Can too much sugar wreak havoc on the best of our efforts to remain healthy?
So we may have to clear our way through the maze of 30 years of nutrition misinformation to get back on track.
Those efforts pay the dividends of living an easier life.
At the heart of our practice in Somatics Exercises is the notion of self-regulation to ease discomfort and regain comfort so it can be maintained.
While our main focus has to do with the application of conscious brain-based movement towards refining our self-perception and the subtle feelings which can flow as a result of natural processes.
This intimate knowledge gives you a leg up on how you feel and how your body responds to life.
When we eat, our senses can be fooled and we can simply overindulge without knowing why since the brain is getting tricked.
So our healthy efforts are like moving 1 step forwards, 1/2 a step back or more.
It’s no wonder the majority of us are weighing 25 lbs. more than 20 years ago.
Look at this about our fat intake (from the Bitter Truth).
Our brain’s are having to deal with food-beverage trickery and our body, well you know the story.
Heck, when I won a t-shirt for winning intramural sports at the University of Texas in the late 70’s, I was given a large.
A couple of years ago, I was given a Wall of Fame large t-shirt to commemorate the past.
Wouldn’t you know when I compared the present to the past t-shirt. The large got larger.
Doing the Right Thing
So, at sporting events for young and older duffers like myself, I continue to see how athletes (and many people in general) are moving backwards, though they “think” they are doing the right thing.
Having kids hydrate with Gatorade is not in their best interests for the long run since their brains too can begin to form a stubborn habit to change.
Our subtle senses, which serve us through feedback mechanisms, can go through an ongoing temporary battle over a longer run causing a disarray and host of unhealthy problems.
Self-regulation is about learning and tweaking to live the fully healthy life you deserve. So some of those best efforts and right things to do have to change.
Plus, it can be fun where we come to understand how sometimes the simple things in life are quite powerful.
When it comes to regulating sugar – which can be difficult in these times – watch the Bitter Truth below.
This is heady stuff so you can watch the long version below
Not nice to have our brain think it is starving and take us on that path.
All that sugar consumption is helping to continue a downward spiral in healthy activities. Bummer!
For a another and shorter version, watch this.
Learn more how we self-regulate and bring the brain and body up to speed so you can stay on a healthy track.
A loss of balance can happen even if we’re messing around with our body.
Balance can seem elusive at times and can be affected by a number of factors.
Compensations such as shoulders rolling forwards, palm facing backwards, bent knees, a slumping chest or even having a bad day can happen enough to begin to form such a posture over the long run.
This can lead to discomforts in the chest or upper back where high stress levels can put the weight of our world on our shoulders and can prevent us from reaching states of comfortable balance.
While we might attempt to straighten up, the weight of what is going in internally can continue to undermine us.
Bad life (fun) events such as being a Cleveland sport fan like I am, who for the past 50 years has lost count on the number of bad sports days can have an affect.
Letting go of bad (fun) events can be difficult since we can go to that sinking (movement and) feeling over and over.
So life and how we participate in it can affect us.
How to restore our body and balance using mindful movement
One way to restore balance is to employ mindful movement where you tap into the brain’s ability to direct an easy or gentle movement pattern.
You make the decision to do a particular movement and stay well within your comfort zone.
See, the doing of a movement is one thing.
Another is when you also pay attention to the feel or sensing of any number of movement actions taking place during the particular movement you decided to do.
When you direct the mind and body, thereby targeting the brain in a specific manner, you can enhance one of nature’s most potent acts to restore the body in order to re-balance.
This is a far different approach than regular exercise where that is more about doing.
Mindful movement is about feeling and sensing smaller movements or movement patterns while noticing certain self-adjustments of either a grand or minute orchestration of a particular movement.
You simply notice the inherent quality of your own movement taking place
Since the movement system involves any number of layers of muscles and fascia – which actually has more sense receptors than the muscles – there can be a lot of information to process, be aware of, and simply explore.
This approach can augment other physical types of activities in order to rebalance our faster pace of life and give us a restoring respite to recharge in a more playful and intelligent manner.
Plus, all of this can be done in a lazy, gentle, yet highly tuned in approach.
8 Somatics tips for the body and balance
Somatics, defined as the body experienced, covers many areas and here are some everyday useful tips you can use when you do easy, mindful movements such as somatics exercises to help restore balance.
You can also apply this to other forms of exercise too.
1. Move with the least effort
This often goes against many people’s idea of how to exercise, yet when we live in discomfort, this naturally makes more sense.
Even if you are highly active, you can pay attention to your movements by noticing your sense of effort rather than pushing with your efforts.
This has more to do with noticing the quality of movement itself.
This slight difference can make a big difference and help healing and recovery.
2. Breathe with your movement
Since we tend to go on autopilot when it comes to breathing, becoming aware of breathing and how this is impacting our sense of effort or the quality of a movement can be quite revealing.
