The Bodywork Perspective — the Chest and Sternum

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Just a note—if you’d like more information on working with the sternum / heart,
I’ve posted a Heart Meditation (text and mp3) for you to use. 
The page also contains information about the Heart Chakra.

The BODY — The Chest — Sternum

The chest and sternum.
PLEASE NOTE! There are also references to the shoulders.

The Ster­num
chest diagram

In general, we look at only one area of the chest — the sternum, or breastbone.

Neu­tral Sternum
neutral sternum

Neu­tral ster­num — a neu­tral ster­num is lev­el to slight­ly indent­ed — the ster­num sits com­fort­ably in the chest, nei­ther for­ward nor back.

If you press down­ward on the cen­tre of the ster­num (press gen­tly!) you’ll feel a slight “give” to the ster­num, i.e. it will move down slight­ly. (The ster­num is con­nect­ed to the ribs by lig­a­ments. It is thus able to “float.” Pic­ture it con­nect­ed to the ribs by tight rub­ber bands.) 

A mark of a neutral sternum is that it moves freely — it is not constricted by tight ligaments. 

Popped Ster­num
sternum out

“Popped” ster­num — if there is ten­sion in the ster­num area, the lig­a­ments, (the “rub­ber bands”) tight­en and tight­en, until the ster­num seems to be weld­ed to the ribs. Then, some­thing inter­est­ing hap­pens. The ster­num pops for­ward. At its most exag­ger­at­ed, it looks like a shield shaped bone.

A popped ster­num (and a creased ster­num) indi­cates a sit­u­a­tion where the per­son has “had their heart bro­ken,” and they have cho­sen to “hard­en their hearts” (actu­al­ly tight­en the ligaments.)

The popped sternum theoretically protects the heart from further hurt.

Col­lapsed Sternum 
collapsed sternum

In some cas­es, the ster­num pops in, cre­at­ing a deep indent where the ster­num should be flat.

Whenever we see a “non-neutral” sternum, the first thought is to the person’s sense of trust — are they able to be “open-hearted?” A collapsed sternum indicates a “giving up” on this ever being possible.

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