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Mind Your Words: Body Mapping

Professionals who play the role of being your Guide Through Movement (Pilates, Yoga, Functional Fitness, etc …) use a third person perspective of observing your body from the outside WHILE using our words to construct a narrative that gives you the opportunity to perceive yourself from the inside.

In doing this, we focus your awareness, we create an opportunity for you to practice the skill of conscious attention.

Body Mapping

BODY MAPPING IS INTENTIONAL RELEASE WORK

Conscious Attention: what’s in it for you?

Improvement of your overall body function. Avoid the stress your day to day activities (which include working out) creates in your body resulting in habitual movement patterns that do not serve you. Once a movement crosses into the habitual realm you are giving up voluntary control. Involuntary conditioning decreases your body function or potential function, it lays the ground work for chronic ailments, dysfunctions and leaves you with a rigid body.

Body mapping, intentional release work, creates a space for learning. This learning expands your range of action and your perception of available action, resulting in a greater range of movement, strength and ability. If the skill of conscious attention during movement (sensory-motor system) is practiced through out your life time you have opportunity to avoid the habituating effects of stress.

Two of the ‘guru’s’ of these methods are:

Thomas Hannah: Clinical Somatic Education

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais: Feldenkrais Method

At KW Art of Fitness our base of this concept is drawn from Integrated Movement Therapies (IMT)®, from the Pilates educator Second Wind Pilates Plus, Danielle LeBlanc.

But I just want to feel my “core work”?

Oh you will.

BUT

You must also be willing to first address the practice of perceiving minimal sensation, minimal movement – thus creating new sensory feedback, new clarity of movement. The unknown becomes the known. Undiscovered opportunity of functional strength becomes discovered and you will have access to voluntarily eliciting effortless effort.

So, how do I do this thing called body mapping?

It all starts with breath, YUP … breathing again ….

and IMAGINATION ….

Cortical Activity During Learning

Movement, Imagery, Active Increase …

Our thinking directs our movements. Your imagination (mental pictures) will cause the deep muscles to come into action.  This conscious access to your body is underneath the superficial layers of muscle. Therefore, you will not feel them work in the traditional sense. If, in fact, you get a work sensation then you are doing, not thinking (imagination), thus defeating the purpose.

At our studio we intentionally drop in moments during your time with us to search out these body mapping opportunities. Sometimes we make it obvious, while other times we sneak it in ….

Learn more about how we specifically create these opportunities for you to explore this world of voluntary consciousness through body mapping.

Join us for the workshop: Stretch for Strength, Release for Range.

Thursday, November 29 from 5:15 – 7 p.m.

We are also running the same workshop for movement professionals, which will dive into cuing (using your words) to help elicit this idea in people whom you are guiding others.

Saturday, November 24 from 10 – 11:45 a.m.

Pilates, Yoga, Cross Fit, Strength Conditioning …

Call your pursuit of fitness and function by whichever label suits; just remember your pursuit will be better served if you take the time to also potentiate your efforts exerted by learning voluntary control (fluid, responsive, supple, efficient movement) – Body Mapping …

Life by Design: Reading a Script or Being a Story

“The achiever’s shadow is addiction to winning, fuelled by the never-ending desire for more. Underneath, s/he has an even stronger fear of losing.”

P. 121, The Soul of Leadership, Deepak Chopra.

Life By Design

If we choose to never fail, we are guaranteed to fail to grow and fully own the authorship of the life we have been given. 

Remember how Stephanie referred to cueing as story?  And, remember how, in a previous blog I talked about the malaise of “MORE”? How does our story deliver as relational and not just more noise? And, what is the space you have available for the more? What if there is only so much available space for more and it is being taken up by spam – like an inbox intruder? 

A great deal of what runs our lives is constantly running in the background – endless loops of old tapes that have gathered over the years of our growing up/socializing process. These ‘tapes’ include our perceptions, beliefs, fears, expectations, judgments and so much more. Without even realizing, unless we bring them into our conscious awareness, “They are running the show. So…who or what is in the drivers’ seat of your vehicle – this thing you call your life.

