The importance of slow movement.

Cultural Vision: What is the Slow Movement? | Rethinking Prosperity

Awareness is curative. Being in the space we call “the now”, or “being present” is a place of infinite possibilities. When you truly drop into this space, you can see any path is available to you. It is a place of healing. It is a place of transformation.

Where you place your awareness is where you send your energy, your resources. Quite simply, being aware of something gives it “life”.

Awareness is a powerful tool in the healing/transforming process. Whether the transformation happening is seen as “psychological”, “physical”, “emotional”, “structural” or otherwise, being present with it helps the process. What we call the conscious mind directs energy to that which needs upgrading, bringing intelligent resources with it. Intelligent energy that knows exactly what to do.

In a world where your awareness is often being pulled in many directions, slowing down can bring awareness to the “physical” body immediately and powerfully.

You can apply this principle to any movement and feel things you probably won’t have felt before. Even something as simple as moving your ankle in circles will feel very different when you slow it down. You will become more aware of the movement without having to try to become more aware of the movement.

Moving slowly creates more feeling. More awareness.

This removes the need to “try”. This is what we want as trying brings with it more tension, so whenever we can just “do” or “be”, all the better.

If you want to test this, get on all fours and crawl slowly with your knees off the ground. See what you feel. If this is too much to start with, you could walk really slowly barefoot outside and see what you notice about how you move, how you feel.

You could even do something as subtle as moving your hands in circles really slowly, closing your eyes as you do to enhance the sensations. Feel the tingle that starts to flow through them. Or you could be still, close your eyes and bring your awareness to how your hands feel for a few minutes – This also makes for a powerful meditation of sorts.

If you need something more intense, try a really slow lunge or wide squat/horse stance and move slowly down into each position. Feel what happens in the body as you do, be with the sensations and observe. Ask the body to show you what it’s doing.

Slowing down has a powerful effect on how we move, how we feel and how we live. Within every moment of slowing down/stillness are infinite possibilies to “level up”. Move slowly whenever you can and see what happens. You might just enjoy it.

Much love

Andrew

Be like water.

Water carves through and flows around seemingly immovable, impassable objects. We are “made” of around 70% water and we too, have this potential. To carve our paths and flow through challenges in a seemingly effortless way. We are powerful. magical beings. We’ve just forgotten it.

From a perspective of movement and physical well being (which is also mental well being as the two are intertwined), if we can tap into the powers that water has to help us move better and feel better, it will serve us well.

While we are mostly made of water, we are also made of things like fascia and muscles, things that send messages (via our nervous system) to tell us they are “stiff” or “tense”, sometimes even “sore”. These are areas of restricted movement, created for many reasons but mostly to protect us from perceived “threats” in all of their various forms. Angry squirrel, knife edge mountain ridge, same result. When in fear or doubt, the body says “stop” (moving) to keep us “safe” and this creates patterns of restricted movement.

If you lie on a hard surface, such as a wooden floor (even with a yoga mat) you will most likely find areas of restricted movement, also known as “tension”. You will especially notice these if you lie on your side (i won’t go into the why’s of being on your side here, i’ll simply invite you to try it and see). These may reveal themselves as discomfort and maybe even pain (it’s best not to move into pain so if it hurts, back off). These are signals that your body wants “you” (your conscious mind) to pay attention to, hence the sensations it creates.

If a child of 6 or 7 lay on that same floor (or a dog, or cat), they would most likely feel perfectly at home and would have no trouble falling asleep when they became tired. In my experience most adults would not feel the same. they would likely be so uncomfortable that they would be lucky to get a few minutes of sleep (at least on the first attempt).

This is because we adults (this is increasingly found with younger adults and teenagers too) typically have more areas of restricted movement and this is how it reveals itself when presented with such a surface – Something we very rarely do anymore with soft sofas and beds. How many of us spend time sitting, squatting and lying on the floor these days?

