There’s always more

Posted by Jeanne Barrett on March 27, 2010 in Uncategorized

The continuing challenge of recovering to full function after a serious injury presents numerous opportunities to shift old habits of response.  As a former student of mine told me, after enduring many illnesses, injuries and tragedies, “it’s not what happens, it’s what you do with it”.

Injury typically exacerbates imbalances in elastic tone with all the accommodations and compensations required in moving with partial mobility toward full function. In addition, the signals for pain usually become overactive, so that necessary strengthening is short circuited by anxiety.  Fear of further pain interferes with recovery modes.

My condition of self was far from ideal previous to injury.  From birth, an internal rotation of one hip made my leg/torso relationship distinctly asymmetrical.  Clumsy medical attempts to change my condition by force (braces, casts, orthopedic shoes) and in a direct manner only increased overall distortions.  Only by approaching change through the indirect means of the Alexander Technique, addressing the whole rather than fixing the parts, was I able to learn to function well with a compromised condition of self.  Still, injury and resulting accommodations brought all the original imbalance back into dramatic play.

The injury has continuously offered me the opportunity to address old patterns of response in a new manner of more conscious choice.  Yesterday, my Gyrotonic instructor, Lindsey, and Gyrotonic instructor and Physical Therapist Janette guided me through very refined exercises to strengthen the balance of leg/torso relationship.  It was a huge brain challenge for me to shift how I was connecting to the ground  and thus initiating movement.  My current strength is in a very twisted form that prevents my knee from becoming stable, and results in pain, thus signaling fear and a reduction in confidence for moving through daily activities.  Lindsey and Janette helped me to think about support differently, in a very Alexander-consistent whole person fashion.  I was able to challenge knee and leg strength with safety, and to experience means of strengthening that were difficult but not scary or painful.  This required me to think with my whole self, to have a clear intention, and to refuse to force (interfere) and yet still activate very dynamically.  Going from undoing to doing without doing too much is how I describe this in Alexander terms.

I found myself exhausted, thrilled, weepy, and happy after this refined workout.  As signaling and response changes, the sense of self allowing rather than controlling shifts.  Dynamic non-interference is key.  The work becomes more about relinquishing effort in a familiar sense and allowing new solutions in a wholly balanced experience.  Refining response to what seems like dangerous pain is an aspect of allowing more, pushing less, remaining active, and being open to a new experience.

As a result of this work, my knee felt much more stable, stronger and far less painful this morning as I enjoyed my morning “faux run”. Learning continues, and the self finds a continuing new balance in response that is hopefully even better than previous to injury.  There is always more!

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