Feeling disconnected from yourself and your body? Time to look at how kids do it...
Ah the joys of being a child! No bills to pay, no boss to please, no pension to save (yet).
Remember running around carefree all day long, before crashing and sleeping whenever you felt like it? The good old days, right?
As we grow older, we tend to forget the innocent sense of play and exploration we had as children, and instead become wrapped in our "adult" ways of thinking, moving and being.
However there's a lot we can learn from reconnecting to that part of ourselves.
Are you ready to go back to play-school?
THE EARLY YEARS OF EMBODIED EXPLORATION
The next time you get the chance to observe a baby or a young child, notice their relationship with their bodies.
At first, even the slightest movement is an adventure in itself, as they test new ways of stretching, shaking, clapping, and moving their little limbs.
Little by little, through trial and error as well as imitation of the people around them, they become aware of the most effective ways to move their bodies.
After clumsily and shakily learning to gain control of their little limbs, they fearlessly explore all kinds of ways to use their bodies: from crawling to walking to running and jumping.
Children can be some of the most embodied beings you will ever meet. They fill their entire physical body with their entire energy, from head to toe. Every single cell, limb, hair and organ seems to follow the same physical impulse. They engage their 5 senses to see, feel, smell, taste and listen to every single aspect of their environment.
You can even observe this in the way they express themselves: every feeling and emotion is expressed using their entire body. They flay their arms and stamp their feet when having a tantrum. They curl up and hide away when scared. And when sad, their tears shudder from deep within.
They use their bodies in exactly the way they are designed to be used: to fully express themselves and to fully experience the world. Everything becomes play and exploration. The lounge transforms into an assault course. The garden turns into a theme park.
THE LOSS OF INNOCENCE
As we grow up and become rational, thinking adults, we gradually lose this connection with our bodies.
We enter a school and work system which favour a sedentary, sitting position, in which rational, mind-based thinking is far more valued than the creative, intuitive approach.
We learn that our bodies are like exasperating, disgusting and lifeless lumps of meat for us to dress, shape, cut, slice and sharpen, like large fashion accessories.
We are taught that expressing all our feelings is not right, and that instead we must adapt to our culture, our conditioning, our environment.
Our sense of wonder at our bodies and the world around us disappears.
We become distrustful of our feelings and impulses.
We loose the exploration, play and innocence of movement.
We forget the pleasure, fun and joy of being in our bodies.
Movement becomes a chore, synonymous with pain, discomfort and embarrassment. We become trapped in the same patterns, at home, at work, even in the gym. Sitting. Standing. Walking. Repeating the same motions. Endlessly. Infinitely. In an attempt to minimise our connection with our physicality. With our human nature.
We forget parts of our body and overuse others instead. We even forget how to use our bodies to express our feelings. Over time this leads to energy blockages, and in turn to tightness, poor posture, weight gain and illness.
RECONNECTING WITH YOUR BODY THROUGH INNOCENCE
For many of us, we must enter an unlearning process. We must forget our conditioned movement patterns, our postural habits, our suppression mechanisms, our current ways of moving in the world...and open up to the innocence within us.
1. Make it a special occasion:
Don't rush: make this new exploration a gift to yourself. Daily, weekly, monthly. Whichever rhythm suits you. Block it in your diary. Find a private room. Put your iPhone onto airplane mode. Select your favourite music. Dim the lights. Light some scented candles. This is your opportunity to give some love, attention and care to yourself and your body.
2. Use your imagination:
Open your mind up. Get into your heart. Choose to leave your adult self at the door. Connect to that inner child within you, the one that's dying to jump, run, shout, laugh and scream. Picture yourself as a baby or a young child, fully present in this big big world, fully connected to your new body. Just for now, imagine what it feels like to be at one with your own innocence, once again or for the first time.
3. Discover your body:
Find your breath. Feel the ground. Connect to your feet. Your legs. Your pelvis. Then your spine, your shoulders, your arms and your neck. As if you were experiencing them for the first time. As if you were tasting them, listening to their whispers and trying to understand their subtleties. As if you were researching their textures, their sounds, their language. Become friends with your limbs, your breath, your sensations, your emotions.
4. Explore and play:
Imagine you were using your body for the first time and stepping into this new world of form and sensation. Bring with you a sense of exploration and discovery, like entering a world of unknown. Play with sounds, movements, sensations. Scream. Laugh. Shout. Jump. Run. Crawl. Dive into the muscles, the tendons, the joints, the ligaments. Find what brings you pleasure and comfort. Discover what brings you discomfort and tension. Have fun with it: loose yourself in the feelings and sensations.
5. Follow your impulses:
As you connect more and more, take it deeper. Release the mind and allow the body to take over. Tune in to it, step into the unknown, and sense what movements, sounds or stretches it would like to do. Forget everything you've done before and let your limbs do the talking, taking you to places, shapes, forms and sensations you've never experienced. Maybe your legs feel like they need a good shake? Maybe your spine wants to spiral and curl into a ball? Give in to your impulses, and see how far they take you.
Now it's your turn: give yourself 10-30mins of exploration today or asap, then leave a comment below with your experience :)
Love & Health,