THE BASICS OF THE AEQ METHOD
Only persistent, conscious, attentive, and curious exploration and an easier way to perform the movement and effectively express emotions eliminates pain and changes thinking.
Sensory-motor amnesia and a lack of time force people to divert their attention to the future or past.
Only persistent, conscious, attentive, and curious exploration and an easier way to perform the movement and effectively express emotions eliminates pain and changes thinking. Our conscious control and efficiency increases; we use our time and energy better.
The changes in lifestyle that came with the modern age were mainly due to the steam engine’s invention and later related inventions. With the Industrial Revolution, the developed part of the planet easily converted the energy of wood and fossil fuels into motion. It was thus less dependent on the energy it drew from food to do the work.
The reason behind the painful movement is that it is too big of a disorder, not enough control over your body and lack of feeling, all of which the body warns us about.
And with that, we can see how wrong our attitude towards pain is. It’s the main result of reducing the importance of learning and the time we spend in life learning and research, which reduces the ability to lengthen muscles.
The coordination between contracting and expanding our muscles is greatly reduced when they are performing a certain movement. This eventually leads to increased disorder in movement, work, and with that, life. The disorder leads to inefficiency and has a greater influence on our mood and abilities.
What is our pain warning us about
We are first reminded of this by discomfort and resistance.
Acute pain warns us of an injury or illness by sending a signal into our brain.
Most injuries influence our body tissues and the neurons in our pain system, including those inside our brain and spine, causing neuropathic pain. It occurs due to neurons that make up a kind of map for pain in our brain. Specific areas in our brain for processing information represent our body’s outer surfaces and are called brain maps. When we touch a part of the body during active exercise, a specific part of the brain map is activated, representing that part of the body. These maps of our body’s surface areas are organized topographically, which means that neighboring areas of the body are next to one another on the map. When the neurons in our map become injured, they constantly send off false alarms and lead us to believe that the problem is within our body, while, in reality, its located mainly in our brain. The body healed ages ago, but the pain system is still activated. Acute pain was given an afterlife – it became chronic pain.
The changes in lifestyle that came with the modern age were mainly due to the invention of the steam engine and later related inventions.
With the Industrial Revolution, the developed part of the planet became more and more easy to convert the energy of wood and fossil fuels into motion, and was thus less dependent on the energy it drew from food to do its work. More and more work has been done by man with the help of machines and devices.
It is precisely because of these changes in the exploitation of energy that gradual changes have taken place in man’s consciousness regarding the awareness of the importance of his own energy. Before the industrial revolution, the most important thing for survival was to be physically efficient enough and able to do everything necessary with as little effort and as much imagination as possible. If a man used more energy than he gained then he was in big trouble and his survival was threatened.
The AEQ method can be compared to other similar therapies, such as, physical therapy, massage therapy, surgery, stretching, acupuncture and drug therapy.
The fundamental difference is the technique of pendiculation or learning to consciously lengthen and shorten muscles. With the help of this technique we can influence our brain and thus regain conscious control over our muscles and their length. We relearn how it feels if our muscles are naturally tensed up, which leads to relief and increases our mobility, balance and coordination.
The AEQ method is performed through active therapy instead of passive. It’s based on bettering our senses and with that, control over muscles and conscious movement.
People attribute pain to aging and use old age as an excuse. But the AEQ method, a method of gentle conscious movements, does not recognize this concept, and in the workshops I explain how teachers of the AEQ method associate movement pain with so-called sensory-motor amnesia. The main cause of chronic pain is the gradual deterioration of body sensation, and this is the result of major and minor injuries, stress, worries, harmful behavioral patterns, and misconceptions that limit us in easier functioning and living.
Muscles become used to being tense because of sensory-motor amnesia, despite our best effort to relax them. The problem lies in the fact that we aren’t relaxing them consciously; methods such as stretching, massage, chiropractic and other manual therapies, and painkillers usually don’t help in the long run. If we want to fix problems, we need to teach tense muscles how to relax.
Everyone should master sensing the movement of their body. This means that he should observe and learn to change the changes that happen to him during movement on a daily basis and consciously change them. This would make it easier to determine the cause of the pain, even prevent it, all of which would lead to better movement.
