Movement as therapy

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Liz Campbell

Our bodies don’t lie. We can invent stories, assert beliefs and construct mental ideologies, but our bodies faithfully reflect our inner state, as they are impeccably designed to do. It’s not for no reason that we refer to ‘strong backbone’, or, ‘walks with her nose in the air’, or ‘carries the world on his shoulders’. We notice someone who ‘has two left feet’, or someone who has slumped shoulders, because it’s telling us something about them. In the same way, if we pay attention, our bodies are the first port of call for truly knowing ourSELVES.

After all, our motion essentially reflects our e-motions and everything else inside us, ie how we move mirrors how we are. We are sluggish and limp when tired. We bounce when excited. We refer to a ‘grounded’ person. Our wonderful honest bodies are unable to feign a mask for any length of time.

The current competitive exercise and sport trends are generally not helpful for our bodies, as borne out by the rise in injuries (often viewed with awe as heroic). Number crunching, beat-into-submission and attainment of some impossible ideal seems to count more than our innate capacity to listen to our somatic voice. Perhaps these trends are a valid mirror of our over-stressed, deeply injured, disconnected society.

[Strangely enough, the body’s way is not a popular view as it seems rather simplistic, without esoteric allure nor tick-boxes. Similarly and interestingly, even the famous incarnation (coming into a BODY!) has been described as ‘the foolishness of God’. Our bodies are disregarded and given less due attention when we subscribe to competitive, one-size-fits-all programs and packages, trying to squeeze ourselves into that elusive glass slipper.

We’ve all experienced that overwhelming urge to move, to get up and stretch a leg or more, usually during some arduous repetitive task. We instinctively and tenderly massage our sore spots.

The reason our bodies impel us to do this is because our largest organ, that extraordinary intrinsic and extrinsic web called connective tissue, or fascia, thrives on touch, and also loves to stretch, contract,  twist, turn, bend, shake, spiral and pull in every direction (not just side bends). Think of a body stocking, like a matrix, holding all our bits together, permeating all organs and tissues -that’s more or less connective tissue.

Like our neural system, it shares a remarkable capacity for plasticity. That means it’s malleable and subject to change (positive or negative) over time, depending on the input. Our connective tissue actually takes on and retains memory in the shape of its collagenous fibers; as these are embedded over time, they are major participants in postural control. This is also what musicians access (commonly called muscle memory) to play inordinately large amounts of music ‘by heart’.

Movement as a modality of treatment and healing is not new, trailing its own extensive history in many shapes and forms; primarily it involves self-generated patterns of motion, which with regular practice bear certain desirable results. Over time, remodeling of connective tissue takes place, and this leads to relief or alleviation of physical difficulties, or improvements in functioning. Like learning an instrument: there are no magic short cuts to get there overnight!

Connective tissue has been likened to our ‘other brain’; this is why we talk about the ‘body’s wisdom’, or refer to our ‘gut feeling’, or ‘stomach in a knot’, or the classic ‘broken heart’.

Fortunately this perceptive sensory organ is simple and accessible to read, available for all and exquisitely designed to partner us throughout our lives. Unfortunately, much of life today promotes disconnection with this finely-tuned process, disregarding the body’s voice for any number of reasons.

Connect niadance is named for all of the above: it offers a space to connect through mindful movement to music with one’s own body, learning to notice it and listen to it. Beyond going through the motions, we come to our senses, finding ease of movement (as opposed to dis-ease) as we intuit what feels best for our body. It’s an inclusive practice, and seems to attract those who love to dance, without necessarily being trained dancers, because it makes us feel alive!

Connect classes are facilitated using niadance techniques and their comprehensive vocabulary of movement, engaging the whole body from toes to tips, inspired by the music. The moves comprise an eclectic mix of martial arts, healing arts and dance arts. Combinations, levels and variations shift from week to week, keeping us literally on our toes as the music changes.

The best suggestion for this type of therapy is to put on your favourite music, kick off your shoes and dance like no-one’s watching you, doing what feels best, your body’s way!

Weekly classes are facilitated by Liz Campbell, who is pursuing her interest in connections between movement, music and wellbeing. She is also available for individual consultation as an Occupational Therapist, to assess and recommend specific therapeutic movements for treating various presenting symptoms or dysfunctions, as supplementary therapy.

liz.jessam@gmail.com     or 0743154232

 

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