Neurodynamics is a term that has been coined by Theodore Dimon to describe the psychophysical workings of the human body.
The word is, as the author explains in his book ‘Neurodynamics::The Art of Mindfulness in Action’, closely related to the rapidly expanding world of neuroscience as well as to the ability of all of us to improve the functioning of our bodies through a more conscious awareness of its operation.
A New Approach
The human mind, to which the study of neuroscience first addresses itself, is the mechanism through which we become aware of the way in which our physical bodies uniquely function and operate.
The mind/body connection is one that plays an important part in such spiritual disciplines as meditation and mindfulness as well is in the action of taking physical exercise.
Whilst these are all well-known as offering health benefits and improvements to general well-being, the author observes that these practices often fail to work in bringing any lasting improvements to our musculoskeletal system.
In order to do this we need a better understanding of how the body is really designed to work and to move, in ways that Dimon describes a
…are consistent with our natural functioning …. and use at a more consistent level in everyday life.
As we age our muscular systems change and accordingly redefine the way that they behave. It is for this reason that Dimon questions the role of physical exercise as an accepted methods of rebalancing these decaying structures.
In his book the author also considers that there is primary need for a re-evaluation of our approach to muscular development – one that focuses more intently upon conscious understanding of a new stage in man’s evolutionary development.
The Postural Neuromuscular Reflex
Dimon opens the first of his two-part exploration of neurodynamics by encapsulating the basic principles upon which he bases his research.
There is in all human movement a basic organizing principle, an active force that ensures effortlessness, vitality, and optimal control in everything we do.
This principle, he suggests, is the foundation for the healthy functioning of our bodies throughout our lives.
In many ways his ideas reflects Buddhist and Eastern philosophical beliefs regarding life which is to live in the ‘flow’.
Some may refer to this dynamic as the Tao but Dimon has coined a phrase – one that is specific to his understanding of the natural guidance mechanism, as ‘PNR, or the postural neuromuscular reflex.
Whilst there are hundreds of different movement and exercise methods specifically designed to improve physical health and flexibility, he identifies this specific PNR process as a natural and self-regulating system that requires no further coercive exercise or treatment.
He even argues that the PNR process itself requires no work on our part in order for it to do its job in building, strengthening and toning our muscular system.
Beyond Muscular Reflexes
In the early stages of his book, Dimon explains why the muscular system plays such an essential role in every part of our physical lives – not only determining what we do but the efficiency of how we perform tasks and even to the form of physical posture that we adopt.
He does point out, however, that one of the most important roles that muscles play in our lives is in its influence upon awareness.
He explains how muscle tension a condition in which the fibres that make up muscles are in a constant state of contraction and how this is common physiological problem today.
He argues that the detrimental impact of muscle contraction upon the whole body is not widely understood by our medical profession – along with its side effects which include loss of muscle tone, reduced circulation and reduced muscular vitality.
The Organization of Awareness
Whilst part one of the book deals with the general science of neurodynamics, part two of the book explores the practical problem of restoring health through the proper functioning of the PNR.
Dimon advises that this is achieved through laying down in a semi-supine position and applying what Dimon refers to as the ‘Principle of Non-Doing’. The focus of this practice is not to attain a state of relaxation but is instead, intended to help the body restore natural muscle length.
This, the author explains, requires an attentive attitude for each time that we become distracted the muscles tighten up again.
How it Works!
The PNR system is an actual operating-system in its own right and Dimon explains how understanding how it works is key to its proper functioning.
In his book the author explains that it is the degree of head balance, with its impact upon the flexor muscles that fixes its position, that is key to effectiveness of the system. Until these begin to work correctly the PNR system cannot operate to full capacity.
So far, the approach to improved muscle relaxation is through non-doing, but later on the author explores the impact of physical action upon the process.
At this point he offers specific physical exercises – based around correct posture when standing and sitting, as keys to bringing about the same level of physical improvements as traditional exercising.
At the end of the day, the changes that the system of neurodynamics initiates relate directly to the level of conscious awareness we bring to our lives.
As the authors states in his concluding remarks,
…anyone who explores this problem in depth, with real honesty and integrity of purpose, will find in the end that he or she is pursuing not a form of bodywork or body awareness, but a path of mindfulness in action leading to a higher stage of conscious evolution.
The older one tends to become the more one opens up to the painful realization that the vast majority if conventional wisdom regarding health and general physical well-being is pretty useless.
Eventually you sort of reach a point where you realize that your body has its own agenda to fulfil and that no amount of healthy eating and daily exercise changes anything in a meaningful way.
Thus, it is a delight to come across the work of Theodore Dimon and his ideas related to neurodynamics for within the pages of his book he expressly engages with that very semi-autonomous health process that we all sense and explains in great depth why it exists and it can be used to restore many areas of declining physical fitness.
Whilst the basic premise behind the ideas that Dimon presents are simple enough to understand it is clear that the author refuses to assume that as a reader we will accept his say so on matters related to the complexities of the human body. This means that he takes real care in explaining every facet to his work in day-to-day terms.
This is so refreshing to experience in one so obviously an expert in his field.
In this regard, the book is a stunning example of how to present challenging material in a simple but fascinating way. From the clear and descriptive use of what might otherwise be, to the layman, difficult medical verbiage, through to the generous and stunning artwork that graces the majority of its pages this is a book that flows along with a unique sense of purpose and direction.
For those who understand that our Western concept of health and physical attainment is deeply flawed, this book will be a joyful and persuasive argument that, as Dimon points out throughout, it is time that we completely reevaluated our relation to our bodies rather than continue to pummmel and cajole them into forms that fail to recognise our inherent, self-regulating systems.
Neurodynamics offers a fundamentally different and exciting approach to the way through which we understand the mind/body connection. Theodore Dimon has done an out-standing job in his book of explaining how we can all work in close harmony with natural principles held deep within the physical body and how to use them to strengthen our own innate relationship with body and conscious awareness. It is a book guaranteed to open eyes as well as minds.