The Magic of Movement
Do you recognize the magic in movement … or like most people do you take it for granted that humans move?
Think about that comment for a moment.
We typically don’t even notice we have the capacity for or access to movement, despite being in movement virtually in a constant way, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 357 days a year, year after year … even when we sleep (except for very brief periods of REM sleep paralysis, and even then breathing and eye movement is happening). The exception to this ignorance of familiarity seems to be when we are in pain or unable to move in the ways we want.
There’s a second factor as well that falls within the scope of the magic of movement … i.e.: how our physical bodily movement is reflected in and by our thoughts, and how in mirror form our thoughts are reflected in and by our movement. There are many sources that document this at a very precise level, for example the work of Dr. Paul Ekman on micro expressions (https://www.paulekman.com/).
What I’d like to share with you is the power of becoming conscious of your movement to improve the quality of your PERFORMANCE and by virtue of that improvement the quality of your LIFE.
Let’s call PERFORMANCE the ability to willfully enact behaviors that create the outcomes you desire, including your cognitive behaviors that determine the way you experience yourself and the world around you as well as others with whom you share it. Then let’s say that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the way you perform, where your performance is a function of the following algorithm:
PERCEPTION/SENSATION ➡︎ SENSE-MAKING ➡︎ MEANING-MAKING ➡︎ DECISION-MAKING ➡︎ ACTION!
Where each of these steps in the algorithm have the potential to be willful and intentional, and most significantly aligned with the outcome of how you desire to have the experience of your life, i.e.: who you are being in any given moment.
To improve your performance in the way I suggest is possible above you’d need to attend to it in a way that is beyond how most people will ever will. In particular this means attending to very precise and distinct actions that are part of how you move, in relation to the thought process that is simultaneous to your movement, even and especially your micro-muscular responses.
[NOTE: Here’s a link to an article I wrote in 2000 as an example of what I mean by that: Utilising Soma-Semantic Modeling.]
Soma-Semantic Modeling is a process that we use within Soma-Semantics℠ as a part or the MythoSelf℠ Process model to lead people to uncover how they create their own thoughts and responses, so that they can willfully choose the outcomes they create. The essence of the model is a function of tracking the movements that are simultaneous to the cognitive processing. Within the model movement is considered part and parcel of cognitive processing, i.e.: how and what you think.
It’s really that simple, it’s impossible to separate these two aspects of being human, i.e.: thinking and moving!
Or, we could say that movement is thinking, and that thinking is virtually impossible without movement (even if the movement is outside of the scope or ordinary awareness and perception, i.e.: micro-muscular movement such as changes in breathing or eye accessing).
However, the magic is that we have much more willful and intentional control over our movement in most cases than over our thoughts, or our emotions for that matter (and “Yes, Virginia, emotions are based in movement as well … in fact, inextricably so).
But, let’s leap to a very critical point:
- “Somatic Education” or “Somatic Intervention/Therapy” mostly, if not entirely, is done to alleviate discomfort, pain or some limitation of physical mobility. What I am pointing to here is NOT that.
Another critical point to consider would be:
- Most “Embodiment Training” or “Embodiment Facilitation” means attending to being present, or mindful, about what is immediate to the experience that is happening and unfolding. Again, I am NOT pointing to that either.
What I am pointing to is the function of movement:
- I am point to “Vitality” and “The Felt Sense of Self” … two essential qualities of being human, and the uniqueness of “humanness” in movement (as humans enact and experience it).
The Essential Quality of Human Movement:
Humans move in particular ways that only humans move. I get it, that that seems obvious, yet we so often refer to exquisite human movement in non-human similes and metaphors, e.g.: “he/she moves like a panther,” “strike like a tiger, ” “run like the wind” or “Become flexible and surrender yourself as the willow surrenders itself , bend without breaking.” We use these forms of speech especially when we intend to offer someone a high compliment or dramatize a point about movement.
Human movement is a function of our innate structure, i.e.: how we are built physically, the laws of physics and how they act upon our structure, e.g.: gravity, and our learning about how we use ourselves physically.
We could drill down and make the list of how human movement functions more specific and detailed, but the simple outline above should be enough to make the point that movement has limitations that are inherent in what it is to be human, as well as in how we have learned what it means to be human and use ourselves well.
The great challenge actually is that not only don’t we typically learn to use ourselves well physically, we are actually taught to use ourselves poorly!
