Here’s How WTM Works
Thinking and acting forms muscle sense
Muscle sense forms sensorimotor patterns
Sensorimotor patterns forms function
Function forms perception
Perception forms choices
Give Me Details
(√) Can You Give Me an Overview of WTM?
The Wellness Through Movement (WTM) program was tested in the trenches of three private and two public elementary schools (2006-2014) in the Kohala communities. Kohala Elementary, our pilot school for five years, is a public school in a rural area. In addition, forty years (1987-present) of research were spent analyzing muscular-skeletal patterning in chronic conditions with the Feldenkrais® Method. WTM movement lessons adapted developmental movements with the Feldenkrais® methods, Awareness Through Movement® and Functional Integration® (link Feldenkrais Method), and the physical education standards required for the United States elementary schools.
Three programs out of the eight years of testing in the methods were created: a school-wide program, Get Sensational Attention; a physical education program, Part I and Part II of WTM; and WTM methods adaptable to academic curriculum.
(√) Chart of Movement Changes to Cognitive Changes
(√) Were Lessons Tested & Proven Effective?
Yes, Chronological Research and (Trainings) Listed Below
(1987-1990 Feldenkrais Training)
1990 – Present Feldenkrais Practice
2005 Hawaii Preparatory Academy (HPA), Lower School, with P.E. teacher Susie Jones (Hope Soo) initial creation WTM
2006 First pilot class HPA
(2007 Schools Attuned Training)
(2007, Brain Gym Training)
(2007, Yoga Ed Training)
2007, April 12 -April 25, and January 15 lessons segment program HPA
2008 – 2014 Kohala Elementary
2008, 2014 HPA, six years
2008, August 15, Intro to Kohala teachers
2008, September 10, Introduction to Parents at Kohala Elementary
(2009, Trained/Teamed with Schools Attuned)
2009 WTM Physical education teacher Kohala Elementary
2010, Hawaii Association for Physical Education Recreation and Dance Presentation
2010, Kohala after-school program, one week, 25 students
2010, May 7, Hawaii Association Physical Education Presentation
2010 – 2011, Kohala Elementary School Breaks 30 sessions
2011, Kohala Community School Meeting
2011 Intro at Kohala elementary¬ Festival/Spring
2011, March 14th – 18th, Kohala spring break
2011, September-May Parker School, Donna Rohr
2013-2014, Research team: Feldenkrais In Schools Hui in Schools (FISH)
2013, Waldorf School Kohala November 29
2014, the Last program at Kohala Elementary
2014- 2015, June 2014 – September 2015, video animation program produced– Get Sensational Attention, school-wide program
(√) What is the WTM Method?
Movement Intelligence, Attention, and the Sensory Body (SB)
Some people have to run to think, walk to listen, or move to talk. What most people may not understand is that movement is not merely a mechanical action – especially for children. Movement “could” also be the intelligence that cultivates perception, attention, and executive functioning. (Clark, Schumann, and Mostofsky, 2015). This “intelligence” I will call the “Sensory Body (SB),” or what scientists maybe labeling “body ownership.”6 (Erhsson, H. H., 2012)
SB gives birth to an awareness of one’s way of being. In other words, the SB bridges information from the motor, sensory, and memory association areas (of the body) crucial for perception and thought processing.
Could the awareness of the SB be what stimulated improvements in children’s behavior and cognitive disorders?
Could this be scientifically proven?
The Wellness Through Movement lessons focused on the development of the SB with children and proved effective in benefitting attention deficit and general wellbeing. Over five hundred Kohala Elementary school children experienced the Wellness Through Movement (WTM) lessons. The techniques incorporated the Feldenkrais® Method with developmental movement into physical education games for children. Methods in the lessons were adapted to meet the physical education standards and academic curriculum for elementary schools in the United States. The focus of the lessons is to sense the body as a sensory language.
For children, when movement intelligence was brought into awareness, cognitive disorders were not the only improvements measured. Social-emotional behavior and general well-being also showed measurable results. According to Principle Garcia (2008-2014) at Kohala Elementary, bullying incidents disappeared for three years.
