In yoga there is this concept of full range of motion. It is why we push ourselves to be able to reach certain poses and lean in a little bit further. Many people never get to their full range of bodily motion because it takes years of dedicated practice, and the willingness to be constantly be leaning into your physical pain. Not to mention attending trainings and buying the equipment needed can be costly—ouch! However, with dedication, consistency, willingness to learn, and maybe spend a little, people can get close—if not completely—reach their full range of motion. Little by little, if you stick with your daily practice, you will begin to notice more ease in your daily movements. This is a place I have gotten to with yoga before; however, many barriers came up along the way, and eventually I lost the dedication and inspiration. Needless to say, I am back to having back pain and general discomfort as I move about.
But we are more than just a body. In yoga, the focus on bodily postures (asana) is only one of the eight “limbs” of yoga. In the Western world, we tend to focus on this aspect of ourselves more than the others. Most yoga classes are mainly concerned with increasing physical flexibility and strength; however, to ignore the other aspects of what it means to be human would not be reaching our true range of motion.
In addition to the body, we have a heart. The heart is the home to our emotions. By increasing the range of motion in our hearts, we are able to love fully and be loved. We are able to regulate our emotions and cope well with the stressors of life. We can empathize and relate to people, but also recognize when we are perhaps giving too much. Having a full range of motion in the heart also includes recognizing when it is time to take care of ourselves.
Often seen in contrast to the heart is the mind. Too much rigidity in the mind leads to black and white thinking. Too much flexibility can cause us to be flighty or non-committed. Having full range of motion in the mind is often referred to in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy as “wise mind”. In wise mind, we can take into account our emotions; we observe them without judgement; however, our wise mind does not necessarily permit us to impulsively act on our emotions. The wise mind observes and validates emotions, and only then—out of a validated state of mind—chooses the best course of action based on all of the information given.
Finally, having full range of motion in the spirit is often overlooked in therapy circles. Many believe that the spirit refers to religion, but this is not necessarily true. Ideally, a religious place of worship is where we get spiritually fed; however, this is often not the case unfortunately. Thankfully, there are ways to gain spiritual range of motion without the institution of religion. Often times I get the question, “What is a spirit, and what does it have to do with therapy?” When I discuss the spirit in my sessions, I am referring to a sense of purpose in your life, or a sense of inspiration, meaning, and calling to something greater than yourself. Often my clients with a lack of motivation towards career goals recognize that they have been neglecting their spirit, or their sense of a higher purpose. Balancing the spirit is also essential in trauma recovery work. Unfortunately, I see a lot of individuals who have been hurt (or even abused) by the church in a number of ways, and this causes them to lose a sense of hope and purpose in recovering from their trauma. Traumatized individuals often have questions such as, “Why did I have to suffer so pointlessly? What was that all for?” Addressing spiritual range of motion can help individuals come to conclusions of these questions and find peace and healing through the grief process.
Addressing the full range of motion through therapeutic intervention is often referred to in therapy circles as “treating the whole person”. You are not just a body; you are not just a mind, heart, or spirit. I enjoy helping individuals reach their full potential, and one of the ways I do that is through discussing the enneagram and your individual enneagram type. The enneagram has been used for decades to help people self-actualize, and it predates modern psychiatric diagnosis by centuries. To discuss the issues outlined in this post and more, contact Julia@northsidementalhealth.com to book an appointment.
Julia Moore is a licensed mental health therapist associate and holds her degree from Indiana Wesleyan University. Julia’s counseling theory is heavily influenced by humanistic, cognitive, and psychodynamic counseling theories.