Biomechanics of Psychology

( √) What is “Biomechanics of Psychology” in this context?

Since the industrial medicine era, the great mind and body divide have shaped our education and healthcare. Now, scientists are bridging the body and mind, and there is a recognition one could not exist without the other. Yes, exercise helps the brain, but the structure and function of movement are foundational to how intellect and perception develop. Movement lays the basis of sensory information to develop perception. The sensory information in the biomechanics of motion set up the template for psychological processes, or the” Biomechanics of Psychology.”

When we read the word “mind,” we think of awareness through thought or consciousness. When we read the word “body,” we think of the physical structure of bones, flesh, and organs. Biomechanics of psychology is neither. It is the motion or the patterning of lifeforce that makes the body the mind and the mind the body.

“Awareness” takes a whole different meaning in the context of sensory knowledge. Awareness is the experience of flesh, sensory knowledge laying the basis for thought.

Movement having behavioral patterns to thoughts. Awareness is a learning and a knowing through inquiry. “Inquiry” in Education is the inseparable action of the body and the teaching of the mind. Think of action not to learn, but also both motion and structure that makeup perception. In other words, movement is the “who” that is learning. Together, movement and structure shape our minds because it is our minds.

Feeling the biomechanics of psychology is not only easy, it’s natural but must be learned. As intellect and ego develop, the veil of the great divide comes back into play unless the child learns awareness of body-mind wholeness. Adults can understand body-mind awareness, though they will have to step out of learned patterns.

When this type of “awareness” is experienced in children, compassion, patience, and tenderness blossoms in them. Attention and listening improve. Physical functioning and health improve because the child learns to listen from deep inside to the outer world. Instead of just listening and learning from others, they learn from an innate intelligence of what I call the “sixth sense” or the biomechanics of psychology. The sixth sense or biomechanics of psychology knows the wholeness of the body-mind through experience.

(√) How is WTM movement different from exercise?

This topic is the key to the uniqueness of the Wellness Through Movement. Try to wonder about the movement as something more than just physical, and you will learn that movement in the human body is also trying to teach us how to grow. And physicist, Moshe Feldenkrais, figured out practical applications to use movement to change behavior. It seems simple, and it is if we were aware of the body, but many children are unaware of their bodies. Scientists call this “awareness” body ownership.

Children have a lot going on inside the body. The body has a dialogue of sensations like soundwaves. The feeling of a body can feel like multiple sensations like sounds on a loudspeaker blaring and distracting attention. The results? Children need to move. Wonder about their movement. There is a connection between their movements, emotions, and how they learn. In Wellness Through Movement, we teach by watching movements to understand how to teach academically and the whole child. 

Astonishing changes happen in childrens’ behaviors. Some of the results range from having longer attention spans to being simply kinder and supportive with their peers. With the movement program, even physical conditions improved. With time, the children resourced the methods from the program on their own when needing to handle stress, violence, or depression. 

The most significant and sustainable results happen with children between the ages of five and eight; however, adults also reported benefiting from the process. Here’s a (GSA) link to the intro program that helped. 

In full disclosure, please understand organizational movement lessons will be necessary for severely challenging behavior. Here are some lessons in this book A New Sensory Self Awareness, but best seek professional help for these children. (Link HELP (Organization of MINDBODY MOVEMENT- Feldenkrais practitioner) 

For professionals in research and movement, here’s a link to lessons that we used: Part I & Part II of the Wellness Through Movement program LINK. (Biomechanics of Psychology LINK) (Bridge Scientists & Educator)

Tip: Reframe the idea of movement as the witness between intention versus action

When reading the lesson, reframe the idea of movement as just an exercise of muscles and bones. Think of the senses (sound, touch, smell, taste, & feeling) and the physical sensation to emotions and the body’s structure. All of these effects create “movements.” With these types of movements, a baby doesn’t have to “think.” They are bundles of sensations— sensations that educate the development.

