Buttafly Effect.
As highlighted by the requirement for effective meditation, posture is all-important. There are many different styles of meditation but common among them all is the prerequisite for a “straight” spine. What this means, in reality, is that each bone of the spine (vertebrae) stacks nicely atop the other, so that the joints between them are well-aligned. This will lead to a spine that is free of kinks and collapse whether in a lying or sitting position.
The better the posture, the less stress there is on the joints, ligaments, muscles, and tendons.
THE CENTRAL NERVOUS SYTEM
Much less considered are the benefits for the central nervous system (CNS). Comprising the brain and the spinal cord, these structures are surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF), enclosed by three layers of membranes (the meninges), and then outwardly protected by the skull and spine.
Over 100 years ago, Dr. A.T. Still, founder of osteopathy, paid particular attention to the movements of the skull and the properties of CSF.
“Cerebrospinal fluid is the highest known element that is contained in the human body and unless the brain furnishes this fluid with abundance a disabled condition of the body will remain. He who is able to reason will see that this great river of life must be tapped and the withering fields irrigated at once or the harvest of health be forever lost.” (Philosophy of Osteopathy, A.T. Still 1899.)
The CSF has a primary protective role and is also vital in its role for ensuring homeostasis, and facilitating communication between the central and peripheral nervous system, the lymphatic system, vascular system, and immune system (Damkier et al., 2013; Aspelund et al., 2015; Louveau et al., 2015; Adigun and Al-Dhahir, 2021).
As in life where everything is connected, there is a two-way relationship between the central nervous system and the body. The CNS organizes the tissues and systems of the body and is affected by them. Whenever the spine or other tissues are compromised, this, in itself will compromise the ability of the brain and spinal cord to function properly, with an overall negative impact on health.
According to Michael Kern, author of Wisdom in the Body, The Craniosacral Approach to Essential Health, the two basic tenets of this therapy are that:
- Life expresses itself as motion;
- There is a clear relationship between motion and health.
Although most Western countries have been (and are still) slow to recognize cranial motion, Asian systems of medicine such as acupuncture and Ayurveda have long appreciated the subtle movements which occur throughout the body caused by the flow of vital life-force or energy. This has also been taught in traditional Russian physiology.
In addition to the 12 main acupuncture meridians that flow along the surface of the body, practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine also treat deeper channels of energy in the body called the Extraordinary Vessels. If you think of the primary acupuncture meridian as rivers of energy and blood within the body, then the Extraordinary Vessels are deep lakes. They act to regulate the flow of Qi and blood within the 12 main channels.
There are eight Extraordinary Vessels in the body, and only two have acupuncture points along their pathway. One of these is the Governing Vessel or Du Mai. It originates between the kidneys, flows down to the perineum, and then runs up the length of the spine, through the brain, over the top of the head, and down the midline of the face.
Interestingly, The Qi of these extraordinary vessels does not flow in one direction, but ebbs and flows like the tides except for the Du Mai and its counterpart on the front of the body, the Ren Mai. In these two, their Qi flows up to communicate at the end of their respective pathways where they merge at the frenulum of the upper lip.
THE YOGIC TRADITION
As the individual vertebrae connect with each other, they form a bony gateway through which the peripheral nerves emerge from either side of the spinal cord. In the yogic tradition, there are subtle energy lines running alongside the length of these channels – Ida on the left and Pingala on the right. Together with the Sushumna in the midline, they represent the main lines of the Pranamayakosha or energy body of the yogic tradition, a sort of subtle counterpart to the nervous system.
The energy body is made up of 72,000 nadis, a pathway or channel of prana in the system, and just as when we allow slouch or overly straighten our spine, the flow of blood and fluids will be impeded, so will the energy which is necessary for going into deeper and deeper states of meditation.
There’s still so much to be understood about the relationship between the physical and the energetic, one might say spiritual, and of course, any discourse is going to be open to context, construct and conjecture.
Regardless, we must first acknowledge the essential truth that a relationship exists and that there must be specific reverence for our spine.