Emotional Tension in the Jaw


Some time ago, when I was studying under Ged Sumner, one of the leading figures in Biodynamic Craniosacral Therapy today, he asked for a volunteer to get on the massage table to demonstrate a technique. This particular technique was in regards to working with the mandible or jawbone. Not having been the example very often, I decided my turn was up and jumped at the chance.

Upon placing his hands on my jaw, he said, "Sorry Jonas, you're not a good example for this one, you speak your truth. Good on you! Can I have another volunteer?" Looking back on it, among the multitude of health issues I've suffered, TMJ is not one of them. And if I could be just a little vulnerable here, a criticism I used to receive a lot in younger days is that I was a fairly confrontational person. I'd be naive to think that's disappeared, but it sure isn't what it once was.

I confirmed this realization a few years later when I confronted a different teacher in an Energy Healing group. For those of you unfamiliar with the format of an energy healing class, you should know that they don't exactly have the degree of structure you'd find in say, an economics course or even a massage class. Who'd have guessed right!?

What's slightly more frustrating in these classes is while the teachers might be brilliant healers, their ability to teach doesn't match their ability to heal. This is all fine and dandy as we all have to start somewhere, but when you're paying 1000's of dollars for such a class on an English teacher's wages, you tend to notice things other students might not...and they trigger you.

Rookie mistakes occur like biding for time in unorganized lesson plans; not keeping your own process in check to support your students, and lesson plans which still haven't been perfected so that they still can't make simple explanations of complicated ideas. However, the one that was really troubling me was my teacher's inability to hide who was on her favorites list in a classroom setting, regardless of how much effort they were making in the class. And when you're in such a container that it demands you to bare all in front of these other students, that's particularly upsetting. I'd like to think that it was karma for some of my rookie teacher mistakes subjected to my poor students when I first started!

Anyway, I was not on the favorites list, and I considered myself to be a diligent student because with what I was paying and what I was earning, I couldn't afford to do otherwise. And I was becoming resentful, but I was too intimidated by the teacher to call her out. Finally, I cornered her some years later after an incident which really upset me.

As I explained to her, very politely, what I saw as blatant teacher's pets in front of the class, she paused me for a moment. "What's happening in your jaw right now?" It felt like somebody was pulling pipe cleaners out of my jaw. It was a surreal, buzzy feeling that was strangely painful and comfortable at the same time. Regardless of the resentment that I'd felt towards this person, I have to say, I was pretty grateful to have actually experienced this firsthand. It would help me serve my clients better who suffer from TMJ and similar problems.

I've had so many clients come in with jaw issues, and it's only the ones with whom I've built a strong degree of rapport that I ask if there's something they've been harboring towards somebody close to them, or somebody they're required to communicate with regularly. I've yet to have a client tell me "no."

If you suffer from these types of jaw issues, a recommendation I have is to explore this issue for yourself. It's not my place to say whether or not to confront the individual in question, but at the very least, it does merit some consideration. If this person is no longer of this life as we know it, is somebody who you're not ready to communicate with under any circumstances, or you simply can't confront them for other reasons (say professional or legal), then at least say it in private what you'd like to say to her/him in person. Maybe even in front a mirror. As you do this bring your awareness to your jaw and see what happens. You've got nothing to lose except maybe a little jaw tension.

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