Body Sense

SUMMER | 2018

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8 Body Sense BREATHING As a function of the autonomic nervous system, your breathing happens on its own. But, a full and efficient breath can be hindered by structural holding patterns and long-term habits. Are you breathing well? Does your inhale and exhale flow freely and fully, without tension or restriction? Finding and cultivating a familiarity with the free, full, and focused function of respiration is what basic breathing is all about. Learning to breathe well and fully is an ongoing process and a key part of your personal healing. Give it time. To breathe easily in an unobstructed, conscious way is a lifelong exploration. Practice full breathing every day in order to unravel the past, be in the present, and give yourself a centered reference point when you get highjacked by the various traumas and dramas of life. Even though breathing seems so very basic, don't hesitate to ask for help. Pilates, yoga, meditation and relaxation, massage and bodywork, and psychotherapy can get things moving when a lifetime of habit has become a structural limitation. EATING How you eat can be as important as what you eat. Regardless of the nutrients in any meal, if you consume food in a state of distress, or gulp it down on the run, your basic nutrient requirements will not be met. Studies show that digestion and absorption have everything to do with physiology (your body) and psychology (your mind). Being aware when you're eating will change your relationship to food: • Are you aware of your body's presence and posture? • Is your mind focused on the food and the moment? • Does your body have the comfort and time it needs to eat? • Do you savor and chew your food with full sensory awareness? • Do you pause at the beginning or end of a meal to be mindful (notice the colors and presentation, give thanks, feel gratitude)? MOVING When you pay attention to your body as it executes the simplest task, you may be surprised by how little you actually move. Instead of using your whole body to scoop down and pick up a pencil from the floor, you may brace and strain to pick it up with your fingertips. Instead of using your whole body to carry a suitcase, you brace and clutch it with your hand and arm. Did you know that any time you abbreviate movement or isolate a workload, you're making things harder, not easier? Most people never learned how to move fully or efficiently, and sometimes movement patterns are further limited by injury and compensation. Is your past inhibiting your body's ability to move as it was designed? Get in touch with your basic movement patterns and begin to untangle old compensations as well as years of habit. To repair the aches and pains and establish good movement hygiene, you need to call on some basic movement wisdom in order to become mechanically whole again. You can learn a lot about yourself (and others) by observing how your body moves. When you pause to observe your moving body, the connection between physical and emotional might surprise you. Could it be that your hesitant, stuck body is actually holding an expression of the past? FITNESS Whether exercising is a way of life or a recurring frustration, taking a fresh look at fitness from the perspective of your smart body will invite something new to the conversation. You need your body and your mind to be on board and inspired for fitness. When you take a fresh look, your smart mind can identify old habits of laziness and emotional overlays. For instance, just because you've spent most of your life avoiding exercise doesn't mean your body won't benefit from sweating; just because your gut clenches at the thought of joining a softball league doesn't mean you won't have fun once you move beyond your fear of rejection; and just because your body feels agitated doesn't Try This: How's Your Breathing? Let's see how your body breathes and establish a baseline to work from. Tune in to your interior body-space and focus on your breathing. Notice what moves (and doesn't move) as you inhale and exhale. The anatomy of a full breath (through the motion initiated by the diaphragm's contraction/release) includes every moving part of your body. If your ribs (spine, pelvis, arms, and legs) aren't "breathing," then you have some basic work to do. Try This: How Does Your Body Move? Pay attention to how your body moves for the next few days. Feel how the segments of your body (feet, legs, hips, etc.) participate as you lean over to pick up something from the floor, reach out for a handshake, or do a mundane, normal task. Be aware of the range of motion in your bones and joints. Does it feel as if the simplest movement is abbreviated and held back? Could this be habit or structure? Do you use your whole body or minimize movement? Does your body feel fluid or stuck? Your body needs to move and to move well in order to be healthy and happy. Now, see how your range and ease of motion change when you use your whole body.

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