What is NeuroMovement®?
NeuroMovement is a gentle, non-medical approach to improving movement and overall functioning based on the understanding that movement is the language of the brain. It is movement that provides the information required by the brain to grow and improve, to generate deliberate movement, as well as thoughts, feelings and actions.
NeuroMovement was developed by Anat Baniel, clinical psychologist and educator, who developed the method based on her work with thousands of clients and her training with Moshe Feldenkrais.
How does NeuroMovement work?
NeuroMovement works because of the brain's ability to change, regardless of how old we are or the developmental challenges we face. This is called brain plasticity.
How can NeuroMovement help a child with special needs?
NeuroMovement can help with various challenges caused by
Stroke or other brain injury,
A newborn baby generates many random movements as they explore their world. Watch a typical baby - they reach, twitch and kick almost constantly. They're experimenting to learn what happens when they make a move.Their brain gets critical sensory information from their experiments and learns to form patterns. Patterns later become skills.
A child with special needs often can't generate the wide variety of movements needed to grow and develop higher functions such as sitting, standing, walking, or talking. Even the nuanced expression of feelings and complex thought processes requires this kind of skill development.
With gentle, guided movements we provide the child with sensory information they weren't able to generate for themselves. We meet them where they are, and stay connected with them as we invite them to explore new options. As they experience this process, new movement patterns are created and boost the child's development -physically, emotionally and cognitively.
The principles of NeuroMovement
NeuroMovement is based on the Nine Essentials, the key principles that enhance brain plasticity. Its plasticity, or changeability, enables the brain to constantly adapt in response to internal and external events.We use the Nine Essentials to activate and enhance a child's innate ability to learn and change.
Through slow and skilled touch, we highlight important connections throughout the child’s body, creating opportunities for the child to feel themselves in new ways. This prompts the brain to develop new neural connections, increasing the possibilities for more refined organization and control of movement, thinking and feeling.
In this way we engage in an open-ended conversation with the child’s nervous system and set into motion a process of potent learning and empowerment.
The Nine Essentials
Each of the Nine Essentials describes one of the brain’s requirements for doing its job well; that is, creating new connections needed to overcome pain and limitation and thus reaching new levels of physical and cognitive performance.
The Nine Essentials are validated by the latest scientific discoveries in the area of neuroscience. Specifically, the concept of brain plasticity - the brain’s ability to change and grow new neurological pathways and connections throughout life.
The Nine Essentials provide concrete guidelines for encouraging the development of your child's brain so that it can work brilliantly, allowing children to discover their own solutions to the challenges they face.
Essential 1. Movement with Attention Movement is Life. Movement helps the brain grow and form because The brain is organized through movement beginning from birth and from then on, movement generates brain growth and development.
In turn, it is the brain that organizes all movement: the movement of our body, our thinking, our feelings, and our emotions. But movement alone is not enough. Automatic movement—movement done without attention—only grooves in the already existing patterns.
Research shows that movement done automatically creates little or no new connections in the brain. Bringing the child’s attention to his movement and actions, the brain immediately starts building new neurological connections that usher in changes, learning and transformation, that would otherwise not be available to the child.
Essential 2. Slow
When we go fast, we can only do what we already know. This is how the brain works.
To learn and master new skills and overcome limitation, the first thing to do is slow down.
Slow actually gets the brain’s attention and stimulates the formation of rich new neural patterns. Slow gets us out of the automatic mode in our movements, speech, thoughts, and social interactions. It lets us feel and experience life at a deeper, more profound level. Slowing down everyday activities and interaction with your child give her time to feel and aware to the process you both are engaged in. It is important not to confuse current limitations that the child has with the remarkable capacity of her brain.
Essential 3. Variation and the Perception of Difference
Variation provides the brain with the richness of information it needs to create new possibilities in movements, feelings, thoughts, and actions.
Variation and novelty help increase our awareness and lifts us out of rigidity and “being stuck.”
When you bring variation into the child’s life by doing everyday activities in a new and different way, these experiences stand out for him. When they learn to perceive differences the brain gains new information needed to create new possibilities.
Essential 4. Subtlety
The ability of the brain to perceive fine distinctions is at the heart of its ability to generate new information for organizing new, more refined and more exacting action.
This is true whether this change involves the child learning to move his body, being able to improve his intellectual capacities, or changing and improving something in his emotional life. To be most helpful to your child, whatever you do with him needs to foster and empower his own spontaneous ability to perceive differences.
The more ease and gentleness that you can bring to any action you do with the child, or that the child does himself, the more the brain will perceive differences and the more brilliant he will be at creating new solutions for overcoming his challenges.
Essential 5. Enthusiasm
Enthusiasm is a skill that you can develop within yourself and apply in the service of helping the child overcome his limitations.
Enthusiasm as a skill is your ability and willingness to acknowledge the smallest of changes in the child, and for you to experience joy, internally celebrating those event or actions. In that respect, Enthusiasm is not about praising or applauding something the child has accomplished – what is generally labeled positive reinforcement, but it is your own ability to create and amplify your own internal experience of deep delight and appreciation for the child’s tiniest changes and improvements. When you do that, the child feels it even if you say nothing and it powerfully affects her brain. [This works because of mirror neurons. Kids Beyond Limits, pg 134.]
Essential 6. Flexible Goals
The most common way to approach goals is to narrow one's focus on a highly-specific goal while striving to achieve it.
The pursuit of rigid goals is reflected in the phrases ”Go for it,” No pain, no gain,” and “Never give up and never give in.” Rigid goals approached in an inflexible or even forceful way can further limit a child rather than advancing it.
When we hold goals loosely, we stay open to possibilities that we have not previously perceived. Holding goals loosely means to approach goals for the child with clear intent yet with a light touch and lots of flexibility.
Essential 7. The Learning Switch
The brain is either in a learning mode—the learning switch is on—or not. Healthy young children have their learning switch on and the dial turned on "high.” Their eyes are bright, their movement lithe, and they are full of energy.
Repetition, drill, and everyday stresses, as well as habitual patterns of thought, exercise, and emotions, all tend to turn off the learning switch. The same happens when a child has special challenges, or a person has suffered trauma or injury. For the brain to properly do its job, the “learning switch” needs to be on. Once on, at any age, life becomes a wonderful new adventure, filled with movement, creativity, and new possibilities. On the contrary, when the learning switch is off, no matter what you do, there will be little or no change. In most cases the child’s limitations will just get more grooved in.
Essential 8. Imagination and Dreams
Einstein said: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview to life’s coming attractions.”
Through imagination the brain figures out new possibilities before actually having to perform. When imagining, the brain grows new neural connections.
Children create a lot of their world through make belief. Imagination, day dreaming and play provide opportunities for divergent thinking and the creative powers of the brain to bring forth remarkable new possibilities.
Essential 9. Awareness
Awaring—the action of generating awareness—is to be knowledgeable about what you are doing, sensing, thinking, and experiencing at any given moment. Awaring is the opposite of automaticity and compulsion. It is a unique human capacity that can catapult us to remarkable heights. When you are aware, you are fully alive and present.
The brain is working at its highest level, noticing subtle nuances of what is going on around and within us, revealing options and potentials, greatly accelerating learning. Awaring allows the child’s brain to make a quantum leap from where he presently is to his next level of ability.
For more about the Anat Baniel Method ® of NeuroMovement click here.