For anyone who has ever studied sports or dance, structure matters. Our body posture and alignment has profound effects on whether we can hit a ball or balance ourselves upright on one leg. Athletes and dancers spend years mastering their body mechanics for optimum performance.
There was a time in my life when I studied “Awareness Through Movement” from the somatic educational system designed by Moshé Feldenkrais (1904–1984). Feldenkrais aims to reduce pain or limitations in movement, to improve physical functions, and to promote general wellbeing. Often incorporated by athletes, musicians, dancers and actors to enhance performance, the classes are wonderful for anyone wishing to increase physical and emotional awareness.
Today, I was reminded that structure matters. Having suffered from TMJ for many years because my jaw shifted out of alignment after having braces, I have long been looking for relief. Today I saw a TMJ specialist. While hooked up to machines for 2.5 hours like Frankenstein so that the dentist could study my “bite registration” and GPS my jaw, I felt my jaw (and every other part of my nervous system) relaxing. Yet I assisted in the process when I was asked questions and expected to engage in focused, incremental mouth movements.
In a few weeks, I will have a device to wear at night that will help put my jaw where it needs to be on a routine basis. When wearing the mock up of the device at the session’s end, my jaw still maintained its relaxed state even when exerting physical strength. Plus, my neck mobility and balance dramatically improved. All because my jaw was in the right position.
It’s surprising how much work goes into relaxing the jaw. I was so exhausted afterwards that I took a two hour nap…
May we remember that structure matters. How we align ourselves – physically, emotionally, spiritually and intellectually – has a vast impact on our quality of life and functionality.