Question: can we call it life and living if the lights are on and nobody is home?

What I mean by this is all those times we are running on autopilot. You know…when you arrive somewhere and don’t know how you got thereJ Granted, this can happen from time to time; but what if this is your norm? I say that if you aren’t taking a few calculated risks, and living on the edge (outside your comfort zone), you are taking up too much space. It is a choice; no judgments…but, there is the question of what do you want your life to be at the mercy of – automatic-itis or committed, conscious choices?

Would you prefer a life by default or a Life by design?

It is a little bit like fitness. If you don’t know what you are trying to accomplish and WHY, are you really getting fit? And what qualifies as a fit life? Perhaps what we really need to do is simply ask more questions and dare to live the questions for a fuller presence inside the choices we make. See Rainer Maria Rilke – Click Here.

Own your body, free your mind! Dare to ask the better questions.

It is our predetermined programming that imposes judgments and ‘should(s)’ (read: absence of true choice), rather than thoughtful reflections and authentic choice. From Man’s Search For Meaning, Viktor Frankl says:

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response.”

This is where emotional agility resides. Things become increasingly complicated when we either forget we have a choice, or we don’t believe we have one – life on automatic pilot.

To ensure your version of a ‘designer life,’ why not consider a session with a “Guide to All Things Great” ©, or a review of your core fitness beliefs with a coach at the KW Art of Fitness!

Who Would You Be If…A Koan

When working with clients, it is disturbing but a delicious moment when repeatedly coming up against fixed notions of who the client believes they are – as if they are an object like a table or something. This is especially so when the belief is not even serving the individual well in their everyday experience of themselves – their experience of life with this set of beliefs.

The good news is that we are NOT objects; we are verbs. So…this is why I ask a client the question: ‘if you didn’t know who you were (as in a fixed set of beliefs; a fixed storyline)/a single narrative), who would you be?’

The difficulty in this koan (above) is that we are attached to our fixed notions when indeed we have a freedom – and the responsibility that goes with that – to CHOOSE. So…why are we so resistant to choosing? I don’t really have the answers though I do have some ideas about the resistance. But if we choose to approach this conundrum as a koan, could we be off the hook for an answer? 

Koan, Japanese Kōan, in Zen Buddhism of Japan, a succinct paradoxical statement or question used as a meditation discipline. “Among other things, Zen is the task of re-learning how to live your daily life with a quirky, sometimes poetic spontaneity. “ (a quote is from Zachary Turpin, doctoral candidate in literature, 2016).

unsplash

So the real task might be the need or the opportunity, given the right support, to relearn who or what we believe to be true i.e. ‘carved in stone’ right…We even do this with our notions about fitness, relationships, roles as partners, parents, pastors (???) even. Lol. Why would we resist the freedom to simply choose a new definition of our self?

Minimalism is beginning to gain some popularity as a lifestyle. What if we were to marry these two ideas: Minimalism and the fact of being verbs?

Could it be as simple as what Mary Oliver shares in a stanza of her poem:

When Death Comes

“When it’s over, I want to say: all my life

I was a bride married to amazement.

I was the bridegroom, taking the world into my arms.”

Couldn’t we assert that if we are not willing to live LIVE, like a child ‘verbs’ through his/her moments, thriving… that we are simply getting by, settling for and lamenting, or possibly even lauding, comparing, judging, fearing, or gloating based on someone else’s thinking (a fixed set of beliefs).

Mary Oliver closes out her poem saying:

“I don’t want to end up simply having visited this world.” What about you? Verb and vitality or ‘same old, same old’ and lacking zest that celebrates the gift of the life you have been given?

Choose!

What would you have to relearn in order to freely choose?

Mind Your Words: Isolation is a Myth

Myth: a widely held but false belief or idea.

Isolation is exactly that, a myth.

