Do you know at least five pieces of information about the body’s movement capacities that you are able to put into practice in your daily living and which assure you a better functioning and improved well-being? What ’movement prescription’ do you give to yourself when experiencing headaches, or pains in the neck, shoulders, elbows, or hands? Or, what do you normally do to deal with discomforts and aches in the back, knees, or feet?
For many of us as soon as we experience signs of discomfort, aches and pains, we tend to reach for pills or other quick external means for relieving the stress, a response quite reinforced by much of today’s publicity. Learning about the body’s amazing functioning and recuperative capacities is a conscious decision which takes us beyond the regular educational system. The field of Somatic Education regroups movement practices that oftentimes have evolved from someone’ s efforts to deal with personal health problems after having exhausted the standard medical practices available.
The basic premise of Somatic Education is that, essential to self-knowledge is the awareness of our body and how to achieve effective and efficient movements so that we don’t hurt ourselves, and yet are able to express our inner aesthetics and wildness. Somatic education’s practices help us find out what we can do to care for ourselves, and what the true range of our potential can be. As we learn to cultivate our body’s sensing and moving capacities, we become curious abut our fantastic inner workings and this allows the unfolding of the body’s surprising wisdom and an increased enjoyment of ourselves.
For example, through the somatic practices we learn to deal with pain as information about the overall integration of body’s functioning, so that relief often comes from stimulating movements not involving the area that specifically hurts. The effectiveness of our movements including those involved in sounding, sucking, swallowing, and many involuntary functions, indicates how well the different body systems have integrated and synchronized during our lifetime.
Learning about the organization of our movement neural circuitry and how it develops helps us find our own ways to deal with our movement challenges. Understanding the basic movement workings of the feet, hands, mouth and head can prove extremely useful and creative in coming up with our own solutions to discomforts, our own version of a ‘foot gymnastics’, for instance. Along the same vein, in this age of ‘keyboards’, all of us need to know about the care of the hands and how its movements integrate and coordinate with those of the mouth, or the elbows, wrists, torso, feet, so that tensions, pains, inflammatory problems are avoided.
Somatic Education is a lifetime practice to be enjoyed at any time of our lives. Daily activities from waking up to going to sleep, as well as specific movement activities—running, fitness exercises, swimming, dance, yoga, singing—are all opportunities to practice and refine the awareness of our inner mobility and functioning. Do go inside yourself and exercise the most basic freedom given to us which is moving our body with the sense that indeed we have IT.
The Estudio LOS ALMENDROS is currently carrying out an on-going, long-term research project on ‘Learning about the body’s somatic functioning and caring for one’s health’’. Anyone interested can participate.