Back Space

Hold stress in your back? You're not alone.

As a massage therapist and movement instructor, I literally earn a living helping people's backs feel better. An aching back is a burden to bear, but luckily, you've got bodyworkers like me on a not-so-secret totally above ground mission to ease your pain.

Our spine determines posture, protects our nerves, holds in it the memory of all our experiences. It influences our perception of the world and the world's perception of us. Reflections on the spine conjure concepts of structure, support, groundedness, parts of a whole, communication, strength, adaptability, emotion, sexuality, power and poise.

Bringing awareness and energy to the spine can put you back in touch with You.

This guided meditation uses the spine as a railway of consciousness

Calm the nerves, relax the back

Transcript below

In this guided meditation

You’ll be directing your focus to your back,

Using the spine as a sort of railway of consciousness

You’ll move your awareness through the spine

Starting from the base and moving upwards

As we do so you’ll make minor adjustments to your positioning

To find more ease and comfort

In your own back

So, you’ll need to be lying down on your back for this

The floor, a bed…somewhere relatively level

The spine is this bony structure

33 small, individual segments that fit together to form a greater whole

It keeps your form

Expresses movement

And encases major nerves

It’s important

And unfortunately, for many of us, it also hurts a lot

There are so many moving parts within it,

And things can get stuck

Luckily with some attention

We can hear what our backs are trying to tell us

And rearrange ourselves accordingly

Take a few moments to get settled

Adjust your body

To a position where right and left sides feel symmetrical

You’ll be asked to make small adjustments to your posture throughout this meditation

So trust that the form you’re taking now

Won’t be the form you’ll end with

In that sense, you are in no way committed

To staying exactly how you are now

Change is always possible

My hope is that through this guided meditation

You’ll feel in your body


The improvement of feeling

That accompanies small changes

Take a deep breath in through your nose

And let it out through your mouth

Take another, in through the nose

Bigger this time

And out through the mouth

And then one more time

In the nose

Out the mouth

Feel the movement of your ribcage

Envision the dome-shaped muscle spanning the entirety of the bottom part of the ribcage

Front to back

And left to right

The diaphragm connects directly onto a few of your vertebra as well

This makes these makes diaphragmatic breaths

An effective method

Of mobilizing and energizing the spine

So keep that in mind as we continue

And use the breath to your advantage

Now let’s get started mapping the spine

Starting from the bottom

Our sacral and lumbar spine

Go ahead and bend your knees

And put your feet flat on the floor

Adjust to that change by repositioning however you need to

Maybe lifting and resetting the hips

Or lengthening the low spine along the floor

Slowly rock the knees from right to left

Feel how that rocking of the knees translates into movement of the low back on the floor

We have big swaths of connective tissue, called fascia,

That thicken as a means of support in several areas of the body

The low back is one of those areas

With several lines of fascia intersecting and overlapping

Rocking the low back on the floor like this

Put light pressure on that fascial thickening

And can actually help break up unnecessary crosslinks in the fibers

And create more of a gliding effect in the lumbar structures

Feel the low back unsticking from itself

Letting each structure move freely

At the very base of the spine

You have a flat, triangular bone

Made of several fused vertebra

Called the sacrum

Sacrum actually means sacred in Latin

And it holds a lot of significance

It’s associated with our emotion, creativity and sexuality

And is pulled in all different directions from the surrounding fascia

It doesn’t articulate perfectly with the pelvis (your hip bones)

So the meeting place between the sacrum and the hips

Can be the source of a lot of stickiness, a lot of discomfort and pain

So use this gentle sway of the knees to create space between the sacrum and the pelvis

