Disassociation even though everything moves
As human beings, we possess some characteristics of interest to us. We are 3 dimensional; we are living organisms and we are made to be constantly in movement. Our “envelope”, our skin, makes us self-contained. Although we are clearly delineated, we still have numerous movement possibilities and different configurations and reconfigurations available to us.
When there is movement – actually, when WE move - in one place, this movement - we -create(s) movement everywhere: everything moves because of an intricate network of pushes and pulls. This grants us great adaptability.
Being constantly in movement gives us stability and not fixity. When standing still we ARE IN MOVEMENT. Being constantly in movement, we reconfigure our body which does not mean we move everything together as a lump. We have the ability to disassociate.
What does associating/bundling movements mean?
When we bundle or associate movements together, we think that at least two movements have to be performed together in order to carry out an activity.
This way of thinking and of carrying out an activity is similar to creating a shortcut key on a computer keyboard that meets our requirements. It is not necessarily a combination everyone would use and, as individuals, we are likely to use different personalized combinations.
Such personalized combinations are not necessary, which led FM Alexander to say,
(…) energies [are] projected to parts of the bodily mechanism which have little or no
influence on the performance of the desired act (…) (Man’s Supreme Inheritance, p. 80).
Those personalized combinations can actually get in the way of performing an activity.
Let’s consider a few examples to figure out what associating/bundling movements is.
Associating/bundling moving at the hips and moving at the “shoulders” (gleno-humeral joints)
One day a Wellbeing Improver was experimenting with raising a hand in the air. As soon as Wellbeing Improver reached a certain height, she was also moving forward at the hip joint as if the two were going hand in hand: the movement from the hip joint had to happen before and together with the movement of the arm so that “raising the arm” could continue.
Associating/bundling fixing the head to be able to lift the shoulders
In another instance, I came across the following scenario in the way a wellbeing improver would move: She would
think about the poise of her head in relation with her body in movement and would comment that she would
very light and would always be surprised at how her neck could move
As soon as she would think of lifting her shoulders though, the first thing that would happen would be fixing her head, which would “allow” her then to lift her shoulders. Is, however, fixing her head a requirement for lifting her shoulders up?
The Freedom of disassociating
Let’s go back to our two wellbeing Improvers and what happened to them when they stopped associating movements/bundling movements together.
In the first example, Wellbeing Improver did not know she was moving from her hips; she thought she was only moving
her arm. Once she came to the understanding that moving her arm did not require, in the present circumstances,
to move from the hips, moving her arm was
neater and required less energy.
In the second example, once she allowed movement in her neck while lifting her shoulders up, the movement
better and more fluid.
In both cases, there were less and more, and there was an improvement in the quality of the movement.
Breaking the thoughtless shortcut
This improvement in quality only happened once the chain reaction (shortcut) occurring after thinking about a movement was altered or broken.
This required a different understanding as well as putting into place a thinking process with several steps. In time, this thinking process will become familiar, will require less time and less energy. However, it is not as automated in the sense of a thoughtless shortcut.
He understood that the brain knits together actions and turns them into complex “automated” sequences, so that one no longer has to use a lot of mental energy to put multiple movements together. (Doidge)
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