You can use your breath differently and explore the differences it can make or mean when you shift your awareness.
You can do a movement and notice how you are breathing.
Do the same movement and hold you breath to feel or notice how this can impact the quality or feel.
Reverse your breath in terms of how you noticed yourself breathing to check in how this can affect a movement or the feeling of it too.
3. Move as a system not as a muscle
The big muscle–the brain–sends messages to the muscles and receives back information in our sensory-motor feedback loop.
When we become aware of how intimately involved our sense and level of effort is involved, that exploration can improve overall body balance since you’re tuning in to how you are connected throughout your entire body.
4. Thoughts can affect movement and impact our body and balance
As you do any exercise, choose to think a thought while feeling what muscles may be contracting in your body.
Or simply sit. Conjure up a thought and feel how your muscles respond.
Play with an emotion and feel what happens as you move.
What does a thought or state of emotion do to what you feel and how you move?
Can you tune in your sense of muscles turning on or off during a particular movement, exercise or simply noticing while sitting or standing?
5. Comfort is king
Any small adjustment such as using a pad or pillow can alleviate any struggle we might find ourself when it comes to positioning ourself for a movement, exercise or simply sitting.
There’s no need to tough it out.
Even the slight adjustment of an angle or body position may be the necessary thing to do so our body can be as comfortable as possible at that moment.
This can let us more fully experience ourself rather than taking away our focus in a movement or exercise.
6. An exercise can’t hurt us
People will tell me they tried a certain exercise or even our gentle somatics exercises and hurt themself or say – “that exercise hurt me”.
If we try to force our body (and it doesn’t have to be much of an effort), it can naturally react and pull itself back quickly since it will want to protect itself, especially if it is in an injured state or we’re early in healing.
Any random, thoughtless or thoughtful movement or exercise can turn up tension levels so pain signals can be ramped up if we over do it or rev it up too fast–even if we didn’t intend to.
Once the body has been programmed to turn up signals of discomfort, it can do so until the program gets changed.
So any arbitrary movement or exercise can seem to lead us to flinching, wincing or holding our breath, for instance.
To learn how to re-navigate our internal terrain of our movement system successfully is where we simply go back to the fundamentals and building blocks of movement itself.
“If” we bump into discomfort during any movement, exercise or exertion, we can use that information to bring our body and balance back as quickly as possible–while figuring out where our comfort zone truly lies.
More often than not, our compensations and habits of movement get us to bump the pain switch on – even to the point of it becoming chronic so the brain will naturally turn it up, though this can be reversed with a more mindful approach.
So it’s not so much an exercise, it’s what you do and how you do it.
You can change the quality of your movement in order to successfully exercise and comfortably move about.
7. Imagination is the least effort
In difficult times, you can use your ability to imagine a movement or exercise.
It’s highly likely you won’t hurt yourself using this approach, even though I get it–sometimes just getting to the position of a movement or exercise can be test our limits.
So to imagine or eke out even a micro-movement, this can start the process to get the brain to change the body’s negative response.
It might seem like you’re not doing much, yet this counter-intuitive approach of doing less, still wakes up the nervous system since the brain doesn’t differentiate between you imagining a movement and doing it.
Try this: Imagine a movement taking place. Then do the movement.
Ask yourself if what you imagined, felt like it did when you actually did the movement.
This might reveal more layers from an internal observation viewpoint and provide keys to successfully getting out of a particular body-mind jam.
Successful athletes have used imagination and visualization techniques. You can do the same by simply visualizing and feeling to the best of your ability – what it might feel like to move by not moving.
This can become a highly interesting, focused and mindfully effortless way to regain balance in the body.
8. Pain is our greatest teacher and gives us back our body and balance
In the practice of somatics exercises, you learn how to wield pain and discomfort to your advantage.
Pain is treated as a signal that you can change, intensify or dissolve since you can use the brain and body to change the output of tension levels through various feedback loops of information.
With a little practice and familiarity of a simple 3 step method which mimics one of nature’s acts to reset tension levels, negative experiences can move towards more comfort and pleasure. Once the brain remembers that it can produce more positive feel-good sensations, you’re well on your way to restoring and maintaining balance.
Somatics Body and Balance Movements
Somatics exercises move around many themes, levels and types of pain, stiffness, discomfort, and injury all leading to increased levels of comfort.
Take control of:
• your brain and your own awareness,
• tension levels,
• and effortless effort allows a fluid body to Move Easily and Restore Balance.
Recapturing the feelings of childlike, easy movement happens. Kinda like coming back to memory patterns where we once did this and now have the ability to restore it or enhance it using a brain and body connection.
The brain can be programmed to bring the body back to its natural state of comfort and pleasure and you can find out more in the Gravity Werks Insiders Club where we explore conscious movement to learn more about how we work and easily move from the inside out.
