Take Advantage of Your Muscle Memory

We have it, and we can use it to relieve pain, reduce stress, and reshape our bodies.

What is Muscle Memory

Looking at small children is a great way to evoke your muscle memory. Think of your brain somewhat like a computer. As an analogy, your brain has memory stored. But not just the memory of past events, but also how you moved as a child. It may seem impossible that we could move as children do. To me, it seems unfortunate that we don’t at least try to do what we already knew how to do. Instead, we try to learn ‘new’ ways of moving. We want to ‘get into shape.’ But who is more in shape than a child? Who moves more effortlessly and with such joy as children?

Muscle Memory

You got educated

When I was young, my dad used to take me to Greek dances. It was part of our heritage that he kept up when he came to this country. The music was beautiful, and watching my dad dance, along with the other adults, was exhilarating. As I got older, I joined in with a feeling of incredible joy; I was swept up by the sounds and those around me. I wasn’t concerned about exactly what I was doing; everything worked. More interesting to me is that people of all shapes and sizes joined in.

When I returned from college, having been exposed to modern dance, and then ballet, we went to one of our usual places to dance. There was something different about the way I was moving. My body had been trained to move in certain ways and I couldn’t untrain it at that time. I remember my dad looking at me, cigarette hanging between his two fingers, and saying, “you got educated”. I know what he meant. There was nothing wrong with the way I was moving, but that youthful feeling of those dances is something I would ever experience in quite the same way again. Can you remember the feeling of when you moved as a child? Were there playgrounds you remember, or hills you liked running up or down.

Crossing the Line

Where is the line between childhood and adulthood when it comes to movement? When do we stop feeling the joy of having fun when we move and begin to worry about correct alignment? Will this hurt if I do it? When we become adults, we want our bodies to be in shape. We go to experts on what is the right way to stand or walk. If we have been injured or ill, we need to recover. We likely get more instructions on what is right and wrong. By the time most of us are middle-aged, we have pretty much trained the muscle memory out of the body. There is little joy.

Miracle Ball Method - Elaine Petrone with neck on ball

Having worked in a hospital wellness center for many years, I noticed how people actually became fearful of moving. It’s almost like their bodies became the enemy. They were on the lookout all the time for one wrong movement to put them out of commission. Much of this is not accurate. In many cultures around the world, people move freely into old age. There are many options. Notice how you move this week, and especially what I call your Body Dialogue. Those are the underlying instructions or thoughts that we are responding to all the time. You can bring them to a conscious level just by noticing. Even better, you can decide if they are helpful to you or not.

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