Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

Liisa Korhonen, Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist, Helsinki.

Liisa Korhonen, Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist, Helsinki.

Liisa Korhonen, Helsinki

In Helsinki in 2014, I took a course in two-handed drawing called Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, taught by Glenys Leadbeater, RN. During the course, Glenys explained that, as a nurse, she often teaches Double Doodle drawing as a rehabilitative measure. Following her example, I started double doodling with my youngest sister, Ritva, 68, who after a stroke in 2010 was diagnosed with hemiplegia, aphasia, epilepsy, and you-name-it. Having lost her native Finnish language, Ritva now uses “Emotionalese.”

Ritva's first Double Doodle (Dec, 2014). While Ritva draws with her left hand, Liisa motors her right in a mirror-image.

Ritva’s first Double Doodle (Dec, 2014). While Ritva draws with her left hand, Liisa motors her right in a mirror-image.

For our Double Doodle process, I choose sturdy paper, 56 x 65 cm in size. While Ritva uses the crayon or brush in her left hand, I motor her right side to mirror what she draws. Now I could better see the importance of mark making as stated by Gail Dennison in the Double Doodle Play manual. In this case, I’d say that the most constructive activity has been Ritva’s and my collaborative planning and executing of movement. This first picture (right) is from December 2014, and we have doodled together on and off ever since.

Ritva drew this while playing the Double Doodle "Nines" game for the first time.

Ritva drew this while playing the Double Doodle “Nines” game for the first time.

Our next step was the Nines, with both of the images at left drawn in February 2015. To do this, I first put nine symmetrical dots on the paper, then we start negotiating the directions. We do half the paper like that, then I turn the paper around in order to ease the strain of Ritva’s right arm and we do the other half. Ritva’s contributions are seen diagonally in the final products, as in the examples at left.

For a time, the emotional aspect of mark making became dominant. Ritva became self-critical and, since she wanted to avoid negative moods, her willingness to doodle subsided.

Ritva begins a more playful exploration in this 2nd image based on "Nines" (both from Feb, 2015).

Ritva begins a more playful exploration in this 2nd image based on “Nines” (both from Feb, 2015).

”Why does the changing of letters raise so much feeling?” asked a reporter when Finnish television showed the latest change of model letters for schools. The letter designer referred to the lifelong personal experience of using letters in handwriting.

Writing really creates an intimate relationship with marks and letters, and through them with the whole of human civilization, as Gail says in the manual. After my experience with Ritva, I would even view the emotional development as an aspect of its own right in the Double Doodle process.

Ritva's playfulness becomes more apparent in Harmony of the Nines (May, 2015).

Ritva’s playfulness becomes more apparent in Harmony of the Nines (May, 2015).

In May, our use of big brushes and poster paints brought positive changes to Ritva’s Double Doodle process. As you can see, the paintings had become more harmonious.

More May Nines with Ritva

More May Nines with Ritva

This harmony of the Nines was accompanied by a generally positive mood. If Ritva felt lonely during the day and phoned me to complain, she always accepted my response that she was the only person who could control her feelings. According to her friends, her Emotionalese has recently become more nuanced.

Ritva Korhonen discovers new ways to express herself using Double Doodle Play.

Ritva Korhonen discovers new ways to express herself using Double Doodle Play.

In July, with Liisa's assistance, Ritva paints her first portrait‚ one full of expression.

In July, with Liisa’s assistance, Ritva paints her first portrait‚ one full of expression.

In July we made our first portrait of a face, which became quite expressive. It was my birthday, and we were both in the best of moods, which reflects on the face we drew.

July Nines with Ritva

July Nines with Ritva

The July Nines also show the changes to be consistent. I’m happy to report that the balancing effect of Double Doodle Play stays in Ritva’s moods, even if we don’t have time to doodle very often.

I think that the pleasure of looking at beautiful objects—all objects, actually, continues to increase for her, as it does for me.

