Most of us have heard the buzz around Mindfulness. It’s generally thought of as a powerful practice using the mind and traditionally done in the sitting position with a cushion or chair to enhance comfort.
But have you heard about the enhanced mind body effect mindfulness can have when combined with movement?
Allow me to introduce you to this powerful modality that is changing, permeating and altering athletic training, pain management, performance, injury prevention and physical therapy world wide: The Franklin Method. Already a regular part of such prestigious curriculums as the Juilliard School in Manhattan and the Universities of Vienna, Cologne, and Karlsruhe, The Franklin Method works to enhance body awareness, sensory pathways, and movement with specialized techniques that simultaneously change the nervous system, brain and shelf life of your body.
We all know that inactivity is associated with a myriad of diseases, as well as physical and mental challenges. Have you heard that sitting is the new smoking? It is well documented that movement alone is quite powerful for health and wellness.
Science has shown when you combine visualization (particularly images that align with the design of the body), touch and movement you stimulate not just the motor neurons but the sensory pathways of the nervous system as well. This sends the brain vital information about the various parts that are being visualized, touched and moved. This information endows the brain with the capacity to better organize and coordinate the cascade of events necessary to move its parts. This sequence enhances strength and flexibility which in turn reduces the effort required to move.
What are the benefits of reducing the effort it takes to move? So many of us are unknowingly tethered to “try harder” when we are not getting the strength, flexibility or results we want, not just in movement, but in life in general. Athletes, writers and performers know all too well that there is a delicate balance where too much “trying”, i.e.. “go go go”, sabotages the learning and outcome process.
The Franklin Method employs the power of your mind, combined with movement and touch, to get better results in everything you do while enhancing self awareness of habitual tension patterns which put undo wear and tear on the body and mind.
That’s not to say that mindfulness without movement isn’t powerful. The Franklin Method teaches a powerful approach that guides the student to experience how imagery without movement can also change the quality and experience of movement in the body. Specific imagery techniques stimulate a percentage of motor neurons even without moving the body part; when honed as a skill it is a powerful asset to repair injuries, learn new things and rewire those pesky habits and patterns that lead to the breakdown of the physical body.
Sensory refinement which includes things like visualization, imagery and touch are powerful tools to rewire the brain and nervous system – this is called neuroplasticity. When these techniques are combined with movement, the brain gets a slew of new information input that is not available when any of these techniques are employed alone.
Movement without focus (i.e., when one’s focus has wandered to a TV show, making the grocery list or planning your executive speech) sends far less impactful information to the brain to change the “go go go” wiring of the body mind that initiates the fight or flight response in the operating system . The fight or flight is the stress response, heavily documented as the number one cause of just about every disease state know to man including physical injury. Conversely, focus without movement again sends the brain far less information as the stimulation of various sensory pathways is dramatically reduced.
This combination of tools result in repeated exclamations of shock and delight from students bewildered at how little they do to receive such a profound release of tension, and enhancement of ease and fluidity in the body.
Honing the capacity to sense and feel one’s own body when in movement not only encourages neuroplasticity by changing the brain and nervous system, but it also builds self awareness during everyday movements required in daily life. The result is that each participant becomes their own agent of change. When faced with either stressful emotional challenges or physical ones (career challenges, physical injury, waiting for the subway or playing sports) you can be armored with tools to change your experience.