I was working with a client recently, trying to come up with ways to get her to look out when she walks, rather than down. While her balance has improved significantly, she has double vision, which affects how steady she feels. When she is working with me, I encourage her to look out, since she knows the floor is free from obstacles. However, her habit remains to look down, just to make sure nothing gets in her way.
This week, rather than continue giving her the same cue, I handed her a ball and instructed her to toss it in the air and catch while she walked across the room. Her gaze immediately lifted and her overall steadiness improved as she focused on catching and tossing the ball.
Internal awareness is important. It allows us to feel our body and get in touch with our habits. Awareness, I like to say, is the first step to change.
However, the world is external. At some point, our awareness needs to move outside of ourselves so we can interact with the environment. The ability to look out rather than down while walking not only improves posture and balance, it let’s us take in our surroundings and actually see the world around us.
Asking people to perform tasks like throwing a ball forces them to use their bodies reflexively. They stop worrying about how they are doing something and instead work on what they are doing. Interestingly, often these types of activities also make more present, due to the fact their attention is focused.
If someone is struggling with embodiment, try moving their awareness externally. It may improve their internal awareness more than you expect.