A portrait with Ritva, July 11, 2015

A portrait with Ritva, July 11, 2015

Discovering a new center with Ritva, July 12, 2015

Discovering a new center with Ritva, July 12, 2015

 
Thank you from my heart, Gail and Glenys!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Liisa Korhonen, 76, is a Brain Gym Instructor and psychologist in Helsinki, Finland. Lissa says, “Brain Gym has been my delight since the 1990s, and in it Double Doodle Play is my latest joy. I especially like it because it gives an opportunity to practice a stress-free state of being.”  

 

The Double Doodle is one of 26 Brain Gym activities, from Brain Gym: Teacher’s Edition © 2010, by Paul and Gail Dennison.

For a translation of this article into Italian, click here.

© 2015 Liisa Korhonen. All rights reserved

Brain Gym®  is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International/The Educational Kinesiology Foundation. Click here for the name of a Brain Gym or Double Doodle Play instructor near you.

You might also enjoy:

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play

A Soothing Double Doodle Heart for Kids of All Ages: A Short Tutorial

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring  (a tutorial)

Double Doodle Holiday Play  (a tutorial of Christmas and winter images)

Children’s Double Doodle Halloween Drawings (1 min video)

Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play!

Make Double Doodle Pumpkin Faces for Halloween Fun (a tutorial)

 

 

 

 

Sudoku on My Brain: An Artist’s Statement

"Sudoku on My Brain," is an 8 X 10 shadow box, rendered in computer generated graphics, watercolor, and colored pencil.

“Sudoku on My Brain,” is an 8 X 10 shadow box, rendered in computer generated graphics, watercolor, and colored pencil.

By Emily Eisen, M.Ed.

I’ve always been fascinated by the working of the miraculous human brain. It wasn’t until 1995 that I became personally interested in how my brain works—when I learned I had a benign brain tumor on my pituitary gland. It was detected while it was still small, and so it never interfered with my vision or other faculties.

Serendipitously, a colleague told me about a three-day course called Brain Gym® 101, being given at a local hospital. I registered for it immediately. Since Brain Gym is an educational (rather than medical) program, my focus consisted of creating challenging learning goals and activating more brainpower by choosing from “menus” of the 26 different Brain Gym activities.

I experienced extraordinary improvements, and went on to take more Brain Gym courses on brain organization, balancing brain dominance, and so on. At the time, I was teaching art in Hicksville, New York. I used the activities I was learning with my art students, and observed much-improved focus and concentration as well as greater freedom of verbal and visual expression.

"Self-Portrait of EM with Words," a 16 x 20 multimedia portrait, made from a photo transfer, acrylic paint, and watercolor pastels using the batik wax resist method to create the neuropathway networks. I enjoyed collaging the word tiles to describe what I enjoy my brain for!

“Self-Portrait of EM with Words,” a 16 x 20 multimedia portrait, made from a photo transfer, acrylic paint, and watercolor pastels using the batik wax resist method to create the neuropathway networks. I enjoyed collaging the word tiles to describe what I enjoy my brain for!

Fast forward to the year 2000, by which time my tumor had shrunk to half its size. I flew to California, and was cured by an innovative neurosurgeon who took it out through my right nostril, allowing me to go to Universal Studios with my family just three days later!

I returned home to Northport, New York, where I went on to become a licensed Brain Gym® Instructor, teaching professional staff development to Long Island teachers, conducting private therapist trainings, and seeing clients for individual brain balance sessions. Also, in the town of Huntington I currently conduct senior citizen programs under a grant from the Alzheimer’s Association.

So why “Sudoku on My Brain”?

Let me begin by saying that I hated math—and failed it in the fifth grade.

My dad was a crackerjack mathematician. I marveled at how he could add a column of four-digit numbers out loud so fast. He told me he would teach me to be a math wizard and that I’d never fail a math test again. And that’s what happened! Although ever since I could hold a crayon I had been doing art all the time, I now fell in love with numbers. I actually started college as a math major!

Within the first year, I came to my senses and became an art major. In 1975 I received my B.A. and M.Ed. for Art Education from Queens College. For the next 34 years, I had the best time in my career as an art teacher in Hicksville.

