June 6th, 2022
I work with movement. Movement is the environment I inhabit and understand, in which I know how to work and what to do. I have language for it, I feel comfortable in it, and I can help people navigate it.
When you pay attention to the way you move, change and improve some details, move again, notice the change; when you’ve created the space and time for yourself to step out of the hamster wheel and take a look, you notice the benefits pretty quickly. They are quite easy to notice: you feel better, you move better, you have less pain, you’re more flexible. You can do more of what you want to do, and you can do it more easily and efficiently.
These are, of course, great benefits, and most of us are quite happy with them and willing to invest some time, money and effort to achieve them.
But on top of that, I always keep in mind that my work with movement is not really about movement. At least, not in the regular gym-oriented sense: you repeat a movement many times and your muscles get stronger. You stretch and get more flexible. You do aerobic exercise, increase your heart rate and accelerate your breathing, and your heart health improves.
All of these are quite well-known, and absolutely valuable. But they all have to do with the mere mechanics of movement. They look at the body as a machine that you should maintain and take care of. Which is, again, generally accepted and valuable.
But my work with movement is not about the mechanics of movement; it’s not about the body, really. I don’t treat the body as a machine; I look at movement as an expression of the whole person. I treat movement as the manifestation of life itself.
I’m not suggesting we shouldn’t exercise. Of course not. I exercise too. I’ve started going to the gym with my daughter a little while ago, and I actually enjoy it (which I didn’t think I would). I play padel and love it. I do martial arts. I am not trying to diminish the importance of exercise. Most of us are much too sedentary, and we simply need to move more. No doubt about that.
What I am trying to say is, the body isn’t a machine and movement isn’t a mechanical tool to shape up that machine. Voluntary movement is generated in the mind. What makes it voluntary is precisely the fact that before moving we want to move. Before the actual action there is a plan, an idea, a highly complex activity in the nervous system that precedes muscular activation.
This is what I’m looking at when I work with movement. This is what I teach, what I call your attention to in every class.
I work with the mind part of movement. I sometimes call what we do in my sessions “Mindful Movement”. We become mindful of the way we move. We explore what happens before movement; we explore how the nervous system can play with movement, use variations, find options. We look at details that are almost invisible. We bring to awareness the unconscious parts of movement. Most of the way we organise ourselves to move is subconscious. The fact that we can do something doesn’t mean we know how we do it.
And it’s quite fascinating when we start looking at how we do what we do; when we really go into the details; become curious and playful. A whole new universe opens up before us.
What this way of exploration makes possible is change. Not the mechanical kind of change; not stronger muscles; not the changes you see in a machine after a good maintenance work. There’s a different kind of change at play.
When you look at yourself in action, know what you’re doing, have options so you can do whatever you’re doing in more than one way, you become a better human being; you become a better version of yourself; you grow. Moving better is actually a secondary benefit.
I like to remember this in my work. I like to remind my students of it from time to time. Because the classes look very much like movement classes, like “exercise”. But we are immersed in self-exploration through movement, which is not exercise. It’s a journey of learning and growth.
So if you work with me, take my classes or use my online material, remember this: we have a huge potential to get better and better in all areas of life. You’ve taken the choice to walk this path (You don’t have to do it; you must choose to take it!). You can become better at anything: improve the way you work, become a better father, a better sister, a better friend, a better musician or a better listener.
When you stop and listen to yourself, slowly, curiously, peacefully, you’re tapping into that potential. You’re on a journey of growth.
Using movement as a principal tool on that journey is just one possibility to get there. But it has great side benefits, and it’s fun. You get to actually enjoy the ride.
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Why not start with being mindful of your breathing?
Click and dedicate 4 minutes to mindful breathing. Don't just watch, stay focused and do the "exercise":
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