Movement that we constantly perform and will eventually become subconscious and automated, has to be regularly monitored and corrected. The same goes for movement that is actively performed – during sports and exercise or during work (behind a manufacturing belt, sitting behind a computer for hours, long drives…) – require more of our energy and attention. Regular conscious observation of movement is very important for maintaining and increasing efficiency. Such movement awareness as well as its control allow our moves to be fluid, elegant and performed with the least effort possible. If there is less effort, there is more movement – we are talking about rationality or the rule less for more. The energy input is smaller, the effect is greater. Most importantly, such a movement gives us more pleasure, and therefore we prefer to perform it.
We are learning from the birth on how to engage muscles correctly and democratically when moving. A democratic application of a muscle means that a muscle works in harmony with other muscles in a move and according to strength and lever assigned by the evolution. A child is improving quality of control of the muscles by learning how to move. Better knowledge about the motion and gaining the skills can only be the result of learning how to move, and the learning enables a child increasingly better control of the movement potential given to him at birth. However, a child has only limited muscle strength so he does not have other options but to discover and perfect the correct democratic use of his muscles to be able to perform the moves. Better coordination of large number of muscles used in a movement enables better efficiency, which we sense as a pleasant movement (pleasure).
On the contrary, less efficient movement, deriving from poor coordination, is perceived as unpleasant and, if it lasts for a long time, as painful feeling (pain). As seen in observations, a child learning new moves obviously follows a principle: when it is a pleasant motion, he continues exploring and developing in same direction, but when it is unpleasant and painful, he wants to change and end the activity.
Think about how you would walk if a bee stung you on your left foot. Would you burden both legs the same or would you ‘’take care’’ of your left leg by overburdening the right?
Injury always influences established movement patterns: in order to avoid pain we alter our movement because we don’t want to burden the painful areas of our body. We call that favoring an injured area. This leads to bad posture, the consequence of which is loss of free mobility, or in other words, faster aging. At this point we can decide whether to persist in adjusted – wrong – movement or begin with exercising and endure the pain. But not every exercise will bring relief.
It is commonly known that movement strengthens the current movement pattern. This means that exercising after an injury strengthens the wrong pattern movement that developed as a result of the injury.
The AEQ method® is characterized by pandiculation, which restores the feeling of muscle control and improves a certain movement pattern.
Pandiculation is an active approach to solving the problem of losing control over your muscles, and it is done in three phases.
Phase one: slow movement into contraction
With a slow movement, we tense the agonist muscles to the point that we consciously feel the movement. This establishes control over those muscles that we cannot control due to sensory-motor amnesia. We make sure the tension is not too strong. We observe sensations as we move. Now is the time for the second, most important act of pandiculation.
AEQ education is a process that broadens the horizons of our consciousness and free will.
Moshe Feldenkrais is considered the pioneer of clinical somatics, which was substantiated and used by Elsa Gindler, F. Mathias Alexander, Gerda Alexander, and Thomas Hanna. A multitude of modern therapists uses clinical somatics.
Soma is optimally free when our reactions consist of as much deliberate control as possible and as little conditioned reflexes as possible. This autonomous state of somatic freedom gives a person an incredibly diverse repertoire of possible responses to stimuli that arrive from our surroundings.
Failure does not exist if you have learned from your mistakes and improved yourself. Keep that in mind, and you will achieve more. In fact, you will achieve everything that is realistically achievable if you take enough time for it and invest the right amount of energy, attention, and knowledge. Look at this process like this: we do not experience failures in life, but instead create results on which we then learn and change for the better.
If, for example, you throw a basketball multiple times and miss, you aren’t unsuccessful. You created a result. Your feeling of failure originates from the fact that you know people that score almost every throw. But in your reality, you couldn’t throw the ball any other way as you already have, since it is the result of your current motor intelligence and skill. You achieved a measurable result. After that, you can either stop throwing or try again. Even if you threw the ball over 200 times, you still aren’t a failure but have instead achieved over 200 results. The number of throws is not essential for improving the throw to the basket, but whether you learned and observed, and looked for ways to throw the ball better, more accurately, and correctly.