In the body, we all have a root from the brain. It’s our spinal cord. Within the spine, the brain feels the whole child, mind/body. Bodily movements synchronize the whole child for a higher level of functioning. Learn from movement, and it will speak volumes. Far beyond the traditional ways like discipline, movement will get the children’s attention.

(√) Does the idea of movement organization affecting behavior apply if my child seems normal?

Even healthy functioning children use movement to develop and discover themselves. Everything they do, think, and feel involves movement. However, they don’t always get what they desire with their actions. For example, imagine a baby who sees a bottle on the floor. Although the feet and legs move, the baby doesn’t propel forward to get the bottle. This fumbling stage is crucial to how the child learns to function throughout life. The nature of a baby’s actions is continually negotiating between the brain and body to find ways to achieve success. Movement helps the body organize parts. The results? The “fumbling about” is the developmental progression that sets up the foundation of alignment, balance, and coordination. These aspects of movement also contribute to a healthier development in behavior, self-confidence, and character.

In WTM, we use movement not to achieve a motor skill but to enhance the nature of the synergy between the mind and body. The action is trying to integrate the body, senses, and mind. More importantly, the movement gives the child a tangible sense of being in a body. When we ask to lie on the floor, many children cannot feel their bodies and tell us that nothing or very little is touching the ground. Surprisingly, when children learn to feel their bodies, it’s like finding their best friend inside.

(√) How can I help my child have the healthiest development?

Help children gain an awareness of what they are feeling in their bodies. If the child is an infant or toddler, give them freedom to move and explore in a safe but challenging environment. Movement is their teacher. Let them climb, fall, tumble, and get up aina. Let them figure out how to climb up on a couch, take their first steps, or reach for a bottle. If children are five or older the first step is getting them to feel their bodies. When I talk about the “feel their bodies” I am talking about the feeling of movement. Children must first learn where their bodies are in space to feel the body-mind. We start with a lesson called (Pancake Body lesson, page 39). Children lie on the floor, and we ask, “What is touching the floor?” Often children reply, “Nothing.” We begin to help develop this sense by teaching them to become aware of where body parts are touching the floor. Every body part has muscles. Muscles record sensory information connected to their behavior and brain function.

A word of caution, “movement” means from the ground up. Movement for a toddler needs to start on the belly or back. Create an environment where a child has to feel the stomach on the ground and how the feet engage with the ground to move them forward. Think of a GI joe crawl. Think of movement without legs and arms like the way nature thinks of motion for an infant. Action from the torso to the ground helps the child find where their feet and hands are from the belly.

Why the feel of movement in children’s bodies so important to development?

When attention and movement come together something magical happens.The physical structure is one of the primary influences that contribute to the development of behavior. Experience it and everything in life changes. This concept may not be easy to understand because we are talking about a new type of sense. Motion attaches to behavior to teach the brain. Feeling this connection between the brain and body and a new sense develops.

Starting in utero, an infant’s movement begins to teach the soul the sense of the body. From this sense of the physical, the self then develops. And from the sense of self, the child learns how to engage with the external world. Everything that moves is alive. Most new parents know what their young child is trying to do and want to help them with that movement. For example, when a child is trying to roll over or walk, we, as parents, automatically want to reach out to help them. Once the child learns the skill, we back off. If we take over and support the movement, the child loses a very significant opportunity. This opportunity of fumbling in motion teaches the child how to achieve their first successes.

Imagine a toddler crawling up on some steps to get a toy. The fumbling movement in the crawl and the climb gives the toddler the experience of how to organize themselves to achieve their first goals. The sense of motion and awkward balance is sent through the legs into the spine to set up the alignment. The bridge between movement and desire negotiates through the sense of motion. If uninterrupted, this natural movement process gives the child away to find their first successes. When a child smiles from the success, it comes from the feeling of security and confidence in their movements. Together the pelvis, spine, and structure help the child develop a sense of empowerment. This physical organization of balance contributes to a child’s sense of security, confidence, and self-esteem.