Redefining movement to feel the Sensory Body (SB) was foundational to the techniques employed. The importance of lessons was to expand the common notion of movement as “an exercise or activity” into a “sense of being and a language of becoming.”
From the SB an awareness develops from inside the body to the outer world. In other words, demonstrating a movement was rarely used. The SB is not merely a concept to be demonstrated, but an experience directed from inside. This type of “perception” sees the body-form as a cause of identity itself. Movement is used to witness the creative process of subtle yet familiar qualities in the motor sense related to behavior. Children’s personalities are still searching to become all they can be. For children, the motor sense is not viewed as just a feeling of muscles and bones but a physical sensation of a person becoming a unique individual. Over time, movement organically and creatively clarifies an appearance of the self from the motor sense.
This report will introduce “how” movement activity was used to develop a SB awareness; give insights into possible reasons why this type of body awareness helped get long-term results; and answer common questions received over the years from scientists and school administrators.
The information shared below will help researchers and movement specialists use movement in new ways to improve behavior, cognitive development, and body ownership. Most importantly, learning from the SB will guide individuals to become responsible for their own well-being: mind, body, and heart.
Researchers know movement helps the brain, but what movement creates perception? And if movement is recognized as crucial for cognitive development (Boring, 1930), why can’t we feel the relationships among movement, cognition, and perception?
The WTM lessons attempt to answer these questions from inside children by creating experiences for them to feel the continuum of body and mind. Two variables, movement and attention inward, were used in conjunction with every lesson to help participants feel their bodies’ intelligence.
Movement is nature’s way of teaching wholeness in the relationships to every part of the body, mind, and immediate environment. We used movement as a teacher to introduce children to their bodies and to feel how their bodies influence the way they listen, communicate, and perceive the outer world.
The introduction of the body to the brain begins with sensations of motion exploring space. “Space,” in this context, is referring to inside the body, as well as around it. “Signals from this sensory orchestra are sent by afferent nerves through the spinal cord to the somatosensory, motor, and parietal cortices of the brain, where they continuously feed and update dynamic sensory-motor maps of the body. This major intelligence of the body [this inner teacher] has missed the attention it truly deserves.” (Smetacek & Mechsner, 2004, p. 21).
For those who don’t know these words: “Afferent nerves” bring sensory information from the world and the body to the brain. “Somatosensory” relates to sensations, and “parietal cortices” are the major lobes of the brain on either side of the head. The scientists, in other words, are saying this information sent by sensations from the body to the brain is foundational to how the brain operates and needs further investigation. Primal reflexes are one of nature’s ways of stimulating action in an infant. Similar to how primal reflexes work, WTM lessons are designed to trigger sensory signals to push and pull the participants’ attention toward the mapping of motion among body parts.
Muscle Memory, Motor Patterns, and Behavior
It is important to clarify the differences between muscle memory and motor patterns. Muscle memory is a movement that knows how to repeat itself. Motor patterns are records of motion in the motor sense related to behavior. In other words, behavioral patterns have motor patterns. Common behavioral patterns in children were stress, frustration, and anger. Change the motor pattern of behavior, and it was hard for the children to repeat the behavior.
The body is a physical structure of historical record from desires, circumstances, and activity. Children’s desires try to get fulfilled by behaviors of successful strategies. As children’s strategies succeed, they become fine-tuned in the muscular-skeletal system. Over time, these strategies carve out ways of being and eventually become a carriage of sensory-motor identity.
If movements succeed, these ways of how children are conducting themselves lock into place through their motor patterns. These patterns become the physical attire of muscular-skeletal tendencies persuading the children how to act, behave, and speak.
We analyzed children’s movements, postures, and gaites to understand how their bodies may affect their dispositions. The movement tries to find balance and grace by negotiating between an intention and action. It is essential to note, that for children some patterns of actions need to be disregarded but often can’t be let go. At the same time, other actions that serve desires strive to be repeated with no success. Teaching awareness of the SB shows the children the way their bodies process information and helps both the body and mind to find grace and balance inside and out.
