Laying the Groundwork is a presentation of how I conceptualize movement. My intention is to share the tools and methods I use in hopes that it helps others build their own culture of movement. There's nothing magic here, just an in-depth look at basic movement that through practice will yield greater awareness, foster new connections, and set the stage for substantial growth. Movement is a gift - value it, enjoy it, and share it.
Biscuits > Stress
I’ve been feeling a little stretched recently, but I just got back from a quick getaway to the south. Escaping the grind for a fews days of a molasses-slow living, mountain air, good company, a little moonshine, and some delicious, gluten-filled biscuits was the perfect Rx. The beauty of taking a vacation is getting some distance from your stressors to view them in a new light. For better or worse, stress is simply a stimulus and how you perceive it dictates, in part, how you'll manage it. Our various defense mechanisms keep stress in check, similar to how our immune system handles foreign invaders. However, at times our resources dwindle and stress overwhelms us. The severity can be as annoying as a cold or as life-threatening as cancer. The onset looks something like this:
Challenging life circumstances are met with maladaptive thought patterns that involve living in the future, dwelling on the past, fixating, assuming, ruminating, and doubting. I call it the downward spiral.
...And sooner or later it’s bound to happen. The only questions is, how quickly can you rebound?
The Positive Upward Spiral Gravity makes it easier to spiral down a staircase than up which, making this psychic downward spiral a slippery slope. However, with the right tools and a some self-awareness, we can reverse a downward spiral and get back into the positive.
The upward spiral is the synergistic power of positive perceptions, thoughts, interactions, and events. Life will always be filled with unpredictability but we are always in control of how we respond to this unpredictability.
Self-awareness is the fuel that propels us into the upswing. From this awareness, we can reconstruct the connection to our basic stress coping mechanisms - mindfulness, communication, and support network. We can't always escape so strengthening our ability to diffuse the accumulation of stress is key to our happiness and abundance. My job as a coach is to help others develop the tools to create a positive upward spiral that resonates through their life.
Stressors Gon Stress Chronic stressors are everywhere in the modern world. An occasional downward spiral is inevitable, and even normal. But researchers are starting to pay more attention to the damaging physiological manifestations of stress. Health professionals of all disciples agree, working out will help. The message is well-intentioned but the underlying ambiguity causes some problems. In the hands of our action-oriented, outcome-focused culture the tendency becomes fighting fire with fire.
People work out to combat mental stress by filling their bodies with physical stress. Wrap your head around that one for a moment.
The key word being “combat”, we love drama, conflicts, altercations, all out wars. We wage war on all things “bad” combating one imbalance (like excess body fat) with another (bootcamps, “Just DO it” fitness). This simply is not the best long-term solution for health.
A new message needs to be spread for balancing our overly aggressive, overly stressed lives with practices that restore and ground us. The goal should be to diffuse stress, not just exchange it. Mindful movement allows us to trigger the upward spiral by fostering a sense of physical competence, positive physiology, and a more adaptive outlook on the world. This series of ground-based movements allows the practitioner to slow down, breathe, experience, and ultimately connect the body, mind, and spirit. In this we can promote internal harmony through mindfulness, breathing, movement education, and mobility.
The Supine Groundwork Series Lying supine is one of the mainstay positions in my groundwork template. I have spent a lot of time avoiding the supine position in wrestling and Judo but yoga is where I first started to embrace my time here. Shavasana is a means of surrender at the end of yoga practice. To me, this simple acts always illuminates the power of stillness. It's so profound, yet we so rarely take the opportunity to tap into it. Shavasana can be a crazy, almost out of body experience. Later on, I would see this position in MovNat’s perception drills and various crawling techniques. The goal being to gain a clearer perception of gravity and bring awareness to the dorsal surface of the body which typically receives little tactile feedback.
These days, I draw upon both applications - spiritual and experiential - in my teachings. Diaphragmatic breathing drills in supine allow access to the present moment and direct focus to the movement session in progress. The subsequent movement variations reinforce an awareness of the body’s core musculature and it's ability to reshape the spine and control the movement of the arms and legs. Hmm...and in case that doesn't mean anything to you just know rocking, hollow progressions and cross-crawling will build a rock-solid core. Lie down, breathe, change shapes, roll, release, observe, explore. All of this fosters your mind-body connection for better movement and an increased ability to diffuse stress as it arises.
Remember friends, movement is bigger than exercise; it's potent medicine for the whole of you.