More and more people are discovering the powerful effects of Neurodynamics as an effective alternative to conventional medical treatments
When it comes to the vast number of different physical and psychological components that make up a person, there are the things we know about, and there are aspects of ourselves and things we are capable of that we know we don’t know. Or to paraphrase American politician Donald Rumsfeld, there are ‘known unknowns’.
For many of us, Neurodynamics is one such aspect. Put simply, it is a mindful practice that recognises the profound interdependency of the physical and the psychological when addressing health and wellbeing concerns. Neurodynamics practitioner, Serena Woolf MA, BSc, MSTAT, explains that “it is both experiential and theoretical, and though both elements can be studied separately, it is only when the theory is engaged as part and parcel of the practice that Neurodynamics can really be understood and used effectively as a method for wellbeing.”
The majority of Woolf’s students have painful musculoskeletal conditions, which can include a variety of medical issues ranging from the more obvious sciatic and back pain or tension and strain injuries, to more obscure problems involving balance or constant headaches. They are referred to as students because they are there to learn rather than simply be treated. Students will likely have already seen a doctor or a specialist for their specific ailment, yet it is unlikely that they would have found long-lasting relief, since traditional medicine often ignores the symbiosis of the physical and psychological.
“All parts of the body are intimately linked, so a specific problem perceived in one area may well be caused by something happening elsewhere in your body. The basis for the practice of Neurodynamics is to look at the whole in activity, enabling us to look at our complex functioning in real time as both executor and impartial observer,” says Woolf.
“It is educational, in the sense that one is learning a self-help technique that one is able to apply with practice. Neurodynamics enables individuals to become more aware of how they are treating their own organism on a daily basis, allowing them to make rational choices about their health and welfare.”
Woolf begins lessons by observing students doing simple activities, such as sitting in a chair or moving to stand up out of the chair. These exercises are so commonplace that for most of us they are carried out thoughtlessly, which is exactly the point. Together with the student, Woolf examines these actions in minute detail and breaks the movements down into small increments in order to perceive and alter the coordination pattern.
Through dedicated practice, students become more attuned to observing how their continuous stream of thought is intimately linked to the way they carry out physical activities. Students can then use this knowledge to explore natural muscular tension patterns of coordination. As students begin to better understand how movement takes place, they become increasingly able to redress muscular tension imbalances. This mindful approach to everyday activities can enhance wellbeing and general health.
After the initial hour-long session, which can be unexpectedly exhausting, Woolf encourages students to continue doing the simple exercises that she has carried out with them for 10 minutes a day at home. According to Woolf, “some take to it and do it longer, or twice a day.”
“The idea is to keep broadly focused on the exercise, and if you find the mind starts to wander and you’re thinking about last night’s dinner, you just recognise that fact and start again. Being able to look at what we are doing during our waking hours in a more objective and conscious way enables us to live in a less stressed and more healthy way with an increase in muscle tone and vitality; and this can create improvements in our health and wellbeing,” says Woolf.
Neurodynamics simply means paying more attention to what you’re doing on an ongoing basis, but requires a committed, unceasing approach to mindfulness. It might seem effortful, but for many, Neurodynamics provides a powerful therapeutic alternative to conventional treatments for physical difficulties or chronic pain, and enables them to live less painful or even pain-free lives.
As the practice of Neurodynamics becomes more common and the benefits more widely talked about, perhaps it’s time we all look into understanding those hidden parts of ourselves that we know we don’t yet know.
Neurodynamics: The Art of Mindfulness in Action by Theodore Dimon, out now
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