If you attended Cincy Summer Streets in Northside, you witnessed—and maybe participated in—all kinds of activity, from walking, bike riding, and dancing all the way to BMX biking and skateboarding. What do all these activities have in common? You start where you start, then through trial and error you gradually master the skill at a level at which you are satisfied. If you are lucky, you move because it is enjoyable. While there may be teachers to help you hone the craft, the best teacher is playing with the process.
Playing with movement
Somatic education is the process of living through the learning body. This field values efficiency, pleasure, function, respect, play, mistakes, and curiosity, all in the name of developing better movement. Better movement equals better health. You may want to move better to perform better. Or you may want to find a way to make movement possible and pleasurable again. Somatic education is a tool for accomplishing either.
Future Life Now hosted somatic movement opportunities throughout the day at Cincy Summer Streets. Specifically, we introduced people to Feldenkrais Awareness Through Movement, Bones for Life, and Walk for Life. The extra lively environment may not have been ideal for self awareness, but the activities did give a sense of the process and the pleasure of learning. How? By capitalizing on these known facts about the brain. Your brain loves to help you:
Feel the power of alignment.
Engage in rhythm and connection.
Navigate from here to there.
In the photos you can see the fun we had. We invited people to experience one particularly big mega movement puzzle to solve which you will see with the books on the hands.
Can you imagine this?
Step 1: Find four books.
Step 2: Lie on your back.
Step 3: Place a book on each hand and each foot.
Step 4: Turn over onto your front without dropping any of the books.
Okay, so there are few more steps than those four, but you get the idea. Typically this will take many hours of play, and in that process books will be dropped, flexion and extension capabilities developed, hip and shoulder rotation honed, ankle flexion required, attention to sensation, along with the ability to track multiple events at one time, deepened, timing refined and the ability to use ground force emerge. All the while you are also learning about your own sensation and how to move safely and without pain.
The emotional bonus
Besides these physical goodies, somatic education helps develop emotional intelligence. In the movement lessons, you may discover a tendency to whine, become competitive, push through pain, despair and quit, laugh or whatever. Unhelpful habits in physical and emotional movement patterns become self-evident with the right puzzle and environment. Once awareness dawns, doing something new becomes a real option instead of traveling down the same old wore down path to injury or frustration.
In a nonjudgmental setting, each person is able to unravel compulsions in motor coordination and create new possibilities. Want to recreate your life from the inside out? Give a somatic education a try.
By Cynthia Allen