Friday, June 24, 2005

Weeding Out Dysfunctional Movement Patterns

'Now 'tis spring, and weeds are shallow-rooted;
Suffer them now and they'll o'grow the garden.'
- William Shakespeare, King Henry the Sixth Posted by Hello

If you are reading this, chances are you are no longer in the 'springtime' of your life. You may, in fact, be quite set in your ways, already experiencing the 'inevitable' onset of chronic muscular problems. But muscular dysfunction is not inevitable. It occurs in recognizable patterns that are malleable. The sooner you start the easier it is, before they become so deeply ingrained that they become a part of your self image. You can recognize these patterns easily, all you need is to be willing to learn to channel your attention...

The structure of muscles moving together in patterns allows your brain to organize complex coordination immediately. No thought required. Hitting the break pedal at just the right moment means finding it with your foot without having to take your eyes off the road. This allows for a certain amount of freedom. It means you can widen your focus. You don't have to focus all your attention on driving. You can follow directions to a new place. You can see the scenery. In short, since the issue of functioning safely is handled, you can also focus on other things.

The structure of patterned movement is a framework that allows for greater freedom. It's like having a schedule. You don't have to worry about things getting done because they are already accounted for. In one of the teaching jobs I've held, I used to get these frantic calls from the administrative director at the last minute asking if I could teach this or that workshop in two weeks or sometimes in a few days. Well, yes, I had the dates available, and yes, I could do the teaching, but there is a certain amount of internal preparation that goes into teaching. Teaching is about taking information that often is available to anyone, and organizing it so that it can be easily understood. It's kind of like what cows do. You have to take the information and chew it down into bite size pieces like cud so that it is easily digestible. Then you have to organize it into a recognizable pattern so that it makes sense. The more regular the pattern, the easier it is for people to retain new information.

Discipline is very similar. It provides a framework that can be freeing. It creates a consistent set of assumptions about behavior and work ethic that allow some basic things to get handled. When the basics are accounted for, other aspects of life can flourish in fertile ground; things such as creativity, achievement and safety.

The discipline of AWARENESS THROUGH MOVMENT (ATM) as a practice, allows you to easily recognize movement patterns. Truly holistic in it's methodology, the lessons do not focus exclusively on dysfunctional movement patterns, but on optional ones as well. Kicking a bad habit by trying to stop doing it doesn't work. Substitute a new behavior, and it becomes much easier. In ATM, you learn new movement patterns. The lessons chew ordinary movements down into bite size pieces so that you can easily recogize what you normally do and what else you could be doing.

It's the 'what else you could be doing' that takes you from dysfunction into optional patterns. And somewhere in that lovely array of optional patterns is one that is optimal for you, given who you are, what injuries are, and what your preferences are. The beauty of the Method is that it is all done in a playful, relaxed state of hedonistic enjoyment. I don't know about you, but I'm in. I like to nip those movement patterns that are causing me discomfort in the bud, before they turn into chronic pain. And, yes, it takes the freedom of discipline.

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