In physics, potential energy refers to the stored energy in an object because of its position relative to other objects or its state. An example might be a ping-pong ball rolling toward the edge of the ping-pong table. While the ball has kinetic energy by virtue of its motion, it also has potential energy because of the height of the table. Once the ball reaches the edge, its potential energy becomes kinetic energy thanks to gravity.
Another example: a bow and arrow drawn back and ready to fire. Because of the elasticity of the string and the wood and the force that the fingers and arms exert, energy is stored until the archer releases the string. The result is a force strong enough to pierce the bullseye.
The body and mind also have potential energy. Considering that the body is only able to convert about 25% of food energy into useful work, it follows that using that energy efficiently is important. Which brings me to my point—we all have the potential to use our bodies in a way that reduces wear and tear (and thus pain) on the joints and muscles. We have only to tap into the potential energy of the mind—our ability to become aware of and in tune with our surroundings and our bodies’ habits.
To do so is to convert potential mental energy into efficient work, which requires us to rethink how we move.
What Gets in the Way of Change?
As with any self-reflective endeavor, there are obstacles that keep us from adjusting our movement patterns. Even though our rational mind knows that we must change to feel better, we still fear the uncertainty and the possibility of failure. We want to avoid feeling uncomfortable, and change often is. Perhaps we are tired, or we don’t think we have the time to devote to a new practice, or we feel overwhelmed with other responsibilities.
These fears and excuses keep us from taking action, but it is possible to overcome them. It’s all a matter of tapping into our potential.
Steps to Tapping Your Potential
If you want to make a change to your movement habits, these simple steps can help you achieve your goals.
Finding Purpose – Think of the reason that you want to change. It could be as simple as reducing the pain in your hips or as ambitious as wanting to get in shape to run a marathon. Maybe you just want to be able to play with your children or grandchildren instead of sitting on the sidelines. Whatever your purpose is, keeping it in the foreground of your mind can help to motivate you.
Making Time – Change doesn’t just happen. You’ve got to carve out some time to build new habits and movement patterns. Even if you only have a few hours each week, try to treat that time as sacred. Don’t let anything interrupt.
Joining a Community – One of the best ways to create change for yourself is to find others who want to make the same change. Joining a community of like-minded people will offer you the support you need when you feel like giving up.
Change isn’t always easy, but it is possible. If you want to learn more about how Somatics can help you create lasting change through more efficient movement, get in touch with me today.
Carol is a physical therapist, a co-creator of Integral Human Gait theory, a certified Feldenkrais practitioner, and a Senior Trainer in Movement Intelligence. Focus, Align, Teach and Inspire! These qualities not only describe her work, but they also describe her presence. She is passionate when it comes to reconnecting learning with human function and health. Carol is in private practice at MontgomerySomatics.com in Columbus, Indiana.