When our bodies meet “hard”/immovable, they need to be able to become soft/malleable. They need to be able to flow onto and around, like water. If we have areas of our body that cannot do this, they will show us in the form of sensations to assist these areas in being “healed”. Where you put your focus is where you put your energy. Sensations create focus, focus sends resources. Put simply, we don’t spend enough time on the floor.

The good news is twofold – One, awareness is curative and two, simply finding a firmer surface, one that reveals enough and yet still allows you to rest, is a great place to start. You don’t have to go to a wooden floor with no mat. Or a bed of nails – yet.

When i say awareness is curative, what i mean is that when the conscious mind focuses on these sensations, the Mindbody system starts sends resources to where they are needed. As above, sensations create focus and focus sends resources. This includes the activation of healing mechanisms such as neurogenic tremors, pandiculation and other involuntary (and semi-voluntary) movements.

Experiencing this is an interesting process as the the mind/body is telling you how to move, often in very specific ways you haven’t done before – such is the power of communication with the body.

This takes many forms, from something as obvious as neurogenic tremors to becoming uncomfortable enough that you feel you have to move/shuffle. The body is even capable of creating itches that make you stretch and scratch in such a way that something suddenly releases (i won’t even get into the chemical releases created by a good scratch!). This might sound crazy, “it’s just an itch” but having seen this with enough people, it seems the body may be using whatever it can to get you to move how it wants to in order to optimise itself.

Whatever the method, all of these movements create a “dissolving” of tension. A restoration of movement, a lessening of discomfort, a changing of mood through chemical changes and potentially much much more. But don’t take my word for it, try it and see.

You can also use fun techniques to help this process. When you find “tension”/an area of discomfort, “be there” with it – Allow it to teach you. Observe it, feel it, ask it what it needs, ask it to show you how it heals you. See what response you get – you might be surprised. It may move somewhere else, it may trigger a tremor. You have only to be the student, listening to your masterful body show you what it needs. If you can get over the fact that you might feel a bit crazy, this works wonders.

And, as a good friend of mine (and movement legend) likes to say “It’s crazy enough that it just might work”.

If you are feeling playful (or even if not), you could smile at it. This has a profound effect, not least because smiling is the physical form of acceptance/love and as such, has that effect on the “physical body”, often causing tension to dissolve seemingly without effort.

A “free” reset for the system:

One of the best things about this is that you don’t have to do anything. No complex attempts to restore optimal movement, no overthinking about whether you are doing something right or wrong and therefore creating more tension (overthinking and trying create more tension, not dissolve it).

You are simply returning to spending more time on a surface that’s not too far from the ones we would have for most of our (healthy movement) history. Allowing the body to reset while you rest/sleep. You don’t have to leap into sleeping on firmer surfaces either, spending time on your side on such a surface while awake is hugely restorative and a great way to get some floor time too.

I could wax on about exactly why this works, breaking it down further and further, explaining why being on your side for at least some of the time is hugely curative and so on but that takes us away from the essence of this and it’s simplicity. Spend more time lying/sitting/kneeling on a firm surface without accoutrements and see what happens. It might take a couple of days to feel the change, it might take a couple of weeks – But it will help to restore you.

With love

Andrew

A “free” reset for the system:

You are simply returning to spending more time on a surface that’s not too far from the ones we would have for most of our (healthy movement) history. Allowing the body to reset while you rest/sleep. You don’t have to leap into sleeping on firmer surfaces either, spending time on your side on such a surface while awake is hugely restorative and a great way to get some floor time too.

I could wax on about exactly why this works, breaking it down further and further, explaining why being on your side for at least some of the time is hugely curative and so on but that takes us away from the essence of this and it’s simplicity. Spend more time lying/sitting/kneeling on a firm surface without accoutrements and see what happens. It might take a couple of days to feel the change, it might take a couple of weeks – But it will help to restore you.

With love

Andrew

The face is the mechanism.

Drawing Facial Expressions - YouTube

The muscles and fascia of the face are the mechanism that tells our system how we feel about what we experience. From tiny facial movements we create how we feel about “life”.