With AEQ exercises, we can improve the mind-body connection, the feeling, and control of the muscles, and look for the easiest way possible to perform the exercise’s movements.
Pain and movement limitations usually occur due to a strong, subconscious blockade of self-expression. Self-expression, which is only possible through movement, needs to be under an appropriate amount of self-control, taught to us during our childhood, throughout our whole life. But it usually comes from constantly recurring situations and trauma, which lead to the formation of characteristic patterns of muscle tension needed for longer-term control of self-expression, which we are less and less aware of over time, but increasingly influence our movement, posture, decisions, and expression.
When these patterns become increasingly inappropriate and prevent effective movement, expression, and life, we usually feel this inadequacy as chronic problems and pain. We don’t know the cause, but we still feel the consequences. Such conditions are effectively and reliably remedied by the AEQ method by understanding the distortion of these connections and the responses of the mind and body to reality.
With learning AEQ method, we eliminate sensory-motor amnesia and learn to guide body movements consciously. When done correctly, we learn to detect feelings during movement to such a degree that it enables us to control them.
The result is that we develop a sensitivity for being aware of the body through all phases of the movements that we make. Active, hands-on AEQ sessions have proved the most effective method for all of the above. It is based on the experience of a client, while they are laying down on a table, and the educator is working together to become aware and conscious.
Every session starts with a conversation. The educator helps the client to find the strongest unconscious patterns within their daily movements, while they talk about the session protocol which is dependent on the client’s current condition. The educator helps the client by guiding them with his hands which will lead to better control and accuracy of movements. Movements are slow and the client, with the help of the educator, can increasingly feel the diminished awareness of movements in the body’s motor abilities. In other words, the difference between the movement a person wishes to carry out, and the movement they carry out. This is the result of sensory-motor amnesia’s influence on what we call a sensory-motor feedback loop.
The AEQ method is an activity expanding the range of volitional consciousness. This is not to be confused with conditioning, which is a bodily procedure imposed upon a subject by external manipulations. Conditioning deals with the human as an object in a field of objective forces, and thus it is a form of learning reflecting the typical viewpoint of third-person science, notably of psychology.
Conditioning neither requires focusing of awareness nor does it result in the learning of conscious somatic actions. Rather, the aim is to create an automatic response that is outside the range of volition and consciousness.
But we should be aware of the fact that this same form of conditioning can also take place in uncontrived ways by the fortunes of environmental forces that impinge upon our lives. Environmental situations that impose a constant stimulus on deep survival reflexes will, with sufficient repetitions, make them habitual – the reflex becomes learned and ‘’potentiated’’. Awareness is a somatic activity that is exclusionary.
Thomas Hanna recognized and defined three general reflex patterns, which are an adaptation of the body to stress. Anyone can recognize and feel them. But even though they are characteristic for humans, it doesn’t mean that we are aware of them. These patterns have a good and a bad side.
When a certain cause or need surfaces, the appropriate reflex activates himself. While it is already useful after evolution, its frequent activation, for example, during stress, which continues to occur, eventually turns into a state that we are no longer aware of and cannot control. We recognize this condition in a special posture and movement. It is important for our general well-being and our daily efficiency to know and recognize these reflexes, to understand what triggers them and how to lead them, and even intentionally trigger and how to shut it off. Most people develop a unique combination of two or three reflexes as they age. Their feeling and control, which can be regained with the AEQ method’s help, allow us to limit and reduce, but we can also eliminate the consequences and improve health, well-being, and abilities.
Changing the mind and not ‘fixing’ the muscles and body structure
Conventional approaches toward rectifying mistakes in our body felt as chronic pain, movement limitation, or inefficient movement derive from the body’s structure and how muscle and body processes work.
Chemical compounds that belong in the medical doctrine, muscle groups’ strengthening, and most often, long-term rehabilitation procedures are often invasive interventions in the body. They usually bring only short-term changes for the better and long-term deterioration of health. We like to say: genetics is to blame, and changes for the worse are “normal and inevitable.” What the things mentioned above have in common is that the rehabilitation process usually does not involve changes in a conscious effort to feel and understand your body how, when, and why improper movement occurred.
The green light reflex is activated by the muscles of the back of the body that perform stretching.