"The whole body participates in every movement" Irmgard Bartenieff

I made the statement in my last Mind Your Words blog that every energetic expression of movement has to sort through outside force, internal deviations or habits and the complexity of the action.

Part of the complexity of the action is when the brain/body sorts through which muscle(s) will pull(agonist). Which muscle(s) will simultaneously lengthen (antagonist). AND the Movement Instructors favorite place to play; which muscles will act to stabilize the joint around which the movement is happening (synergist).

The complexity the brain/body sorts through also includes what order these actions occur in during movement.

Your brain and body systems know this already. Spend time practicing bringing your ATTENTION to the entire body participation. As opposed to, bringing your attention to the one muscle that happens to be just ONE of the MANY muscle participants.

The body and it’s actions are a highly sophisticated and complex living network.

Every action imposed on the body has three components.

An antagonist muscle, the agonist and the synergist.

For example, during a biceps curl, the triceps is the antagonist muscle. This muscle lengthens as the biceps contracts (agonist).

The synergists stabilize a joint around which movement is occurring and helps to create movement. The nervous system is the conductor of this awesome orchestra.

As a Movement Instructor, we first look for a persons ability to bring their attention to the SYNERGISTS. We then will ask you to challenge the synergists. This challenge occurs via a larger range of motion, more force/tension, or by increasing time within the exercise (endurance of the synergists efforts).

The above request from your instructor results in you feeling the burn or work sensations in a specific area —- for example the ‘glutes.’

Generally speaking, if all your attention is on the “one” muscle you think is being isolated the tendency is to “clench and go”. This creates many future problems.

Sarah Eby, of Roots Physiotherapy, will in a later blog help us understand the importance of muscles that SLIDE their fibers long and short instead of CLENCHING and how our nervous system is an essential piece of the puzzle!

Ever wonder why your Pilates/Movement Instructor sometimes **sighs** or rolls their eyes when you ask in the middle of the action(s) what muscle am I using?

A picture is worth a thousand words: under the surface “glutes”

Anatomy of the gluteal muscles in the human buttocks Canvas Art - Stocktrek Images (16 x 14)

So, NO, you will never spend time at our studio “working your glutes.” You WILL spend time challenging yourself through movements that DO incorporate the ‘glutes’ and all the layers beneath. These challenges will allow the brain/body to orchestrate their action at the correct moment in time. We will help you discover the MAGIC of movement; how to get out of your own way.

We will teach you how to use the power of ATTENTION to get what you need from an exercise INSTEAD of encouraging the myth of isolation to carry on in your mind.

Did you notice that we’re ONLY talking about muscles?

When speaking of exercising our complex living network, we also need to consider and respect many other participators.

To name a few of the other factors that come into every movement:

Nerve pathways

Blood flow

Fascia

Neurological system

Bones, joints, ligaments

Spinal cord fluid

Lymphatic system

Immune system

Sensory proprioceptors, etc.

This above list is why our studio instructors collaborate with Physiotherapists so often.

In lieu of going on, let me pause and instead ask:

Are you seeing how ISOLATION becomes a MYTH?

Definitions:

SYNERGIST: a body organ, medicine, etc., that cooperates with another or others to produce or enhance an effect

ISOLATION: an instance of isolating something, especially a compound or microorganism

ATTENTION: the mental faculty of considering or taking notice of someone or something

CLENCH: (of a muscular part of the body) tighten or contract sharply, especially with strong emotion

 

 

Words UNSPOKEN Communicate

Communication for Connection – much more than the words we say.

The words we speak represent less than 10% of the message delivered.

Communicate

Even when we use words, it’s not just the words we say that matter – it’s the tone of our voice, facial expressions, or even the shapes we make with our bodies. The body knows and doesn’t lie.

Through learning The Model of Human Behaviour, I learned why my husband would have referred to me as, “excessively happy.” How is this possible!?

