The Brain in my Pocket

I was listening to a chat on the radio this morning, about how dependent we have become on our devices. We no longer have to remember phone numbers or addresses. Facebook reminds us of birthdays and our trusty phones have reminders set for everything from the morning alarm to the hair appointment. It’s like keeping my brain in my pocket.
Our lives are so different to when I was a child. I had a telephone directory in my head. It was so easy to remember telephone numbers. There was no need to write them down, I just committed them to memory and there they were when I needed them. Snail mail meant everyone had an address with a postal code. I wrote many letters and always knew the addresses and postal codes. My head was a sponge that soaked up information and my filing system was efficient, so recall was quick and easy.
Today, listening to the radio it dawned on me how lazy I have become with my brain. I could justify this by saying that I am older, it’s natural to be more forgetful. After all, this is what we are told by society. It’s our go-to for all ailments… remember dear, you are older now. What a lovely excuse for being less than we used to be. I don’t want to be less, at least not yet. I work hard to maintain a level of physical fitness and I eat a clean diet of whole foods. I drink water and try to get outside regularly for a dose of vitamin D and some fresh air.
Everyone knows that to be fit takes constant training. What we don’t use, we lose and physical fitness really shows us this. If I get a cold and stop training for just two weeks and it feels like I am back to square one. Perhaps we should be seeing our brain as a muscle which needs constant training. So here is a controversial question… is “dementia” always a thing or can it be that we are forgetting things because we stop using our brains so they get “unfit” and don’t work as well as before? What we don’t use, we lose.
As a Pilates instructor, I see the effect of Pilates on the body and the brain. The brain’s primary job is to run the body. It controls everything from breath and heartbeat to how we move and what we do. Mostly we do all of this sub-consciously. Pilates is what I call prescribed movement. I am asking you to move in a specific way with specific muscles. In the beginning people really struggle with this, there is a war between what I am asking and what the brain wants to do. It’s a long way from the brain to the feet and I notice people lose their connection with their feet first, as though the brain’s field of influence is “shrinking back” towards the head. This improves with time but the minute you go off shoe shopping in your head, stop being there in the room, inside your body with your thoughts, that is when you end up using your back or doing the wrong exercise.
I believe that conscious movement, moving with conscious intent and staying conscious of my thoughts, is the best way to keep my brain and my body connected, healthy and alive. When I allow myself to run on autopilot, I am keeping myself small, staying on old neural pathways. Staying conscious and adding variety to my day by doing things differently means I am building new neural pathways. I like to think of it as brain training. So here is a challenge to do things differently… Let’s work harder to remember the date and what our schedule is for the day, so that when that reminder pings in our pocket we know what it is for and we are way ahead of it.

Until next time, be conscious, and keep moving…

New Beginnings

At the beginning of each New Year, I like to set up a plan for the year. What do I want to learn? Where do I want to go and how can I make this year better than the last?

Before we know it, the year sweeps us off our feet and we are thrown into the frenzy of life, treading the same familiar path as before, unless we plan otherwise. We call these plans Resolutions, and we all know how those good intentions dissolve in the hot summer sun.  We start out really well but then the Peanut Gallery of your mind gets involved and everything unravels.

Your mind is part of you, but it’s not you. That Peanut Gallery of conversation which you hold with yourself is there to keep you safe but it rarely is supportive. On the second day of your new fitness routine, the Peanuts start to discuss the merits of starting slowly. Perhaps I should take tomorrow off so that I don’t get too stiff. Next Monday would be a good day to start again. But on Monday you are still a tiny bit stiff so the Peanuts suggest starting tomorrow. The days go by and the resolution is starting to fade. This is when the Peanuts suggest starting in February…

Being aware of what you are thinking is key to maintaining momentum with the changes you want to make in your life. The thoughts are just bubbles of information and you do not have to listen to them. When an unsupportive thought happens, consider it and then decide if you are going to follow the Peanut Gallery or take back your power with a more supportive thought. You always have the choice. The Peanuts will try to convince you that you must eat that piece of cake because it will be the last one for a long time. Really? When it comes to curbing food temptations, I find that telling myself “Not this time” really helps.  I am not giving anything up forever, just in this moment. Next time I get to choose again. Practice makes perfect and practicing making good choices makes it easier to choose well in future.

So my wish for you for this year is that you may be aware of what you are thinking, that you have the power to make good choices and that your resolutions bring about the changes you desire.

Happy 2019. Until next time, Keep Moving…

Heal Thy Self

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. Life surprised me, threw me off balance mentally and physically, in the form of vertigo. It is the strangest feeling to feel your world tip uncontrollably to one side. Your brain tells you there is no reason for this tipping sensation, but the body rebels and gravity seems to suck you violently off kilter, an invisible pressure which forces you to the ground.

There are various “treatments” for vertigo. Some people say you need to be physically rotated by a doctor, others that you need to go to a chiropractor. As a kinesiologist, I knew that my crazy tilting sensations were a physical manifestation of my emotional turmoil. I needed to work through my darkness and I truly believed I would emerge on the other side of the emotional storm, sailing straight and strong.  Sure enough, after about a month of my loopy roller-coaster, my world resettled and the vertigo vanished as quickly as it came.

