by Kate Greenaway BAppSc (Physiotherapy), Australia
Recently I had a fascinating experience that highlighted to me the difference between moving and exercising in a gentle flowing way, or pounding and pushing the body. I was packing my car after a lovely time exercising in the local pool – two middle-aged men were running down a steep cement driveway near me – they were literally pounding and jarring their bodies. They were red and puffy in their faces and they looked miserable. I was feeling really fluid and content in my body from the gentle moving and swimming that I had just done, and then to feel what these men were doing to their bodies almost made me wince as they slammed their bodies with each step. From my work in physiotherapy over the last 28 years I know this sort of activity to be extremely damaging to the joints of the legs and spine, and to the deep soft tissue that supports them.
This gave me pause; I remembered it was only a few years ago that I myself was pelting up and down the local pools to do my ’40 laps’, or pushing myself up the gazillion steps to the Byron Bay Lighthouse to feel good about doing something ‘healthy’ and ‘good’ for my body. Part of my drive came from that ‘I should have a healthy body’ as I was a physiotherapist, and ‘how could I tell my clients to look after their bodies and exercise, if I wasn’t?’
That drive was behind years of dabbling in all sorts of exercise. You name it – I tried it … from gym and weight workouts to twisting myself into all sorts of shapes with all styles of yoga – to a slow series of movements in Tai Chi and Chi Gung. I even studied Tai Chi in the UK under a ‘master’, and diligently practised even though my knees were giving me clear messages that this wasn’t a natural way to move and exercise. I realise now that all I did was make my body hard, and like these middle-aged men pelting past me I, was punishing my body rather than supporting it.
I had made moving and exercise, as with other things in my life, complex and outcome based, rather than a simple enjoyment of my body’s natural way of moving.
I remember as a little girl loving the lightness and spring in my body and being fascinated with how there was a flow in my body and in animals’ bodies and in nature too – especially in the trees and in water. I also loved the feeling of that gentle rippling through the body when I floated in water – it was a bonus having friends with pools growing up in Australia!!! Somewhere along the line I lost that love of my body and replaced it with what my body ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t do’.
When I was in my 30’s I was considered very healthy by the standard medical parameters, but I had low vitality, was moody – especially in the early mornings, and each day was just a job to get done.
When I was 35 a physio friend introduced me to Serge Benhayon and Universal Medicine – that was a pivotal point in my life. I had the same love for the body and its biomechanics as he did from his sporting background, but he had a deeper awareness and knowing of the body’s natural healing than anyone I had met. This challenged me initially, as I equated knowledge of the body with some sort of traditional medical training, yet here was a man without that but with a far greater understanding of the body than all the health professionals I had known over the past 15 years. He just always made sense, and I could see that he lived what he presented – that your body’s vitality gradually comes back as you live more gently in it. It took me years to understand what being gentle and more self loving with my body meant, and I am still learning. As I became aware that the way I exercised and how I chose to exercise had made my body hard, I stopped most of what I used to do. But that didn’t work either as my body became weak and less toned.
Over the last 12 years I have been to most of the Universal Medicine presentations, and Serge Benhayon has never told anyone what exercise to do or not do – he has just shared what has supported his body. So over the last few years I have rekindled my appreciation of the natural flowing movement in my body when I walk, swim or do my light weights. As soon as I go back into the old way with ‘I must do three more bicep curls’, it’s as if another 5 kg is loaded on my arm and my body goes hard. When I come back to enjoying the natural flow of the movement and am open to learning from my body, that same movement with that same weight is easy and light. It’s still a work in progress – or really a ‘love in progress’. That old program of ‘exercise must do’s’ is so strong that I can slip into the ‘doing’ of it pretty easily. This is slowly changing as I catch these moments – enjoy my flowing movement again and just keep it simple as to how and what my body wants to do at that time. When I do this it’s like my body sighs with relief; over time the hardness continues to melt.
I have shared this with many clients over these recent years, and they have learnt to appreciate and even love their bodies again.
One of the best things to all of this is that exercise and movement have become fun and way more playful. It has made a big difference to my life. I am more confident in who I am and have re-discovered how lovely it feels being me. I am now in my late 40’s and I have way more vitality and joy in my body than I had in my late 20’s!!!
