Archive for Brain
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.
Are you in the Nap Zone?
Want to remember more easily, be more productive and have better health?
Then take an afternoon zzzzz according to Brain Rules author, John Medina.
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NASA found pilots performed better when they took a short afternoon siesta. No wonder why my dogs use this same strategy and somehow continue to move well in a moment’s notice.
In the afternoon, your brain will try to get you to go down. In our hectic, busy, everyday life, our mind has got to keep us going so we can go-go-go and do-do-do. In the middle is a battle of the brain cells telling you one thing and you getting your brain cells to do another.
Or is it you ate too much pasta for lunch and you just wanna lie down with a fully belly?
The loss of sleep can harm you. You can get in a foul mood, your logical reasoning can slow, and your attention can drift.
Napping On the Job
While it may be hard to convince your boss, napping on the job or napping during the day may help. People like Pablo Picasso and many others knew napping, increased productivity.
The evidence is gaining and we can all benefit just like other countries or regions which understand how nature has some of the answers to better health built in. Or you can watch or ask Fido.
Check out John’s book, Brain Rules, and find out more napping benefits and other cool brainiac things which can lead to a healthier and fun productive life.
When trauma happens, our brain and nervous system naturally takes our body into a reflexive protective pattern. It doesn’t have to take much, a simple fall or repeated falls if you engage in more rough and tumble activities such as soccer.
Does the brain and nervous system let us live with stiff, tight muscles?
When we bear our weight more on one side or one leg, we tend to stand a bit shifted. Even if we mouse more on one side, we can develop a habit of using our muscles more on one side of ourself and before we know it, those side muscles tend to be a bit stiffer & less flexible.
Some of us tend to be more laterally flexed. You’ll see this when a neck slightly bends more to one side or the spine has what we call scoliosis. Either the spine is off center, the hip can be elevated, we feel short waisted or we’ve been told we have a leg length discrepancy.
To let go of our holding, habitual, protective patterns which are being programmed into the brain and nervous system can be accomplished with a little neurological rewiring which somatics exercises provide.
Change the brain and nervous system with the mind and body
Far more encompassing that just a body approach. With somatics we are dealing with both mind and body and the relationship of the sensory motor system.
Wherever we are compromised, we take alternate routes neurologically which may be less than optimal yet serve to move us around as well as we can. These states are temporary and can become more fixed. We forget the feel of what youthful movement was like. This state can last for years or repeat itself in cycles when we can not overcome a niggling injury or have something reoccur more often than we’d like.
If the pathways of the brain and nervous system are clear, the lines of communication facilitate better overall movement and comfort. Moving with less effort leads us to states of graceful movement we can achieve through our very own self-corrective living process using the brain and nervous system.
If we end up dragging ourself around or into ourself or stumble and have lost our youthful coordinated ways. We’re only moments away from restoring more graceful and balanced movements. The brain and nervous system are set up waiting for us to use it to more positive means.
As we age, certain concerns like balance or breaking a hip come up. An animal survives when it can move well. As the human animal we can survive without moving well yet our animals teach us the way back to getting on track through the act of pandiculation which we’ve known for some time can bring our muscles to rest.
A mindful pandiculation uses both the brain and nervous system to reset ourself. Somatics exercises are a system of differentiated pandiculations to enhance our mobility and restore natural flexibility. By paying attention and using our conscious awareness, we raise our game of moving well for life.
Brain and nervous system class
Through the conscious use of our sensory motor system, we can undo that which has been our undoing for some time.
By adding depth and dimensions to our movements opens our proprioceptive ability. We can sense our joint position and self-adjust to more positive feelings. The brain and nervous system are effectively used.
Whereas other approaches focus on the body, we can use what the brain and body are exhibiting to use that information towards self-mastery and understanding our inherent nature to move well using the brain and nervous system.
Our very own keen senses can lead us towards the comfort we seek and the very one we can maintain as we age.
Please check out these somatics exercises classes for future enjoyment of your brain and nervous system as well both the mind and body to recapture those childlike feelings of moving well for life.
Do we get enough exercise? Do we have simple ways to decrease the stress we feel in our muscles? Can we reduce joint pain?
Somatics exercises is one avenue we can all use to keep our living movement system free from a lot of the aches and pains that many people endure. We can also enhance and complement our life with a diet richer in omega 3 fatty acids.
Where do I find Omega 3 Fatty Acids?
If you’re into keeping your brain healthy, your mind sharp, and moving well, then a diet rich in omega 3 fatty acids will also calm your mood too.
When we eat certain nuts, seeds and wild fish like salmon, tuna & sardines our body tends to build up resiliency instead of breaking down when we eat processed foods.
Did you know that 90% of Americans are low on the intake of omega 3 fatty acids?
Since our bodies can’t produce it, we’ve got to include a rich source of it through what we eat.
Increasing the amount of omega 3 fatty acids can help with lowering the risk of heart disease, reducing the risk of cancer and increasing our low levels of energy.
Our heart, eyes and even the immune system can be optimized by a proper intake of omega 3 fatty acids.
What is the right level of omega 3 fatty acids?
Well I don’t know but the people looking into this like Dr. Mark Hyman who will appear on the Dr. Oz show this week will talk about a test created by Dr. William Harris who is an expert on omega 3 fatty acids on human health.
Dr. Harris has created an at home test called the Omega Quant HS-Omega-3 Index.
Now there’s a mouthful but I hear the health problems we encounter are sometime easier to fix and reverse than we think.
Often times people are very surprised with the simple somatics exercises. Their minds are literally boggled at how such simple movements can be so profound. Could the fork we use be another tool?
Simple Diet Change with Omega 3 Fatty Acids
Same thing goes with our diet. OK, I know some of us love to eat the stuff we think is food and it can be daunting to give it up.
But what if you could help prevent asthma, improve blood sugar levels to protect you from diabetes and slow down the decline associated with Alzheimer’s just by changing your diet a little.
You can take the test and find out for yourself if Doctor’s Harris, Hyman and Oz are onto something beneficial for you.
Somatics which is defined as the body experienced from within not only relates to how well or not well we feel when we move or not move, it also has to do with paying attention to the signals our bodies generate from what we put into it too.
Dr. Mark Hyman may tell you that your fork can be your friend or enemy and one of the important tools when it comes to your health and well-being.