Simple movement patterns which can boggle the mind and leave the body refreshed, restored and in balance for more happy days ahead!
When you play with the brain in a mindful way, the body can get a boost.
Targeting the brain’s sensory-motor cortex can help relieve stiffness, stress, ease pain, and improve the body and mind.
The brain’s motor cortex sits atop the brain adjacent to the sensory cortex.
The motor part is where you can “turn on” the motor of movement. The sensory part lets you perceive or feel a variety of sensations or feelings about the quality of movement itself.
This feedback loop of information can help you in effect, move well and be freer to move around.
This little guy is called the homonculus, the little man.
This represents how our body parts are reflected in the brain in terms of how we use them and sense them.
As you can see from this representation:
The hands and mouth have the largest areas in terms of how we sense ourself.
In order to help both the brain and body as you age, you can zero in on your sensory-motor cortex so both a movement in and of itself and the quality of how you move your body is addressed by paying attention to the information you can perceive or feel.
Plus, you can do this in a playful type of manner without a lot of hard work.
You see, the brain functions better with a variety of movements which opens up the possibilities of new neural connections since the brain itself can be changed, formed, and reformed.
Normally, we think of brain exercises like doing a crossword puzzle or doing some type of cognitive training. Any number of ways can sharpen us mentally such as learning to play an instrument, trying new recipes and good old fashioned doing math in your head.
Regular exercise itself, is good in general, and can help the brain too.
The brain thrives on novelty and our 600 muscles and 17 layers of muscles and fascia (which surround the muscles) can be used in a unique un-exercise approach by focusing our awareness on the conscious nature of movement itself.
This wakes up the brain and body since we can tap into the flow of information in our nervous system.
This non-traditional approach can augment any traditional type of exercise and can actually let us exercise pain free or be able to do the necessary movements you engage in with less tension and a different felt sense of ability.
The brain can be used to lessen tension through a natural process of updating our movement software.
When we have less tension or when we can sustain more neutral levels of tension, then we can move easily and agilely over the long run.
So when our brain gets challenged with paying attention, our body can actually feel the difference. Even when small, easy, gentle micro-movements are used to help set up or be the foundation for the moveable building blocks of overall coordination of movement.
Slow movements help brain functions
Watching someone do small movements, is similar to watching grass grow.
We might think not a lot can be accomplished by little or slow movement.
When you shift upstairs to target your motor cortex and do conscious specific types of movements slowly, gently and with as much awareness as possible – the brain can help the body make a number of changes.
A slow movement practice is about how you pay attention to a number of areas of the body.
The conscious application of movement done slowly forms the system of somatics exercises which is essentially brain based.
9 Advantages of a Brain Based Practice
1 – Pain Relief Using the Brain
Since the brain thrives on novelty, the brain and body can be used in unique ways to affect the flow of information in the nervous system.
This is set up with simple movements that can be done in a lazy, gentle manner where the mind is highly engaged.
One of the brain functions of the motor cortex is that it can reset the resting levels of the muscles. The muscles are left more relaxed.
As the muscles become more relaxed, the brain creates more feelings of relaxation and pleasure.
2 – Improved Memory
Movement is memory.
The lower part of the brain, the cerebellum remembers much like a programmed computer program which does our quick, fast movements. We don’t have to think about it, we get up and go.
Using the brain’s motor cortex allows us to change the program by noticing what is happening in our overall quality of movement as well as the actual movement.
By improving the quality of how well we can move at any age, the brain functions at a higher level since the brain’s software is getting updated.This helps us remember and experience our former youthful movement.
3 – Gain Strength
Normally we exercise our muscles to get stronger.
Strength is also resiliency and flexibility.
So rather then a brawn approach, you can use the brain to lose excessive or amped up tension and stress.
Our body becomes more balanced. We remain strong like animals in the wild who reset their muscles naturally since the slow movements are done along certain chains of connections which help us move more effectively.
4 – Posture Changes
We can change our shape.
By losing compensations such as a curved spine which has our belly hanging over or the reverse when we’re too slumped.
Our new appearance results from letting go of the tension which held us in place by the lower brain and its programmed ways.
When the brain remembers to reset to neutral, the brain functions much better and now we appear more easily upright and relaxed.
5 – Natural Stress Alleviation
The brain can create powerful chemicals of relaxation.
Healthy animals with a spine tap into this natural source.
They do this through the act of pandiculation as they target the brain and body.
You can zone in on the brain in a similar conscious manner to create natural chemicals of relaxation so you’re left feeling content, relaxed and in control.
6 – Regain Natural Flexibility
Regaining flexibility is not about getting longer or going for range of motion.
Simply being able to squat is one thing, getting up is another.
When we let go of the binds of stress, tension and long held-injuries and compensations, the body knows where to reset to neutral so it can in effect move easy and be in comfortable positions.