In a program I recently led for senior citizens, the presenter had just detailed a list of all the signs of Alzheimers! Oh my gosh . . . I perked them up with Arm Activation!

In a program I recently led for senior citizens, the presenter had just detailed a list of all the signs of Alzheimers! Oh my gosh . . . I perked them up with Arm Activation!

I love doing Sudoku puzzles because of loving the numbers, and also because of the way my eyes need to track all the different boxes to determine which number is right for the nine-box grid. After doing a puzzle, I feel calm, energized, and focused.

Since the inner space of the brain is as much a mystery as outer space, for the “I See Me” Huntington Arts Council Self-Portrait Exhibit, April 2015, I chose to depict my brain on Sudoku in a 3-D manner. I made a 3-D shadow box, entitled “Sudoku on My Brain” (see the graphic at upper left). This is one result of a process I learned from my friend, colleague, neighbor, and mentor Beth Atkinson, a Hicksville High School art teacher and New York State Teacher of the Year award winner.

Here, I lead seniors in doing more Brain Gym activities: The Energy Yawn, followed by some Belly Breathing. We then switched on our spirits by singing together, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!”

Here, I lead seniors in doing more Brain Gym activities: The Energy Yawn, followed by some Belly Breathing. We then switched on our spirits by singing together, “Oh What a Beautiful Morning!”

I learned in my training to become a Brain Gym Instructor that, most of the time, the eye muscles get fixed in habitual patterns of tracking. Did you know that eye tracking stimulates the different brain centers? When we move only our eyes, we take our brain for a walk! Yet people with 20/20 vision can have tracking challenges and may have difficulty with balance, reading, driving, writing, painting, drawing, sculpting, comprehension, organization, playing sports, doing eye-hand work, and anything else that the eyes are used for.

Yet, according to Brain Gym author Dr. Paul Dennison, “Movement is the door to learning.” The eyes are controlled by muscles that, just like all muscles, need exercise. They need to have a full range of motion as well as the ability to lengthen and shorten.

Four* Brain Gym exercises in particular give the eye muscles a great workout: Brain Buttons (for left-right tracking), Earth Buttons and Space Buttons (for vertical tracking), and Balance Buttons (for near-to-far tracking). I teach these to my art studio students, and they notice great differences in how they draw and paint before and after this learning menu of movements! Δ

*Lazy 8s and the Double Doodle are two more Brain Gym activities that engage the eyes, in both cases focusing on hand-eye coordination and directionality.

This article was originally written for the “I See Me” Huntington Arts Council Self-Portrait Exhibit, April 2015.

Emily Eisen, M.Ed., is a licensed New York State K-12 Art Instructor/educational consultant, a Brain Gym® Instructor, the Director/Instructor of BRAINWORKS PLUS, a brain-body fitness instructor for elders, a Language of Mastery® instructor, a Total Immersion® swim coach, a ChiWalking® coach, a repertory actor, a keynote motivational speaker, and a fine arts instructor. To contact Emily: P. O. Box 778, Northport, NY 11768; phone/fax: 631-651-9207; email: balance@brainworksplus.com; website: www.brainworksplus.com

The Brain Gym activities are from Brain Gym®: Teacher’s Edition, by Paul and Gail Dennison, 2010.

Brain Gym® is the registered trademark of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation/Brain Gym® International, Ventura, CA, www.braingym.org. Click here for the name of an instructor in your area.

 

 

Why I Love Teaching Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole Brain Vision

"Bicycle," by Rhydonia Anderson, captures the whimsy and expressiveness of two-handed doodling.

“Bicycle,” by Rhydonia Anderson, captures the whimsy and expressiveness of two-handed doodling.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed. S.

As a Brain Gym® Instructor, I’ve had many remarkable experiences using the 26 Brain Gym activities—first as a therapist at an alternative school, and later as a School Counselor.

