Tag Archives: balance

Cultivate Equanimity for January 2022

Would you like to cultivate equanimity?

That’s the theme which I’ve chosen for class in January 2022.

Photo of a pond near Boston in winter. Just to gaze at open water seems to cultivate equanimity.Actually, the theme chose me. It simply presented itself last week. It feels right for so many reasons.

The world continues to feel chaotic for most of us. Erratic weather. The spread of COVID, with new variants, and our continual need to adjust—my heart goes out to school teachers, parents, and children. And to those staffing our hospitals. The folks who keep our buses and trains running. And the other essential workers—our grocery staff, garbage collectors, and here in the Northeast, the folks who plow our roads.

I’m thinking of those of us who work from home and our isolation. We can keep healthy physically, but we’re stressed mentally. Humans are inherently social creatures. As my husband used to say, we’re pack animals.

Cultivate Equanimity

What can equanimity offer? The possibility to recover your balance. Find your footing again when you’re knocked off balance. Metaphorically speaking, and literally. Slip and recover. Renew your trust in yourself. Refresh your ability to pivot, change course. Another way to visualize equanimity: it’s that calm place at the center of the storm. It’s your heart beat. It’s your breath. It’s the ground supporting your feet.

Or as Moshe Feldenkrais, the founder of the Feldenkrais Method, writes:

“So, to balance the cortex means to reduce all points of excitation to normal activity. In this pursuit, you will find that there is no point of excitation possible without an inhibition. In reducing the excitation, you also relieve the inhibition. When you level the cortex, you bring it to that state which some people call nirvana and we call eutony. Suddenly your brain becomes quiet and you see things that you never saw before. The possibility of making new combinations, which were inhibited before, is restored. The great value of this technique is that by reducing tension in a particular group of muscles, it provides a methodical study of the entire self-image, and through study, improvement….The correction of these flaws is neither conceived nor experienced as the treatment of a disease but as a general resumption of growth and development on all levels.”
― Moshé Feldenkrais, Embodied Wisdom: The Collected Papers of Moshe Feldenkrais

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If you’re like to nurture your own equanimity in class with me, join us Thursdays at 12:30 pm ET/11:30 am CT/9:30 am PT. Remember to register here: it’s a new link for 2022.

Looking forward to seeing you soon!

Lose Your Balance & Find It Again

What do you think of when you hear the word “balance?”

Do you immediately think— “I wish mine was better.”

Join the club!

It’s hard to stand on two legs. It takes us about a year to learn it, to build the muscles necessary.

Winged Victory of Samothrace: the wide base ensure it won't lose balance.

The Winged Victory of Samothrace

“. . . The human body is badly suited for standing. Statues of human figures have to be strongly connected to a heavy base to prevent them from toppling over at the slightest disturbance.”Moshe Feldenkrais, Body & Mature Behavior

Humans start with a disadvantage: we stand on two feet. We’re top heavy: our trunk and head are on top, and our base is tiny. In Body & Mature Behavior, Feldenkrais writes: “A Martian visitor would not hesitate to conclude that the human body is the closest to an ideal frame designed for movement and the least suited for standing motionless.”

Finding Balance

Little boy rides a bike. Lose balance and find it again.We humans are always seeking to be in balance. Whether in standing, so we don’t fall over. Or in dealing with a psychological challenge. What’s interesting: balance is inherently unstable. When we seem to be in balance we’re actually constantly moving, making tiny adjustments in response to our changing environment. We’re afraid to lose balance, yet we’re continually losing and finding it again. Just watch a baby learning to stand up! The only way to develop the ability to stand is to fall repeatedly.

Maybe losing our balance as grown-ups could be no big deal, too.

What are tools you can use to clarify your balance?

  • The ground
  • Your breath
  • Your skeleton
  • Your muscle system
  • Your awareness

Ready to Lose Balance?

Lose balance & find it again walking a slack line

The only way to walk a slack line: lose balance & find it again!

Join us for the next series! Find details here.

Children, Bare Feet & Movement

Barefoot Is Better for Developing Motor Skills

Close-up of a barefoot baby girl's foot.

A baby’s foot.

A recent study showed that children who tend to go barefoot have better motor skills than those who habitually wear shoes. The barefoot kids had better balance, among other advantages. When you consider how many shoes restrict the foot‘s ability to move, the results make sense.

Also, I wonder, do barefoot children just tend to move more in general?

Read the entire article here on Neuroscience News.

What’s the Best Kind of Shoe?

Barefoot toddler on tiptoe with magnets in front of refrigerator.

A toddler’s feet.

Clients often ask me, “What kind of shoe should I wear?” My answer, “The one with as little support as is comfortable for you.”If you’re currently using arch support or orthotics, don’t suddenly stop using them.

Could you practice walking at home, five minutes at a time, barefoot? Or in flat shoes with no built-in arch? Or can you practice walking with your orthotics, without collapsing your feet into them, but using them as a point of reference to organize your feet around?

And yes, we can practice using our feet and entire skeletons so that your arches awaken. I was diagnosed with flat feet as a child. I can now distinguish support in my two longitudinal arches and the one transverse arch; of course, that’s clearer with one foot than the other.

Standing Lesson

One simple movement to play with: stand with your feet slightly further apart than usual, barefoot if possible. Shift yourself a little left and right. Imagine that your whole skeleton is like a pendulum above your feet, so you lead with the crown of your head.

Feel how you’re using your feet. Do they collapse as you shift weight? That is, does the contact of the standing surfaces of your feet with the ground change as you shift from side to side?

Imagine now that, as you shift your skeleton left, it’s your right foot that sends you. As if you’re distancing the crown of your head from your right foot. Let your left foot send you right.

Do this a few times. Stop and observe yourself. How did your awareness of your feet change?

Making the Floor Your Friend

When was the last time you lay on the floor? Do you remember how delicious it felt to be completely supported and feel effort gradually drop away?

Stacy Barrows, Doctor of Physical Therapy and Feldenkrais Practitioner, wrote an excellent blog about the value of using the floor for more than getting from one place to another.

Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFP

Stacy Barrows, PT, GCFP

Stacy says:

“When I practice getting up and down off the floor, I’m building resilience in my musculoskeletal system. Being able to get up and down off the floor is an essential movement skill. It is not only one of the first things we learn as infants; it is one of the last things we want to lose as we age. In fact, the ability to get up and down from the floor is associated with greater longevity. People who do this regularly are counteracting the long-term effects of gravity and maintaining their proprioceptive abilities that are part of maintaining upright balance and navigating the world with less risk of falling.

Proprioception is how we sense where we are in space, and the speed and intensity with which we’re moving.

Read the rest of Stacy’s blog here, including tips for enticing your family to the floor.

And speaking of making friends with the floor, I can’t resist sharing this video of Baby Liv again. Babies don’t have to make friends with the floor. They love it!