If you watch and try to understand the need for the child’s movement, wonder how the body and brain are trying to work together. Rolling on the floor, balancing from lying to sitting, climbing up on a lap, or crawling under a table are all ways the body tries to achieve its first successes. These successes build awareness of the bridge between the body and brain and movement between body parts. In other words, the intention, the action, and the behavior provide opportunities to grow and learn. It is the moving process, and the fumbling about that helps the body work the brain and gives the child a sense of confidence.

(√) You say movement affects thinking. Why can’t I feel movement affecting my thinking?

Sensory knowledge is what feeds the brain to help it think. In scientific terms the answer of why we can’t feel the thinking body is “body ownership.” We are not born aware of the sensory knowledge in the body structure. Sensory knowledge must be acquired.

Moshe Feldenkrais, founder of the method of movement to teach awareness of sensory knowledge, was a world renowned physicist. He figured out an application to acquire awareness of sensory knowledge. No where in the world is the study of sensory knowledge so complete as with the Feldenkrais Method.

(√) I never noticed anything strange about my child’s movement? What should I look for ?

Movement patterns. See if there is any kind of awkwardness in your child’s movement. We are looking for movement patterns that may be challenging how the child wants to operate. Are their eyes tracking with each other? Do they use only one leg when they crawl? If you child can walk, do they seem balanced when walking up or down steps? Movements beyond exercise have patterns. We usually think of movement as exercise. However, how we move communicates to the brain in how we think. We move according to the behavior of every emotion and thought. We move to find and organize balance and coordination. The results? Physical movement patterns give the brain biological tendencies for mental development.

One example was Henry,

a little boy who couldn’t listen. Instead, Henry would crawl under a table or disturb another classmate. He was walking up the stairs one day, and I noticed he was not steady on his feet. His movement had a similar awkwardness as a child with CP (Cerebral Palsy). Henry would grasp for the railing with every step for balance. Instead of playing on top of the mat, Henry wanted to crawl and roll underneath the mat, disrupting the whole class. His instinctual movement under the mat showed it was necessary to give him a sense of tactile contact against his legs. Movement behavior is a clue of how to help a child’s brain. Henry would run into the classroom and lie down under the mat. One week I grabbed his feet to see if there was a sense of organization in his body. There wasn’t. He would put his feet in my arm’s reach each week following. The biomechanics of his movement patterns were disengaged from his feet into his torso. For the next six weeks, I stimulated actions to help his body feel his movement. Once the nervous system senses the movement, it reeducates the pattern.( Science )That pattern is tied to his cognitive behavior. When the movement became graceful from his feet through his spine, he started to talk in class for the first time in nine weeks. Not only did he talk, but he also followed directions.

A natural reaction of an adult is to tell the child to get out from under the mat and sit still.” However, there is a critical perspective to consider about Henry’s movement. Instead of viewing misbehavior as an act of manipulation or trying to push buttons on another, the WTM method helps the child feel the organic intelligence of the movement pattern. When the system senses the nature of the movement pattern, everything improves. When the body-brain relationship develops a sensory type of awareness, so does the behavior, the brain function, and the child’s relationships with others. Here’s information about the Feldenkrais work or the Science behind the body-brain. Look up the Feldenkrais Guild to find a practitioner near you. Feldenkrais Practitioner.

The takeaway from this example is for parents and teachers to step back long enough to observe and wonder about the movement and ask themselves what the action is showing them about what the child needs. The awkward movement can lead the professional to find the child find a solution. Wonder as a parent how to uncover what the movements are trying to do to help the child.

If the child has difficulty sitting for long periods or has awkward movements, there is something the body is showing that contributes to hyperactivity. Researchers in cognitive sciences, Stewart Mostofsky and Dav Clark note a relationship between movement patterns and cognitive dysfunctioning. This is a link to a Harvard Talk sharing the research behind cognition and the body.

The PARENT page provides more information on how the body works with listening, emotions, and hyperactivity.