Cells are the microcosm of our individual self. Each cell is an aspect of our self, our conscious and unconscious behavior, and it manifests both the body and the soul. Both are inseparably connected. How joy helps to positively influence this microcosm, and thus our health, is what today’s blog is all about.
A hard task? No, pure self-interest!
I finally did it! I managed to get up shortly before 6 am and took a walk on to the top of the Roten Berg. I’d been wanting to do it for a long time. A friend remarked that this was hard work. But it’s not about that: I just feel so good afterwards, my head is free of any burden, my body feels happy. My method: no breakfast before leaving! Only hot water with a splash of lemon, that gets the cells going and helps with the metabolic elimination processes. All very well, but the motivation comes from elsewhere. Standing at the top of the hill, looking at the city I like so much, a warm feeling starts spreading inside me. It is not only that I have made it to the top: in these Covid times I breath in the good, rain-soaked air deeply, feeling at last that there is something right in my world. And the morning is simply heavenly because this holds the promise of a new beginning. Starting anew every day!
Our well-being is our own doing
Being a single parent, my energy was subject to constant plundering. My doctor and a dear friend had made it clear to me that I could not go on like that. So this is how I came to take morning walks, during which I could find myself again. Forgetting all the stress, I could enjoy the precious gifts of nature, those unforgettable moments it brought me. It made me understand that we can create our own well-being and how good that can be. “Resource” is what the specialists call it today. We can stimulate the ‘happiness hormone’ ourselves, as this endorphin is popularly called, and give our body a boost to avoid getting bogged down in murky waters. This is particularly helpful in difficult times. These messenger substances (hormones, neurotransmitters), which induce well-being, and sometimes even happiness, have to do with the connection to our own self and with the way we look at the world. This is a decision we can make! It’s up to us to perceive what exists besides the clock ticking. Not that everything is perfect then, no, but when real, genuine joy arises in our heart, then it stimulates us positively, releases the stress and has a pain-relieving effect.
What makes you happy?
When people come to consult me, I ask them what gives them joy. When do their eyes shine, when does life get funky? This means to process groundwork psychologically in order to strengthen your biological preconditions for joy. Although it sounds so obvious, it is not. Because “the body tells us”. Who has the time to really listen to the inner self when the daily routine is often so busy that it leaves us breathless? Even before the Covid Pandemic. Difficulties getting up in the morning, a full program from morning till night, falling into bed exhausted in the evening, you know what I mean? In such a crowded program, proprioception, as neurologists call the perception of one’s own well-being, simply gets lost. Joy needs time, not just clock time, and a lot of space to come back to yourself.
Following the trend or being true to yourself
Joy? Is that really my own joy? Or am I just following conventions, enjoying something because everybody does it that way? Is it the collective norm that tells us what gives us joy? I am very skeptical about this issue and I often see collective pressure taking people to places in which they cannot be true to their own inner self. What a pity! Going the other way is for me simply much more pleasant and truthful. To get on my own trace and be curious about myself. Even little things that cost hardly anything can get the happiness hormone menagerie running again. I love sitting at my window to look into the neighboring garden, a real jungle in the middle of the city, which unexpectedly takes me into a wild fairy tale landscape. That’s when it becomes funky! Just a minute please! And I really look, taking care not to get caught up in the daily routine again. The infamous split second when just being turns out to be the salt of life!
Our biochemistry is designed for us to be nice to each other!
To get in touch emotionally with your environment is often a challenge, sure! Good to know: those newborns who are raised rationally and without emotional attention find it difficult to make emotional contact as adults, because the mirror images in the corresponding brain areas have never been processed. Our story lies buried in the mirroring neurons, which constantly beckons over and where some emotions are rooted which can be quite detrimental. Thank goodness, neurons react positively when a child is exposed to warmth and security. Happy mirror images lead to a discharge of the body’s own opioids. Then everything falls gently in place, so gratifyingly! According to neuroscientist Joachim Bauer, we are neurobiologically calibrated for bonding. Isn’t that wonderful! In our body the pleasant feeling of togetherness is designed as a positive force. The sympathy effect is transferred to others when we are spontaneous and authentic, i.e. in harmony with our actual inner mood.
What does all this have to do with movement?
“Joy is my medicine”. That wonderful phrase was given to me by the dance philosopher Indimo. At 76 years of age and despite her ailments, she is so alive that it is a real joy to be with her. In my early difficult years in Vienna she helped me with targeted movement and sympathetic guidelines to cope and understand how joy and movement are linked.
I shall never forget how she used to say “Oscillazione!!” with such passion. What does that mean? Vibration! What means to get to swing in the whole body until you flow. And this is the important point: Movement activates well-being in the body, joy, sometimes even happiness! It can turn fear into new, more pleasant feelings.
