Brain Awareness Week: Kai class #4 Pain, Pleasure, Addiction and Freedom
Pain, pleasure, addiction and freedom could be called the pandoras box of hedonism. Scientists have discovered how entangled they can all be, and that they are closely connected in similar areas of the brain. Pain originates with a wound or injury initially and can eventually become wired in the brain as cycle and even an addiction. Avoidance or as a way of handling pain through using drugs can interfere with the amount of pleasure available in the long term. By exploring exactly "what is" happening in the body and getting to know it, respond to it,and learn from it is a practice called mindfulness that can be very healing as well as open up newfound freedom.
Everyones belief systems around pleasure or pain root far back into family systems and even into religion. Some people equate pain as a sign they are "doing good" for their bodies and beat themselves up in the workout. This stresses the body and mind and floods the body with cortisol a stress hormone that slows the metabolism and can create "belly fat" as the body goes into "flight or fight" mode. Pleasure is often a term that goes hand in hand with sex, guilt and hedonism and yet it's a word that covers an array of sensations that simply "feel good". Pleasure is simply a signal that the body is healing or returning to homeostasis, it's also a short term relief of the body "needing" something as in an addition. This can be an addiction to sugar, tv, social media or to addictive drugs and alcohol. Both pain and pleasure vary widely on a continuum with pain using words to describe like throbbing, aching, acute, to slightly uncomfortable or mildly irritating. Pleasure can range from simply feeling content, to feeling ecstatic and all that is in between in the body. Putting an emphasis on finding ways to move that feel pleasurable is a great exercise in creativity as well as building the "feel good" hormones in the body that counter act the stressful ones. Our bodies are amazing tools to explore "what feels good" and everything we experience and how we perceive it are then coded into networks in our brain....You CAN wire the brain for pleasure!....The next time you are conversing with your friends and everyone is talking about what doesn't feel good in their bodies, consider sharing an equal amount about what DOES feel good. Giving it equal attention without attachment......
Today in Kai everyone began by just finding the movements that felt good. As we moved the reminder to consistently tend to the unique ways of doing a movement with pleasure guiding opened up lots of space for adaptation of the movement. Clarifying if a movement just feels awkward, or challenges the body versus a pain that signals "change" how you are doing what you are doing is an important process for everyone to learn, and sometimes this takes time and many classes. Staying alert and focused on the body is another process that awakens more "engagement" from the brain. Being "engaged" means you are noticing more and are responding with accuracy,(say instead of doing the common "check out and follow the leader" that is often done in traditional fitness classes)......Along with increased response-ability for ones body/mind this also opens up freedom in all kinds of ways, increases vitality, and has an inherent pleasure associated with living more fully.