Ahhh: the case to be made for personalities, how we process information, and what are the respective needs of the various profiles (Model of Human Behaviour types). There are astonishing distinctions between the four types: D (Dominant type); I (Influence); S (Steadiness); and C (Compliance). Each of these ‘types’ has very unique differences and life-giving needs.

 

ChessHigh “C’s” tend to want to socialize less & focus on details, logic, and accuracy.

High “D’s” like to be in control, like a challenge, and need autonomy to make decisions & solve problems.

 

 

Social

High “I’s” most want others to be friendly, emotionally honest and want to be recognized for their contributions.

High “S’s” most need others to be relaxed, agreeable, cooperative & appreciative.

 

If/when we fail to perceive and speak to these differing ways of communicating and orienting, we might be down and out before we ever get up and going.

Have you ever felt like this, and maybe wondered – hey! What just happened?

The different profiles (and we all have some of each type in our unique blend) are actually like a different language that includes nuances specific to tempo, details, and the attending emotional needs that go along with our strengths.

Dr. Robert Rohm says we must beware to not tolerate and until we can annihilate but rather learn to celebrate our differences. However, we cannot beware until we are aware. The Model of Human Behaviour is a lot of fun, easy to learn, and mastery of this skill makes life and relationships improve like magic. As a Master Trainer and life skills coach (a “Guide to all things Great” ©), I never leave home without this highly energizing, user-friendly tool.

Communicate

Remember the adage: it’s not the words we say but the music we play? This learned skill is where the music happens – where words, tempo, and other unique flourishes have the result of everyone feeling like they matter. Isn’t this what we would all like?

Feeling seen and heard supports a sense of worth and respect. All manner of connections begin here – fundamentals in the human dynamic.

What could our world become if there was a little more of “us”/presence, engaging through the art and science of listening, and fewer of our words?

BTW: listening and responding to others in their preferred style (D, I, S, C) accomplishes connection – that sense of being love, peace, possibility, friendship, better relationships overall – even making better choices for our fitness and training needs. People “light up” when they learn about themselves inside this model.

Question: whose responsibility is it to get your needs met?

“Close the language-door and open the love-window. The moon won’t use the door, only the window.”  – Jelaluddin RUMI (1207-1273

— Judith
Judithlharrison.com

Teach Don’t Tell

For the Pilates participants who may be reading this, the perspective below offers a glimpse into part of what goes on behind the scenes;

the mind of the instructor;

the person who can NOT count to 10 — forwards or backwards 😀

The aim is to clear up just why we, Pilates Movement Instructors, are so darn persnickety, and why we take our storytelling skill so seriously!

Patience

Teach, Don’t Tell

Movement Instructors connect words with actions, simultaneously offering relevant reasons to motivate the participants intention and attention to said action. We are fostering intelligent communication for connection between teacher and client; the cues we use are meant to describe and inspire the idea of a movement that has energetic expression. This is our art.

Our underlying quest as instructors in our storytelling skill is for clients to experience success. To feel like the time spent pursuing quality movement was a worthwhile endeavour.  Sometimes, this pressure surrounding the self created quest takes our storytelling skills down a notch. We find ourselves relying to heavily on anatomical details or ‘feeling’ the exercise/movements, in a specific area or repeating go-to phrases the industry has latched on to.

There is a danger in being too anatomical or too focused on what or where someone “should be feeling” an exercise. Let’s face it; some of us don’t care what moves who where, some of us feel to much and even more of us don’t have any feelings at all …. AND we’re all snowflakes, each one of us different, with different needs and goals.

When the Movement Instructor and the client can get out of our own way and step cleanly into the moment in front of us, the body systems and the brain know how to move, the story is being told, teaching action is happening, the magic takes place …

Motivation and the Pleasure Seeking Brain

The pleasure seeking brain is continually searching out and repeating action that makes life easier. When action results in making life easier the brain categorizes the action as pleasure. The pleasure causes the brain to look for ways to groom and groove excellent movement patterns, this becomes motivation.

