Monday, September 1, 2014

Developmental Movement Trauma Therapy?

Hoping for feedback on this one... I know there's a lot of people doing great work in the fields like Somatic Experiencing, Feldenkrais, BMC, and other modalities involving developmental movement patterns and/or trauma therapy. Also, please comment if you have had a similar experience, would love to dialogue and grow the understanding of how to dismantle patterns of 'trauma' (a.k.a. outdated -and now unhelpful- anatomical/neurological patterning?) and experience more ease and freedom of movement!

What happened: while lying on my back, I was exploring the squat - bringing my legs in and out of a squat position without any weight and trying to sense on the most subtle level possible.

I was doing this because I keep running into the same problem in many different movements I'm training, from Haitian dance to acrobatics: when my feet are even slightly turned out, my knees don't track over my toes. My knees are much less externally rotated than my feet are, and the discrepancy increases A) the more I externally rotate my feet and B) the deeper I bend my knees. (Squat.)

So today I went for a developmental movement approach, lying on my back. I realized that when I progressed through the full movement, my feet ended up hanging out in an external rotation but there were a lot of muscles in my legs keeping my knees rotated internally. (Same as when I'm vertical.)

So I slowed it down and went smaller, and found that without any movement at all I could let the knees fall out to the side, but as soon as I began to draw the legs up a whole bunch of muscles activated and turned the legs in.

The interesting part: going super super small and drawing the legs upwards a millimeter at a time, while maintaining 'full' external rotation, brought on spontaneous crying and shaking. I would move a tiny bit, cry and shake, relax, calm down, and move and tiny bit more, and start crying and shaking again.

There wasn't a specific memory associated with the crying and shaking - my mind concocted a few different plausible scenarios given my life story, but I'm not sure any of them were legit.

I'm curious about this - any thoughts? One thing I notice is that to maintain the external rotation all the way up the leg to where the femur sits in the hip socket requires not only a relaxation of the muscles that normally keep my legs internally rotated, but also an activation of some (glut?) muscles that I hardly ever use, or at least not for that purpose. So if there is some sort of outdated protective patterning that's locking me into an internal rotation, describing healing as an 'activation' may be just as valid as describing healing as a 'release.'

I mention this because I tend to think of 'trauma' as chronically held tension that needs to be let go of - too much tone. But maybe traumatic events can occur that leave bodies with patterns of too little tone? If the bodymind associates a certain activation and resultant movement with something painful or scary occurring, then it makes sense that the bodymind would avoid that activation for the sake of protecting itself... right? People who know more than me?

Planning on sticking with this particular exploration every morning for awhile. As I encounter more interesting things worth writing about I'll share them too... I don't have the resources to formally study these things, so I'm doing my best with the DIY approach.     :-)

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