Some energy and attention to your sacrum

Your sacred root, your spine’s grounding source

Go ahead and bring your knees to center

But keep your feet flat on the floor with knees bent

Stop moving as much as possible

Just for a moment

Then mentally align your sacrum to middle

Front, back

Side, side

Top, bottom

Find the center of the base of your spine

Relax the surrounding structures

Soften the pelvic floor

Soften the lower abdomen

Walk your feet out about a foot on each side

Slightly wider than your hips

And rest your knees together

Continue to intend rest and relaxation

Toward the structures at the base of the spine

Your legs should be exerting no effort whatsoever

You’re relying entirely on gravity and friction to keep them there


Return to the breath

A deep breath in through the nose

And out through the mouth

Next time you breath in,

Expand the belly so much you can feel the lower abdomen and lumbar spine

Affected by the movement

Keep your legs just as they are

And with tiny, barely noticeable movements

Begin to rock just your pelvis forward and backward

Again, keep the movement small

Nearly undetectable to an outsider

As the pokey parts on the front side of the pelvis tilt up toward your head

You’ll feel your sacrum,

Rock up too

And your lumbar spine flatten

And as the front side of the pelvis tilts down towards the feet,

The sacrum rocks down

And the low spine lifts

Now pause your rocking

And position the pelvis to neutral

So that there is a small, natural curve in the low spine

Not arching, but not pressing down at all either

Neutral from front to back

Our lumbar spine is made up of 5 large vertebra

They often get very compressed

As the weight of the rest of the body succumbs to gravity

But the state of our bodies is changeable

It’s possible to create more space

So now with your consciousness

Resting in your low spine

Imagine making space between each of the vertebra in the bottom part of your spine

This will feel like lengthening, not arching

So if in this process of trying to create space,

You actually feel more compression or find yourself jutting your ribcage up towards the ceiling

Try again

And lengthening in a way that is parallel to the floor

Another deep breath in

Rotating your consciousness to the base of your ribcage

Feel the width of your ribcage

Front to back

Left to right

Feel, again, the diaphragm spanning the entire width of the ribcage

And, again, connect with the breath

As you breathe in

Let the movement of the diaphram create pressure in your abdomen

So that your belly lifts when you breath in

And sinks back towards your spine when you breathe out

Find a softness in your whole abdomen

An effortless rise and fall

Let that softness translate to the whole bottom half of your spine

Visualize your whole ribcage

Twelve pairs of ribs

All connected to the spine

12 Vertebra creating the length of the thoracic spine

The mid back

With the expansion and contraction of the ribs with the breath

Feel how the vertebae separate from each other just slightly

Visualize the upper mid back elongating along the floor just as the low back did

As if you were sitting up a little bit taller if you were in a chair

With each breath comes more space

More openness

And more release

Belly, chest, whole rib cage


As we mentally move up the ribcage

Vertebra by vertebra

We reach the section of our spine in line with the shoulder blades

One by one, move your shoulder blade in and down

Right shoulder in and down

Left shoulder in and down

Let this action close the distance between the scapula

As well as open the chest and shoulders slightly toward the ceiling

You might find that with the shoulders taken down away from the ears

That the spine therein feels a little longer and stronger

We’re nearing the top of the spine now

The cervical spine

The 7 vertebra that make up our neck

Slowly, very slowly

Rock the head to the right

Then to the left

Barely perceptable to an observer

Then to the right

Then to the left

Now find center

Face pointed directly at the ceiling

Now ever so slightly tuck the chin toward the chest

Just an inch, maybe two

Let this lengthen the back of your neck

Creating space between these vertebra that

Carry the weight of the head

The weight of our thoughts

Your heavy, heavy brain

Gently press the back of your head harder into the ground

Feel the muscles on the back side of your neck firing

Then let that action go

And feel the head relaxing

And resting easily on the ground beneath you

The whole spine resting on the ground beneath you

Your whole backbone

We have now mapped the whole spine

Starting from the bottom, with the sacrum and its relation to the pelvis

We moved up the lumbar spine, lengthening

Then up to the thoracic spine, expanding with breath

Then up to the cervical spine, supporting the skull

Note how small movements can effect change

How the relaxing of the body and mind can effect change

Note how it is possible to create space

Possible to create change

Rest here for as long as you need

Feeling the rhythm of your breath

The connectedness within your body

The expansiveness of silence

Rest your bones

Show love to your spine

Be long

Be light

Take care



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