(√) What is the Sensory Body (SB)?
When the exact measurement of time optimized efficiency and changed behavior, the amount of “exercise” was sacrificed to train participants in their awareness of the SB. To review, the SB is the awareness that bridges sensing, feeling, and thinking. In other words, the SB is a grounding wire that connects the wholeness of body-mind-heart.
To understand the unseen and the seen in one’s body, children learn to sense movement patterns in the muscular-skeletal systems. Long before the brain notices, the SB can sense from biological sensations the very beginnings of psychological behaviors. Fine qualities of sensations from the physical structure can by-pass an individual’s perception. When children sense their SB, they start to understand a movement intelligence that gives vital insights into their ways of daily processing – and they learn ways to make different choices.
Benefits of the SB
Eight years after working in our pilot school (2006-2013), Principal Garcia of Kohala Elementary called to share a testimony. (audio testimony) He said a kindergarten student (from 2006) with verbal and physical harassment issues still has an improved demeanor not recognizable from his past. Similar reports have come from teachers and parents sharing improvements in children’s attention span and social-emotional well-being.
Principal Garcia believes the kindergartner had long-term improvements from a lesson called “No Place Like Home” in Part I of the WTM programs. (p. 46, Rosasco, 2013) The lesson used the movement of an exhalation to “attach” attention to a sensation and pull it inside their bodies. The children then were directed to process the outer circumstances from inside their bodies, where their exhalations stopped.
It is important to note that our pilot school was in a Hawaiian community. The wisdom of an indigenous culture values the relationships among the mind, body, spirit, nature, and community. It is in their blood. Thanks to the parents and teachers of Kohala, the children also learned to adapt the SB into their home and classroom environments. Long-term benefits likely occurred because the community got involved.
A typical response from teachers was surprise at how much the listening skills of children are influenced by their internal worlds. Traditional education tries to pull attention outside of the student to look towards the teacher, the SB learning is the opposite.
For example, a third-grade girl felt frightened about a reading lesson and held her breath without knowing it. After learning the SB, she noticed for the first time that she stopped breathing every time the teacher said, “It’s time for our reading lesson.” Awareness through movement, or lack of movement in her breath, taught her what was going on inside and why she couldn’t listen. In other words, the movement in her body gave her the opportunity to sense the uniqueness of how she processed information. When she told the teacher, they reviewed the lesson called, “No Place Like Home Breath.” (p. 46, Rosasco, 2013) After the lesson, she directed her attention inside her body and learned from there how to read.
Please note: When first learning about the SB, we taught children the lesson, “Personal Bubbles Freeze Dance.” (round three, p. 42, Rosasco, 2013) The lesson taught children how to keep attention inside and “play” from there. Playing versus learning from inside (the SB) is much easier. Once the children play with the sense of the SB it is easier for them to adapt it to a classroom environment.
Similar testimonies from private sessions over the past forty years came from adults. Adults reported improvements in chronic ailments and their immune systems. These people improved because they could sense their physical structures in relation to their behaviors. (See Testimonials)
The SB is learned through movement and attention with three functions:
1. Body awareness
2. Dual attention
3. Awareness of Changes in the Physical to Differences in Perception
Once these three functions are clarified, a subtle archeological-like record imprinted on the motor sense was revealed to the children. Awareness of this “record” came from the SB.
(√) Can You Give Me an Experience of What You are Explaining?
You don’t understand? It’s okay. To understand you have to experience it.
Suggestion to Readers: This section explains flesh becoming consciousness through motion, not words. These ideas are designed to give the experience of how body movement talks to the brain. This is an adult version of a foundational lesson for WTM called “Pancake Body.” (Audio recording)
Do the lesson for two weeks daily to get a taste of this experience. Feel the flesh that is consciousness, and you feel the service the body has to the consciousness. The body is the grounding wire to the brain. If you can’t feel “walking down” each the vertebrae, imagine pushing each vertebra down towards the ground. The directions are not about the parts of the body; it is about the movement and repose. Feel the five lines…live the lesson.
