The Power of Movement

By:  Heather Guthrie-Hoey

“All it takes is that first step to start your journey.”


The smallest action can lead to meaningful change. Take a moment.  What are you doing right now?  Can you feel your inhalation and exhalation of life giving breath?  As you are reading this, your eyes are likely shifting back and forth.  Maybe you’re also sipping a warm beverage and wondering what will follow.  As you scroll down, your fingers will receive a message from your brain to move in the direction desired.  Pretty incredible when you really consider what your actual ability to move allows you to do.  Endless possibilities exist…

As Albert Einstein remarked long ago, Nothing happens until something moves.”   So, as we all begin to see and hear the snows of this winter melt around us, a natural transformation unfolds.  For each of us, the shift is unique and personal.  Some of you are sooo ready for winter to end.  You wish to embark into the renaissance that is spring.  Others, like myself, savor the brisk, fresh air, the opportunity to ski downhill or cross county, or maybe to simply cuddle up with a favorite book and observe the beauty of winter.  And then there is that youthful population, of which my 11 year old daughter is a member, who eagerly return home from school to do homework and chores, and complete sports practices or other activities, all in wait to slip on their winter gear, grab a sled and hit the slopes with friends! The musical, raucous laughter following a shared sled ride is priceless and powerfully moving.

Moving in cold temperatures isn’t easy for all, however.   As we’ve learned (or re-learned), mechanical systems must first “warm up” The process of warming up involves adding energy to a material’s molecules. Roads aren’t drivable until the energy of the snow plow moves through; minds, bodies and spirits must warm up in the cold, too, before they can function well.  Bodies are this way, too.  For those experiencing health issues such as arthritis, chronic fatigue or fibromyalgia, winter equates to increased physical discomfort, and even increased danger, as their fragile balance meets the ice and snow.  Likewise, mental health issues such as Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), depression and agoraphobic may be exacerbated.   The related emotional and physical pain can lead to becoming sedentary–stuck in stillness. And like a road without the energy of the snowplow coming through, the inability to warm up—to add energy to material (the “material” that is us!) we may end up remaining at home, becoming more isolated, and reducing contact with others. The combination of limited mobility and reduced social connection is a recipe for a decrease in our health and wellness.

Going into hibernation, like the bears do, may seem like a tempting idea, but it does not allow a person move in the direction they have been wishing for.  Tempting as hibernation seems with the cold and snow outside, remember Einstein’s precept:  “Nothing happens until something [in us] moves.” With movement, little by little, we warm up the machine that is our body, the inner warmth that is our heart and the spirit that is our soul.  With movement something happens.  Sometimes for those most vulnerable to winter ailments, physical and emotional, the first step may simply be to get out of bed and get a shower, or to follow through on a commitment to pray. Your adding energy to molecules may be to spend time with your family or to bundle up and step outside to take a careful walk.  Movement alters our feelings and our spirit.  All change begins with movement—whether it is the movement of the spirit stirring in your soul, or the movement of blood flowing through your body as you begin to physically mobilize. To tag team with Einstein’s words—an object in motion tends to stay in motion.  Research shows that once we get moving, an increase in movement follows!  Endorphins kick in.  Joints are lubricated.  We connect with our environment and with other human beings.  With all of these comes the potential to improve our sleep cycle, repair our body’s tissue, strengthen our immune system and reduce stress.  All of this just from a little movement! The power of movement is vital to our human existence.

So what does this mean for you??

You + Movement = Life Enrichment, Wellness and(yes,) even potentially increased Happiness!

Whatever the shape or size of your movement based on your physical and emotional ability, it counts!

Tips to MOVEMENT and the POWER it (you) will CREATE:

  1. 1. Close your eyes, notice your breath…the movement of it, the sound.  Breathe in slowly, and gently let go.  In doing this, you are inducing relaxation in your muscles, oxygenating your blood, slowing your pulse and lowering your blood pressure
  2. 2. Lift your shoulders up and let them down… lift them up once again and hold that position for as long as you can.  Now, RELEASE and exhale slowly.  Breathe in and out.  What do you notice about your body, your sense of self?
  3. 3. Get up and step outside.  Don’t think about it.  Just do it!  So what if it’s 12 am and it’s really cold outside?  Step out safely, with the appropriate clothing, and it is almost impossible not to breathe in the cold air, and feel a bit more alive.  Look up at the sky and  listen for a moment.   When you step back inside, you may find some increased comfort or even a slightly greater sense of peace.
  4. 4. Begin rising with a few stretches in bed.  Slowly sit up and turn your neck, to gently stretch both ways.  Turn your wrists in a circular direction; do this, as well, with your ankles.  Spending a few minutes” warming up” has the power of starting your day in a more healthy fashion.
  5. 5. Stretch your spiritual muscles too! Begin your day with a prayer, an affirmation, a personal motto, or even a reflection on a favorite song or picture.
  6. 6. Nourish your body well. Food is fuel.  Driving your car on an empty tank does not get you far.  Neither does your body do well on an empty tank?
  7. 7. View a yoga, meditation or exercise tape. Creating an every day, or even 1-2 day a week practice of exercising or meditating with a tape can create a structure, especially if you are stuck inside,  and can provide exercise for mind and body.
  8. 8. Take a class that allows you to get out of the house and interact with others. If you can get outside, taking a class is a wonderful way to interact with others.  Inexpensive or free classes are held through the county parks and recreation centers and local school systems.
  9. 9. Read a book! Challenging and warming up our mind is important, too
  10. 10. Play your favorite music.  Music has the power to naturally create movement in us.  It stirs our soul.  Allow your music to lead to tapping your foot, clapping your hands, or even dancing! Trauma therapists use music and dance as tools for dispersing physical and emotional tension.  Music, singing and dancing often lead to significant shifts in mood and energy

Heather Guthrie-Hoey, LPC works in CPC’s Dale City Center, and
can be reached at (703) 903-9696 x233

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