Archive for Relaxation
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.
A somatic check-in is how you normally start doing somatics exercises or when you want to simply notice your feelings or sense perceptions right now.
It’s simple, all you have to do is notice yourself in the present moment.
For instance, how or what are you feeling right now throughout your entire body?
So let’s do a somatic check-in.
When you check-in, you can lie on the floor and let your body sink into the surface and then wait.
While your waiting, this is the time to sense or feel what you can right now.
The time can be short and sweet or last up to a couple of minutes or more as you take the time to feel, notice, sense and appreciate what your body is telling you.
As you lie on the floor and check in – How do you make contact with the floor?
How did you choose to arrange yourself on the floor? Knees bent, legs straight, legs crossed?
Do you feel your breath?
Do you feel or notice any aches, pains or stiffness?
Taking an Internal Inventory to Self Sense & Appreciate
Your simply taking an internal inventory to feel what signals, both good and bad arise in the present moment of now.
As you lie there:
Do your legs feel the same?
Does one side feel longer or shorter than the other?
Does one feel heavier or lighter?
How do your hips feel?
Do they feel the same or a little different?
Take the time to linger, compare and contrast.
Notice how you positioned your arms.
Are your arms at your sides?
Do you have them folded in a comfortable or familiar way?
Are your palms facing the same direction?
Are your shoulders lying level on the floor?
Do you feel tilted on one shoulder more than the other?
Now, focus your attention on your spine.
Feel the length of your spine from your tailbone all the way to your head.
Then feel how your entire body makes contact with the surface.
You’ve now checked in somatically speaking. The body experienced from within is available any time you choose. It’s a matter of you giving yourself the precious gift and time to check in now.
So many people do not check in and feel themselves unless there is pain. The more you check-in, the easier it is to take a moment here or there as life speeds busily by.
Watch and listen to this somatic check-in.
Doing Nothing is All Right
If someone were to see you lying there, they wouldn’t necessarily know the flashlight of awareness your shining on or within yourself.
You could have checked in with your 4th toe on your left foot for instance. How often do you that?
Then you might decide to travel up to your right eyebrow and feel its length, width and breadth.
So whether you choose to focus on certain specific parts of yourself or your entire self, this flashlight of awareness uses your brain and body in a more conscious manner.
Leisurely checking in lets you feel any stress, tension, stiffness or tightness. Then you can feel or see if things let go on their own accord.
If not, then you can use your brain-body with some wonderful somatics exercises to change discomforting signals into ones of pleasure.
Then at the end, you can check-in again and feel what changes have taken place or what new sensations or feelings you are now aware of.
So, let me know if you took a moment in now to lie down and check-in.
What did you feel?
How would you describe your sensations, feelings or perceptions now?