Try this – Look at something about which you have no “emotional attachment” – Maybe a wall, or curtain – or a box – unless of course you have a box fetish (i’m sure someone does somewhere – you’ll find no judgement here, enjoy those boxes) – When you look at it, smile and pay attention to how you feel. Now stop smiling, “pull” (adopt) a ” straight face” and now see how you feel. Did you feel the difference? This is a very basic example of how those movements of the face create how we feel “emotionally” – our “mood”. Over a longer time, our mood becomes our behaviour.

This goes as far as lessening pain when we are hurt or injured. What we “tell” our body about what we feel from bashing our toe or overstretching a muscle has an impact on both the pain we feel and how quickly we heal. While I’m not suggesting for one minute that it’s easy to smile when you are hurt, try it next time you are and see what happens. “Wincing” can certainly bring an initial burst of resources to the area which is much required but continuing to wince creates a great deal of restricted movement in that area and others, something to be very mindful of as we recover from any “trauma”.

“Pulling” a “straight” face has a similar and yet noticeably different effect, hence the expression “stiff upper lip”). As much as i hope you don’t have a need for this, if you should hurt yourself and happen to remember to pull a straight face, I will wager that it hurts less within moments. This applies to “e-motional” pain too as it”s the same energy being interpreted in a certain way.

Information comes into the system (the human mindbody – “us”) in many ways – Essentially, in the form of what we will call energy for the purposes of this article. This takes many forms, existing at many different frequencies – our frequency dictating what information we receive and how we interpret it. This information is in food, in the light entering our eyes, in “vibes” given off by other people and all around us in “the ether” – It is everywhere.

How we react to this information is where the magic happens. One persons interpretation being different to the next – Your interpretation (potentially, depending on how you “feel”) on one day being different to the next. As we experienced above, with the same information (the wall, or curtain), we felt differently because of the expression that was created with our face. This is because the facial muscles are connected to the nervous system via the facial nerve and trigeminal nerve (and so on), which send huge amounts of information into the system, telling it what to produce chemically (pineal gland, pituitary etc) and therefore how to feel, allowing us to respond appropriately. If you smiled at the proverbial sabre toothed tiger that we hear so much about when talking about fight or flight, your body would not produce the necessary chemistry to enable you to take off really fast – Maybe your smile would soothe the big cat and there would be no need to run as it purred, making “flight” unnecessary but you get the idea.

All very well you might say but i can’t just change my face, i’m not John Travolta (movie reference for those not aware of the surely Oscar winning Face Off – I missed the Oscars that year so i’m not sure if it won – Come to think of it, i’ve “missed” them every year).

You can – Or at least you can change the composition of it, release some of that “tension”/restricted movement/energy. Tension anywhere within the physical body will affect the face as not only does this restricted movement come with it’s own expression of chemicals from within the muscles (myokines, cytokines etc).

We could take this to a very “deep” level, going into all of the factors that affect how our facial muscles are right now, from factors pre-natal, birth, post natal and beyond – And while we might find clues as to what would be particularly helpful exercises for us to do to help specific situations, you will probably find that good old awareness helps to fix most things – Simply bring your awareness to the face (the top lip is again a great starting place but anywhere you are “drawn” to will do – eyes closed at first helps) and watch it start to correct itself.

Here’s a couple of “exercises” you might want to give a go:

  1. Breathing in through the nose, smile as you breathe in and form a pucker/”kiss” as you breath out (still through the nose). Play with this, allow your face to stay in one place if that’s what it feels like doing, switch the smile and pucker for the in and out breaths, have fun with it. Hold the pucker for as long as you can and feel it (naturally) melt.
  2. Form a pucker and bring the tip of your tongue into that area, as if it were a sweet you were sucking – pretend you are sucking it (start really slowly) and watch what happens to your breathing and how you feel, especially after you allow the face to relax again. Again, be playful, experiment with what feels good to you. These are like facial resets and as with any part of the body, resets are good. There are many more you can do too but you’ll find them soon enough.

