By Danny Clark, MovNat Performance Director and Master Instructor
When I embark on teaching a MovNat certification or coaching a friend, I don’t aim to teach movement. That’s not what gets me up in the morning and charges me to bring my best to the training floor. Because, ultimately, movement mastery – the “natural” variety or other – isn’t the highest pursuit possible. If movement itself, or the quest of becoming the best “mover” or “fittest” was the goal for me personally, I wouldn’t have stuck with MovNat as a mostly standalone practice. No, the motion alone is not what makes the practice of Natural Movement so profound. There’s something much more moving; something less distilled and more integrated; something altogether higher level.
What I aim to teach is freedom.
The way I approach teaching such a lofty, big-picture aspiration is through a three step progression, which may or may not be linear.
1 – Freedom from Pain
First and foremost, freedom starts with releasing yourself from pain and chronic tension. In one of our discussions on methodology, my friend and colleague, Gray Cook, called it the “tension suit” that people come in the door wearing. Before we can even scratch the surface of feeling truly free, we must address the menacing, tense tiger in the room.
For me, it was 25 years of heavy sport specialization, coupled with the standard scholarly dose of elevated chair sitting and slouching. I grappled, lifted, ran, and sat my way to excruciating lower back pain, and a relentlessly stiff neck. My “tension suit” fabric was stitched from endless years of redundant and limited movement – which persisted well beyond the lifespan of my sport and schooling. MovNat’s approach freed me from that pain, and taught me how to restore myself by moving in line with my natural design.
Contrary to the dominant mentality in the industry of fitness/wellness, freedom from physical pain isn’t achieved through pursuing maximums: be it flexibility or strength. What I’ve discovered is it’s about balancing both and stimulating your body in accordance with its innate design. It’s in the integration of these internal action-oriented attributes (such as strength, flexibility, control) and external demands (nature) where movement ability originates and leads to mastery of motion and absence of pain. For this reason, we start you on the ground rebuilding your true and original building blocks of movement.
2 – Freedom from Fear
Fear is the base feeling that underpins ALL limiting beliefs. So, next, in order to find freedom, you must loosen, if not outright overcome, your fears. Fear is a survival mechanism, and it’s healthy only to the degree that it is elicited in truly dangerous situations. More often than not, you fear what’s simply unknown, misunderstood, or against the grain.
Over the years, I’ve been honored to help facilitate self-empowerment in others through teaching Natural Movement. I’ve seen people reframe their perception of what a “healthy” body looks like, and free themselves from cultural pressures. I’ve seen others re-establish their confidence through their ability to safely perform difficult looking movements such as vaults, jumps, and even simple movements on the ground. I’ve seen still others move past their phobias associated with getting dirty, wet, out of breath, or exposed to “germs.”
At MovNat, we have you systematically face your fears (in manageable doses) of hurting yourself, feeling silly, defying the status quo, looking incompetent, and being uncomfortable. And when you do, a really cool thing happens: you grow. And growth is always marked by gradually replacing the protective barriers of the mind with deeper levels of understanding (ie, mastery) and relaxation.
3 – The Ultimate Freedom: Connection to Nature
Lastly, if you persevere and go deep into the practice in its purest form, you discover your inner voice; your intuition. You begin to finally hear it with great clearness. The time in nature, connecting your self to the more than human world teaches you to listen to the subtleties and see the bigger picture. And then, even more growing happens.
For me, my time moving and being still in nature puts me in a state of timelessness as I’m fully immersed in the richness of all the colors, smells, forms, and other sensations. At other times, I find myself contemplating the most important of questions: the meaning of life, the intelligence in nature, what really makes me feel good, and how I can better express my gifts to the world. Also, by connecting to life and all the various expressions in nature, I develop higher levels of empathy, love, and compassion. It’s in these various states where I’ve had profound and truly “moving” insights bubble up into my mind, seemingly out of nowhere. I find in nature, my inner teacher emerges and guides me to the true freedom that is higher understanding, and how to replace any residual fears with absolute trust.
Your time in nature teaches you how to release the deepest knots of tension that don’t serve you. You learn how to apply your tension in accordance with your own personal design – your truest nature – instead of the cultural prescriptions. And, thus, you bring your most spiritual self to the human world.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking MovNat is just about the movement – to me anyway. Others find the practice beneficial for a host of reasons – all of which are excellent. But to me, it’s about the greater freedom found in the connection to my truest self, other beings, and all the forces of nature. It’s about how that connection fosters overall expansion…in how I move, how I think, and how I perceive and adapt to the ever-changing terrain that is life.
I close this essay in gratitude for how access to nature when I was young touched me powerfully, and how Erwan helped me re-capture that feeling of freedom through birthing the practice of Natural Movement.
If you want to move well…
Learning how to move naturally in our sedentary, high-tech culture is both an art and science.
If you want to move well, face your fears, and connect with nature – the ultimate source of freedom – consider finding a MovNat Level 1 Certification near you.
You can save up to $300 in tuition when you sign up in advance. Plus, we’ll send you our best resources to help you get started today so that you begin experiencing results from this transformative practice immediately.
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