I was initially drawn to the the Brain Gym concept of basing new learning on learning that is already familiar to the student. I also quickly came to appreciate the educational model of “drawing out” rather than “stamping in”—a playful mindset encouraging growth. Both of these Brain Gym perspectives are consistent with what I later experienced in my studies at graduate school, qualifying as a Marriage and Family Therapist.  

My husband, Virgil, and I, now “officially” retired, have continued to teach one of our favorite Brain Gym courses, Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision* to those who work in schools and developmental therapy centers. As former teachers, we’re comfortable with these professionals. We don’t want to bore our audiences (like we’ve sometimes been bored in staff development meetings); so it works well that Double Doodle Play is filled with activities that keep everyone moving. In the workshop, participants discover how to draw and paint with both hands (bilateral drawing), as they explore their visual experience of color, shape, texture, depth, movement, and more. 

"Lighthouse Study," by Virgil Anderson, offers an example of negative space

“Lighthouse Study,” by Virgil Anderson, offers an example of negative space

Three busy pairs of arms create a Double Doodle group mural.

Three busy pairs of arms create a Double Doodle group mural.

A student completes a Double Doodle butterfly design based on the Nines game.

A student completes a Double Doodle butterfly design based on the Nines game.

In vision as in artistic composition, the white or empty space that surrounds an object—the background—can become just as important as the object itself—the foreground. Double-doodlers are sometimes surprised at how, without any effort, these shapes of “negative space” naturally emerge in a bilateral drawing to define the boundaries of positive space (the object, or foreground), bringing it into balance. 

 
The Double Doodle Play emphasis on process and spaces reminds me of my training in Marriage and Family Therapy, which was also oriented to spaces and to process, more than product. I learned a systems model of relating, which taught me to attend to the space between myself as a therapist and the client, rather than identifying the client as “separate,” and to stay in the process of interacting.

Once, when Virgil and I presented Double Doodle Play at a staff in-service, we were at the school all day, with the teachers, therapists, and aides coming in during their conference periods. A school director later asked me, regarding a couple of the teachers in particular, “What did you do? Those two aren’t usually so settled.” What we’d done that created such a good effect was to guide them through a combination of Hook-ups and the Positive Points, the two Brain Gym activities oriented to self-calming.

Partners enjoy Mirror Doodles as they reflect back one another's movements.

Partners enjoy Mirror Doodles as they reflect back one another’s movements.

Virgil invites an elementary student to do Iso-Doodles (photo was taken in the therapy room, thus the swing).

Virgil invites an elementary student to do Iso-Doodles (photo was taken in the therapy room, thus the swing).

"Waterfall Study" by Virgil Anderson

“Waterfall Study” by Virgil Anderson

Two students enjoy the "give ’n’ take" of the Iso-Doodles activity. If we all pull together . . .

Two students enjoy the “give ’n’ take” of the Iso-Doodles activity. If we all pull together . . .

The success of that in-service led to our largest audience yet—70 parents, staff members, and special ed teachers, all seated at those little elementary cafeteria tables. We didn’t keep them sitting long; they were soon standing, moving, playing, and doing bilateral drawing—in the air and on paper. At the end of the workshop, one woman told me that this was the most useful in-service she’d ever attended.

Several years ago, when Sylvia Sue Greene, a Faculty Member of the Educational Kinesiology Foundation, first offered the Double Doodle Play workshop, I was interested but doubtful. I emailed her that I couldn’t draw, and Sylvia responded, “You can use both hands, can’t you?” Since I knew her to be recovering from a stroke and still teaching, I felt humbled by her question and chose to take the workshop.

Virgil had taken one Brain Gym 101 workshop; he’d driven me to a class I co-taught, and simply took the class since he was already there. His goal, he said, was to get a deer; he considered this “a joke,” since he didn’t put much stock in it—until he got a deer the next time he went hunting! With some encouragement, he then agreed to attend a basic day-long Double Doodle Play workshop. The teacher, Gail Dennison, was impressed by Virgil’s creativity and mentoring spirit as an educator, and invited him to accompany me in attending—the following day—the Teacher Practicum for Double Doodle Play. He’d be qualified to teach the Double Doodle Play workshop once he completed the prerequisites, which he did!