We carry within us an innate wisdom and the god given ability to heal. Modern life has tricked us into forgetting that we are the expert for all things “us”. It helps to have a sound board, someone who can stand as the Isumataq, the keeper of the sacred space in which wisdom is revealed. A facilitator can guide you to discover your own inner wisdom and thus initiate your own healing. There is calmness in knowing that sometimes symptoms, though physical in nature, may have an emotional or energetic root cause. There is a great deal of fear triggered by illness or dis-ease. We have become so focused on life threatening conditions and so dependent on pharmaceuticals, we seem to have forgotten that sometimes we have a cold because we need to get rest, or that constipation may be a function of holding on for dear life, to all we no longer need. Tummy aches are often connected to fear or anxiety rather than a bug. Considering what your symptom prevents you from doing can give you clues as to the cause of your dis-ease. We have been programmed to believe that it takes a long time to heal. Sometimes, when the message your body is sending is understood, healing can be instantaneous.

Take back your power, listen to the ancient wisdom within and be your healthy self, Heal – thy self.

Until next time, keep living, keep learning, keep moving…

 

Energy – Everyday Magic

When I am asked what I do, I say I work as a kinesiologist. The blank look on the face before me is always a giveaway; I may as well be speaking Russian. So I explain that I work with energy….. and I’ve lost them!  New Age, woo-woo, weird? Not really.

Everything on this planet, and beyond, is made up of energy. We know from our school days that everything is made of molecules, which are made of atoms, which are protons and electrons, positive and negative, energy. If you replace a plug, you will know the importance of connecting the wires correctly. If you don’t the electricity, unseen energy, is likely to cause all sorts of loud bangs, sparks, shocks, melting of plastic and who knows what else. We all have a very healthy respect for electric energy, not because we can see the energy, but because we can see the results of what it can do. Sound waves can shatter glass or show you an image of your unborn child (ultrasound) and an MRI uses magnetic energy to produce images of your physical anatomy. We are very good at believing what we can see but what about what we can feel? Hot water bottles allow us to feel heat energy and static electricity can zap us with sparks. People talk about having a gut feeling, good or bad vibes, or being in a creepy place. We can feel energy if we are aware enough. All of this falls into the “Normal” range.

Let’s see if we can go a little more into our un-comfort zone. People are more aware of acupuncture these days. Many have had dry needling done by a physio but why does it work? The human body is a bundle of energy. Energy meridians run like rivers between the organs and muscles, wrapping around you like ribbons. Chakras, very woo-woo, are energy vortexes, the 7 main, most well-known ones are each over a vital gland in the body. The needles used in acupuncture are interacting with your energy flow, restoring flow where it is blocked much like clearing the debris out of your gutters. Pain is an over energy. Something causes a blockage in the flow so it dams up and overflows, like a storm drain filled with litter.

You don’t have to use needles to clear energy flow. There are many ways to work with energy; sound, touch, visualisation, massage, colour, metaphors, polarity.  Rubbing on a neurolymphatic point for the Large Intestine meridian can result in an instantaneous release of back muscles by restoring meridian flow. A headache may be caused by tension in the gut. Looking at a problem from a different perspective can bring about release in the physical body or re-energise a muscle.

Still not convinced? Why not host a workshop where I introduce you to Energy – Everyday Magic. It’s fun and enlightening and great for a get together with the girls.

Keep learning, keep growing, keep moving…

Healthy Hips, Healthy Life

Many things affect the health of our hips and today, more and more people are living with hip pain and hip replacements. Are we destined to crumble at the hips or is there something we can do to keep these joints healthy? Can we really take our health into our own hands and have a say in how we age. I believe we can.

It is easy to fear what we don’t understand and fear stops us from thinking clearly. We are led to believe that we have no control over what happens to our body. We grow old, we get sick or break and then we die. We don’t understand how the body works.  So, let’s make it simple, less scary… I like to think of the body as a bag of skin filled with sticks (our bones) and elastics (our muscles). Our body works on a supply and demand principle. What we need, we will absorb and what we don’t need gets flushed from the system. One of the first places where osteoporosis develops is in the hips and pelvis. The more we sit and drive, the less we use our muscles. And the less we use the muscles the less they pull on the bones to which they are attached. If the bones aren’t pulled on, then they don’t need to be strong so the body won’t absorb calcium that it doesn’t need, even if you are taking calcium supplements regularly. Walking is a fantastic way to keep the bones strong and healthy. The gentle impact and weight bearing both serve to stimulate the need for strong bones. But walking doesn’t use all the hip muscles and getting to some of them requires internal and external rotations which are not part of our daily movements. In my Conscious Movement classes we focus a lot on hips; rotating the bones of the hips in their sockets, moving the pelvis in all ranges and weight bearing on one or both legs. We stimulate the proprioceptors in the hips (which tell your brain where you are in space) to help with balance and we do Rhythmic Movement Training exercises to address reflex integration. I find that my regular clients are strong and healthy. Even when things go wrong, because life happens and gravity sucks, most of the time my clients have returned to class with bruises and a tale to tell rather than pins and plates and screws. When you work your joints regularly and move your bones in unusual ways, you find that you have more bounce and less snap.

Age is not a number; it’s a state of being. And you always have a choice. If you want to have less snap and more bounce, you have to Keep Moving…