For Sophie, 2 1/2 , spontaneous twirling, gyrating, and specific “fly girl” moves can happen at any moment. With or without music, any open space is an invitation to “bust a move.” You can see the joy in her movement. It’s beautiful to watch. Being a grandmother is the best job there is. Children connect us to the past, they remind us how wonderful it is to have energy and freedom of movement.
Dr. Candace Pert, a renowned neuroscientist and pharmacologist, has written more than 300 scientific articles on neuropeptides and their receptors, or mind-body communication. She conducted ground-breaking research in the 1990s that provided evidence that chemicals called neuropeptides attach to cells and deliver encoded messages of emotion. Her book, “Molecules of Emotion,” purports that feelings are chemically present within and around the cells of the body and not just localized in the brain. This and hundreds of other studies suggests to us that our bodies — not just our brains — have memory.
Which brings me to a recent personal training session I had with a middle-aged female client.
At the beginning of our first workout, she quipped that she was “allergic to exercise, hates doing it and isn’t good at it.” After a couple of sessions, she mentioned the time in her 7th-grade gym class that she came in last in the mile run and all the kids stood there waiting for her to cross the finish line. Then there was getting picked last for dodge ball, and never being able to do the splits like her friends.
A lot of beliefs were tied up in those memories. She believed she just wasn’t good at any kind of movement, and associated exercise with failure and shame. But before she learned to be ashamed of her body’s performance, there was an unabashed and joyful little girl who loved to move and groove much like my granddaughter Sophie.
Anyone raising a toddler can tell you it’s an all-day chasing game. We start out active, we do cartwheels on the lawn, we run and play until someone tells us we’re not good at it. Then we find other things to do — and in this age of technology, there are plenty of other sedentary things to do. Not everyone likes to exercise, but each one of us has a body that rejoices in movement. If we can understand ourselves and our feelings about our bodies and our personal history, we are more able to release negative feelings about exercise.
Somewhere in our memory banks are positive memories of moving freely and joyously. If we can access fond memories of that constantly-in-motion, energetic child, we begin to view our exercise time differently. If taking an exercise class elicited the same kind of excitement you felt as a child about playtime, my guess is you’d never miss.
No matter how old you are or what your level of fitness, celebrate the gift and blessing it is to have an amazing healing machine that moves, grooves and dances at will. Have compassion for yourself if you can’t quite hit that new yoga pose, be thrilled about that extra half mile you added to your morning walk, and smile as you enter your fitness club.
But be ready — you never know when those freestyle Sophie-like moves might be coming on. When they do, I hope you go with it.
I’ll see you in two weeks.
Love & health,
LOA BLASUCCI lives in La Cañada and teaches courses at the Community Center of La Cañada Flintridge. Her website is www.gotoloa.com.