153 thoughts on “Rediscovering Our Body’s Lovely Flow”
Kate reading this again has made me realise how far I have come with exercising. But there was something you mentioned about ‘looking miserable’, whilst running but also how it impacts the joints and spine. I once was there. I am just pondering on the fact that whilst I am going through a healing with my body, the spine is going through this healing even though my so called injury has not much to do with the spine.
There must come a point in our lives, whether present or future for us to have to heal the harm we have placed our bodies under. I feel this is a process my body is going through at the moment. It’s actually letting go of the hardness I placed my body, once upon a time.
We are so fortunate that we have a person by the name of Serge Benhayon, who brings many things to our attention, without ever telling us what to do. I know once my body heals, I will be exercising and moving in a different way than ever. A new footprint for years and lifetimes to come…
💓Loving to exercise in a way that supports our Soul or being Soul-fit develops the most amazing 😉 relationship with our bodies 🤷♂️ that returns our youth-full joy🤰🏼 .
Exercising for the love of our bodies goes a long way. Instead of exercising to make it something it isn’t.
“Part of my drive came from that ‘I should have a healthy body’“. Thanks Kate, I have begun a new exercise program but I could feel something wasn’t quite true, and it’s that mental push to do it, and not responding with love and care for myself, and taking it gently. It’s very easy to be gung-ho and throw ourselves into exercise, as if more, hard and fast is better, instead of gentle, caring and enjoyable. Another word you used was “flowing” which is not commonly used in relation to exercise, so it brings a completely different approach also.
Agreed Melinda, and it is also super important to not go into the huff and puff I will blow your house down.
Kate reading this blog is perfect timing as in the past I have been the biggest fan of exercise and literally hardened my body, more probably for vanity then anything else. And yes as the body ages, it needs the gentle support to keep it toned without the overkill. It is so easy to get into the old ways, and it can be very subtle too and, I am yet to find something that will support my body to keep it in the flow of life.
There is much to ponder and wonder and as I discover more about me, I discover more about my body, and as I discover more about both, I await with joy, the appropriate tool that will support the both.
The shoulds and shouldn’ts! Wow they still get me! And though I am learning so much not to fall for them, and have come such a long way in letting my body be my guide in exercise and otherwise, there are still pockets of the shoulds and shouldn’ts that get me! It is showing me that life is a constant and continuous learning and so it “should be” (ha ha – pun unintended), and so I seek to remain as open as possible to the learning.
To me the ‘shoulds and shouldn’ts’ are the spirits ways of offsetting you. Who’s ’should and shouldn’ts are they really? Not ours, as they belong to those who keep us apart from us…
Exercise and movement can often be a chore to do for many people, another tick box ‘exercise’ (pun unintended) to complete what one has to do for the day to look after oneself. I used to like getting my exercise done in the morning so it was over and done with, or felt guilty with myself when I had not gone for a run or had not done some yoga or something else in the day. Kate’s gorgeous reminder of re-igniting the joy and fun of exercise and moving the body is certainly a key aspect in us learning to look after ourselves on a deeper level.
“Somewhere along the line I lost that love of my body and replaced it with what my body ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t do’.” This is a great line, it shows how we dismiss our innate knowing and wisdom, and give our power to knowledge that comes from outside of ourselves and ideals and beliefs about exercise.
“I am now in my late 40’s and I have way more vitality and joy in my body than I had in my late 20’s!!!” I am in my late 60’s and I have more vitality and certainly joy in my body than I can remember!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Hear! Hear! Jonathan, I agree as an up and coming octogenarian life has never felt so amazing.
Moving our body in harmony with its natural flow is loving and feels joyful, ‘enjoy my flowing movement again and just keep it simple as to how and what my body wants to do at that time. When I do this it’s like my body sighs with relief; over time the hardness continues to melt.’
Listening to and honouring my body makes so much sense whatever it is that I’m doing.
This is a new way to relate to the body in movement and exercise, to be gentle and follow the body’s lead, to learn from the body instead of impose an exercise ideal onto it and push it around, and to simply enjoy being in our body again just like it was when we were kids – “I had made moving and exercise, as with other things in my life, complex and outcome based, rather than a simple enjoyment of my body’s natural way of moving.”
Fascinating where those ‘shoulds’ come from – they seem to be practically everywhere. We know and feel something is amiss, we can feel that our form is not representing our truth in its purity, but instead it is reflecting back all our choices, and that, we don’t want to admit. So, we would rather play fool and pretend that we don’t know and have to look for the answer elsewhere, so we keep pushing and striving, thinking and looking like that we are doing something about it. It’s quite comical, actually.