Storytelling skill (cueing) aims to borrow that instinctive desire and drive the individual to continually ‘tidy up’ movements, until there is the awesome moment of “effortless effort”.

“Effortless Effort”

What?! (Insert eye roll here…)

Pilates is designed to give you the opportunity to work better, THEN harder, while encouraging participants to always avoid working harder then is necessary.

Clean (i.e effortless effort) movement demands efficiency, Pilates teaches that, grooms that, and ultimately what was once your workout becomes your warm up.

As Movement Instructors we endeavor to:

Step up, be prepared to explain an action in several different ways. Explore cueing until you see the action being understood or you see the light bulb going off behind the eyes of the client.

Work towards understanding how the client learns. What brought the client through the door in the first place? Why do they keep coming back? We need to learn to adapt our cues and expressions to match the person in front of us.

Be clear. We all have our ‘go to’ expressions. For example: belly button to spine. Let’s make sure we first express what we actually are asking for. Avoid relying on and assuming a phrase will always inspire the correct action.

Address complex action simply. Sometimes the list of cues are LONG, be sure to highlight a priority. In other words, emphasis what shouldn’t be sacrificed in order to accomplish another action further down the list of cues.

One of my favorite teaching moments is between breathing and action. If the effort to create an action causes you to hold your breath, the sacrifice is too great. In other words, if you catch yourself holding your breath, reign it in, work only as hard as you can breath consistently.

Teach, Don’t Tell

Simply means exploring with clients to learn what to say in order to help someone organize and co-ordinate a movement. Look at what happens when the client does what you asked them to do.  Then identify and address perhaps TWO of the most important corrections according to their demonstration.

Both the Movement Instructor and the client need to allow for room to grow into the actions. It takes time for the brain to instinctively and confidently adapt movement patterns. Every energetic expression of the teachers cue has to sort through outside force, internal deviations or habits and the complexity of the action.

Your brain and body systems know this and will learn to re-organize itself according to the brain’s pleasure response.

Client

As Clients, You Can Help Us Be Better:

We need you to speak up when what we’re asking for sounds like a foreign language.

Do you keep hearing a phrase that you feel or think is wrong for your body? Ask the instructor to explain themselves or to paraphrase what they are saying.

If you’re given a bony landmark or a muscle or a feeling/sensation as a reference point, speak up if that reference point is even a little bit foggy. There are hundreds of ways to describe an action.

Be patient with yourself, it’s just Pilates. #gregpember

The Underbelly of the World of Overwhelm: More is NOT Always Better

It has been said the “What we do matters. Who we are matters much more.”

And, that one word – more – is our key to todays look in on where is your life hanging out – in excellence or overwhelm?

Judith

Lets start with a few questions like:

  • Are you doing your best work as a leader yet feeling you are failing to make an impact? Or, if not you, perhaps someone close to you?
  • Have you ever felt stuck, powerless to change your environment or even your day-to-day experience of a world moving at a frenetic pace of demands for “more”?
  • Do you feel too overwhelmed to enjoy life, unable to sort out the demands on your time

If you answered yes to any one of these questions then settle in, take a deep breath or three and ponder the following with us, if you will.

One of the disabling elements against our sense of a fit life – emotional or physical – is a mindset that measures success by demanding “more”. In all our training and conditioning – physical fitness included – the mistake that repeats itself, and drives us relentlessly, is how we isolate and fragment as though the different parts of a self don’t work together. This includes all of the aspects that we imagine constitute a self, or a life, or a job well done. And, to worsen this sorry state of affairs, we measure our success based on outer appearances or what we think others will value. When we keep the various parts of our ‘self’, and aspects of our life, isolated each from the other we are guaranteed to eventually experience exhaustion, loneliness, angst, and eventually dissatisfaction and/or disillusionment, even despair.

