Sometimes it feels like magic- this work of ours at Brain Fit Academy.
This little six year old girl had had a rough morning. It was now afternoon and when she arrived with her mother for her session, she didn’t want to come out of the car.
We were able to coax her out of the car rather quickly, but when we went to the space where we do our work, she immediately buried her head on the couch. She didn’t want to look at me. She couldn’t look at me. Her brain and body were in a fight/flight/freeze state and she needed me to help her to get out of it.
Now, if you follow my blog or podcast, you already understand that the basis for the program at Brain Fit is movement. Intentional movement (combined with goal setting and “noticing“). It is how we address struggles.
Sometimes, when a child comes to a session in a state like my client did that day, it’s likely that talking isn’t going to be the thing to help her out of it. If you remember, when we are in a state of stress- also what we call “Out of the Loop“, our brains can’t get to the thinking part of the brain to rationalize or respond, and instead, we react.
What was this little girl doing? What was she telling me with her behavior? She was telling me that she was out of the loop. She was telling me that her brain was reacting, rather than responding.
And this- this! is where the magic (but not really magic) comes in.
I started doing some of our movements with her- passively. Passively meaning that she didn’t need to do the moving- I was doing it for her. The first place I went was to her calf muscles since when we are in the fight/flight/freeze response, the back of the body tightens up- and the calf muscles are one of the main places we feel that.
I started by just massaging her calves. She let me.
A little while later, she got up and sat with her mother. Well, I should say she sat on her mother- face still buried, in mom’s lap this time.
I continued to work on her-doing a few more movements and yes, some talking- but only a little. She needed to hear some things that her mother and I wanted to say to her about her difficult morning.
She started to stir.
And after a few more minutes of this, she was willing to come out from “hiding” and meet the mini stuffed animals I had brought with me that day.
We continued with the session from that point on. There was no need to “activate” a reflex at that stage of the game. Her body had already entered the fight/flight/freeze response (the Moro and Fear Paralysis reflexes) so any movements we did during that session- in the form of Brain Fit work, rest or play, would be within the context of those two reflexes anyway. The body knows and subconsciously, that session would still be focused on those two reflexes.
Toward the end of the session, after we had done some rest “work”, I pulled the mother aside while the little girl played quietly. I explained to her why I handled the start of the session the way I did, and I assured her that her daughter was not the first one to come to a session like that. She listened, seemed to understand what I was explaining, and (although I can’t recall exactly what she said) it was something along the lines of not being able to believe how she came around for me at the start of the session.
It really can feel like magic sometimes.
It can feel like magic- but it’s not. It’s just movement.
It’s intentional, purposeful movement that sends messages from the body to the brain. Messages that help the brain to come out of a stressed state- out of that fight/flight/freeze response.
And for my client? That six year old little girl?
Movement made all the difference in the world for her that day. Even though-it may have seemed like magic- but really?