I would do anything to get out of hard training but as I dropped away all my sporting endeavours it took me to come to a gentle exercise program that supported my body to feel the True strength and vitality of my body and to enjoy it by doing the program on a regular basis and how simply our body responds to Gentleness.
Losing touch with what is natural to our body is devastating. What we tend to replace it with is equally damaging.
Thanks Kate, reading through your blog I realised I’ve always lacked confidence with exercise, to be honest I’ve never enjoyed pushing myself, so looking back I can see the lack of confidence was actually because I didn’t feel a good fit in the mindset of ‘no pain no gain’. Your words have supported me today to reassess my relationship to exercise and reclaim my natural and innate connection to gentleness as part of exercise, and feel my confidence in my innate knowing.
I’ve hurt myself a couple of times in the last month – pulled muscle here, dodgy back there, through over doing it (usually that push at the end of the day to get it completed!). The blessing here is the pain that follows is the bodies message just turned up to the max… to slow down, to be gentle, and equally to keep moving (or it all gets locked up). There is a point of balance and while painful, its been brilliant being taught that again.
My relationship with exercise is changing all of the time as I learn to connect to my body and sense what is needed. The more loving and gentle I am becoming with it, the more loving and gentle I am being asked to deepen. Exercise for me has been and is a continuous, never ending refinement of movement that supports my body.
How we slowly change a body where love flows to a body which is hard. We adopt ideals how our body should be. The fact that living these ideals stop this loving flow in the body show that they are not working and are even unhealthy for the body.
Life offers us infinite situations where two ‘normals’ encounter each other. If one of them was your own back in life, you can see it for what it is clearly. Your new normal, on the other hand, provides the other person a reflection of what is possible. These encounters work silently for all the parties involved.
I have never been keen on strenuous exercise, I considered that working in my large garden exercise was enough. Now being in my latter years my body cannot do the heavy work, so I am now learning to be gentle with my body, by exercising with this gentleness in mind I find a beautiful flow in all my movements.
It is easier to observe others than it is to observe ourselves and when we see the effects certain exercise has on others we realise the damage we do to ourselves when we do the same, there is much to learn from observing others, and through feeling the strain we put on ourselves when we exercise.
All too easily we can get caught up in the drive of getting things done, and in this box ticking mentality it includes everything from the way we exercise to just generally how we move our bodies throughout our day. Lately I am becoming more and more aware that when I rush my bodies movements are jerky and at times even quite awkward, but when I focus more on quality it allows me to far more enjoy the natural grace and flow of my body.
Great blog to read as I can feel I do not do enough exercise – I do need to do more gentle exercise to support my body.
I so agree – when I am being more playful and less serious, I feel more confident in who I am. We have been already trying so hard not to live who we truly are, and what I am learning is that it is not trying even harder that is needed to undo the trying.
Bringing more playfulness and joy into our lives is a great choice, ‘I am now in my late 40’s and I have way more vitality and joy in my body than I had in my late 20’s!!!’
It is beautiful to be able to connect and appreciate the true quality of our bodies, for it is our natural right to live in connection of the tenderness and sacredness within each of us all.
Such a simple sentence, and yet the enormity of God made physical is contained within its borders.
The body knows what is supportive…if we allow ourselves to listen and be with our body we will move in a fluid rather than rigid way. Once this difference in the body is felt, it really is not an option to go back to the ‘old way’ of moving and using the body.
It is one thing to feel fit but it is a whole other feeling to feeling truly vital and energised. It feels really lovely when the push and force is lessened in the movements and the body is allowed to come back to its natural flow.
Great to read this again Kate, I enjoyed this line in particular “When I come back to enjoying the natural flow of the movement and am open to learning from my body”. It is such a different relationship to the body, that instead of pushing, forcing and dominating it we move with it and learn from it. We are a very mind focused society, we tend to do as we are told (health advice, etc) and expect the body then to do as it’s told, but we have it back to front, the body is actually the expert of itself!
Thank you Kate. A beautiful sharing of understanding the body and how it moves. “I had made moving and exercise, as with other things in my life, complex and outcome based, rather than a simple enjoyment of my body’s natural way of moving.”