I’m excited to share a blog post from Ana Maria Pardo this month!
How can Anat Baniel MethodⓇ NeuroMovementⓇ help us navigate grief?
Loss involves redrawing the map of our lives.
Our bodies are mapped in our brains. The sensory homunculus indicates from which parts of the body the brain receives input. Like any map, it is updated as our bodies change. Even the things and people we interact with get mapped in the brain. Researchers have shown that when throwing a ball, we map the ball as an extension of our body. So it is with personal relationships.
The people with whom we interact – especially in close proximity – are represented in our brains. And as with different parts of the body, the more frequently we interact with a person, the more real estate they take up in our brain. Losing a person is literally like losing a part of yourself.
Just as we can experience phantom limb pain after an amputation, we can experience the loss of a person significant to us as a physical blow. That is, in part, because the brain does not distinguish well between physical and emotional pain. Fortunately, this means that methods that are good for alleviating physical pain can help address social pain. In fact, researchers have shown that taking Tylenol lessens the pain of rejection.
But what if we want to process our grief without chemical intervention?
Accessing the brain to promote healing
With any loss of limb or joint replacement, we can use Anat Baniel MethodⓇ NeuroMovementⓇ to help update our sensorimotor cortex. Using the 9 Essentials, we wake up the brain to begin the process of change. The nervous system can reorganize itself around its new reality to move with more ease and comfort. The beauty of the 9 Essentials is that they can be applied to almost any human activity to enhance growth and development.
Using the 9 Essentials of NeuroMovementⓇ to Grieve and Heal
We humans are living, dynamic systems. Internally, our body-minds are always either developing or regressing. (“Holding steady” is really the state of counter-balanced growth and regression.) How we approach life can profoundly affect in which direction we move.
Here are some ideas for how to connect with yourself in times of loss, NeuroMovementⓇ style:
1. Pay attention to what you feel as you move.
Tracking our bodily sensations with curiosity and wonder is what allows us to signal safety to the brain. When possible, be present with your feelings. This helps the brain understand that the feelings, while uncomfortable, are not a threat to your well-being.
2. Go slow.
Organic, dynamic processes can’t be rushed without consequences. Some force-ripened fruit suffer from a loss of flavor and nutrients compared to naturally vine-ripened fruit. Give yourself time to experience this very natural process of grieving. Your brain needs time to reorganize itself around your new reality.
3. Be gentle with yourself.
Whenever possible, notice what IS working for you. Then do THAT. Teach your nervous system to seek equilibrium. When we repeatedly force ourselves to do what’s painful, we teach our system to seek pain.
4. Be aware.
Notice when you are in the here and now, and when you are dwelling in the past. There is no need to change anything – just notice. We observe carefully to help our brain make finer and finer distinctions. Thus our mental maps are refined and our mental functioning upgraded.
5. Make your goals flexible.
Remove the added stress of deadlines. (We’re signaling safety to the brain, remember?) If reframed as a process of growth, grief has no endpoint. The discomfort associated with it may gradually disappear, but the potential to continue to develop will exist so long as we embrace the process.
Imagine what your new reality might look like. Use ALL your senses. Give your brain rich new information about your hopes and dreams. Your brain will start to organize your actions around your intentions as represented by your “sensualizations.” (I must coin a neologism here and ask that you use all five senses to sensualize, rather than limit yourself to visualizing.)
7. Mix things up.
Your experiences are the raw material your brain uses to redesign itself. Give it a varied palette to choose from by doing things differently from time to time. And remember – the changes need not be drastic. They can be subtle variations in your daily routine – a different tea in the morning or a different route to work.
8. Be enthusiastic.
When you feel things moving in the direction you want, amplify the warm glow of your attention to encompass your entire experience. Signal to your brain that THIS moment holds elements you’d like to recreate in your future. It’s yet another way to clarify our intentions.
9. Turn on your learning switch.
Make time in your day to be fully awake, aware, and engaged with something. Assume that you will learn something new and be changed in the process. Form a habit of learning and growing, for that is what it means to be alive.
I hope you’ve discovered something in this post to help you continue to move into life while you grieve. Loss involves remapping the terrain of your experience. Using the 9 Essentials of NeuroMovementⓇ can help you establish new connections in your brain so you can get your bearings during this process.
About the Author
Having moved more than 14 times in her life, Ana Maria Pardo, R.N. has learned to embrace the process of grieving. She teaches Anat Baniel MethodⓇ NeuroMovementⓇ lessons in person at Move and Bloom and virtually worldwide.