Unlocking our Full Potential
by Beverly Hunter
We are miracles waiting to happen!! Every day we have the opportunity to grow and change using the tools available to us. Some tools are innately given to us in our genes. Others come through other influences, such as the nutrition that comes through the umbilical cord from our mother, or the love and sounds from our environment.
Yet, unlocking our full natural potential is not an easy task. You may ask, “why?’ And the answers are many and varied. A lack of understanding and knowledge is one of the main factors. It isn’t because we haven’t been willing to learn. The scientific information just wasn’t always there or available. Each year research is expanding our knowledge and understanding of the human body, but it sometimes takes years for this information to reach the general public.
Another reason we may not reach our potential relates to the reality that we humans are wonderfully creative creatures who tend to love convenience. We spend large quantities of money and energy making our lives more convenient. This is not always in our best interest. For example, we buy these amazing car seats that can do everything. They can be put on wheels and become a carriage, taken off and used as a car seat. Our babies can ride, sleep and eat in them. Too much of anything is not a good thing, and too many hours spent in these chairs inhibit the neck and core muscles from developing. We are also told not to let our babies sleep on their stomachs, so often babies don’t get enough time on their tummies. This also impedes the development of their core and neck muscles. Unfortunately this creates problems later in life, as these situations inhibit the growth and development of the baby’s natural, innate ability to integrate their infant and childhood reflexes. When reflexes are not allowed to develop properly, we are locking in our natural potential as human beings by creating compensation patterns. These developmental patterns are there to develop our brain, brain/body and heart connections. We are an extremely creative and adaptable species but with many of the compensations we make there could be neuropathways developed that will make our lives harder, not easier.
Some of these reflex patterns start before we are born, evolving from one stage of development to the next. More than one reflex is often used at one time because as the neuropathways are developed, they build bridges to more difficult and complex movement patterns. A C-section baby misses some steps, like the integration of the Asymmetric Tonic Neck Reflex. This particular reflex starts in utero helping the baby with muscle tone by activating the balance mechanism in the inner ear. It is used during the birthing process in conjunction with the mothers’ contractions helping it through the birth cannel. During the first few months of life it is teaching the babies' body the neuropathways between the left and right side of the body, auditory-visual co-ordination and perception, spatial orientation, and perceptual memory patterning. This is one of the reflexes that co-ordinates the head, eyes, ears and limbs. These skills are extremely important to the child’s ability to learn in school. It is this reflex that helps the Symmetrical Tonic Neck Reflex evolve, which is also an important learning reflex. If this reflex has not been integrated, the child may struggle copying material from a black/white board to the paper on his/her desk. This reflex does not let the child bend both arms and legs at the same time. He may be unable to sit at a desk with his legs bent as he bends his arms to read or write. If the legs are straight the arms will be bent, and if the legs are bent the arms will be straight. The child’s body controls this behaviour, not their mind, making it very hard to sit still at a desk. Children will wrap their feet around the legs of the desk or sit on their feet to try and control themselves.
Sometimes reflexes are only partially integrated. This may be caused by not staying in a stage long enough practising a movement, or because a previous reflex may not have been fully integrated. Sometimes we have to re-educate the connections because of injuries. When we feel we can’t fix a problem the frustration level increases and self esteem drops. Many of these conditions have been diagnosed as ADD, ADHD, Sensory Integration Difficulties, Learning Disabled, Bi-Polar, Aggression disorders, etc. The root cause of these conditions may only now be coming clear. Current research in re-educating connections (and reflexes)offers alternatives to medication in dealing with these conditions.
Recently I had the opportunity to attend Dr. Svetlana Masgutova's Rehabilitation Camp for Children with Challenges held in Poland. I went for the June camp and then again in November. The changes I saw in the children that were also returning for the second time were amazing. One little girl, who in June was literally strapped to her wheel chair because her spastic muscle reactions had her falling out of her wheel chair, came walking into camp pushing her walker. I couldn't believe my tear soaked eyes. She had a smile from ear to ear, very proud of herself and her father was moved to tears as he watched her and our reactions. She had Cerebral Palsy: never walked before her visit to camp in June and five short months later she was walking everywhere. She was even dancing with her dad at the closing ceremonies of camp.
So what can You do to unlock your child’s potential? Children integrate their reflexes through movement and play. Make sure your child has plenty of opportunity to move naturally and limit the use of modern conveniences that prevent them from doing so. Get down on the floor and play with your baby. If we let them lead us in play and explore their world in a natural way many of these reflexes become integrated. If you have had an overly stressful pregnancy or birthing process, or an early childhood of illnesses or accidents, you may want help to follow through with these reflex patterns. One tool is Brain Gym®. All of the Brain Gym® activities are based on movements that develop and integrate the brain, brain/body and heart connections, opening up those much needed neuropathways to all parts of the brain.