The one-day Double Doodle Play includes movement, drawing, and painting activities, done solo, with a partner, and as a group. It serves as a fun introduction to Brain Gym—with tools for maintaining and improving everyday visual and movement skills. People often make gains in their visual responsiveness as they play together in ways that engage seeing, tactility, or tool-holding abilities, while learning to notice both one-sided and whole-body habits of moving.

Wind and Water, a partner Doodle game, delights players as they discover a relaxed use of the hands for mark-making.

Wind and Water, a partner Doodle game, delights players as they discover a relaxed use of the hands for mark-making.

There's much laughter as students draw with eyes closed, in the Wind and Water game.

There’s much laughter as students draw with eyes closed, in the Wind and Water game.

The simplicity and variety of the Double Doodle activities encourages participation. I especially love the partner activities, such as Mirror Doodles and the cooperative Wind and Water (see photo above and at left). I see Wind and Water as a great relationship-builder—taking turns being the wind and the water can increase awareness of and ameliorate any power struggles, as well as help release the need to be “perfect.”

We also enjoy the cooperative games, which quickly build a sense of community. For example, in one class, we had teachers sit four to a table, with two crayons for each person. We gave one person a sheet of paper, and when I said “Start!” that person began drawing a Double Doodle (I had Virgil’s help in monitoring the groups, in case anyone needed materials). After a few seconds, I called “switch!” and the drawing would be passed to the next person to be continued— a process that always generates a lot of laughter.  After all four people had each had three or so turns, I called “Stop.” We have sometimes done this Cooperative Drawing game to music—each person drawing a shape to represent the music. At yet another school, when we stopped, we had each table’s group make up a story for their picture. The day ended with each group sharing their story while displaying their picture.

Daniel's Natural Bridge, drawn after visiting the bridge, in Clinton, AK.

Daniel’s Natural Bridge, drawn after visiting the bridge, in Clinton, AK.

Barbara's Wolf, a student drawing done with crayon and colored pencils

Barbara’s Wolf, a student drawing done with crayon and colored pencils

Close up of "Field of Dreams," by Virgil Anderson

Close up of “Field of Dreams,” by Virgil Anderson

Students form a Double Doodle Train, simultaneously exploring shape-making while enjoying tactility.

Students form a Double Doodle Train, simultaneously exploring shape-making while enjoying tactility.

Another cooperative game is the Double Doodle Train. I like to call this a “Tactile Train”—a fun, alliterative name. I have students compare the tactile message they receive at the “start” to the one they receive at the “end,” which is never the same!  (Like the “Gossip” game, where a message is whispered from one to the next around the circle, then compared at the end to the original message.)

For our internship, Virgil and I spent a day teaching Double Doodle Play at the school where I’d been a counselor the previous year. The art teacher commented about a boy in junior high who’d done Mirror Doodles with Virgil, saying that he didn’t ordinarily mix much with classmates but had really participated on this day.

When I spoke with that teacher the following year, she reported that, due to scheduling difficulties, she now had 8th graders and seniors together in one class, and that the 8th graders—who had experienced Double Doodle Play for just one class period the previous year—were actually more creative than the seniors!

She later wrote to me: “I want to thank you for giving me another key to helping my students. Colored paper and the Double Doodle have especially helped one of my students. [This] student was very disruptive, so I let her Double Doodle one day. She loved it and settled down. Within a week she was writing complete sentences. (The sentences were just her thoughts, and not answers that she should have been giving, yet an important baby step.)  She is becoming part of the class rather than being a problem in the class. At the beginning of the year she was always angry. She now seems to enjoy the class, and takes part in class activities. Thank you so much for your help.”

