Several years ago a succession of life-stressors and accumulated injuries finally took their toll on my nervous system and my career came to an abrupt halt due to ongoing pain.
Life as I knew it changed significantly. As someone who thrives on movement and the joy of being outside in nature, be it snowboarding, hiking, mountain biking, or simply walking my dog, my lack of mobility was devastating. At one early stage it was difficult to walk round the block and my beloved yoga classes were history.
It was very hard, yet it was a time of great change and transformation. With great curiosity I sought answers. What had happened to me? Why wasn’t the pain going away?
After much seeking, eventually it came down to one fascinating thing: my ongoing pain was a result of changes in my central nervous system. All ongoing pain is an output of the brain. Our brains are neuroplastic — neural networks in the brain are able to change through growth and reorganization — and the whole of us — all of our systems — is too (Australia’s Noigroup refer to this as bioplasticity. Thomas Hanna refers to our system as a whole as a soma, the first-person, ever-changing experience of ourself from within).
Training in mindfulness and Somatics has been life-changing for me. I know these practices can help you, too. I believe wholeheartedly in this work. In diving into into the fascinating world of our central nervous system, our soma, we start to understand ourselves a little better. This awareness leads to choice. I realized I’d spent years ‘using’ my body as a snowboard coach and athlete, but had I ever really truly experienced it, sensed it, embodied it? Was I aware of my habitual ways of being in this world?
As somas, we are self-sensing beings. We have both the ability to focus our attention inside ourselves, on incoming sensory and physiological signals (interoception or ‘body awareness’) and the ability to think about thought (metacognition), objectively reviewing feelings, perceptions, ideas and beliefs as they arise. As far as we know, no other creature on earth has the ability to consciously do this.
So, by experiencing a deeper connection to ourselves we can become aware of unhelpful habits and learn to live more freely and joyfully. It’s an ongoing journey and exploration! As Moshe Feldenkrais (engineer, physicist, inventor, martial artist and student of human development) said, “Habits are when we decide how to act before we are aware that we have a choice.”
As a Hanna Somatic Educator and Breathworks Mindfulness Teacher I’m passionate about guiding you to move through life with freedom, ease and a self of agency. It all starts with awareness and a sense of adventure and curiosity. It’s an ongoing and enthralling process! To quote the ever-inspiring Moshe Feldenkrais again: “There’s no limit to improvement.”