You can move more freely and naturally by reprogramming the brain so a natural flexibility can be easily maintained.
7 – Improve the Immune System
When we’re constantly triggering flight or fight response in our busy lives, we’re not giving our self the chance to calm things down.
Resetting our brain and body so we can ramp it up and then back it down, allows us to live more easily with a nervous system which can be reset so our immune system is less burdened as the inflammatory response is cooled down.
This allows more good feelings to flow through us so it can aid in healing, for instance.
8 – Sleep Better
Tuning down tension levels using the brain relaxes our body.
The body and brain functions much better when we can rest easy so our tissues can repair.
Resting easy happens when we feel calmer and can let go of the body and the mind.
9 – Greater Sense of Peace and Tranquility
When you use the brain to reset the entire body system of movement, you can move with greater ease and comfort like any other healthy vertebrate animal.
As our earlier sense of freedom returns, movement can nurture us towards more tranquil states.
This also brings us a vibrant sense of confidence to move, relax and have a calm mind.
As you use the brain and target certain functions, you can return again and again to levels of comfort where you can fully understand or appreciate the mind and body connection.
Better brain functions
When we go back to the well of movement itself and harness the power of the brain to tap into our very awareness.
The brain’s intelligence is aroused (with a little practice) so you end up with a better brain and body.
When you reset yourself with a certain level of conscious awareness, the brain functions at levels which may continue to delightfully surprise you as you age.
Feeling good is your natural birthright.
Yet as we age our share of aches, bumps, dings, stiff feelings and various types of pain can add up depending upon our circumstances and the activities we choose to do or not.
To reverse the accumulation of life’s hurts and recapture the full pleasure in your body on a daily basis can happen when you remind yourself to…
Move Like an Animal
You see, all the healthy animals on the planet with a spine, tap into the brain to reset tension levels so they can move with comfort, agility and grace.
The human animal can too with a simple conscious 3 step plan to get the brain, body and nervous system revitalized to restore feelings of confident comfort.
So whether we feel stiff from everyday life, work or even the games and activities you enjoy or grind our way through.
There is a natural way for the brain & body to reverse stiffness and pain so we won’t have to beat on our muscles, ice, heat or use any of those balms just in order to be able to move a little easier in the first place.
Given our present understanding of the brain and how it’s like a piece of software we can change and modify.
We’ve been able to systematize what works in nature in order to upgrade both the brain and body so it can be programmed to ease tension, pain and stiffness naturally.
In the book, Move Like an Animal, you will learn:
• The 3 Simple Steps to Reduce Stiffness & Feel Pain Free
• How You Can Restore Your Natural Birthright to Feel Comfortable and in Control
In what I call, the issues in the tissues, you have the ability to use your brain and body in symphony to restore and recover those lost feelings of–feeling like your self again—even if things presently continue to stay amped up, stiff or painful.
• The One Key Movement to Feel Better Now
• How to Relieve Stress & Tension Confidently
• and Overcome Compensations which can be a Factor
In the animal world, healthy animals set themselves up daily for successful movement.
The ability to be agile, flexible and move in balance and grace is set up by the same natural neural mechanisms you too can access.
If you want to:
– Maintain comfortable mobility
– Restore natural flexibility
– and Bring back the feelings of pleasure back in your body,
Then Move Like an Animal is for you.
Feel Free Again
Through a unique, counter-intuitive approach, you can feel how to:
• Loosen Up Tightness
• Release Stiffness
• and Feel the Binds Melt Away.
“The old traditional approach is sadly behind the times in preparing our bodies for strenuous activities and in rehabilitating the discomforts that impeded our life and competitive efforts. The new frontiers of understanding brain plasticity have given us exciting insights that can be controlled through brain-altering stimulation. This exciting application of the latest brain science will benefit healthy and recuperating people alike on all levels.”
-Timothy Berger, BA, MA, RN, ATC. Professor of Sports Science, Muskingum Univerisy
Since there may be those times when we may be guarding to protect a sore, tight or painful area.
Having the know-how to release it—is of great value when you need to let high tension levels or feelings of stress in the body simmer back down.
The Nature of Movement Itself
This is inherently different since it’s not about the range of motion – its more about the quality vs the quantity.
The quality and nature of movement itself are what is at stake to remain comfortable for life.
See, those wonderful animals have got this part down.
No quality. They’re a goner.
For the human animal, less than optimal quality can bring all sorts of types of pain and the various binds, stiffness and restrictions we can’t seem to shake in the long run.
Using a series of unique, gentle, conscious movement patterns targeting a specific part of the brain can restore childlike feelings of freedom.
All of this set up by the brain so you can remain comfortable as you age.
Even if you over do it, your brain and body can change quickly without even resorting to pills.
