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

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