Before you begin Pancake Body, drink water, even if you are not thirsty. Lie on the floor, close your eyes, and play with the movement suggestions. Pause the recording and play with movements by repeating the actions a dozen or so times. From your own SB, you will be shown subtle veils bridging the mind and body, especially if you have a child-like mind.
To learn from movement, we have to experience it through sensations. If your brain is spinning after you read this section, it is a sign that your body wants to explain these concepts, not your brain. Go Slow. Take your time. Do less.
Why is Pancake Body a foundational lesson?
The main challenge for children learning about the SB was their abstraction of body ownership. If children are not aware of their bodies, they probably were not aware of how the feeling in their bodies is taking attention away from the teacher.
As mentioned previously with infants, movement is nature’s way of teaching from the body. When children become aware inside, they sense the outer world more clearly. Why? Because everything in life works through movement to balance opposites. What happens inside the body develops in relation with what goes around us. When we taught children to learn about their internal worlds, they understood what gets in the way of how “they” feel and what they need to share.
The following techniques introduce how to teach body awareness with children, bridge body awareness with their perceptions, and help them experience the SB.
There is No Wrong Movement
The most difficult challenge for movement teachers or researchers is remembering there are no wrong movements. Movement is used as an artist’s palette of discoveries and possibilities.
Like in nature, the movements of infants fumble about until they succeed in the action. There is no judgment in the infant, just an innocence of exploration. WTM movement, like in nature, is always intended to help children learn about themselves. Teaching movement is usually done by “modeling” a movement, so it is done correctly. In contrast, with WTM movement, time and space allow children to explore how their own bodies move in relation to their perceptions. This learning from inside is probably one of the few opportunities young children get in a school day.
Here’s one way we used movement to help the children explore possibilities. We gave a movement and watched if all the children did the movement suggested. If one child was doing something different, we mimicked that action in the next instruction for the whole class. We also watched where this particular participant’s action began and ended. For example, if the original instruction was to move the knee forward, and one of the children lifted her head and looked at her knee to move the knee forward, for the next instruction, we mimicked her action by asking all the participants to lift their heads and look at their knees to move their knees forward.
What’s the point? The point of this WTM technique is to show the participants there is no right or wrong movement. The movement teaches the children it’s okay to do something different; however, it’s not okay if they don’t know they did something different. Movement is also teaching compassion.
The intention is to help children experience new ways of looking at themselves (and each other). Movement is used to develop consciousness and explore the uniqueness of each individual, and their relationship within a group. From a “witness” state of the SB, we want children to have no judgment about what their bodies are doing relative to what their minds intended. And by experiencing the different actions of other participants, children learn from both their internal process of actions and their reactions to others. The experience of the movement intelligence is what teaches compassion. The movement helps children compare the (1) differences in their perceptions to the instructions, (2) others’ perceptions, and (3) the relationship of their body parts.
Another way we introduced body awareness and taught compassion was with what we called, “Dual Attention.” Dual Attention is the ability to sense importance both inside the body and “out there.” In other words, for the children to learn how to take care of themselves they elicited information from dual attention. The more the dual attention was used, the clearer dual attention guided children to fine-tune a grace that restored balance and wellbeing.
Dual attention helps children feel their body-to-mind relationship from the feel of what we call “Home.” Home is inside the body where an exhalation ends. With dual attention, children turn their attention inward to Home and speak and listen to others from there. If they could not feel Home inside, they were asked to stop sharing and wait for themselves. This method was especially successful when children were conflicted. They were asked to share only if they could feel “Home” inside while talking.
From dual attention there was a sense of harmony, and their assumptions about the external world changed more towards the heart. Like in an animal — and with practice — children’s dual attention generates strategies for what is truly needed — and no more. Their old familiar reactions get an opportunity to pause. After slowing down and pausing, children take an exhalation to turn attention inside their bodies and take a step back from their reactions. With dual attention, they are not overwhelmed by their outer situations and find an honest truth in themselves.