“A doctor gave me muscle relaxants and pain medication for a painful incident at work. Instead, I did a few movements and my pain was gone and I’m back to normal. It’s amazing, this works.”
-Debbie Elliott, Registered Nurse
Since animals know how to relax and let go of tension on a daily basis…
The good news is. Your brain & body is waiting for you to tap into this same conscious power source to:
– Feel more relaxed,
– and Be able to sleep more easily too.
“Filled with practical advice. This is a very useful book for anyone who wants to move and feel better. I will recommend this book to my clients.”
-Dr. Del Millers, author of Fitness & Spirituality
What Move Like an Animal is About
The book begins with the ‘Animal Secret’ act that even the human animal did as a baby.
Once we remind ourself of this forgotten or lost ability, the brain remembers what to do to reset similar to the way we update our computers.
Down the Rabbit Hole
The brain is described as the one big muscle working with various feedback loops you can use to reset both stiffness and pain.
You’ll learn which ones those are and how to access them to return to the comfort zone.
A shift from the revved up sympathetic state to the more relaxed parasympathetic state of calm happens when you tap into the specific part of the brain
See, from a more relaxed state, the muscles are ready to be used rather than starting from a somewhat or higher rate of tension. This is what fatigues and wears a lot of us down.
We’ve lost that ability to de-rev naturally since the brain will keep certain programs running like a car idling in 2nd or 3rd gear, instead of neutral.
In the exercise and therapy world, compensations are readily seen and can throw us off center. Even though we can figure out how to use our body. We may be struggling or use more energy un-necessarily.
Compensations can shift as tension levels abate since the muscles are more relaxed to allow the bones to fall in place so we don’t end up fighting or struggling against gravity.
Then exercise or physical activity actually becomes freer and easier.
Proprioception is how we feel our movement and the positions we find ourself in.
The proprioceptive police may show up with signs of mis-alignment, pain, discomfort, tightness and on-going stress which further wears us down.
-Edward Barrera, Move Like an Animal
Brain Based Approach
You’ll get a birds-eye view as how this is the complete reverse to most approaches – since it is brain based.
Rather than going for range of motion, which can actually reinforce tension and keep certain brain programs in check.
Even painful events like a muscle spasm can be reverse engineered, released and restored to comfort on account of targeting the brain.
Making the Connection
Sensing, feeling and probing around gently opens insights as to how you are connected among your 17 layers of muscles and fascia.
The fascia which has more sense receptors than the muscles are part of the movement system.
When you delve deeply into the sensory-motor system, lost or forgotten connections begin to wake-up so that even sitting becomes more comfortable.
What to do about Oops, Falls, Strains and Traumas and How A Squirrel Offers a Way Out?
You’ll get to learn how a squirrel opened my eyes to the very method I was learning about and how this act can restore things in ways we may not have thought possible.
The binding process starts.
As we age, the stiffness, the binds and high tension patterns may have been or begun as a result of some type of trauma to our body.
We can accumulate these patterns which can be layered over other traumas.
We can think of this as a temporary ongoing phenomena since the signals to hold on, keep doing their job according to the set program for many, many, many years in some cases.”
-Edward Barrera, Move Like an Animal
R-O-A-R Your Way Back
To recover over any restriction (R-O-A-R).
Free up stiffness, postural or movement difficulties, niggling injuries, high tension levels and the like can be felt when you recognize how the brain is set up to serve you, so you can remain comfortable for life.
For those of you who really want to take things another step further.
Check out the back of the book where you can get access to the free audio version of the movements.
By listening, you’ll tap into another part of the brain which will deepen your experience to heal, restore and revitalize like a human animal can.
Ready to Move Like an Animal Again
After having lived a life of chronic pain and earning the label of fibromyalgia, I can say “it feels great to have more good days than bad ones”.
It’s my great pleasure to have Amazon bestseller, Move Like an Animal, out now in paperback and digital so you too can R-O-A-R back into life and feel the full pleasure of your body returning and maintaining even as you age.
Your brain and body can feel free, relaxed and in control.
So are your ready to Move Like an Animal for the rest of your comfortable life?
Wouldn’t you agree that your neck, shoulders and head oughta move freely, easily and without pain or discomfort?
Simple, easy head movements done with a certain level of awareness can give you a:
• more comfortable neck,
• ease tension in the shoulders,
• and this can shift good feelings to other parts of yourself too.
Hijacked by tension
If your head or shoulders have been hijacked by tension, there is a natural way to release the build up muscular tension.
However, it might have to do with the fact that an important and vital connection may be “off”.
By lying on the floor, you can find out for yourself if:
a) you can do a particular movement comfortably and
b) if you can feel or sense the connection.
Watch the video below and see if you can feel the connection.
Head movement and connection
Have you checked in with your noggin like that lately?
If you haven’t, it’s never too late to dial in.
You see, if we’ve endured enough head and neck pain, that movement among others can prove to be difficult.
