Thursday, September 17, 2015

"But it's so simple!"

In our work at the Brain Injury Alliance (BIA) here in Phoenix, Arizona, Brain Gym® colleague Mary Ann Beebe and I experience all kinds of interactions with those who come to our twice-monthly sessions.

We never know the story behind what brings someone to participate in the BIA programs: it could be traumatic injury from a car or sporting accident, near drowning, stroke or aneurism, or other direct assault to the brain. Recently, we’ve also had participants from the military’s “wounded warrior” program who are dealing with post-traumatic stress syndrome. Mary Ann and I simply welcome whoever comes through the door at the appointed hour, and proceed with our group Brain Gym process.

This week, “Connie” was part of the group who attended – her first time coming for Brain Gym. Tall and slight of build, she had a gentle demeanor and a bright, curious look in her eye. I wondered, but didn’t ask, what had brought her to the BIA for services.

Mary Ann and I began class as usual, introducing ourselves and the day’s program, and beginning with the three-minute Brain Gym “PACE” warm-up: activities that support the mind-body system in becoming more Positive, Active, Clear, and Energetic, in preparation for new learning.[1]
Modified PACE warm-up for those
who may be prone to seizures
(See footnote)
We always invite Noticing into the mix.

How do you know that something has helped to make a change? You must notice before hand just how you feel, then do the “something,” and then notice again how you feel. Some level of noticing allows the mind-body system to register the fact that what you did made a difference in how you’re operating.

In this case, Connie definitely noticed a difference that these PACE activities made.

When we were finished with this warm-up, she noticed that she felt significantly more comfortable physically (a sharp spot of tension in her back had vanished), she was breathing more deeply, she felt more “present” in her body and aware of the space around her, and the words she looked at on our Agenda board seemed to be brighter and more full of meaning.

She was amazed and delighted with how remarkably different she felt. And then a wide smile and look of astonishment appeared on her face, as a realization set in: “But it’s so simple!” she said.

I shared the description offered by Carla Hannaford, neurobiologist and author of Smart Moves – Why learning is not all in your head, who calls the Brain Gym movements “elegantly simple.”

Such simple, effective means of bringing the mind-body system back into balance. What a gift to every day of our life, no matter who we are, or what circumstances we’re dealing with.

As someone who uses these tools on a daily basis, it’s easy to forget just how totally amazing the shifts can be, and how little it can take for this to happen.

It’s the look of happy astonishment on the face of a newcomer, and the words “But it’s so simple!” that bring home the ever-deepening awareness that the Brain Gym work is truly a gift, and one I feel privileged to share.

My very best to you all,

[1] The standard pace warm-up consists of four Brain Gym activities: Sipping Water, rubbing Brain Buttons, doing the Cross Crawl, and doing Hook-ups. (For instructions on these activities, please see my book Educate Your Brain, or Brain Gym® Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison.) Because some of these participants with TBI may also be prone to seizures, we use Cecilia Koester’s recommendation for modifying the pace process. For the third element, rather than starting with the cross-lateral Cross Crawl, we begin with “Puppet Crawl” which is a one-sided activity: raise and lower the right arm and leg, then raise and lower the left arm and leg, etc. We follow this with the Cross Crawl, telling everyone that if they’re prone to seizures, please omit the Cross Crawl; once they've been doing the Puppet Crawl for some time, they may feel ready to include the Cross Crawl. We all then finish with Hook-ups. 

Copyright© 2015 by Kathy Brown. All rights reserved. 
"Modified PACE" page Copyright© 2015 by Kathy Brown. All rights reserved. 
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