 

Much love

Andrew

 

 

Movement is everything and everything is movement.

Everything in the “universe” is comprised of moving “particles” of some form or another – The relationships between them being dependant on how they move – What frequency/wavelength, what direction, what speed and so on. And so it is that you are comprised of tiny particles moving around too – you are a part of all of that which “is”. This sounds obvious when you hear it, however, we seem to have forgotten when it comes to it’s application in our every day lives.

Be it “matter”, be it “energy”, be it something in between – Everything you are – and everything you “do”, is movement of one form or another. When we talk about movement, most people instinctively think of “gross” movements like walking, running, swimming, dancing etc etc – On a less obvious level we have, lets say, talking – and listening, things that we don’t necessarily associate with “movement” – and yet involved in these “activities” are a large number of bodily parts moving – In talking alone, a staggering array of muscles/fascia and other body parts to make even a simple sound – And with listening, so many “working parts” of the ear/inner ear moving, as well as the tiny movements of the musculature of head and face as we react to what is being said with facial expressions – Neurons “firing” across the brain in response to the information entering the system via your “senses”.

All of this is movement of tiny particles in different patterns. The flow of blood, lymphatic and cerebro-spinal fluid, messages travelling through the nervous system and so on – Even “chemicals” combining in different ways and changing from one form into another due to heat or some other energy source being introduced – Again, all movement of tiny particles – All that you “are” is moving and changing and so is everything around you.

The role of the brain:

Every decision you make is about whether to move and if so, how and where to. Your brain (the one in your head that is, not the so called “gut brain”) is, if a little simplistic a description, a “processor” and “decision maker” – It takes information in through the senses, “scans” the physical matter of your body (which plays the role of acting as your “hard drive”, having access to all of the beliefs/stories/fears/trauma that are part of your “story”) and then projecting your “reality”. Based on this “reality”, decisions are made regarding whether to move and if so, what move to make next – What to say – Whether to run, whether to fight, or, whether to “freeze” and hope the danger goes away. Basically, the brain takes in information, scans the hard drive and then decides whether to and how to move – That is it’s job, simple as that (Neuro scientist Daniel Wolperts TED talk from a few years ago is a fun introduction to this).

Once a decision to move is made, another is made immediately about how to (and whether to) continue moving – Moving with confidence or moving with fear, every nanosecond another decision – another movement – or not – made based on the information coming in through the senses and being “combined”/cross referenced with the information already “stored” (in reality the restrictions in movement (fears, beliefs) within the physical body affect the information that is available to us from the field and how we interpret that)) within the “system”. Whether moving with fear across that mountain ridge or not speaking our truth to someone for fear of how they may react – All are restricted movement – “trapped” energy/e-motions.

It can help to look at it this way – When a decision is made not to move – or to move with “fear”/caution/trepidation etc, those tiny particles we discussed above pull (tightly) together (a mini “freeze” response) in an effort to protect you from a perceived fear. In the same way that you curl up into a ball when the “freeze” response is activated, this happens on a smaller scale too. After each cell in the body is, in many ways, a miniature representation of the larger body/brain. When in fear, the system either fights, takes flight or freezes, depending on the nature of that fear – Many of our modern world fight, flight or freeze situations are not flight or flight at all (think wanting to speak up in  a meeting at work but not doing so for fear of repurcussions or looking silly) so the only response is freeze – or in this case, just not move/speak. This is what your system (you) does – If you stay still, you can’t do something wrong.