When my years of neck pain felt like a hard sore block that wouldn’t budge or let me move freely. Moving my neck seemed like it was one of the hardest things to do.
Yet when you consciously remind your body of the available movements that you can do, your brain can release neurochemicals of relaxation.
Making the connection – even if it isn’t there initially – will come with a little practice.
Not just 1 muscle
Mobility – the ability to move freely and easily – can be restored by regaining necessary function of a number of muscles involved, not just one specific muscle.
So if we are limiting our movement on account of pain or high tension, then this type of splinting or guarding can actually reinforce it since the brain is subject to programs and will begin to feed in information to keep things held in check.
Of course, it might seem counterintuitive to move, if it hurts.
So instead, you can imagine the movement taking place since that way you won’t upset the apple cart, yet the brain and nervous system will get the idea that the possibility to move, still exists.
The brain doesn’t know the difference between an imagined movement and an actual movement. The information and nervous system pathways turn “on”.
You can even go so far as imagining the connections too.
This all helps to prime the pump for eventual successful comfortable movement.
Head movements and the connection to the rest of your body is evident when you play with mindful ways to feel or sense your self as to how it relates with the rest of your body.
We are one piece, last I checked. The more you check-in in a different way, the far easier it is to self-adjust and turn down pain, discomfort and tension naturally.
When you move somatically, which is where you fully experience your connections and subtle feelings or sense perceptions.
You can experience the freeing up of pain, stiffness and aches as you fine tune further and deeper into your information highway of the nervous system.
This type of internal exploration is what you naturally did as a baby and child.
You were exploring deep into your sensory and motor system of both movement and the subtle feelings of small probing movement.
And if you recall or watch any baby, there’s a heckuva of a lot of exploration with misfiring, falling over and work to do to get a movement down pat.
Remember how long it took us to snap our fingers? What a triumphant moment that was.
Besides, if you’ve lost your snap, you can get it back.
Of course, as we age it can feel like ages to get it back, but it doesn’t have to be that way when you begin to experiment and tinker again.
What’s It Take
So if you go to the well of stored memory and spend some worthy time to reopen some dusty files and connections, then comfortable feelings in movement can be restored as easily and as effortlessly as it used to be.
It just calls for some quiet internal observation of your present ability.
When done in a specific “slow manner”, the part of the brain which can make the necessary changes of tension, will move the body back towards comfort and control.
To be more comfortable, may take a variety of easy, gentle movements so the connection is clear and you regain the ability to maintain comfort for life.
So have fun and keep that head sliding, gliding, turning and twisting comfortably so by feeling and making the connections.
It’s not a big deal, unit it happens to us, right?
What we might think of as an uninteresting movement where we throw out our back from reaching for something.
Or when we throw out our hip like Devi who experienced agonizing pain from a Bollywood dance class.
Afterwards, she couldn’t walk because of the hip pain and her doctor told her, “Well if you’re like me, you’ll walk through the pain. Assuming the pain would still be there”.
So she got her crutches and decided there might be a better way out of this.
See, I had planned to teach a different somatics exercises class and had to scrap my plans since Devi was in obvious need as I saw her walk from the car to the building with crutches.
While she couldn’t lie on the floor (which is how we normally go about it), she was able to sit on the floor and that too wasn’t easy for her.
Then I found out what she could do and created a set of easy, gentle somatics exercises which are movements which would help release stored trauma in the body.
It was simply modifying a few things and coming up with a couple of patterns where she could initiate the smallest of movements.
As she listened to the guided instructions and followed along, she was able to free herself from her hip pain.
While a number of doctors aren’t aware of this brain processing possibility (some are, of course). Our brains have the ability to reset our nervous system so our body can feel more comfortable.
People who practice conscious Somatics Movements already know how to target the brain or are continuing to refine their ability in a precise way to restore trauma stored in the body so it can let go.
A week later. Devi went dancing again.
When you redevelop your sensory motor system in a unique way which is how somatics exercises are done.
You learn to use the least effort to gain more flexibility.
This shift, of your body experienced form within, is what a practice in Somatics Exercises can lead you towards.
Want to feel, know and experience the moves Devi learned?
These are same of the same types of conscious movements that have helped people who are in bed finding it difficult to move, only to discover that the struggle and holding tension levels and pain ease off.
My name is Carol.
I’ve always been a mover and a shaker, and lucky to have actively moved through more than six decades without any chronic stiffness or pain.
Well, okay…there is the one little disc that occasionally and gently reminds me of the unintended back flip when I was body-surfing in South Africa twenty-nine years ago. (I found out the Atlantic’s surf was not like the lapping lake waters in my native Minnesota.)
So, anyway, the moving and shaking part…
I’m a retired teacher and principal, and a part-time freelance writer and yoga instructor—plus a globe-trotter over the years.
