Throughout our lives, we acquire specific patterns, rhythms and habits which are formed from our experiences, interactions and environments. This week, we explore how we can evoke change through movement and embodied practices, particularly in outdoors settings.
Patterns, Habits and Rhythms
Our habitual patterns, rhythms and habits have the potential to provide us with tools to overcome challenging situations and better equip us with positive ways to handle daily life. Yet, over time, even positive patterns can become routine habits that become embedded in our daily practice and rather than support us, can become a hindrance, preventing us from being able to achieve our fullest potential.
From poor posture, to incorrect lifting, as well as simply holding tension in parts of our bodies, certain patterns and habits can be detrimental to our health and wellbeing. Yet, by breaking these negative habits and experimenting with new rhythms, we open ourselves to the possibility of finding new ways of moving, which can be more beneficial to our everyday living and overall health.
Evoking Change Through Movement
Changing existing patterns and rhythms can be achieved simply by exploring the ways in which we move. Movement refers not only to large movements, but also to those smaller movements created from simple shifts in weight, or even the very act of breathing itself.
Taking time to simply observe, examine and explore our existing rhythms and patterns offers a great opportunity to begin to identify what habits we may have, including those which we may not be consciously aware of. A particularly effective way to begin this process is simply to slow down.
As we slow down our movements, we can begin to reflect on the way in which our bodies move. We create an opportunity to pay attention to the minute details and shifts in our body, including drawing awareness to areas which may be holding tension. By slowing down our natural tempo, we open ourselves to the possibility of change. Having recognised existing patterns, we can then utilise movement to evoke change by disrupting these and exploring new ways of moving.
In many embodied practices, including somatic movement, the breath is the core stimulus for change and transition. We can use the breath to mindfully consider the quality of the movement itself and to shift our awareness.
Through focused breathing, we can slow down our movement and begin to focus on specific areas of the body. Using the rhythm of inhalations and exhalations, we can explore alternative ways of moving and being. We can sink deeper into a familiar posture, challenge ourselves to remain actively still for longer periods of time or entirely reset our mindset.
Movement and the Outdoors
Exploring our movements and ways of being in an outdoors environment can be especially productive. Studies have shown that simply spending time outdoors can contribute to a more positive mindset and help us feel less anxious and stressed. As such, engaging in embodied practices outdoors, such as somatic movement, yoga or martial arts, can prove especially valuable.
When we undertake such practice in an outdoor setting, we allow our habitual patterns to be shifted and disrupted. The outdoors further enables us to open our awareness beyond our selves and provides an opportunity to connect our movement and ways of being to our external, natural environment.
Familiar situations can trigger habitual ways of breathing and behaving. Yet, by taking a practice outdoors, we can welcome new stimuli and dialogues to emerge. This in turn offers us the opportunity to reflect more deeply and invites new self-discoveries. For those who engage in regular practice, taking the practice outdoors can help prevent familiar negative habits from forming.
This week, we invite you to take your practice outdoors. Whether you regularly engage in somatic movement practice, yoga, martial arts, dance or meditation, set aside some time to explore what happens when you take a familiar practice into a new outdoor setting.
If you regularly practice outdoors, challenge yourself to find a new location. Explore moving on a beach as opposed to a woodland, for example. If you are new to such practices, listen to one of Anna’s audio guides in an outdoor setting you feel comfortable in.
During your practice, we invite you to slow down your movements. Be attentive to each act. Use the breath to help slow your tempo and allow it to be the impetus to move in a new direction, with renewed energy or with a different intention. Notice how these changes impact upon your existing practice and your usual rhythms.
Consider too whether there are opportunities to welcome such little changes into your daily life. Are there moments in the day when you can slow down movement and disrupt your regular habits to make space for new, more positive and beneficial patterns to emerge?