~ ~ ~

*The Double Doodle activity expands on the bilateral drawing work of G. N. Getman, O.D., from his book How to Develop Your Child’s Intelligence, ©1962; 1992. The Double Doodle was first included in Brain Gym®: Simple Activities for Whole-Brain Learning, by Paul and Gail Dennison, ©1986, Edu-Kinesthetics, Inc., Ventura, CA. The games and activities described here are from the course manual Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision, by Gail E. Dennison, © 2006; 2007; translated into nine languages.

For a Spanish translation of this article, go to ¿Por qué me encanta enseñar el Doble Garabato…? -1- and -2-

For more about Double Doodle Play, check out these blog posts:
Double Doodle Play Brings Emotional Harmony Following a Stroke

A Soothing Double Doodle Heart for Kids of All Ages  (a basic tutorial on the Double Doodle)

Five Double Doodle Flowers for Spring  (a tutorial)

Children’s Double Doodle Halloween Drawings (1 min video)

Halloween Magic with Two-Handed Play!
Make Double Doodle Pumpkin Faces for Halloween Fun

Double Doodle Holiday Play  (a tutorial of Christmas and winter images)

Paul and Gail: Reflections on 2012
Creating Beauty with Two Hands
Rhydonia Anderson, Ed.S.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed.S.

Rhydonia Anderson, Ed. S., of Arkansas, a licensed professional counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist, is a former specialist in school counseling, now enjoying retirement. Rhydonia’s career experiences include serving as a home economics teacher, an outreach therapist for a mental health clinic, and a counselor in an alternative learning environment for students who had difficulty in regular school. She identifies herself as a lifelong learner. Rhydonia’s husband Virgil Anderson, M.S. Ed., taught life sciences in junior and senior high school and is also now, along with Rhydonia, experiencing the “freedom of retirement and housebuilding.” He loves to hunt, fish, and do woodwork, including timber frame.

On June 20 of 2015, Rhydonia and Virgil will be co-teaching the introductory workshop Double Doodle Play: A Window to Whole-Brain Vision in Peoria, Illinois. The Peoria workshop is approved for 8 CEUs for educators and also for 8 CEUs for health professionals and allied health professionals, through the University of IL College of Medicine in collaboration with the Continuing Education Institute of Illinois. To register, or for more information, contact Helen Cox, at options@mtco.com

Rhydonia welcomes your comments, questions, and feedback, and can be contacted at rhydonia@aristotle.net.

 

© 2015 by Rhydonia Anderson. All Rights Reserved.

Brain Gym® is a trademark of Brain Gym®  International. Click here for the name of an instructor in you area.

Being Present with Children: The Breema Touch

From Gail: Paul and I were introduced to the Breema Touch several years ago, as students in a workshop taught by Andi Gibb. We were immediately delighted with this simple, inviting process that beautifully complements our own work. As I took further courses and became more familiar with Breema Bodywork, I saw that many of its Nine Principles are similar to concepts and experiences of Educational Kinesiology—for instance, our practice of nonjudgmental noticing and the quality of body comfort available through the Got it! stage of the Learning Flow. We recently asked Andi to write this post on Breema for our readers, and we’re honored to share it with you.

 

Through its gentle, rocking movements, secure holds, and soothing strokes, the Breema Touch supports a recipient in feeling safe and relaxed.

Through its gentle, rocking movements, secure holds, and soothing strokes, the Breema Touch supports a recipient in feeling safe and relaxed.

For a parent, being present with your child without any agenda, even for short periods of time, is essential to that child’s development as a happy, secure human being. For many parents of young children, this is more easily said than done —whether due to the demands of a job, or of running a household, or both. But there’s a simple practice for nourishing both ourselves and our children, one that doesn’t require special dexterity or a great deal of time, called Breema Bodywork.®

Through the vehicle of touch, Breema brings about a harmonious state that’s comforting for both the giver and the receiver. Through its gentle, rocking movements, secure holds, and soothing strokes, the recipient comes to feel safe and relaxed. Rather than addressing specific ailments or conditions, Breema nourishes the whole person on many levels. Breema is guided and informed by nine universal principles, the Nine Principles of Harmony:

  • Body Comfortable
  • No Force
  • Firmness and Gentleness
  • Single Moment/Single Activity
  • No Judgment
  • Mutual Support
  • No Extra
  • Full Participation
  • No Hurry/No Pause
    While holding or playing with a child, I can look for my own “Body Comfortable” way of moving. Asking myself, “How amI right now?” is what distinguishes Breema from other somatic work. I can assess whether the child is comfortable by seeing if my own body is comfortable. With this, I become available to what the moment requires.