This happens at both a gross and (extremely) fine level. Imagine if you will, a football sized space with 100 particles in it and 50 pull closely together in a “freeze response” to restrict movement – a miniature freeze response which can (and does) happen all over the body, wherever fears/beliefs/”trauma” exist – We can literally see (and often feel) these clusters in muscles and fascia. I won’t get into how most seem clustered in certain locations (especially the psoas) for now as that is an essay of it’s own, looking at “muscle” types/function and why the system “chooses” to store many of these restrictions in certain places so as to keep us as optimal as possible for as long as possible. Anyway, let’s get back to those clustered particles in the football sized space – Those that are very close together don’t move in the way they would in a “healthy”, (almost) “fearless” system – There is excessive “friction” between them. You could imagine this as too many people crammed into a small space. Not a major problem for a brief period but not so good over time, with anger building and friction increasing as they jostle for space, “rubbing each other up” the “wrong” way. At the same time, while there are too many in one space, there is a “void” nearby, where these same particles can’t communicate properly, being too far apart, causing you to lose feeling in that area. You could use the same analogy with people again, only this time they can’t communicate clearly due to excessive distance – they can’t hear each other. Too tightly pulled together, too much feeling, too “loosley” distributed, not enough feeling – Even though the reality is more likely that information travelling through water from cell to cell can’t do so as effectively in this situation.

The areas we are talking about may be small (in many cases) to the human eye but the principle is still the same – the distribution of the “particles” that make up who you are is off – and it’s affecting your chemistry/blood flow etc.

These restrictions of movement require energy to maintain – energy that is no longer being sent in optimal amounts to other places – Places it is required to both fix, maintain and optimise your system. This (obviously) also affects blood flow, the nervous system, the lymphatic system, the endocrine system etc etc – Other things that require (“are”) movement – It’s all part of the same system so when one part is not performing optimally, it must affect other areas, even if not hugely noticeable at first. A very simple example is that when there is discomfort or pain somewhere, this causes certain muscles on the face to tighten and express certain chemicals – This is what we do, we “pull faces” to send a message to the system about how we feel – which in turn makes you feel differently through altered chemistry, which affects where blood flows, your breathing, how your auto-immune system performs etc etc – “The knee bone’s connected to the thigh bone” and so on.

Wherever you find restricted movement, you will find what we often refer to as “tension” (and inflammation), which is a change in the composition/frequency of your physical matter in such a way as to make it perform/move sub-optimally – With you eventually becoming unwell or “feeling poorly” which is exactly what it says on the tin – Not being able to feel something well. And when you can’t feel something, you can’t control it – there is no stability upon which everything else can be built. As already stated above – Too tightly pulled together, too much feeling, too “loosely” distributed, not enough feeling.

The chemistry that is created by this restricted movement (Whether that be “tight” facial muscles feeding a certain message to the pituitary/pineal glands via the facial/trigeminal nerves – or the expression of other chemicals due to tight/restricted muscles/fascia anywhere else on the body – myokines, cytokines etc etc) results in even more restricted movement as “fear” increases due to how you feel – Which is “driven” largely by your chemical “state” –  and more energy is given to that fear – more energy diverted to restricting movement with the aim of keeping you “safe”. A “downward spiral” of sorts.

It is widely believed by many experts that the psoas is the “seat of the soul” – where much of the information (fears/beliefs etc) stored within the system is “held”- This makes a lot of sense, not least because the psoas is the location where movement in spine based organisms (of which we are one) originates once the brain has made a decision to move. It is also a logical place to store such information, near where movement originates once a decision to move (or not) has been made.

So, everything is movement. And we can change the way things are by changing our movement patterns. Simply seeing them as movement patterns changes the game as the very structure of our being changes with changed patterns of movement – In the same way that the structure of muscles (fascia/ligament/tendon/bone) changes with repetitive use in a particular way, the movement of neurons changes with various practices and “habits”.

So whether it’s the way we “think” or the way we “move”, movement patterns become just that – Patterns, habits. At the end of the day, they are both movement. How best to optimise this (in my opinion) is for another day (although it’s fairy obvious, start moving in lots of varied ways!) but once you truly grasp the reality of everything being “particles” – or waves, whatever works for you) moving and that you can influence that – in many different ways – then things start to look very different.

 

Thanks for reading, see you next time.

 

Andrew