Curiosity and the Hands

Curiosity is innate

Curiosity is something we’re born with. It’s one of the 7 emotional patterns we come wired with.

It creates our desire to explore, know more, to understand the world around us. Curiosity pushes us to connect, find out more, or see what’s around the corner. It’s what propelled our ancestors to travel around the oceans on tiny boats to discover new lands. And what pushes every toddler to leave their parent’s side to explore the world around them.

Curiosity is a huge part of our ability to learn.

That curiosity starts early. Babies start exploring around 3 months. Exploring themselves using their hands and mouths.

As a baby wiggles its fingers in play, usually around 3 months. s/he slowly senses the connections, accidentally at first, and then intentionally later. In a kinaesthetic way, without language attached. Movement is our first language. After time s/he senses the fingers connect to the hand, which connects to the arm. And that the hand and arm are theirs to move and play with.

It’s the process of discovering where they start and end. Of developing the ability to be aware of themselves. Alongside the ability to feel themselves in relation to something outside of them. Its through exploration that babies learn to recognise where something not-themselves starts. Which map their physical selves and world around them in the brain.

This learning is driven by curiosity – our desire to learn and know, to make sense of ourselves and the world.

In turn the experience allows our senses and co-ordination to develop. The hands take up a massive amount of neural real estate in the brain. Perhaps its understandable that the process needs to start early!

Learning hand control

Developing hand control:

In exploration a baby develops the basis for her gross and fine motor skills for the hand-eye co-ordination s/he will need in later life.

Curiosity leads to progress in attention and concentration.

Exploring and moving ourselves with attention around stimulates

Sensory processing. Sensing, interpreting and responding to stimuli inside and outside ourselves. It’s a continuous conversation between our brain and the nerve endings in the body. Which in turn leads to Self-awareness. Learning where the fingers are, alongside levels of pressure needed for different objects.

As we map ourselves in the brain, we can control posture. We need to be able to stabilise the torso, and control the whole arm from the shoulder. Once we have this, we can create co-ordination.

Vision progresses alongside the hand control. Eye tracking, and focussing usually becomes more established at 3 months too.

We interact with the world around us with our hands.

We create community and trust with touch. Mostly through the hands. We bring things towards us, or keep them at arm’s length. Touching, holding, grabbing, releasing, letting go. All of which need hand control.

So our habits around how we use our hands start early. As we automate the use of touch we also create habits, some of which serve us well, and others, not so much.

The Arches of the hands

We have bands of fascia, or arches in the hands, (like the feet) that create structure. They work together to balance and stabilise the hand, whilst maintaining flexibility. They allow precise holds needed for writing, or grasping. Or more complex pastimes such as drawing or playing a musical instrument. We need strength in our hands, but also mobility. Without flexibility it’s difficult to adjust our tightness or size of hold. If our hands are stiff, it’s tricky to use our fingers with great dexterity.

As we age we can lose softness and mobility in the arches of the hands and fingers, but it’s possible to rediscover. Going back to the explorative methods we used as infants.

Something we do in every Feldenkrais lesson. We use our natural self curiosity to learn in the organic way we learn as babies. Exploring and moving ourselves with attention, sensing ourselves to awaken the nervous system. Growing the skill of awareness so our motor control gives us greater co-ordination. And freedom. Freedom to move, to feel ourselves in clearer details. As if the 3D picture of ourselves had more pixels.

As one of my clients said after one Feldenkrais lesson on the hands, “I fell back in love with my hands”.

Join us for the last few sessions of the term (the last lesson is on the 9th April. Term starts again on the 24th April.

For more details go to the Classes page.

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