The movement that originate within yourself
I can do purely functional exercises. But I can also exercise while listening to what my body is saying. The body has ideas about movement that originate in itself. Always. Whoever learns to listen well to that melody coming from the body will be richly rewarded. The method is called Authentic Movement. It inspires the body, it makes us free, because everything that comes from ourselves is allowed to be there. It is a movement that is not prescribed because I have to move or want to move, but because I give the body the chance to create movement out of itself. Clients of mine who have learned this intuitively feel which movement is needed when pain areas are repeatedly causing problems. To dive into this is pure joy because you can connect powerfully with your inner self, affirm yourself in expression, stand by yourself, show who you are. How about following your nature!
Less is more
To really acquire ONE exercise so that it stays in the body and can be recalled is a precious thing. The Dutch dance pedagogue Maud Paulissen says that the repetition of movement creates trust. This sentence has been inspirational to me! To find your own rhythm and to settle down in it, you need some discipline. Yes, of course. But please make it in a gentle way, in order to perceive and feel the litheness and security of the body through careful movement. Assurance in the body nourishes a body image that strengthens our inner self, because the physical component also influences our self-esteem. Yes! The soul simply always plays along. Whatever your attitude is, learning an exercise is a gift to yourself.
Flow is simply fascinating!
When you have reached the point where it all becomes really fluid, smooth, mellow in movement, soft and firm at the same time, then Flow is created. Flow is a technical term coined in the 1990s by the psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihlyi. Flow exists in all areas of life, it is the pleasant feeling that happens when you think everything is possible. If the muscles are moved in this manner, pleasurably, your mind fully focused, your body moving at your own tempo, at your own pace, taking advantage of your own ability to cope with stress, then you have the best chance to stay healthy into old age! But that’s not the only thing! That’s when it becomes FUNKY! That’s when the sparks fly, that is joy! I got to experience that through dance. My stomach problems have become relative. This is a great medicine that can help in such a simple way. Movement is the key!
How do you achieve your own sense of joy?
Does your joy come from a memory in the mirror neurons? Like when, for example, smell of freshly baked bread that comes out of the oven reminds you of the past? Or are you about to anchor a new joy in the mirror neurons? Take some time and a piece of paper to find out how it works for you! There are many ways! It’s nice to feel so much diversity, and to know, especially in these troubled times, when we have to deal with an annoying virus, that we can slowly but surely acquire a way to cope. This confidently strengthens our immune system.
Three new things happening on the blog
- Fairy tale bonus:
From now on, as a bonus, you will always find a fairy tale here. This time, it’s one called “The Wren” This is a fairy tale I wrote inspired by a delightful little story written by the great Austrian storyteller Margarete Wenzel.
So that my international relatives and friends from Scotland to Germany, Italy, Canada, Florida, Ohio and New Zealand can also read my blogs, I will provide a translation of it. Wow! Great! I am so happy!
- Kiss the future:
Many people are now thinking about the ways to go forward and set the course for the future. How can I contribute to a good future and do something good for myself? With every entry to my blog you’ll find a tip for the future:
Today’s tip for the future:
How does your personal joy medicine look like? Take time to find out one thing that makes your heart happy. One thing, nothing more. And focus on making it a part of your life! Put it regularly in the calendar, please! So that your soul and your body can say “Ah! now something good is happening for me.” This is a safety framework which can be quite helpful, even in diffusing times.
Individual responsibility is necessary for trying all these tips. If you are seriously ill, physically or psychologically, please contact a doctor or a psychotherapist.
© 2020 by Christine Forsthuber
A story by Margarete Wenzel, retold
Once upon a time, there was a king who decided to invite everybody to a huge fest, and everyone came. The important ones, the magnificent ones, the powerful ones, the less important ones, those who often bowed too much and worried a lot, and those who just wanted to have fun.
The king said: “The banquet can only start once I’ve seen something wonderful! So, there they all sat gawking, not knowing what to do. There they all sat before their empty plates, their discontent growing and impatience drumming wildly in their hearts.
But there! Suddenly a delicate fairy tale and a grand song made their way through the hall. Their sounds reverberated and echoed each other, making the guests stop and listen in devotion and hold their breath. The fairytale and the song conjured up images of joy and trust and hope and, yes, of love! And it conjured up images of adventurous times, of great sadness, of anger and rage! And of the quick mind and the courage and the bravery it takes to survive danger!
Some tried to dismiss and scoff at all this: it just went too far, and it felt embarrassingly silly. But the tale took them along, the song carried them softly and assuredly to where other rules prevailed, took them where it was so far, where they had never looked before. There they sat, marvelled at it and bowed their heads to hide their tears.
The fairy tale and the song bowed gracefully. Into the silence there burst a magnificent applause that came deep from the people’s hearts. It blazed out into the world, so that everyone out there heard it and wondered: what’s going on at the banquet? Stories were told about that and passed on.
The king, though, treated the guests and all the bystanders to an exquisite meal. Joy, confidence, even trust reigned amongst them. And all those who still had misgivings were feasting on the delicious food, keeping their worries in abeyance. Everyone celebrated until the wee hours. The fairy tale and the song smiled so much that their toes were tingling, and they talked and played and sang, and talked and played and sang ever after.