Peripersonal Space

Skeleton_At_Computer_1Have you ever considered the way a great athlete seems at one with what ever equipment they use, as if it were an extension of their arm or body? That’s because their brain considers it as such. There has been much research done on what is called your peripersonal space and how your brain interprets this. Peripersonal space refers to the space surrounding our body and which is within the reach of our limbs.

“In order to guide the movement of the body through space, the brain must constantly monitor the position of the of the body in relation to nearby objects.” This is from Body Schema and Multisensor Representations of Peripersonal Space By Nicholas P. Homles and Charles Spence.

Sandra and Mathew Blakeslee have also done research on this and have an amazing book out called The Body Has a Mind of Its Own: How Body Maps in Your Brain Help You Do (Almost) Everything Better.

Even though a lot of research is now being done about peripersonal space, I believe chi gong masters have been aware of this for millennia. In chi gong, this space is called “wei chi.” I think it’s interesting to note how important this space is to the health of an individuals in at least two ways:

Denise Aubin, medical chi gong teacher, says “all living bodies generate an external field of energy called wei chi. This field of chi protects the body from the invasion of external pathogens and communicates with, as well as interacts with, the surrounding universal and environmental energy fields.” For more clarification on this, click here.  Also, please go to Denise’s website and check out her classes.

The body mind work together. Too often, we get concerned with trying to figure things out with our minds. Generally, this causes additional tension in the body, sending the message of additional stress back to the brain, creating a negative feedback cycle. This is another way peripersonal space affects health.

Your body posture gives unconscious messages to your brain, impacting you on subtle but significant levels. When you are slumping over your computer or cell phone, your brain reads this as stress, and produces more stress hormones. Even though you may not be feeling anxious or depressed, you are giving your brain messages implying that there is a problem. Becoming aware of your peripersonal space can help you sense your posture, and what messages you are giving your brain. It is not about holding a posture that looks good; you need to take the time to align your body – brain.

Research shows that cortisol levels go up or down according to your posture, and that standing or sitting in an expansive posture decreases your cortisol level. For greater detail about this, here is a wonderful video that seems long but teaches you simple, short exercises to improve your body-brain connection.

I hope you find the websites mentioned above as informative and helpful as I did.

As we go in to the holiday season, take time out to allow your body to give your brain some positive input!

I think one of the best ways to re-align and slow down and connect to yourself is taking time (even 5 minutes) during the day to do constructive rest position.

For starting the New Year off right, the January newsletter will be on the lymphatic system, featuring Lucy Rush. Denise and I will be doing a workshop called “Rest, Restore and Realign” on January 13th. Click here for details.