The body takes over the posture of a soldier, ready for action and change. The back arches, the buttocks, hind thighs, and hips tense up, the shoulders pull back, the head raises. Common problems caused by the green light reflex are: sciatica, lower back pain, neck and shoulder pain, disc herniation and jaw pain, and tension headaches, to name just the most common.
A large number of decisions to make, an exaggerated feeling of responsibility, and racing thoughts are the typical characteristics of people who have an active green light reflex. They are usually in a hurry, working, and making decisions for other people, even when doing so isn’t required. If they have nothing to do, they develop a strong feeling of guilt. A subconscious and permanently active green light reflex forces them into constant action. As they grow older, they become more and more tired. Recurring tiredness is also a typical sign of the green light reflex.
The red light reflex is the opposite of the green light reflex and is common to all living beings with a spine.
It serves as a defense against sudden change or danger. In the event of a sudden loud bang or rumble, the front of the body’s muscles is activated and contracted. The abdominal muscle shortens, and the chest muscles tense up, pulling the head forward, the internal thigh muscles tense, and the pressure on the bladder increases. With the red light constantly on, the posture becomes old, leaning forward, with a hump and a chicken neck. Prolonged activated reflex causes shallow breathing, arrhythmia, asthma, hemorrhoids, flat feet, migraines, ringing in the ears, digestive and metabolic problems, pain in the shoulders, hips, knees, and feet, feelings of lethargy, sadness, depression, and tension, and fatigue.
Injuries can cause a trauma reflex, and the trauma reflex can cause injures. How is this possible?
Injuries can be caused by a blow or a fall. When a blow is anticipated, we instinctively turn away from it, which leads to getting hit on the side of our body. Those muscles then reflexively contract so that they form a shield. If the blow is strong enough or creates a big enough “shock,” the contraction or tensing up the muscles becomes a habit. The brain behaves as if the blow or injury was still happening. When the pattern of muscle contraction becomes a habit, sensory-motor amnesia develops in these muscles. We forget how to feel and move these muscles properly. So in the case of a strong blow or an ugly fall, we inadvertently acquire the trauma reflex’s habit. The muscles on one side of the waist remain contracted. These tense muscles in the waist pull the hips towards the ribs and the ribs towards the hips. Usually, this also involves the rotation of the spine.
Proprioception and muscle stiffness
The key to understanding the causes of chronic pain in our muscles and joints lies within our proprioception, which is being aware of movement, and feeling ourselves. Muscles and most tissues in the body have sensory cells and receptors that tell the brain what is going on in and around the body.
When the muscle tenses up and contracts or relaxes and expands, and everything is as it should be with our proprioception, then we will feel that immediately. We also have sensory cells in the joints, which tell us how much pressure is in them and determine the joint’s position and angle. The skin constantly sends out sensory data, and the internal organs communicate the organs’ state with the nerve endings of the brain. Proprioception involves the entire central nervous system, from the body’s sensors to the sensory part of the brain. In the brain, the sensory part is connected to the motor part so that the sensory information coming from the body becomes the guide for the movement commands that we send back to the same area. The sensory-motor system is designed so that we cannot feel without movement, and we cannot move without feeling. When we move, we sense our movement, while feedback allows us to know what we are doing and where we are. This constant exchange of senses and orders allows us to live and learn.
Learning the AEQ method® needs to be a pleasant and comfortable experience to achieve the full effect, and our clients are always surprised how fast the time flew by. It means our clients have learned a lot, which is the primary goal of the AEQ method®.
Albert Einstein wrote: We learn the most by doing things with such pleasure that we even fail to notice when the time passed.
Learning through the AEQ exercises® is also the key to changes of the neuromuscular system functioning, which is used to direct the awareness to the body. Lack of awareness is the main reason for chronic pain, which is a way that our uses body tries to get out attention.
I can honestly say the chronic pain is the result of constant lack of attention devoted to the body, its sensations and movement. Usually, as a consequence of demands from the environment, not to sense the sensations and emotions we have as a child and not to express them. Be quiet, be a good boy or a girl; do what is right for you… All that leads to rising muscle tonus to adapt or run away from reality, which we can’t stand and can’t change.