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In the Breema touch there is “No Force.” It is this gentle quality that allows the recipient to let go of fears and anxieties—often held unconsciously—that restrict blood flow and the natural breathing rhythm. An example of the “Firmness and Gentleness” principle is found in the way that we hold a baby: we hold firmly enough so he feels secure, but gently enough so as not to cause discomfort. Being connected to one’s body is what gives us the qualities of firmness and gentleness.

Or I might be cutting vegetables for dinner when my little one tries to talk with me. If I remember the principle of “Single Moment/Single Activity” I can turn toward the child, make eye contact, and engage, before returning to my task.

Touch is often conditional, communicating an expectation or a preconception that something is wrong. That’s why being touched with “No Judgment” can be so revolutionary. According to the Breema Center‘s director, Jon Schreiber, D.C., “In receiving Breema, many individuals experience being unconditionally accepted for the first time in their life.“

Although we tend to think of childhood as a carefree time before the demands of higher education and earning a living come to the fore, children feel many unspoken pressures from parents, teachers, and peers. So, for them, the Breema touch—without agenda—is supremely nurturing.

Since 1999, Breema instructor Birthe Kaarsholm has taught a course that she calls “Baby Moves” at the East Bay Waldorf School in El Sobrante, California, for children three months old through toddler age. In this weekly class, parents and infants come together in a way that exemplifies the Breema principle of “Mutual Support.” Parents get down on the floor with their young ones and mimic the developmental stages that take place during the first year of life: lying supine, creeping and crawling, rolling, sitting, standing upright, balancing . . . success!

Parents get down on the floor with their young ones and mimic developmental stages from the first year of life: lying supine, creeping, crawling, and more.

Parents get down on the floor with their young ones and mimic developmental stages from the first year of life: lying supine, creeping, crawling, and more.

Birthe reminds us that each new stimulation babies receive gets expressed through movement. We can easily observe that babies live in the present by how connected they are with their body. These littlest of teachers, with full concentration and ease of movement, point the way toward greater mobility and freedom of expression.

Receiving Breema from a certified practitioner, Kaarsholm affirms, can be wonderful for anyone, and especially for new parents as they adapt to the rhythms and needs of a baby in the home. It can also be therapeutic for mothers and babies where there’s been a long labor or other complications during the birth process. While, in fact, Breema can help support digestive functioning and reduce colic, this gentle work does not set out to fix or address specific conditions.

We can come into our body simply by experiencing our weight as we sit or stand, or by observing the breath as we inhale and exhale, allowing it to have its own natural rhythm. Being attentive in this way gives us greater access to our common sense and intuition as we go about our daily activities.

The Breema Center was founded by Jon Schreiber, who, having completed his Doctor of Chiropractic degree, felt that a more holistic approach was needed to support and maintain vital energy in the body. In 1980, along with a core group of individuals, he began a search for that support, and today this bodywork system, with its practical tools for becoming more present and available to life, is taught worldwide.

A full Breema session usually lasts an hour or more, but even just practicing for several minutes is profoundly nurturing; no real dexterity is required. Self-Breema exercises are another aspect of Breema. These are simple movement sequences done for oneself, using the Breema Principles as a support for being present.

To get more acquainted with the Breema touch or to further explore the variety of sequences that exist in both Breema Bodywork and Self-Breema, the support of a qualified instructor is necessary. To learn about classes and practitioners near you, go to www.breema.com.

Andi GibbAndrea Gibb has over 10 years experience in Breema Bodywork. She lives in Ventura, California, where she teaches Breema and has a private Breema practice. She was trained and certified at the Breema Center in Oakland, California, and formerly worked with mothers and children at Nextdoor Solutions, a safe house in San Jose.

