Perhaps the proper way to dissect the individual components is to first determine where your body is in space. Sensing the spacial occupation of the body helps to first connect the mind and body together and prepare the body for movement. When the mind is prepped for the movement the body will make, we can better move in proper alignment and mechanics. Sitting in a chair and without looking (or even close your eyes) or making any adjustments, sense into where the limbs are. Are they close to the body or further away? What is the relationship between the feet and the ground? Where is the spine in relation to the pelvis? Are the sitz bones connecting to the seat, or is the weight distributed more forward or back on the tailbone? Is the head stacked on top of the spine or is it shifted forward? Is the chest and lower ribs scrunched together or is there ample space between the ribs?
As you continue to scan the body and sense into where the components of the body are in relation to each other, you are re-connecting the brain with the physical body. This is a great grounding technique, too! When we re-link the brain and body, we are able to begin reprogramming the neural pathways of the brain, and begin to re-learn a new way (a proper way) of movement.
Now that you’ve identified where the body components are, gently make any adjustments needed: feet under the knees, weight grounded on the sitz bones, spine stacked with the head on top, shoulders back and down, etc. Once here, keep the eyes closed, and envision the movement of standing up. What is required in the body to happen in order to accomplish this movement? Envision the entire process: weight shifting forward as you hinge at the hips, thighs and glutes engaging, core engaging, pelvic floor coming online, exhaling as you lift the hips off the seat, maybe you bring in the assistance of the arms to push up slightly, unhinging at the hips to raise up as the legs straighten.
Now that you’ve run through the process in your mind’s eye, do it! How does it feel in the body when the mind has prepped the nervous system for the movement to come? You can test this out during normal daily activities, and during exercise. Try a movement like normal, then try envisioning the movement before doing it and notice the differences.
This envisioning exercise goes both ways in that it can help and hinder us. The mind is the powerhouse of the body and holds supreme influence, so much so that envisioning things like jumping, running, or throwing a ball tell the nervous system to begin prepping. The muscles will actually contract and certain chemicals and hormones in the body begin releasing—the body is experiencing the act prior to it happening! This is how consistent exposure to a mental fear state negatively impacts the body and keeps it in a fight or flight state. So if envisioning is powerful enough to help us use our biomechanics to their best ability during exercise, being mindful of what we envision the rest of the day is just as important. If someone’s mental capacity is mainly being used to think of negative things, the body is constantly prepping for this event that the brain keeps telling it will happen.
Mindful movement is a mental exercise just as much as it is physical. We can re-wire the brain towards healthier movement habits the more we provide it the opportunity to do so. When you can, take a deep breath and run through what the optimal movement or action you’re about to take would look like and notice the changes that happen over time!