How movement can help manage your anxiety

How movement can help manage your anxiety

In my last post I talked about how our whole brain pays attention. Our whole brain is responsible for language, logic, creativity and relationships. Each hemisphere pays attention differently, the left in bits and in a linear fashion, makes finite conclusions, the right seeing the whole and relational, it takes in the emotional embodied content, and is not certain.

To learn something we need to break it down to understand the components, but put it back together to gain a new understanding and experience of the whole. Ideally we are using both hemispheres simultaneously, this is the embodied way of learning, paying attention and moving three dimensionally.

In a more left hemispheric approach we count the number of repetitions and measure the weights we are using, the endorphin rush is achieved, and you feel good. This approach to fitness is not maintainable for many. Moving ourselves as an object i.e. taking ourselves out for a walk, or running because we have to, without paying attention to the trees and surroundings is an emptier, less fulfilling activity and one more ‘thing to do’ or feel guilty about.

This is often what happens in a gym, where the machines people use to ‘strengthen’ their musculature only allow the 2 dimensional range of motion. Repetition breeds boredom. Working out becomes a burden and something I ‘should do’. My attitude towards myself becomes one of measuring, counting, and judging, waiting for the endorphin rush to kick in in order to feel good.

3 Ring Circuit – moving from one plane to another.

I have been using a 3-ring circuit moving from each of the three planes as a springboard for exploring the experience of how we attend. If you have a workout routine that you like, but want to keep it alive and interesting and to be present to it, try these approaches.

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Bony landmarks are more easily felt and seen, so easy to access and move, making them a good place to begin an exploration. I am using two kinds of attention, a narrow beam focus on locations in space, and a broad beam awareness of my inner skeletal processing. Or, I can use a narrow beam focus on my bones and a broad beam attention to the space through which I am moving. Either way, move into the sensation of your bones connecting to space. Start with your right side, sitting or standing, right hand reaching into your left back corner.

In the start position I feel spiraling through my torso. I am connecting: my right palm and scapula; my left scapula and left side of my occiput; as well as my left hip crest, left sitz bone, and heel; to my left back corner in space (horizontal plane). What is this sensation for you?

  1. Unspiraling and ascending to the right, I can feel the weight of my left hip crest and shoulder blade flow toward the top right side of my rib cage and hip crests as I reach my right arm, connect my right palm and scapula to high and right. What does this feel like for you?
  2. Advancing forward and low, and altering my attention to sternum and pubic bone, and heel sitz bone I maintain palm scapular connectivity as I almost crouch down and forwards. What does this feel like for you?
  3. From here, returning to my starting point of left back, I can enjoy the sensation of my weight transferring from the front of my foot and pelvis to the back and side of my pelvis. With an enclosing spiral through my spine, I sense the curving palm/scapula connectivity through my right arm and the opposite twisting pull of my left palm/scapula, as I reach into my horizontal back space to complete the three-ring circuit.

That Reminds Me…

My experience of the three-ring sequence continually transforms, depending on my intention and where (and how) I place my attention. Another way of layering in information about this circuit is to notice “of what does the sensation of the place you are moving through remind you”?

  1. The sensation reminds me of hailing a taxi
  2. The sensation reminds me of picking up a child in front of me
  3. The sensation reminds me of putting on my seatbelt

Trouble sleeping?

At night, do the three ring circuit in your mind, it helps focus your thoughts off the ‘busy buzz’ that often plague us in the middle of the night. You do micro movements at the cellular level which gives your brain more stimulation and slowly quietens the whole nervous system.

If I am anxious, as I get more proficient at noticing how I am connecting, I gain a deeper and more fluid relationship to my world around and within me. I am able to be still and choose where to place my attention, which builds resilience in my thought processes.

Finding enjoyment and meaning in moving creates a relationship to an activity, which we would like to repeat. This whole brain approach to learning, exercising, or living is sustainable because we are always wondering about other possibilities and sensations and connections. We do not come up with finite, predictable answers; something curious and new can always be discovered. It is a slower approach because we are processing sensations, but it is an approach that is sustainable and keeps me engaged, so I can move with consciousness and grace in all activities.

Next post we will explore the 3 ring circuit from the organs.