Most people who have been educated in a Western school system, or work in an office type environment have been taught to become very still for long periods of time in positions that weaken and distort the body. Primarily this means sitting for long periods of time, often hunched forward with your head pitched forward over the body, like a bird waiting to peck at something in front of it … the problem for humans is that they are birds or built like them either.
Another great insult to how we move and damage our bodies (and our minds in the process) is through sustained repetitious movement that often happens in factory or assembly type work, where the same movement pattern is repeated over and over, sometimes for hours on end, with minimal breaks in-between. This kind of continuous repetition over time begins to limit the body to perform that movement more efficiently by altering the basic structure, shortening some tendons and ligaments, while lengthening others, and making alternative movement more challenging, difficult or impossible.
Now we could get into the physical ramifications of this poor learning about body awareness and use, like pain and injury, but that’s not what I want to share with you (nor am I an expert in that aspect of movement). Instead, I want to point out again that movement is thinking, and thinking is virtually impossible without movement, especially when you are referring to micro-muscular movement as part of the larger fine and gross motor movement. So all of this poor learning about body awareness and use limits and distorts your thinking and ability to perform as well.
Start at the simplest level. In order to train children to be still from a very young age they are trained to ignore the signals and demands of their body to move, to adjust, to be free of a constantly held position … like sitting. So little by little, and within a very short period of time, say just a year or two, children are trained to sit still and pay attention from a sitting still position, and have shut down their internal awareness of their bodily process. These children are now primarily or exclusively externally aware, and minimally or completely unaware of their internal responses. Like this they have lost their ability to adjust in the ways that are best suited to them unique to perform well.
Even when we observe most physical education classes we see children trained to perform movement organized to some ideal, and not to explore or use their own bodies in ways that are uniquely suited to them as individuals. Then we can take this same idea to physical training or exercise for adults and watch them in yoga classes trying to emulate the “perfect form” of the teacher, or in martial arts classes doing the same, attempting to throw the perfect punch or kick. In organized sports there are also “perfect forms” that are stressed by coaches for the athletes to attempt to achieve, the perfect bat, tennis, golf or cricket swing … the ideal pitch or throw … the best swimming stroke or running gait … all based on some idea of what that means on a universal level and imposed on the individual.
Of course when we see fantastic performers do these things they are beautiful to watch and experience, in part because these individuals have learned to either adapt themselves to the ideal, or more likely found the ideal for themselves that transcends the illusion of a universal ideal. Once you recognize and accept the uniqueness of every body this becomes glaringly obvious … that no universal ideal exists for any particular human body.
So in the course of learning all of this “perfection” you learn to shut down your natural brilliance, how you uniquely and specifically are designed to move and perform and excel.
This of course carries over as well into how you think about how you think, or “should” think, i.e.: how you use your mind for things other than how you move. When you accept that the teacher or society knows better about how you should use your body than you or nature do, then it’s easy to get you to accept they also know more about how you should use your mind as well.
However, despite all the bad learning, your body remembers …
If you give yourself a change you can return to natural movement, essential human movement, in a way that is uniquely suited to you and your body. However, this normally takes some re-training to learn how to forget what you have come to think is correct movement, and re-discover what natural movement is for you.
When you remember, and realize, what natural movement feels like and the freedom of moving naturally again it liberates you in a way that virtually nothing on earth can … even when that movement is a simple as effortlessly raising your arm or lightly flexing your wrist in the way your body is designed, and not in the corrupted way that you’ve been taught to do it “perfectly” to suit the design and needs of others.
So here the good news … you can re-access at the very least some aspects of your natural movement as long as you can move, regardless of age, injury or poor learning.
The beginning of remembering yourself starts with a focus on noticing what’s happening right now, even as your reading this … where are you in your body?
If you are sitting how is your weight distributed, are you sitting over your hips with your spine mostly erect and well supported? Or, are you sitting leaning forward or leaning back? Is your head over your spine, resting lightly on your neck and shoulders, free to move in any direction effortlessly? Or, is your head pitched forward, back to one side or the other, feeling tight and difficult to rotate smoothly and with pleasure? Are your shoulders relaxed and slightly dropped from their own weight and the weight of your arms towards the side of your body, rotated ever so slightly back so you feel a natural lengthening in them and your neck? Or, are your shoulders hunched and bunched, holding tension and pressing up against your neck, making movement all but impossible until your relax and release them and your upper back muscles too?
While the specific way you are put together is unique to you and your body in particular, the general structure of the human body is designed to be free of excessive tension at all times, even in hyper-performance mode. In fact the best performers are typically the least tense in terms of the movement they are enacting at any given moment.
