Early Childhood Music and Movement Association

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Movement Matters

After many years of making music with children, Eve Kodiak, M.M., became interested in the brain/body processes that underlie the learning process. As an Educational Kinesiologist, she now works with people of all ages, using music and developmental movement to create positive change. Eve can be found in her office at The Lydian Center for Innovative Medicine in Cambridge, MA, or at home in New Hampshire, writing and recording. Her CD/book sets include Rappin' on the Reflexes and Feelin' Free, which combine developmental movements with songs, raps, and narrations with music. Eve also performs and records as an improvising classical pianist. More information and articles on music and developmental movement may be found at www.evekodiak.com.

 
 
 
 

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily promote official policy of ECMMA.

Too Scared To Come In: Moving Into Presence

6 Comments

This is the second post describing an ECMMA workshop held April 23, 2012. The first is An Inspiration of Colleagues

On a rainy April Sunday, the traffic on Rte. 6 in was flowing down the shoulder and toward the crooked elbow of Cape Cod. But in the direction of the Bourne Bridge and Boston, miles of cars were barely moving. As I pulled into Meryl’s Music and Arts for the workshop I was about to teach, I wondered if I, too, would be creeping along the asphalt a few hours from now.

One of the participants came in late, and her expression was as frozen as the traffic.  

Have you experienced that look? It’s as if the eyes aren’t completely seeing what is in front of them. The face is a guarded mask. Nothing the person does or says seems spontaneous. You feel as if you are relating to about 40% of them; the rest is somewhere else. And wherever they are, it is not a pleasant place to be.

Usually, those people are in Fear Paralysis - one of the earliest primitive reflexes. It’s the “freeze” response to stress.

About twenty minutes into the workshop, the “frozen” participant mentioned her worries about the hours it was going to take to get back home.

So I brought up Fear Paralysis – how to recognize it in children and adults - and how it can operate in the classroom. That led to an interesting discussion about the nature of fear. “I wasn’t really afraid,” said the participant. People came up with different words for flavors of the emotion – apprehensive, upset, etc.

“Don’t get stuck on the word,” I said. “Reflexes operate below emotion, at the level of base survival. Another name for Fear Paralysis is the Withdrawal Reflex. The system withdraws for protection.”

All early childhood music teachers have experienced that kid who is too afraid or “shy” to enter the group. Sometimes, these children spend a lot of the class outside the door, being held by their moms. Sometimes, they come in and sit down, but their affect remains guarded. To get them to participate in a group in a meaningful way, you have to somehow integrate that reflex.

Don’t confuse these “paralyzed” kids with the active watchers, the ones who quietly drink everything in. Those children are not in “freeze” mode. They are fully participating, although the range of movement you can see is very subtle.

But the children who are experiencing Fear Paralysis don’t seem to be having a good time. Their bodies may be in the room, but they aren’t.

Later, crawling along Rte. 6 to the rhythm of the windshield wipers, I thought, There must be a way to integrateFear Paralysis through a song or a rap. But how? And how can it benefit every child, even the happy active ones?

But everyone has a Fear Paralysis place inside. If you can activate it in a controlled way, you can integrate it through movement.

Fear Paralysis can be activated by any stress that causes the person to want to withdraw. Simply wave your hand in front of someone’s face, and if Fear Paralysis is active, even this small visual stress usually brings up that file on the inner computer!

(Interestingly enough, the population of people for which a hand wave does not activate Fear Paralysis includes musicians who have spent a lot of time in band, chorus, or orchestra – watching the waving hands of a conductor! These folks tend to be more likely to keep their heads in a visually stressful situation, like driving in traffic . . . yet another reason for a musical education!)

Once the reflex is integrated, you can seal it by repeating the motion that originally caused the stress. Except, this time, it doesn’t!

Here’s one of the Fear Paralysis Integration Raps I came up with. First we activate the reflex, then we do some integrative movements, and then we do the original motion again – without the stress.

I like the idea so much, I’m planning to put “Wave Hello” on the second track of my new Listenin’ Live CD’/Book Set. On the album, this rap goes with a woodblock beat – but you can just do it a capella. I hum the last “Mmmmm,” sliding down a fifth to create the V-I feeling – although this is optional!

Try it out, and let me know if it helps the children – or adults - in your life to let go of their fears and be fully present.

Wave Hello 1

Wave hello

Watch your fingers go!

Other hand!

Wave hello

Watch your fingers go!

Both hands!

Wave hello

Watch your fingers go! Now

One hand on your belly

Other one taps your chest

Tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap,

Tap tap tap and rest!

Switch hands!

One hand on your belly

Other one taps your chest

Tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap tap,

Tap tap tap and rest!

Now stretch –

And yawn!

One hand on your belly

Other one on your chin

Hum --------

La la la la la ….

One hand on your back

Other one under your nose

Hum --------

La la la la la ….

Now stretch –

And yawn!

La la la la, la la la la,

La la la la, la . . .

Wave hello,

Watch your fingers go

Wave hello,

Watch your fingers go

Mmmmm . . . . . . .

Comments

Jennifer Mulqueen Milton May 29, 2012

Strikes me that many parents are in fear paralysis as well.  I have to remind myself of this over and over.  I love the way that by simply acknowledging stress, everyone feels taken care of and at least a little but safer. 

I seem to becoming more and more aware of parents who are not just overwhelmed and tired , but downright depressed.  Would love a song for that.  I am sure some of our sunnier lyrics can be too much when confronting downer moods.

Movement Matters May 29, 2012

One of the best things for depression is rocking and humming music. The humming wakes up the vibrations in the skull and helps boost your mood - higher frequencies make us happier!
When rocking, make sure that you rock across the midlines - so that you are really leaning back, really going right to left, etc. This way, signals are communicated across the whole brain. Depression is partly about getting into a hole - so humming and rocking can help to move you out of it in a very literal way.

Antoinette Morrison Jun 22, 2012

Very interesting article
! Love the rap and the following comments too!

Joanie Calem Jun 23, 2012

I love this rap Eve.  I’m going to try it out in my school classes when school starts again in the fall.

Movement Matters Jun 24, 2012

Thanks! That one - plus another like it - is recorded on Listenin’ Live, a new CD/Book set coming out this fall . . .
More primitive reflex integration raps coming up in future posts!

Sammie Haynes Jun 29, 2013

Hi Eve!
I’m just reading this post of a year ago now (coming to it from your more recent post Happiness is Normal). I instantly recognized the movements in this song which are associated with thought field therapy! It really does help to “reboot” or “reverse” any uncomfortable feelings. My husband and I often do something similar just before a gig to ready and steady our nerves. smile Thanks for this great rap for kids (and adults!).

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