To our surprise, each time children achieved dual attention (especially the five-year-olds) their points of reference came from a deeper place in their hearts. The tendencies of their muscular-skeletal systems returned their attention to their hearts, and from there redefined and classified ways of achieving solutions in kinder, peaceful, and more compassionate ways. Dual attention broadens the lens of consciousness and changes the focus. New ideas from children’s old familiar ways change their opinions of cause and effect. Children learn to use their motor sense to understand an integrity in their behaviors and how they affect others and situations.
(√) Have You Done Any Lectures, or Presentations with WTM?
Six Body-to-Brain Strategies
Movement and Cognition Conference 2018
Harvard Medical School
Society for Research and Child Development Poster Presentation (SRCD) 2015
SRCD Developmental Science Teaching Institute, Philadelphia, PA
(√) Can You Give Tips for Movement Research and References?
- Learn how to use WTM Movement in Research
- Learn to analyze movement tendencies that could stimulate symptoms of cognitive behavior.
- Learn to reeducate movement patterns through the Feldenkrais Method. The direction of movement mirrors the awkward motion back into the nervous system (See Research presentation “Six Body to Brain Strategies lecture, the Get Sensational Attention program, and the “Notes and Background” in the book A New SENSORY Self Awareness).
Get sustainable benefits by working with the nature of the mind-body function of movement as the teacher.
Wellness Through Movement (WTM) approach to reeducation movement patterns is complex to explain. Contact us for more information.
- Reeducate biological tendencies locked in attention and listening patterns.
- Change behavioral patterns associated with identity by analyzing movement patterns.
- Let attention not change movement but learn from movement, and watch how flexibility, coordination, and behavior improve.
WTM Applications for Research
- Advance the research of cognitive disorders by analyzing the character of movement patterns, mental and physical.
- To experience the “body as a brain,” do not model movements but watch how a child’s perception interprets the influence of the movement. The key to experiencing how the body is a brain is to understand the children’s depth of awareness of their bodies. (See the book: A New Sensory Self Awareness)
- Ask these questions: What areas of the body move differently than the movement direction? Are movements graceful and coordinated? If actions are uncoordinated, how would the movement affect the child’s sense of self, perception, and brain function?
- Use what teachers are already doing in classrooms to introduce current cognitive research and the body. Practical WTM steps to bridge research and the body into school day activities are in the book, A New SENSORY Self Awareness. The book teaches learning from the inside, the feeling in the body, and how it helps learning.
- Learn more about the Sensory Body (SB), what is between thinking and feeling physical sensations. Contact Us
Movement lessons use the science of a “muscle sense” and developmental movement with the Feldenkrais® Method. Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais was a world-renowned physicist well beyond his time in understanding the brain. He used motion to teach the brain awareness of what it is doing mentally and physically.
Burin, D., Pyasik, M., Salatino A., and Pia, L. (2017). That’s my hand! Therefore, that’s my willed action: How body ownership acts up conscious awareness of willed actions.” Cognition, Elsvevier, vol. 166, 2017, pp. 165-173. Accessed 10 October 2017.
Bohm, D. (1988). Sunday afternoon. in P. A. Fleming, David Bohm dialogues. Ojai: David Bohm Seminars, p. 239.
Clark, D., Schumann, F., and Mostofsky, S. H. (2015) Mindful movement and skilled attention. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 29 June, p. 2. Accessed 14 September 2015.
Dijkerman, H. G., and de Haan, E. H. F. (2007) Somatosensory processing subserving perception and action: Dissociations, interactions, and integration. Behavioral and Brain Sciences 30:2, 224-233.
Ehrsson, H. H., Holmes, N.P., and Passingham, R. E., (2005) Touching a rubber hand: feeling of body ownership is associated with activity in multisensory brain areas. J. Neuroscience, 2005, Nov 9, 25(45). 15064-10573. Doi. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0800-05.2005. Accessed 12 October 2017.
Ehrsson, H. H. (2012) The concept of body ownership and its relation to multisensory integration, A new handbook for multisensory processing (p.775-792). Cambridge: MIT Press.
Rosasco-Mitchell, C. (2013). Pancake body, personal bubbles and no place like home, and no place like home. In Rosasco-Mitchell, C., A New SENSORY Self Awareness p. 40. Kamuela, Hawaii: Wellness Through Movement.
