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Change Your Movement, Change Your Brain

We can use our bodies to help us think better.

Your Brain Power

Being aware of how you move your body can help you think more clearly and turn up the dial on your brainpower. Research shows that the brain can take cues from body movements to understand and solve complex problems.

In 2009, University of Illinois psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, along with Laura Thomas of Vanderbilt University, conducted a study on problem solving and body movement. They set out to test if a person's ability to solve a complex problem could be influenced by how he or she moves. They tested fifty-two University of Illinois students. The results showed that body motion could, indeed, affect higher order thought and that complex thinking can be enhanced by body awareness.

Lleras and Thomas reported, “People tend to think that their mind lives in their brain, dealing in conceptual abstractions, very much disconnected from the body. This emerging research is fascinating because it is demonstrating how your body is a part of your mind in a powerful way. The way you think is affected by your body and, in fact, we can use our bodies to help us think.”

This study confirms what I often see in my sessions. A client will be stuck in some unproductive thought loop or knee-jerk reaction. They become fuzzy and confused as to what is actually occurring right in front of them. I redirect their attention to the movements happening in their body, which consistently opens a window to solutions that aren’t being arrived at by the mind alone. Clients find the attention-shift consistently generates new insight, enhances creative thinking, and resiliency. They just seem smarter once they are conscious of how their body moves

We have the ability and hardwiring to usemovement awareness to discover and break the neural nets that work against us. Psychiatrist Dr. Jeffrey Schwartz, a researcher in the field of neuroplasticity, agrees. In his book The Mind and the Brain, he says, “Humans are neural electricians. We can take charge of our brain function. We are not restricted to working with existing wiring. We can run whole new cables through our brain.”

Make a Move

Open your arms wide, or raise your hand in a high-five, or mimic Steve Martin doing his “wild and crazy guy” shoulder shimmy. Sync that movement with your breathing and notice how that changes your mood. How did that feel? Do you notice a change in your thinking or energy level? Make that choice to pause and make expansive moves as often as you can. It can make a big difference in how you feel, how you make decisions or react to a situation. To discover more about your body and movement awareness go to