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

Here’s a video describing the chest and sternum. Click play.
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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