This stems from a paradigm of doing rather than being, among other aspects of our socializing experience. That is to say we derive our sense of worth from an exterior orientation rather than an interior sense of stability and wellbeing.

art

An outer orientation sets up like this: when I get this…I will be happy; when I accomplish that…I will be a success; when I have ‘this much’ in my bank account…I will be good enough; when I…well, you get the idea. We “do this in order to get that”. This approach is like an addiction; it leaves us coming up with/as ‘not enough’ and needing the ubiquitous “more”.

“More” is killing us: stress, judgments, anger, frustration, depression, and exhaustion; dis-eases of the body-mind-soul. Where is “more” showing up in your life? What would it take to set up an attitude of “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Bleep” (see Events at WellnessVie.com). In this book Mark Hanson advises us to get to know our limitations and accept them – this, he says, is the real source of empowerment. I like to think of this in terms of the malcontent content and the capacity for living with our vulnerabilities.

Isn’t it a time for a quiet revolution? Would you be willing to ask yourself some different questions and not be in a hurry to find the answers or reach the goal at the expense of a well-lived journey? Dare to “Live the questions”- questions that address life from a perspective of ‘is this life-giving’?

As a Psychotherapist and Guide to all things Great, I know that our greatest gift is our willingness to bring curiosity to our life’s experiences – as children do! They live life as an adventure, and thereby thrive; why not us? Why not now? And, if not now, when? 

– Judith

Mind Your Words: The Art of Cueing

In Movement and in Life
  Steph - Arc

Storytelling, this is the daily practice of any movement instructor, most commonly referred to as ‘cueing’. 

Judith and I (Stephanie) are going to be offering and exploring ideas that are meant to tantalize your mind, create questions and perhaps offer those reading this blog an opportunity for a deeper understanding of yourself, or at the very least of your Movement Instructor. I will be discussing concepts from the perspective of a teacher in movement and how individuals participating in movement may get more from their personal fitness regimes.

At our studio we have groomed within ourselves a style that brings the opportunity to work with people Stephaniewhose desire it is to explore, define, improve and align their bodies with grace, strength and efficiency. This desire to learn will take them into aging with a quality of life that only mobility offers. 

The art of Pilates is to look at the body in front of us and to discover the most direct route to address its movement patterns. The challenge in this art lies in the practice of our storytelling skill (cueing). We are always working to improve this storytelling skill in order to best use the power behind our words to teach a deep understanding of movement unique for each person.

Mind Your Words blog series has the grand intention of exploring what is behind the words we choose to use, at times over use, as we look for ways to teach people the powerful connection between their minds, their bodies and their own personal responsibility in the pursuit of creating an exquisite quality of life.

In today’s temperament with concern to our use of words and how they impact others, we find ourselves on a swords edge between being mindful of the words we use and being fearful of how our words may be misunderstood. This fear has the potential to destroy communication and to create even more loneliness in the human race. A couple of weeks ago, a beautiful mind walked into my Pilates class and shared a snippet of learning that has stuck with me, “everyone communicates, not everyone one connects.”

Our challenge is to connect through communication.

Our wish is to be clear with what we mean.

We ask our clients and anyone who ends up reading this blog to explore personal responsibility in defining, exploring, perhaps redefining our understanding of the words we use and how these words hit us on a daily basis.

Aristotle once stated, “it is the mark of an educated man to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” 

When you read Aristotle’s quote, how do you interpret it?

The message I “hear” when reading this quote or better yet saying it out loud is: “it is sign of an open and balanced mind when able to contemplate an other’s collection of experiences, life concepts or definitions behind words, without taking it as a personal attack on belief systems, self expression and experiences.”

Exploring what’s behind a word through the thesaurus:

Cueing: signal, sign, indicate, prompt, reminder, word, gesture
Fitness: good health, strength, robustness, vigour, well-being
Tantalize: tempt, entice, lure, allure, beguile, excite, fascinate
Intention: design, purpose, goal, wish, desire, ambition, idea
Temperament: nature, frame of mind, mood, attitude
Responsibility: duty, task, function, role, common sense, power