In this article, we will investigate the concept of body movement and how it correlates to creative thinking, inspiration, and long term health.
Fundamental Truths of Movement
Ido Portal is considered the world’s foremost expert on human movement. His theory and practice (The Ido Portal Method) comes from a broad ranging background of experience in martial arts, dance, athletics, and science. Ido’s thoughts on movement can be summarized by two fundamental truths.
Fundamental Truth #1: You live in a body
Fundamental Truth #2: You will move
Considering these fundamental truths, his conclusion is that you might as well figure out how to move well.
What does moving well mean? To keep it simple, think pain free and efficiently. The concept of movement extends far beyond an hour long gym session, run, or yoga flow. You take your body with you no matter where you go. Movement then, is not just something you do, it’s a way of living, of being.
When we bring that level of awareness to our movement, every moment presents an opportunity to improve in function. Improvement in function leads to higher likelihood of pain free living, which also improves quality of life, and creativity.
1 in 5 American adults report living with chronic pain. The number one recorded cause of chronic pain is “years of poor posture.”
86% of American workers sit all day for their job. Assuming a 40 hour work week, that’s 2,080 hours a year (roughly 87 days) spent sitting at a desk. In a 40 year career, that’s 3,467 days.
If our bodies are under constant construction, we have to assume that this amount of time will significantly impact and inform our ongoing levels of physical health.
We’ve learned that proper movement and body alignment play significant roles in overall levels of happiness, creativity, and confidence. Now we’ve formed a strong correlation between lack of movement, poor posture, and lifelong chronic pain. To go back to the fundamental truths of movement – like it or not, you have a body and you will move. The difference maker is what you do with that awareness.
Movement is exploration. Take a second to think about the many physical capabilities you contain because of your body. What an incredible thing to be able to move through the world. Walk and run. Jump, pick things up and hold them, explore. Our bodies provide so much. And how do we treat them? The better we treat the body, the better it will perform. The body needs nourishment, and movement is a form of that.
For as much time as we spend in our body, it’s crazy how much physical awareness we lack. For example, can you separate all your toes? Engage and isolate all different muscle groups? Sit comfortably in a deep squat?
In many ways, we’re strangers in our own bodies. Feeling at home in our own skin can be a lifelong process of exploration and discovery. Movement brings us closer to understanding our capabilities and improving them.
Movement for Focus
Deep focus is required for high level work of any kind. Especially creative work. Pain is the ultimate distraction. When experiencing physical discomfort, it’s hard to focus on anything else. Given that the number one cause of chronic pain in America is long term poor posture, we’d be wise to examine the postures we assume for the majority of our daily lives.
There’s a major difference between not being able to move like you used to, and not moving at all. A super intense workout regimen is not the only way to prioritize movement. What’s possible for you now? Maybe that only means walking around for 10 minutes a day. That’s okay, and it’s much better than nothing. When we cling to the idea that we can’t move the same way we used to, we stand in the way of making progress today.
Movement breaks throughout the workday will also help keep you energized and inspired. Every 30 minutes or an hour, give yourself a little break to move around. This can look many different ways. A big overhead stretch, some air squats, a full body shake – anything to keep the blood flowing.
Instead of sitting at your desk while talking on the phone, consider walking outside, or pacing back and forth in your office. Sit on the floor and stretch while you talk or read. Hang from a pull up bar periodically to realign your posture. When we sit for long periods of time, our limbs and joints stiffen up. But our minds also become stagnant, which can be fatal to creative thinking.
Dopamine and Creativity
Movement and exercise trigger the release of dopamine in the brain. Dopamine is a critical element of creative thinking. As described in Scientific American, dopamine facilitates a tendency to explore and engage flexibly with new things, in both behavior and thinking. Creativity requires thinking outside the box. If dopamine increases this ability, then a little bit of daily movement can enhance our creative potential.
All signs point to the fact that our brains will perform better and more creatively if we give the body what it wants. If you are in any type of creative, professional, or personal funk, I encourage you to take a look at the level of movement in your daily life. Small changes can make a big difference. Prioritizing movement can help you operate at a higher level today, and defend against a future of chronic pain.
For further learning on creativity and movement, check out our class with Aaron Alexander; “Move your Way to a Stress Proof Life.”