Ever notice the voices inside your head that wonder “oh hey! I’m doing that thing again”, and then maybe some guilt or scolding “why did I do that AGAIN?!”? That is the part of your brain called the medial frontal cortex (in coordination with a couple other structures in your brain) – it’s the “noticer brain” that helps you become more aware of your habits. What’s so frickin cool about the noticer brain is that it’s the first step to CHANGE. When we put attention on our actions from an observer (or witness) perspective, our brain is able to pull that action up to the front of the brain (the frontal/executive cortex) for the possibility to create a new habits and reaction to that same stimulus. How cool is that?!
Witness –> Awareness –> Change!
In the past few months, I’ve been noticing my inner witness quite a bit. It can be frustrating at first (and for a while after that), to keep noticing that you are having the same reaction over & over to a similar situation. I can get angry at myself – “why do I keep doing that?!!” But I have to also remind myself that I am noticing that reaction faster & faster each time. Slowly, but surely, I get closer to being able to change the reaction, and respond. Sometimes the response can be the same as the reaction, but that response feels more empowered because it was a choice.
This same principle can be applied to movement habits & reactions, as well as emotional habits & reactions. When you feel an ache or pain, see if you can identify how you just moved. Were you walking? Standing? Sitting for a long time? Reaching up above your head? If you can’t make any connection in that moment, just the act of being curious activates the “noticer brain”, so that you can grow that awareness, and get even closer to great changes.
This second week of the first 4-weeks will be focused on Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension (my personal favorite!). Like many people, I hold my stress & tension in my neck. That tension leads to all sorts of fun (not so much) like headaches, migraines, pinched nerves, & herniated discs, to name a few. We will learn how to recognize the onset of neck pain, and use gentle movements to alleviate it before it can get us.
Here is the link for this week’s class: Somatics: Unraveling Neck & Shoulder Tension, Week 1– tomorrow, Thursday at 12pm noon eastern time. Payment is not required to register, please consider supporting my teaching if you can at this time. Thank you!
Two years ago, I drove my daughter to kindergarten. Nervous mother that I was, I hesitantly drove around the school circle for drop-off and saw a bunch of encouraging signs along the driveway. “You are awesome”, said one of them. I relaxed a little, took a few deep breaths, parked, and walked my tiny human into this great big school (where I was expected to just leave her?!!). She did great on that first day, and so did I (after a few tears).
The start of this school year looked a little different. Her walk to class was as far as the couch, where her iPad was propped up on the coffee table. She Zoomed into her first day of school to meet her second grade teacher and new class virtually. The first assignment was to take a video telling the class a little bit about yourself, and posting so they could see them. If you don’t know anything about my daughter – she is VERY introverted; hardly anyone has heard her say a word. She never speaks in front of anyone outside of a very small circle of people. A VIDEO? This wasn’t boding well for the start of the year. We talked about it, and decided that she would draw a picture of things she liked, and things she was nervous about for the year. Then we took a video of it in a certain order in silence, and posted it for the class. The teacher loved it! It was truly a thoughtful expression of HER, and I thought “wow, this is really going to serve her well in the future”: learning the “rules”, then finding a way to make them fit for HER.
What does this have to do with Somatics, you ask? Adaptation!
I believe more than ever, we are being challenged to uncover new ways of being in the world. The status quo and the way things “used to be” just don’t work for many of us. We’ve tried fitting into boxes for a long, long time, and I hear people say “when will we get back to ‘normal’?” Do we really want to? Was that “normal” really serving us? We have this amazing opportunity to shift, and create something truly beautiful, collaborate, and make life look more like we want it to. Many Somatics clients & students ask the same thing: “how long will it take to ‘get back to the way I was before (X) happened’?” I don’t believe we ever go back to exactly the way things were, but that could be a good thing! I mean, you can look at it either way I suppose, but it’s easier to look for the things that help us to grow and learn – and become better. One of humans’ best traits is our ability to adapt. We’ve known “the rules” for a long time now. It’s time to make new ones.