Always ‘wanted it all’ and have spent most of my life going after just that.
It’s all been mentally, physically, and spiritually challenging and exciting….and I guess I thought I was just blessed by an absence of physical pains and limited mobility, while many friends and relatives of various ages around me weren’t.
Just the way it was… no reason for me to give it much thought.
Lesson #1: No Pain Until
After all, I wasn’t the one in pain.
But then 2 things happened that got my attention.
And suddenly, pain had just gotten personal…
Three women with fibromyalgia found their way to my gentle yoga class, desperate for:
- Relief from Pain,
- and, Scariest of all, Hopelessness.
Secondly, I realized that some intermittent pain in my right leg and hip—originally attributed to a minor fall or maybe heavy snow shoveling–was not going away, and was getting worse over the months.
Stepping into a small corner of the lives of the three multi-gifted and dynamic women–whose lives were on hold—was eye-opening and gut-wrenching.
The dilemma was how to help them rather than hurt them more. So, we talked a lot.
I researched yoga for people with fibromyalgia.
They shared what they’d learned at the Mayo workshops they’d attended.
Alternative Ways to Process Pain
One of the woman, Gayle, mentioned one of the Mayo doctors talking to them about alternative ways to ‘process’ pain—changing the ways the nerves communicate with the muscles.
Suddenly…I remembered something.
A yoga workshop I’d attended a year or so earlier on something called “somatics”.
It was about re-educating the muscles and nervous system to communicate more effectively with each other.
The benefits centered around:
- Maximizing Body Functions,
- and Reducing Stiffness and Pain.
I’d been impressed with the concept, and a brief internet search led to more information and a couple of especially intriguing videos by Ed Barrera….himself a ‘survivor’ of fibromyalgia turned somatics practitioner.
Ed had also written a book, Move Like an Animal, teaching people the animal concepts of applying conscious pandiculation which had been systematized as somatics exercises
But life was busy, and I’d soon forgotten about somatics….until Gayle’s comment.
The two of us immediately set out on a lively pursuit of current information and materials on somatics, which led us back to Ed Barrera–with lots of questions on how to offer therapeutic movement to three committed fibromyalgia ‘warriors’ in Northern Minnesota.
He quickly, enthusiastically, compassionately, and in detail, responded to emails from both Gayle and myself.
The ’warriors’ and I began some group sessions, but Gayle never does anything half-way….and began an intense daily somatics routine at home.
The result? – Moving Like an Animal
She started seeing and feeling some improvement in movement and mood within a few days.
The progress continued over the weeks, and within a few months, she’d transitioned from some 10 years of dependence on her husband to help her move and do basic activities around the house, to an increasingly active life style…
Plus a a jaw-dropping run up the driveway one day when she got out of a friend’s car.
Gayle was hooked on somatics exercises and what moving like an animal was doing for her.
She and I read, studied, emailed Ed, and then offered a couple of classes introducing somatics to others in pain here in our community.
In the last year, I’ve also have incorporated some somatics movements into both my hatha and gentle yoga classes, and occasionally offer introductory somatics instruction upon request—yes, right up in anything-but-urban Northern Minnesota.
Participants’ comments (20-70 year olds) have been reaffirming of the benefits of somatics…and I celebrated the victories of those who had successfully decided to take charge of their pain and stiffness.
Lesson #2: The Wakeup Call
But all that good news still wasn’t enough to establish and expand my own regular practice of somatics.
Life got busy again. So then came wake-up call #2.
Yes….my right hip and leg—had me in on-and-off discomfort for more than a year.
When I realized that I needed regular Ibuprofen to get through our community theater rehearsals, I had to admit the deterioration of the situation.
So with the natural misconceptions of most 63-year olds, I started to obsess about what it actually was, and what medical/surgical interventions I probably needed to start thinking about.
Arthritis, Old Age, Hip Replacement, Surgery, Drugs
That’s right, I completely disassociated my hip and leg pain from everything I’d learned and been preaching about somatics, and was instead thinking “arthritis,” “old age,” “hip replacement,” “surgery,” and “drugs.”
I was in the midst of internet searches and yellow pages under “doctors,” when I realized what I was doing….or rather, what I wasn’t doing.
What I wasn’t doing.
However, because of the state I’d worked myself into, I also decided I needed Ed’s reassurance to make sure somatics would take care of this. After all this was MY pain now…and not ‘just’ somebody else’s.
A short diagnosis and download of a couple of appropriate somatics movement classes later, I was on my way to relief within 48 hours and in a few weeks, I was pain free again. But slow learner that I am…
Lesson #3: Go Back to the Well
I started taking all that freedom from pain for granted, and gradually slacked off of my few minutes of daily somatics…until I fell into another stiff hips and lower back issue….and one that seemed to be exacerbated by my yoga instruction.
