One of the recommended processes in the AT is “to think of the whole body” or “think of the self as a whole”. When we move with this intention, somehow we can move easier and lighter. Performance with this intention will be better like fluent, integrated, or well co-ordinated. We empirically know that this intention will improve the quality of our movement.
The question I have asked to myself is “why is this intention (think of the whole body) effective?”. I have gotten an answer: it helps us to unknowingly adapt to the reality in relation to our movement without knowing what to cope with concretely. What I mean by the reality in relation to our movement are 1) that we stop some parts of the body by utilizing the frictional force and stabilize our whole body in a certain postural condition when we move, and 2) that we face receiving the inertial force at the all of our body. So, this intention helps us to move on from our state just taking care of the primary control and to make up the deficit for adaptation to the reality.
For coping with the 1) factor, a possible intention could be: “move some parts of the body while the feet (the contact parts) are stopped”. This assures to utilize the frictional force fully. For coping with the 2) factor, a possible intention is: “move with the head” with attention to the head in movement. The reason to think about our head here is because we always forget about the existence of the head, the part which often receives the inertial force when we move and which affects the moment of force of the body a lot because of its top position.
(By the way, I explained about the inertial force and the head in the previous blog post here. https://advantageousintention.com/2015/07/the-reasons-for-our-thinking-of-head/.html）
Although most people don’t realize these, these are what we are actually coping with when we move. By having intention to think of the whole body, these two factors in the reality will be adapted unknowingly. So, it helps to be better, but it may help to some extent (not fully effectively) because of not knowing what to cope with concretely. We are able to cope with these factors fully through recognizing and have particular intention for these. This concrete way of intention will help us fully effectively, i.e. moving with minimum muscle tensions or more force can be exerted with less muscle contraction.
There should be some more possible reasons for this intention “think of the whole body” to be helpful. They are like finding other adequate joints to move, or avoiding unnecessary interlocking habitual actions along with excess muscle tensions in the axial body (such as excess tension in the muscles around the jaw, holding the wrists firmly). Some may say “it is because our body is all connected”. Well, for me this is not clear enough. I want to still ask “why so?”. Anyway, I think that there is more impact on the two factors which I mentioned first.
There could be advantageous occasion to have the intention “think of the whole body”, which is in the time of performance. The intention “think of the whole body” is quite short direction, so it will be convenient in the time of performance when we need to pay more attention to the action (expression, objectives, contents). However, in training we had better have the concrete intention to cope with the reality to assure its effectiveness. Once we learn and are able to apply it to the movement, we will not lose effectiveness when we have the short intention “think of the whole body” because we now have appropriate experience of it. But, of course we don’t have to change the intention by occasion, and we can still have the concrete intention in performance as well as in training.
The intention “think of the whole body” is helpful. But, it will be more helpful if we know its reason.