Artwork by Sam Gilliam “Double Merge” (1968). On view at the Dia Beacon in Beacon. Photo Credit: Jonathan Ballone
Let’s face it, change in inevitable. Have you ever heard the phrase “If you don’t move it, you lose it”? Well, there is so much truth in that statement. Basically, if you don’t use a particular part of your body for a specific movement, your body will think you no longer need access to that movement. If you stop lifting your arms over your head, for example, your body is going to limit your access to that motion and offer you stability instead by physically laying down extra connective tissue to that area. Then, over time, it will become harder and harder to access that movement.
The good news is that you have the opportunity to decide how you want to engage with that change over time. Do you hope to create negative or positive change? Here are three tips I use for creating positive change in the body!
1. Lift Your Hands Up!
How often do you lift your hands over your head? I don't want to sugar coat it: by hunching over our artwork, computers, and phones for long periods of time, we're slowly re-shaping our bodies. What I mean is that we lose access to mobility we once had. Not because we're getting older, but because we're not creating enough variety in our movements throughout the day. Take a moment to incorporate reaching up more often. Even if it's just a stretch here and there throughout your day. Here's one to try: Interlace your fingers in front of you. Turn your palms forward. Raise your hands over your head. Breathe. Hug your arms in towards each other and reach up toward the sky!
Image taken during an artist residency at The Getaway House in the Catskills. Photo credit: Jillian Zoltner Wolf
2. Check In With Your Posture.
Standing well sometimes feels like a lot of work, but it is worth the effort. Making little adjustments helps to teach your muscles how to create new patterns and build strength in areas that might be lacking. Ditch the hunched-over look. Stand up tall.
Image taken at the Dia Beacon in Beacon. Artwork by Michael Heizer "Negative Megalith No. 5" (1998). Photo credit: Jonathan Ballone
3. Connect To Your Breath.
Your breath is an incredibly amazing tool. We often take it for granted because it is always with us, but learning to access it and focus on it can help us reconnect to our physical body when we’re going through hard things. It’s important to know that focusing on the sounds, feelings, and movements of your breath can physically calm you down by sending signals to your nervous system. It only takes a few moments, but it goes a long way. Try it out. Come to a comfortable seat. Sit up tall. Close your eyes. Focus on your breath.
Image of Missy Graff Ballone sitting in a chair. Photo credit: Belathee Photography
Remember, becoming more connected to your body isn't about becoming a different person, a new person, or even a better person. It's about gaining a stronger perspective and being mindful of the relationship between your studio practices and your body, which means noticing how you feel.