If you’re unsure what it looks like to have a natural body in motion, or at rest, find a small child under the age of five and just observe how they are when they are still and relaxed, or in active motion. Some children retain this natural state of being and how they use themselves much longer, even up to the age of ten or twelve. But most children are beginning to show the signs of corruption in the ways they use their bodies by the time they enter school, and within a few years of schooling lose the ability to move naturally almost completely.
So starting with just noticing how you are in your body at random moments during the day, doing typical daily things you can begin to reshape your sense of self. You’ll begin to inhabit your body again in the way you did as a small child. You’ll find along the way that your creatively likely increases exponentially as you do, and your tolerance for insult of any kind … physical, mental, emotional, even spiritual … decreases in an equally exponential way, whether the insult is imposed upon you externally, or by yourself.
When you begin to re-inhabit yourself, and re-discover freedom in movement, you’re on a path to remarkable self liberation that will increase for as long as you choose to continue pursuing this way of being within yourself.
By the way, this way of being is not the way of the monk or yogi striving to become still for hours on end in meditation. This is more like the way of the hunter or warrior alert and intent in relation to the signals in the system, as well as to the subtle signals within themselves. Rather than shutting down or shutting off the urges to move, the hunter or warrior gives into them with precision and willful intention. The hunter or warrior moves stealthily and silently if they need or want to, or they can explode in a fury of motion instantaneously from a perfect still position without hesitation or preparation.
Think about this as mental movement as well, to be alert and intent to the signals around you, and to be able to keep your mind as quiet and still as you like or need, while being able to instantly respond in whatever way best suits you without hesitation or preparation. This way of being resides in how you use yourself at all times. Take back your innate gift of movement and all the rest will follow.
In the MythoSelf Process training we lead with Soma-Semantic modeling, starting with evoking from you how you are at your best, and then teasing out the minute details of how this shows up on you, feeding it back with precision until you can replicate it at will.
Then together we work to refine this way of being, and your access to it … connecting it to the things you do day to day as part and parcel of your daily routine, so it all becomes second nature. When you’ve begun to reform to the essential way you are within yourself, before any corruption was imposed or occurred, we can extend it to the most challenging aspects of life … work, relationships, self-care, care of others, care of the world-at-large … until you move through the world in a primal, resourceful manner that emanates effortless grace and power.
In addition to the original training that covered all of the above ways of accessing yourself, we’ve added new layers to the MythoSelf Professional Training Certification program as well that take this learning to a level, that was not present before. Now we train everyone who joins the program in how to access their slow and fast brains, for slow thinking and fast response, always emphasizing how to perform effortlessly. Then we take this further by exposing the layering of socio-cultural conditioning, making it obvious, and a choice, instead of an imposition to be carried out unconsciously.
Along the way you’ll also begin to notice how all of this is showing up on others around you, how to identify the ways in which they limit themselves, and limit what is possible on their own or with others, including with you. We’ll also begin the process of developing the expertise and skills to intervene masterfully if you so choose, either as a gift or in a professional capacity. This level of training is rare and powerful, and we delight in sharing it after decades of our own immersion and learning.
Like this you’ll find yourself ready for anything at anytime, and knowing in an intuitive way what the best “right action” is for you uniquely despite the challenges, or even chaos, that might arise in your life.
And, think … it all began with a simple noticing how you are at any given moment within the body you already have today.
As always let me know what you think … I love reading and responding to your comments.
All the best,
Joseph Riggio, Ph.D.
Architect & Designer of the MythoSelf Process and SomaSemantics
P.S. – The MythoSelf Professional Training Certification program is and intensive learning experience designed to create a new level of access to yourself at your best at all times, as well as the skills to incorporate the learning professionally as a coach or consultant, or in a sales or leadership role in business.
Folks who want to develop deep expertise and skills at the intersection of body-mind awareness, as well as the ability to use this expertise and skills professionally attend MythoSelf Professional Training Certification programs from around the world. MythoSelf Professional Training Certification training programs are presented and delivered by myself and my team of Master Trainers and trainers in multiple international locations, and are open to anyone with a background in coaching, consulting, training, counseling, sales, leadership, or without any specific previous training or professional experience at all … everyone is welcome and your experience will be unique to you.
There are new programs about to begin in the next few months. If you’d like to know more about how you can participate in a MythoSelf Professional Training Certification program just click this link: YES, PLEASE I WANT TO KNOW MORE!