 

 

Photo Credits: Breema photos courtesy of the Breema Center
Image of mother and child: ID 29873604 © Alena Ozerova | Dreamstime.com

Barefootin’ – Gill Connell

Barefoot 5In a world seemingly obsessed with carefulness these days, one of the things I fear is getting lost is the joy of going barefoot, and along with it all the benefits. For little ones, getting and staying in touch with their feet is important. Here’s why . . . Barefoot 4

Five Great Reasons to Go Barefoot!

1. BODY MAPPING. Babies aren’t born with a sense of their own body, and in fact, don’t even realize they have hands and feet for a while. The way they find out is through feeling them, tasting them, and putting them to good (and mischievous!) use. Little ones who have their feet stuffed into footed onesies, slippers, socks, and/or shoes, all day and night run the risk of never truly getting to know their toes.
2. STRENGTH. Feet have a big job everyday holding our weight. Wearing shoes and socks provides support but also takes some of the responsibility off of the muscles in the feet. Going barefoot is the most natural way to keep feet in tip-top shape!
3. ADAPTABILITY. When I was a kid, I couldn’t wait for summer to run barefoot outdoors (as every kid did out in the country where we lived). But those first days were always a little hard on the feet. Softened up by the padding of socks, shoes, and indoor carpeting all winter, our feet had to toughen up. It hurt a little, but it was so worth it! Not only does going barefoot give kids a great sense of personal freedom, it teaches them a fundamental principle of independence — how to adapt to different situations — even the rocky ones.(Of course, city kids have it different I realize, so find a park if you can. And remember, going barefoot around the house has many of the same benefits.)
4. CONFIDENCE. When children feel their steps directly, they are much better able to understand the intricacies of even the trickiest terrain and navigate it more adeptly. This is true for flat surfaces as well as inclines. Indeed, shoes tend to slip when children climb on playground equipment, while feet are naturally designed to provide sensitive traction, and toes flex to give us better grip.
5. CONNECTEDNESS. Feet are our connection to the earth. They are where we meet gravity. Which makes me wonder. Could our modern image of ourselves be upside down? What would the world be like if we believed we begin in our feet and end in our minds?Barefoot 2
In gratitude to Mum and Dad for all those well-grounded, barefooted, gone fishin’ summers.
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Take my word for it. Go to ITunes and download the 1966 hit song Barefootin’ by Robert Taylor. Then throw off those socks and shoes and show everybody what dancin’ feet can do!
BAREFOOTIN’
By Robert Parker
Nola Records, 1966
Everybody get on your feet.
You make me nervous when you in your seat,
Take off your shoes and pat your feet,
We’re doin a dance that can’t be beat!
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’,
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’,
Went to a party the other night,
Long Tall Sally was out of sight
Threw way her wig, and her high sneakers too,
She was doin a dance without any shoes
She was barefootin’, She was barefootin’,
She was barefootin’, She was barefootin’,
Hey little gal with the red dress on,
I bet you can barefoot all night long
Take off your shoes and throw them away,
Come back and get them another day
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’,
We’re barefootin’, We’re barefootin’,
Lil John Henry he said to Sue,
If I was barefootin’ would you barefoot too
Sue told John, “I’m thirty two,
I was barefootin ever since I was two
They was barefootin’, they was barefootin’
They was barefootin”, we barefootin’
We barefootin’ we barefootin’
We barefootin’ we barefootin’
We barefootin’ we barefootin’
We don’t have no shoes on
Gill Connell is the founder of MOVING SMART, co-author with Cheryl McCarthy of Moving To Learn and, just released, G&C in Play TentA Moving Child Is a Learning Child. A teacher of teachers, parents, and young children, Gill is a child development expert with a unique area of focus on the natural development of children’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development through movement. Click here for more information.

(c) 2013 Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy; reprinted with permission

Photos (c) 2013 Gill Connell

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