proprioception

The awareness of one’s body in space.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT BEING IN MOTION THAT CALLS US?

On our worst days, why does the state of being in present in the moment calm us down? In our moments of joy, doesn’t it seem like we need to use our entire bodies to express our emotions? There’s something about focusing on the way your body feels that just seems so… right, so grounding, when we’re in need of something greater than ourselves.

Maybe motion in a stressful moment helps because it feels like you’re solving something, even if you aren’t. Because movement is action and even though it might not be the action required to solve whatever dilemma has been set before you, it feels like progress.

If you’re someone who moves to feel things you understand. You understand the way it feels to extend your arms to the sky in ecstasy, to push the ground behind you step by step, the itch for motion that keeps crawling back to you in the spaces between busy and sleep.

Movement clears space when piles of knotted thoughts have fallen to the floor of your skull and piled up like so much dirty laundry. Movement untangles, shakes your mind up and allows everything to right itself again, easier for you to sift through and consider.

You don’t have to think too hard about moving your body.

You just do it, natural, the one thing we were truly born to.

You can think about things other than movement, when you’re in motion. You can assist in untangling those knotted thoughts, or you can imagine nothing, zone out.

Where is the line between movement as a temporary calm, and movement as a permanent escape, an endless aversion to facing the present?

One could argue that as humans, animals we are designed to move but those who practice meditation and mindfulness could also argue we need to relax, rest, think about things.

What about combining the two? Maybe movement is meditative, inherently.

As a runner I think the best way to deal with the stress of life is to run, to move, but wisely. Get lost in your music and the beat but don’t push yourself to the point of exertion, especially if you’re training for something important. Get lost in nature. An important lesson for runners is that you cannot let your emotions influence your training. I used to be that person who put in headphones and went out for a hard run whenever I was stressed, but if that happened too often I got injured. Run, then use the quiet space created by your post-run stretching routine to calmly and clearly think things through.

Finding that state of motion doesn’t always have to originate in negativity, either. We can run because we are happy, too. We can dance, soaring across floors and rivers because we experience joy with our entire bodies and need a way to express it. We can shed our socks and shoes and sink our toes into the grass we so often step adjacent to. We can face the wind and feel the breeze we take for granted.

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An awareness of your body in space has the ability to make training hard more enjoyable.

I’m sure you know the feeling of having to pry your eyes open in the morning, resisting the comfort of sheets and blankets wrapped around your tired body. You roll to the side, embrace the motion, warm skin waking up, reluctant. You get dressed, groggy, put your shirt on backwards the first time and have to try twice.

Try this.

Start with a warm up, an easy jog. But don’t bluff it. Look around you. Feel the day starting. Feel your muscles relax, loosen up from their cramped overnight positions. Get warm and limber- wake up your strength.

Then the workout. No headphones, just you and your breath, your surroundings and beating heart. Be conscious when your feet meet the ground, as you transition from the clumsiness of the first few steps into the graceful stride of the athlete you were born to be. Let your arms propel you forward, the muscles you’ve spent years building push you forward, faster, further.

Enjoy the beauty of your body in motion.

Running feels natural- lean into it, the heat on your skin or the frost on your lashes, the sweat glistening on the surface or the cloud your breath makes as you exhale.

Be present for every moment of your workout. Be grateful for the way your body moves, the way it responds when you ask it to push and the way it always shows up for you.

Eventually, you’ll cool down; take your shoes off. Bare feet on the grass, soul full. Sit down, breathe deep. Stretch and lean into the feeling of lengthening your muscles. Roll out with a ball or foam roller, embrace the temporary pain and eventual release of pressing into your fascia. Close your eyes while you stretch, let the sunlight dance across and warm your back…

I just want you to know how it feels.

I want you to be present in your body and I want these words to remind you of the joy it is to be at home in your skin, your body, your muscles.

I want you to find beauty in the motion of your movements, whether you are old and things have grown stiff or you are young and filled with energy.

Be in it, be here for it. Be present in the pain that builds, the softness that comes after.

You are a living thing, you are alive, you are physical.

Embrace that. See where it takes you.

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