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"Embodied Movement Exercises"

A glass of ice water for a child having an autistic meltdown. The feel of a cup of hot tea on your hands and lips. The smell of rain. A calm mantra spoken aloud in moments of fight/flight/freeze. Tactile sensations described in this attached video are huge, and I completely agree with this PsyD on regaining an awareness of our bodies during traumatic triggers.

It's my (admittedly anecdotal) opinion that these releases can be achieved from some form of "Emboided Movement Exercises," to quote the good Doctor. How have I seen people achieve this? Focusing on the little details in moments of physical activity. Even during warm ups and cool downs. Specific to martial arts:

  • The feel of kimono cloth for someone in the grappling arts.

  • The literal shock that comes from hitting a pad or pushing someone away.

  • The rush of ones feet moving about on a mat, pavement, or a training partner.

  • The slowness of time that happens when one recognizes physical threats before they happen.

  • Stillness in a room without music, just from monitoring one's breathing and adjusting the body to controlled stimuli.

  • The tingles and chills of a good stretch

To know you are happy, healthy, and safe in your body can be a powerful tool. I always felt it gave me a sense of control of my own destiny. I can't always control what a coach/instructor/partner is drilling with me, but I can learn to control my response to that stimuli. Maybe in that sense, trauma-informed physical training could be a way to help mitigate trigger responses while reaping the positive benefits of exercise?

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