“Parts” Thinking is Entrenched in Our Culture
People frequently ask me questions like, “When is your next ‘neck’ class?” or “Do you ever teach a class for knee pain?”
We’re accustomed to thinking of ourselves like a car, made up of various parts. We commonly say things like, “My ‘back’ went out” or “My ‘knee’ is giving me problems.” Of course this completely defies biological reality!
As a living organism, we are one dynamic system. While our thinking skills are extremely valuable, when we let our ideas override our embodied experience we can create unnecessary pain and suffering.
Time to Upgrade Your Ideas
As we enter the New Year, I invite you to challenge “parts thinking”? Perhaps it’s time to question some of your preconceived ideas about what causes and/or will “fix” your pain or difficulties.
After my movement class, students are often surprised when they experience a positive change or easier movement in a part of their body that they didn’t really move during the lesson. For example, students have reported increased range of motion in their neck after moving the feet, freer shoulders after moving the hips, or a happier low back after doing breathing variations.
However, culturally entrenched “parts thinking” usually washes away the tangible experience of being an interconnected whole. After relaying their surprising change, the student might say, “I’m skipping next month’s ‘jaw’ class because my ‘shoulders’ are what I need to work on.”
Your Ankle Bone Is Connected to Your Neck Bone
You don’t need to take a movement class to experience how seemingly disparate body parts are one connected whole. Have you ever had a painful blister on a long walk? You likely adjusted how you walked on that food to reduce rubbing the blister. Then after, you may have felt some soreness or fatigue in your hip, back or elsewhere. If how you use your feet compensating for a blister effects your hip or back, it isn’t a stretch to see how the everyday way you use your feet may be a factor in your usual aches and pains.
Another example is for those who wear bifocal or progressive lenses. Do you ever tilt your head at a particular angle to focus on something through the right spot in your glasses? Done often or long enough, you may feel soreness in your neck—a direct experience of the relationship between your eyes and the comfort of your neck.
Narrowly focusing on one part limits your ability to prevent and relieve discomfort. Usually the place that hurts isn’t the source of your problem, it’s just feeling the strain from another area that’s not moving or well-organized.
A Secret About My Awareness Through Movement Classes
I’ll let you in on a little secret: The topics of my monthly classes are mostly for marketing purposes! People are more motivated to take a “Free Your Neck and Shoulders” class than a generic “movement” class. That’s not to say that what I teach in those classes is random—I choose lesson specifically for the issue at hand. But the truth is that almost any of my classes will be useful for just about any problem.
Your system has millions of years of evolution and knows how to function better than your conscious mind. Awareness Through Movement lessons tap into that innate intelligence. Although everyone in a class does the same lesson, each individual will experience changes unique to them. That means if you have pain in your knees, you are just as likely to get improvement in a “neck” class as you will in a “knee” class.
You Are Greater than the Sum of Your Parts!
So when you look at the titles of my upcoming classes, remember that you are greater than the sum of your parts! If you want better balance, don’t wait until I teach a “balance” class. Instead, come find out how clarifying the relationships between various parts of yourself leads to greater stability!