Healing is not as hard as it often seems, regardless of the complexity of the issues you may be facing. I believe all healing starts with movement, from expanding and softening with breath to stretching and strengthening with pressure for bigger activities. Joints and muscles function best when hydrated and holding just the right amount of tension for their job. If you have or have ever had joint or muscle pain, you can probably feel the truth in this statement. With all the recent attention in the health world on hydrating and detoxing the body, this sounds important for joints and muscles too – and it is. Fluidity is natural part of being alive. The body is a fluid system. It is also capable of self-healing, especially when moving.
That is not to say that we will never become ill or have pain if we practice movement and breathing regularly. Everyone experiences pain and illness on occasion. But, we can know that we have tools within us to address illness and pain and that we are able to do more that we might have thought to prevent and address these concerns without resorting to drastic measures.
So, where do we start. As a movement therapist, yoga teacher and chiropractic student I believe the best place to start addressing wellbeing is with a regular movement practice and simple processes that help the body do what it does best; namely move and breathe. This doesn’t have to be a radical undertaking with expensive equipment, the latest brand of athleisure clothing, or expensive gym and fitness club memberships. Actually, it can be very simple and even fun. Yes, fun.
I often see students and clients come to their activities with lots of stress, fatigue and even fear. What brings me back to the practices over and over is that I also see these fade away and often get replaced with ease, relaxation, inspiration and even laughter. Being healthy is not about being free of what bothers us or removing ourselves from our day-to-day lives. It is a process of doing what we do best and allowing ourselves to feel happy and relaxed within the environment we have created. Maybe there is much we want to change. I can certainly think of many aspects of my life I am working to improve. This is part of being alive and is not an obstacle to the peace and joy I also want in my life. Actually, the peace and joy are always present and available to me, if I take a deep breath, relax my body and allow them to be a part of my experience.
I know. Easy for me to say; I do this for a living. Actually, I don’t always move with ease and I have not always been free and easy with a smile or a deep breath. I still have to work at it every day. But, it’s easier than you think.
Try this. Stop what you are doing. Close your eyes…but, only if you are not driving! Take a deep breath in and pause to feel the breath filling your torso. Then, breathe out, completely. Let your shoulders drop, your jaw relax, your forehead soften. Pause again and feel the possibilities in the “empty” space within you (Really; feel the space.) Repeat twice more.
After three or so breaths, become aware of how you feel. What do you notice? Great. It doesn’t matter what you observed it could be a positive, happy feeling or it could be sadness, fear, anxiety, etc. That you are noticing means you have become aware of your body and breath. THis process is no longer an unclaimed part of you, and now you can manage it, enjoy it or just feel it. You might also become aware that the part of you who noticing the feelings is just that, a part of you. You are noticing you – hmmm. Interesting. There might be more to you than you previously thought there was.
This is a simple exercise; deceptively so. If you are a living, breathing human you can do it. What is amazing is that this simple process begins to release stress-relieving hormones into your system, activates your healing parasympathetic (rest and digest) nervous system and deactivates the sympathetic (fight or flight) nervous system. This is the first step, and the most important step towards healing that we must all take, regardless of how we choose to approach movement and activity. With a few relaxed breaths we free the energy needed to begin to move the body, ease muscle and joint tension, detox tissues, heal joints, and generally improve our health as much as our bodies are able. Add stretching, strengthening, healing touch, and clean eating to this equation and you have a recipe for wellness that is both ancient and the most modern thing in the world. No fancy gym membership or tight shorts required!
So, the next time you feel “stuck” or just ready to begin or return to a healing state take a few deep breaths and notice what happens. Whatever you notice is fine and what is supposed to happen. What comes into your awareness is what needs to be healed, simple. That’s it. With this short easy process you have begun a healing process, entered a healing “space” within you that you can return to any time. Use this practice whenever you feel tired, stressed, angry, sad, happy, excited, nervous…fill in the blank! No matter where you start you will move towards ease and healing every time. It’s what every body is designed to do.