Watching Myself on Video: Movement

There have often been challenges in watching myself on camera. Many of the workout sessions with Bernard were placed on video. We filmed our workouts pretty infrequently, starting before the pandemic changed the world. The challenge with filming was attempting to keep other people inside the gym from getting into the frames. Leaving us with the only opportunity to film being inside the yoga studio. Where not many of our exercises were able to be displayed for the camera. But, the filming of the workouts went beyond getting the footage of our exercise routine. Watching the sessions brought insight into the ways I held myself and my speech pattern. Helping me to understand ways I was speaking to my trainer. Along with many clues into the things my body language might be presenting. One of the most pervasive perspectives I gained from watching the videos was my walking. I have always found myself walking with my head cast downward. Being slightly familiar with the psychology of body language. I understood intellectually that walking with the head down told the world something about the confidence level of a person. But, for me, I was always of the mindset of walking with my head looking downward for another reason. My reason was having awareness of the ground in front. Hoping to avoid any undulation in the surface that could lead to a fall. 

Watching myself move across the studio floor brought to mind my childhood. Whenever I would be caught walking slouched over, my mom would come from behind. She would put her hand on my shoulders and gently pull the back into place. Attempting to encourage me to stand up with better posture. Helping promote the feeling of holding my shoulders back into place. Encouraging me to walk down the street with a more confident posture. I would try playing along for a few steps. Attempting with the best of my ability to keep my shoulders pulled back into good form. But, every time I tried standing up straight and walking with confidence. I would lose focus on the most important thing for me to watch, the ground. The ides of tripping on something and falling to the floor, was terrifying. The worst part was the feeling that I could trip over nothing at all. There might not be a ledge, crack, or any uneven surface on the ground beneath my feet, and I could still tumble. My feet, felt as though they could get tangle up with one another for no good reason. My attention might momentarily wonder onto something else, losing the focus around moving my feet into good position. All the sudden, I could tumble over, like something jumped out of the sidewalk, and got my foot. The fear of falling over while walking anywhere seemed to always play on my mind. It made the most sense for me to look downward. 

My mom always had good intentions when trying to pull my shoulders. It seems that if I would have made more of an effort to keep my shoulders back, my walking could have improved earlier. Getting my shoulders into a better position has been part of most every trainers goal with my body. The desire for better shoulder placement remains something Dr. Dana works on with me each week. He spends part of his adjustments working my shoulders back into place. However, the cerebral palsy impacting my body, never wanted to allow for good posture. Each time, my shoulders would be tugged back into good postural position, it hurt. I would try holding them in the position my mom placed them into. Holding them back for as long as my body had the strength, or until I felt safety in the knowledge, she stopped paying attention. My body has always felt most comfortable folding in on itself. Like it wants to revert back to the fetal position. With my wrists, shoulders, neck, and head tilting or folding in towards the midline of my body. As we go back to talking about the psychology of body language. That comfortable position for my disabled body, doesn’t look confident. But, inside my thinking pattern, it did keep me comfortable, and focused on the challenge of walking without falling. 

The ability to walk seems to be something discussed often in the cerebral palsy world. When I had opportunities a few years back to meet with doctors working with cerebral palsy patients and families. One of the major concepts doctors talked about was the curiosity from parents around whether their child would walk. These discussions often brought sadness to my emotional state, not only thinking about the new parents, the doctor might be referencing. But, also wondering about the feelings my parents might have been managing, wondering if I would walk someday. For children with cerebral palsy, a milestone seemingly so normal for many children, becomes an accomplishment for us. I feel blessed to have the ability to walk, speak pretty clearly, and even run. When the same might not be true for others who share my disability. I become reminded of this when working on writing about the subject. The desire to critique and improve my ability to move, through watching videos, or other means, seems a worthy effort. But, it feels important to keep in mind the blessing of having that ability, in the first place. I often ponder, maybe one more half a second without oxygen, and it’s possible, I’m not walking at all. With the gift of movement though, comes the ability to notice things on video. There were some concepts, I began to notice, when watching the recent round of videos taken from the workout sessions. Things I could put into place for cerebral palsy improvement. 

The images of watching myself move along the floor of the yoga studio were startling. Viewing myself struck me as both comforting and anxiety provoking. The comfort came from the ability to sit and watch the videos. Instead of turning away from the picture of myself moving. The challenge of looking at myself on camera or hearing myself speak has often found me turning off the tape. However, the videos of the last few months have been a different story. With the gaining of acceptance around my disability. Added acceptance seems the most logical reason for having the ability to comfortably watch the images. The ability to notice things I could be working on, has been a blessing. In watching the session of working out with Bernard, I noticed a pretty large difference in my movements. Going back to the child side of myself, who was most comfortable walking with my head cast downward. There was a lot of that kind of walking during the session. When I would be moving around between the exercise sets. It seemed, I would lift my head when something came to mind, and I wanted to make a contribution into the conversation. But, for the most part, I watched myself listening. While, I moved around the studio in my slumped over position. All parts of my body wanting to pull into the center line of my frame. However, there were some moments, when I saw something different.

The videos contained images of movement with my head held up. Moving across the floor during a workout set. My head was held up and looking forward. The posture provided the picture of a stronger body, moving about the space. Even during the rare moments, I would walk around the floor between work sets. The sturdiness in my frame during those walks was astonishing. The person I saw walking with an upright posture appeared more confident. Leaving me to believe the concepts I had learned years before. That the head held up, with the shoulders pinched back, provided a positive image. The good posture also appeared to be easier for me to operate from. The stronger position appeared to be reducing the impact of my disability. Reminding me how the body seems to be designed to function better from the stronger posture position. My lethargic and flimsy looking image when hunched over, was transformed from the more upright posture. Of course, in order to maintain this positive looking posture, it takes strength throughout the body. The strength being an important thing to build up and maintain in my cerebral palsy frame. Watching the video and seeing with my own eyes how much impact good posture has, only promoted the importance of exercise. I appeared much sturdier with my head up and shoulders back. Making it feel like a goal to keep in mind each time I walk anywhere.

The acceptance of my cerebral palsy helps me watch myself on video. Something I was unable to achieve during my years of growing. My desire to remove cerebral palsy from my body was too great. That irrational thought got in my way, time and time again. There was such an inability to accept, that the challenges brought on by my disability, would not be leaving. No matter how much I wished them away from my muscles. It took me forever to find the blessing involved in my disability. Cerebral palsy was not going to worsen over the span of my life and I could work to improve my challenges. The aging process everyone else battles, was going to impact my body, as well. Maybe even to a stronger extent than someone typically developed. But, there have always been ways to maintain and improve, the mobility and strength, through exercise. Noticing the small things, I can do on a daily basis, helps too. In order to notice those, I needed the acceptance of myself. Allowing me to watch the movements I’m making on camera. Giving me the opportunity to observe the subtleties I don’t notice, when moving through my daily activities. I would have never understood the difference holding my head up could make in my overall mobility. People could help me try understanding the importance of good, tall posture until they were blue in the face. But, holding my shoulders back was challenging and uncomfortable. Until I could place an image with the words, the concept had never hit home.  

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s