Stepping Right Heals The Body
53 years of teaching creative movement from three to ninety year olds, 32 years of practicing movement therapy with physically and emotionally impaired clients, and 21 years as a psychoanalyst dealing with diverse levels of anxiety has resulted in four incredibly simple actions that everyone, anywhere, at anytime can use to reclaim their birthright self. It starts with the ground, rebuilding feet arches, strengthening ankles, stopping knee pain, squaring hips to find lower back pain disappearing. The actions are orthopedic in correcting misalignments; therapeutic in exposing the thinking that splits mind and body; and creative in allowing our natural emotional resonance to flow through the body.
“You need to exercise” seems like good advice that everyone goes along with. We can however just as easily exercise in ways that end up hurting us as helping. The exercise advice is mostly concerned with promoting circulation, a fundamental function of muscles pulsing arteries to move the blood along and get the heart muscle to work better. There is nothing corrective in this advice. Consequently, a lot of people end up hurting themselves because of muscular misalignments that developed unconsciously in the process of growing up.
Since day one, every time we trip or fall the vestibular system, our balance system tells muscles how to shift to maintain balance. This system doesn’t care about good alignment. It is programmed for survival. It sets up compensations: a slight shift to the left, a slight torque of the torso, a slight stiffening of the neck, that puts us in control. The sense of control sets up patterns. The most egregious contributor to habits of misalignments is the imperceptible absorptions of infancy and toddler-hood of a parent’s psychophysical energy, gait, sense of urgency, determined sense of mastery. This is the chameleon survival nature of our psyche. My point is that we can realign physically and emotionally.
Reclaiming the Self –There are two irrefutable facts, the ground and all movement happens through muscles. The following four easily applied actions will over time realign the musculature; allow stress to pass through instead of tightening against. It is a steady, incremental process for reclaiming the kinesthetic sensibility – the source of our creativity and capacity for empathy.
Four Actions – Stand over the flat of the heels. Shifting from side to side, front, and back will make sensing the flat clear. This begins to realign the 40 muscles and 27 bones in each foot to support a strong arch. Walking over the flat automatically shortens our stride and narrows the distance between the legs, centering the body for a more efficient transfer of weight through the 4th toe line on the sole of the foot. Depending on our sensitivity to motion, the resonance of motion from the flat through the back of the legs can quickly be felt, repositioning the pelvis over the feet as we step, to allow lower back problems to vanish. Apply this sense of motion through the musculature to any exercise, sitting or lying, and it will incrementally correct misalignments, protect against mindless following directions, and in turn join mind and body. Staying focused on the flat and its muscular resonance changes the disconnecting effect of thoughts and images into a creative process, as our deepest feelings filter through the body like sunshine through shadowy clouds.
By: Jack Wiener, CDMT, LP
Author of Creative Movement for Children: A Dance Program for the Classroom (1969), and The Way of the 4th Toe: Into the Feeling Body (2011). Founder: School for Creative Movement (1962-1992). Small classes at present. Psychoanalyst. Member and training analyst at the National Psychological Association for Psychoanalysis (NPAP); member of the National Association for the Advancement of Psychoanalysis (NAAP); the International Forum for Psychoanalytic Education (IFPE); the American Counseling Association (ACA).
For more information, please contact Mr. Wiener at his office 212-724-2044