Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Movement and Embodied Cognition

Many people ask me, once they’ve worked with me or with one of our programs, how they can make this experience last.

The experience they are talking about is the feeling of calm, the feeling of being “lighter”, the feeling of being able to move more gracefully, with much less effort.

They also find that their thinking is much more clear after doing a “movement lesson.”

Recent research on embodied cognition is showing that memories and experiences are multimodal and are spread throughout the body.

What does that mean?

It means that thoughts that reside in the mind are only one component of an experience that includes an entire constellation of perceptions, movements, and sensations that make up the experience.

It means that the communication that takes place between the mind and body isn’t so one directional as was once thought (with the mind only controlling the body) – and because cognition is “embodied”, the body exerts a powerful influence on shaping a person’s thoughts.

Remember, as we’ve discussed before, you take action (whatever that action is – whether it’s engaging with a customer, lifting a patient, or solving a problem) based on your self-image. And your self-image is made up of four components: thinking, feeling, emoting (showing emotion) and moving.

So, by engaging in this movement re-education process, you begin to “integrate” more of who you are into what you do. And when you integrate more of who you are, you become better able to:

- Think more clearly
- Feel and Sense more accurately
- Exhibit finer variations of emotion (you will no longer “lose your cool” as easy)
- And Move in a much more effective way (which will give you more energy and vitality throughout your day)

So what are you waiting for? If you want to take advantage of this two-way communication between our body and our mind, there are several options available. There are programs specifically for nurses, for improving posture, and for improving back, shoulder, and neck functioning.

This is also incredibly powerful for children with special needs, who often-times have incredible difficulty making sense of (and integrating) their outside world.

Our brains are powerful organs that we are only beginning to tap into.

To answer the initial question of how someone makes these experiences last, you soak it in.

You feel the feelings of what it’s like to be “organized” like this. How do your shoulders feel? How does your back feel? How are you moving? How is your breathing? How is your thinking?

Paying attention to all of the subtleties you discover during a movement lesson will allow you to recreate them whenever you wish.

So if you find yourself stressed out, high strung, or so tense that your movement is restricted – remember what it felt like after your lesson. By anchoring your experience with as many details about it as possible, you will be able to recreate that feeling by simply remembering what it felt like.

And as you do this more and more often, you will discover that you will develop more control of how you take action by simply tapping into the communications that take place between your body and your brain.

How are you tapping into the power of your brain?

Contact us and we’ll provide for you a free “movement lesson” for you to experience for yourself


Chad Estes
Movement Specialist

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Are You a Sponge or a Rock?

Interesting what we are continuing to discover about how our brains work.

A recent study is showing what was intuited almost a half century ago by a true “movement genius” – that our awareness is developed, and can be enhanced, through movement.

Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais, an Israeli Physicist and Engineer, discovered that our ability to discern differences has it’s roots in movement.

He, as well as those who have trained under him, experienced that the more you are able to detect finer and finer differences in ways that you move, the more you are able to differentiate in your thinking, sensing, and emoting.

THIS study demonstrates that sensorimotor circuits (circuits that have both sensory as well as movement abilities) are the basis for our ability to understand language.

You see, if you are carrying around excess tension within your muscular system, you are hindering your ability to integrate fully your interactions with the outside world (i.e. being able to be fully ‘present’ in business dealings, in relationships, and with life in general!)

If you’re tense and uptight, you are simply going to be missing some things.

So, in developing, and refining your capacity to move, you will continue to evolve, develop, and gain in this process called life.

Think that sounds pretty cool? It is…


What are you doing to enhance your ability to take in more of life?


Let us know if what you think of the above. We’d love to hear from you!


Chad Estes

Movement Specialist

Thursday, February 25, 2010

How You Move Affects How You Think

I have become fascinated lately with an emerging area of science: that of Embodied Cognition. Embodied what? What the heck is that?!?!?!

Those that study Embodied Cognition believe that the nature of the human mind is largely determined by the form of the human body.

Let me cite some research examples:

• A recent study at the University of Vanderbilt was the first to demonstrate that the brain uses bodily cues to help understand and solve complex problems. Participants who were instructed to swing their arms in a particular way were 40% more likely to solve the problem than the control group.

• A study conducted at the University of Amsterdam showed that subjects thinking about the future leaned forward, while those thinking about the past leaned backward.

• Researchers at Yale found that subjects holding warm coffee in advance were more likely to evaluate an imaginary individual as warm and friendly than those holding cold coffee.

• Students told that that a particular book was important judged it to be physically heavier than a book that they were told was unimportant.

• In a parallel study with heavy versus light clipboards, those with the heavy clipboards were more likely like to judge currency to be more valuable and their opinions and their leaders more important.

This leads me to think about all of those folks in America who are experiencing chronic pain – particularly back pain since it’s so prevalent.

If you are in chronic pain, how do you believe that it affects the way in which you experience the world?

The answer – it affects it a great deal.

You see, chronic pain causes limitations in the way in which you move.

If you have limitations in movement, you will have other limitations in your self-image – the way in which you think, feel and emote.

As Dr. Michael Merzenich, Professor Emeritus at UC San Francisco states, Awareness, cognition and movement are really inseparable…isolated weakness or loss in ‘movement’ or ‘awareness’ or related ‘cognition’ is a human impossibility.”

So if chronic pain takes away some of our freedom of movement, it will also cause us to lose our ability to think, feel, and emote in a clear fashion.

The implications are HUGE.

If we are able to learn to move in a more efficient way – in a way that is more harmonious with our structures, thereby decreasing or eliminating chronic pain – we would then be able to think, feel and emote more efficiently as well.

We would become much more highly evolved.

And more intelligent.

And more productive.

And more creative.

the possibilities are endless.


Chances are, you have experienced persistent, chronic pain at some point in your life. How did it affect you?


Leave a comment and let us know if this makes you rethink the importance of efficient, effective movement in your life.


Chad Estes

Movement Specialist

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