What’s more, ironically, the pain peaked just days before leading another 4-week introductory Somatics session.
Fortunately, the panic I’d again worked myself into, quickly reminded me of my panic of two years earlier. I immediately set into some intense somatics, and got another ‘shot of encouragement,’ from Ed.
So, as it turns out, I’m taking somatics and mobility seriously now—finally.
I don’t want to stop learning or practicing it…for my sake, and for all the people I get to share it with.
More Than Not Having Pain
It’s about a lot more than simply NOT having pain.
It’s the whole feeling of freedom and absolute joy in MOVING and in the awareness of the marvels of human body.
When you feel that way, you get to remember how truly wonderful life can feel, and you almost can’t help but make the world a better place.
Does life get any better than this?
The bony parts of our skeleton are usually shown like this:
This framework of bones appears to be supported at the bottom by our feet.
This structure would surely fall to the ground if our tissues, like the muscles, tendons and ligaments, did not connect the bones and keep the framework together.
The tissues of the muscles, tendons and ligaments have many sense receptors so we can feel and sense.
These living tissues resides inside the fascia, which has even more sense receptors than the muscles.
This housing is where our bones float and move under tension in the same way as this depiction of a model of tensegrity.
Tension is what keeps this model together.
And in this video, you’ll see how things move under tension.
As you can see, instead of parts, like a leg or a muscle of the leg like the hamstrings, we are integrated like the model so our various parts if you will, coordinate and are combined to be a living whole system of connective tissues of movement regulated by certain levels of tension.
This information flows in our nervous system and changes as we respond in our daily life.
When our connected parts move, the position and tension changes so the whole system can coordinate its actions.
Even though we can move around or sit, certain parts of the brain can be programmed with too little or too much tension.
Ideally, our tension levels would come back to neutral when things come to rest or when we’re aware enough to let the tension say, drop from our shoulders.
We know when that doesn’t happen to some people like athletes. They feel pain levels or tension levels rising, if they stop moving for instance.
They know if they can just get through the movement part, they’ll be ok enough to finally sit, rest and then deal with any recurring stiffness, tension or pain resurfacing.
Others simply struggle to move comfortably on account of those tension levels which remain in check or at levels we think we can handle .
So if we live with compensations, where things are seen as an elevated shoulder, internally rotated leg and our center of gravity is displaced.
The compromise on the living movement system may be felt as too much tension, too little tension or we’ve even lost our sense in some areas.
The brain will keep going with tension levels held in place or jacked up on account of accruing more throughout the day.
When tension levels are too high, we can find our way into a back cramp or spasm and the stress just grinds on us.
When tension levels stay on for too long, stiffness continues.
Our mobility and flexibility are hampered.
As people struggle to move comfortably or not as well as they used to, it is usually easily noticeable, even though we can learn to live with it and compensate further.
So our movement system may not just be the 600 or 800 muscles that have been identified, rather the muscles are just part of it.
Instead of a cause and effect way of looking at things, like our back muscles being a problem. Our inner relationships of parts moving as a whole is capable of change from within since the one big muscle, the brain, can change tension levels throughout our body.
You see, where we sense pain doesn’t always correlate to where the problem actually lies.
While it’s true that muscle shortness or tightness can distort our postures and we can feel pain, stiffness, stress or tension.
Some distorted postures do not, though most will admit it doesn’t look like they can easily get around.
Our adapted way of movement or being held in certain levels of tension can be compromised to the point where we don’t function as well as we could, even though we can still get by.
When we begin to change tension levels to restore mobility, so that flexibility returns, and we regain control over how our movement functions, then the tissues begin to move more comfortably.
The big muscle, the brain, can certainly amp up pain when things goes haywire.
It can also reverse course as the levels of tension reintegrate so our whole being moves around more effortlessly.
Even as far back as 1680, Herman Boerhaave, the founder of modern day clinical medicine noted…
He knew that the act of pandiculation, which today we know is a brain based event which actually changes tension levels. Helps to regulate tension so the muscles and movement system can come to rest.
Today, he would be able to see how the nervous system can carry the information from the brain through various feedback loops…
…so that the movement system can sustain more optimal levels of tension and has the ability to return everything to its resting place.
When you play with resetting tension levels, then everything returns to its place so that you no longer are tensed over this or that and can easily & comfortably float from within, even as you age.
Stress happens! So what do you do about it?
Some people will say just “relax and breathe”.
Easier said than done, unless you have a set of proven relaxation and meditation techniques at your disposal.
Zen Sensei and life coach, Pompe Strater-Vidal is inviting you to join me and 20+ other experts in meditation, mindfulness, and stress reduction.
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I’m always looking for new insights to “experience the body from within” – the definition of Somatics.
In other words, it’s about how you feel, perceive and experience your living being.
These experts will offer a simple solution for you to use to:
• Reduce stress & tension
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• Get some good sleep
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