Wow. I’ve been doing the WH Qigong “Spinal Bone Marrow” movement for a few years now, and for all that time I didn’t give any thought to my bone marrow–of course, I visualized my spine moving and flexing and filling with light–but I had neglected to consider the marrow, the inner wisdom, the vital work going on even deeper within my bones. For some reason (haola!), when I was getting ready to once again teach Spinal Bone Marrow practices, I thought to myself, hmmm, remind me again what the bone marrow does, oh Google. Oh boy. It’s pretty darn busy and important. Here goes. Hopefully my oversimplification of an incredibly complex process retains physiological accuracy.
Bone marrow is the flexible tissue in the middle of our bones. Our bone marrow produces nearly all our blood cells in the heads of the long (children) or flat (adult) bones–nearly 500 billion cells per day. Phew! Red marrow produces not only red blood cells, but white bloods cells (to fight infection) and platelets as well.
When we’re born, all our bone marrow is red. As we age, about half of our bone marrow converts to the yellow type, which produces cartilage, fat and bone. By adulthood, the only red marrow producing red blood cells is in our skull, vertebrae, clavicle, ribs, and sternum. That being said, that yellow marrow can convert back to red marrow to produce more blood cells in severe cases, for example if we experience massive blood loss. That’s certainly energy transformation in action! Nearly all marrow is yellow marrow by the time a person reaches old age. I have no data to back this up, but perhaps qigong practitioners retain more of their red marrow by doing movements such as Spinal Bone Marrow. I wonder!
Now we get to the most magical of them all–stem cells. This is where the rubber meets the road, in my opinion, regarding energy work being able to heal our bodies.Deep within the bone marrow resides a type of cell known as mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). These immature cells can differentiate into cells that produce bone, cartilage, fat, or muscle (conversantbio.com). Stem cells are cells that can differentiate into a variety of different kinds of cells. As we connect with our bodies to clear blockages and heal, we can send energy to those stem cells to suggest 🙂 they differentiate into, in my case, healthy cartilage for the lateral compartment of my left knee, for example. Part of my brain thinks my diseased cartilage is a lost cause, but more and more I’m thinking my body may have the power to regenerate that cartilage. After all, it can heal external wounds, change yellow marrow to red, and neutralize toxins (to name just a few of the daily miracles of the human body). It can’t hurt to try. My knee is feeling younger already! Time to go practice..and appreciate my bone marrow as I rotate, flex, open, and relax into the mind/body/heart/marrow connection.