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Greener Together

Use Your Proprioception To Reconnect Your Senses To Reality

Beyond touch, sight, sound, taste, smell, we can realize and optimize senses worth further investigation, today: proprioception.

Photo by Tyler Nix on Unsplash

Get on board with reality

We all live virtual lives to a certain degree now.

Even writing or reading online requires that we engage our brains with an abstract language that miraculously converts one person’s thoughts into ones and zeros, electronic signals, and then back again, into meaning in our own minds.

Proprioception, however can put your body back into reality. Unplug, and reconnect to a bigger belonging.

“Proprio” refers to the self-sense, or of “one’s own accord.” It is your sense of your body in real space. Proprioception is your self-perception of movement, balance, muscle use, and the sensory systems that connect your living tissue to your motor functions.

Some people think of proprioception as “the sixth sense,” but to many in neurology, physiology, and especially ecopsychology, proprioception is just one of our many, many senses, gifted to us by nature.

We often forget, or ignore this sense.

It is by definition usually unconscious, and automatic. It allows you to navigate stairs, keep your balance in the dark, move sideways, react when we are dizzy, and move through unfamiliar space adeptly — just to describe some of its work our proprioception does.

We evolved immersed in movement

Your proprioception can be improved, enhanced, and utilized to better connect us to the reality in which we evolved.

Yoga, various athletics, balance exercises, and dance help develop our proprioception.

Yet, you do not have to be a ballerina, or Olympic figure skater, to benefit from your proprioception.

Just take a walk, open your senses, and remember your body in relation to all your surroundings. Ride a bike and be present in swerving and turning. Swim, or dance, or skate, or ski, or dance — preferably as if the world isn’t watching.

Attune to your body, and realize how physical we are. How air and breath move through our bodies, and how our muscle fibers and tendons connect us to the sensory world beyond us. Our perceptive bundles of muscle fibers are called “spindles”; they together with our vestibular, inner ear apparatus, inform our bodies how to stay upright, and stay balanced in the world.

They inform our limbs where and how to locate in our personal space.

Obviously, there are physical benefits, but also mental, spiritual and connecting benefits to immersing your body in movement and nature.

Feel the real — and open your imagination

Proprioception may even include what some call “Spidey” senses, informing us, mysteriously, of a kind of body awareness we must pay attention to, such as the feeling some claim when they say “I could feel that someone was watching me.”

This aspect of proprioception requires much more investigation, and is easy to dismiss as imagination. It certainly does prompt curiosity, awareness, and creativity.

The world today seems poised to allow AI, or downloaded intelligence — all our knowledge itself — as a potential wave of the future. Robots, virtual reality, and our online lives sometimes suggest we won’t need our biological bodies.

You need to feel your belonging

Yet, the world of nature suggests we do need these things.

We need life and biology more than we need excess stuff ordered online, addiction to games or porn, mindless consumption, waste, or “fake news” tribalism.

If we are to protect and defend our critically important air, water, food, biosphere, and biodiversity, we need to reconnect to our bodies.

Just as we need to connect our bodies themselves to the complex systems and sensory clues that create nature and keep us interconnected, we can greatly benefit from appreciating our senses, including proprioception.

Movement, or even as close as we can get to stillness, requires an occasional check in with our proprioception even if we don’t recognize it by that name.

Propriception, above all else, is our physical sense of being in the world.



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