Smith, Roger (2019); The Sense of Movement, An Intellectual History: Process Press Ltd., London
Spencer, J. P., Clearfield, M., Corbetta, D., Ulrich, B., Buchanan, P., and Schöner, G. (2006). Moving toward a grand theory of development: in memory of Esther Thelen. Child Dev. 77, 1521. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-8624.2006.00955.x. Retrieved February 6, 2018, Database: EPSCO Host at http://cletus.uhh.hawaii.edu:2240/ ehost/command/ detail?vid= 0&sid=d52cbac6-3b6b-4532-90db-9fce01c09d1f%40sessionmgr120&bdata= JnNpdGU9ZWhvc3QtbGl2ZQ%3d%3d#db =a9h&jid=CDV.
Stein, B. (2012) The new handbook of multisensory processes: The concept of body ownership and its relationship to multisensory integration.Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press.
√) Thank You Researchers, School Administrator, Principles, Teachers, and Mothers
Marcello Costantini, Università “G. d’Annunzio” di Chieti-Pescara (2020)
Elizabeth Osgood, Harvard (2018)
Olivia Cheever, Harvard (2018)
Ellen Langer, Harvard (2018)
Buchanan, Pat, Des Moines University (2013)
Clark, Dav, Berkeley University/Kennedy Krieger Institute (2017)
Gotshalk, Lincoln, University of Hawaii, Hilo, (2017)
Kerr, Cathy, Brown University – Dalai Lama (2017)
Mostofsky, Stewart, Kennedy-Krieger Institute (2017)
Niemeyer, Kathryn Ferris State University, Education Administrators
Palmer, Carolyn, Vassar (2013)
Sterling, Cassidy, University of Hawaii, Hilo (2013)
Educational Institutions and Mothers:
Garcia, Danny, Principal Kohala Elementary, Pilot School, (2009-2019)
Jones, Susie; P.E. Teacher, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, (2005- 2007)
Soo, Hope; Kindergartner Teacher, Hawaii Preparatory Academy, (2005)
Rohr, Donna; Movement Teacher, Parker School, (2011)
Garcia, Danny, Principal Kohala Elementary, (2009-2019)
Polhemus, Heather; Principal Parker School, (2006-present)
Souza, Art; Superintendent of the (Big Island) Hawaii, Hawaii, (2006-2019)
Sanford, Cherry; Elementary School Teacher and Mother, (2020-2023)
O’Connor, Joyce; Special Needs Teacher, Juvenile Corrections, and Mother, (2020-2023)…
… and all the people of Kohala Elementary, the teachers, parents, and especially the children.
(√) What are the WTM Programs?
Part I of the WTM movement programs gives participants the experience of relations between perception, action, and intention to improve body awareness. (See programs on the website: www.Wellnessthroughmovement.com, and in the book “Part I, A New Sensory Self Awareness,” Rosasco, 2013).
Part II of the WTM programs, uses movement games to reeducate sensory-motor mapping. The three ways to analyze and reeducate movement in a human body are:
- Analyze the grace of an action
- Clarify the perception of one’s body, the self, and the outer world
- And reeducate the motor patterning related to behavior
Part I is of the utmost importance and is available on the website. I am still reevaluating my criteria and progress with Part II of the WTM movement games. Some circumstantial data is narrowing my recommendations, and my results need clarification. However, suggestions on the WTM website for Part I proved effective and are radically important to consider for movement or body awareness research. (It is essential to note: This “Wellness Through Movement” website is the United States site, not the Australian website ending with “au.”)
(√) Is There a Book?
A New Sensory Self Awareness
Note: Written for Elementary School Teachers and Parents
The book is written for teachers, researchers, and parents to teach their children. The lessons are for groups of children (or family members open to playing). All lessons are foundational in both Part I and Part II of the WTM programs. The book teaches the beginning stages of how to bridge the physical sensation of the body to the mind.
Part II will have all the movement lessons used to reeducate movement associated with cognitive behavior. Sign up for announcements.
Other WTM resources