Dogs and cats can be great teachers if we care to watch and learn! They may not intellectually be aware of the benefits of stretching, but they naturally practice this art each and every day, even into their old age when they may be suffering from arthritic conditions in their back, hips or knees. I watch, with great admiration, my 11 year old large breed dog who, inspite of a knee injury, continues to stretch his entire body numerous times each day.
Infants and toddlers have this awareness and ability also – moving and stretching their newly inhabited body with great glee! Perhaps because they as yet know no bounds! But…somewhere between infancy and adulthood many of us lose touch with that natural ability and have to consciously fit it in to our daily life. Many people adopt a yoga or pilates practice. Others wait until they are prescribed specific stretching excercises by their doctor, chiropractor or physical therapist.
So why do we lose awareness of this essential part of having a body? Fear, pain, emotional trauma, and stress are just some of the reasons.
All of these above-mentioned energies, though different in vibration, have a similar effect – that of disconnecting parts of our awareness and creating blocks in the communication with our body.
In the face of fear for instance, the tension, tightness and holding that you experience in the body is mirrored in the brain. Communication freezes, circuits are broken, energy flow is impaired. If these responses are not addressed and healed, the tension and tightness remains both in the body and the brain.
Meditation can assist in the process of re-connecting and re-establishing that communication between the mind and the body. As you turn your attention inward and expand your awareness, the energy begins to flow more smoothly in the brain which in turn sends signals to the body to relax and breathe and let go.
The same is true in reverse. Stretching and moving the physical body – moving through the pain, fear and tension, be it physical or emotional – re-establishes trust between the body and the mind, re-connects broken circuitry and allows for expanded vision, awareness, consciousness and flexibility in thinking.
An article in the Sept/Oct 2012 issue of Spirituality & Health Magazine, called “Embodying Change” discusses this dynamic, as four experts address the “Genius of Our Bodies” – each one of them talking about the benefit of movement on our state of mind.
What it comes down to is that body, mind and spirit are designed to work together. If any one part of the whole self is damaged, traumatized, in pain or fear or being denied, each of the other parts is affected also.
Physical movement stimulates the flow and movement of energy, opening and expanding our physical and spiritual worlds of understanding. Likewise, directing spiritual energy inwards through meditation and introspection, opens and expands communication with the body allowing for relaxation and greater flexibility.
Stretch the body, stretch the mind…… Stretch the mind, stretch the body.