Aleš Ernst – interview by Saša Rajnovć
Hello everyone! As I promised few weeks ago, in this article we will analyze some new concepts. To be precise, I have made an interview with Aleš Ernst, a man who strongly influenced my personal work for the last couple of years. I have been applying his methods for myself for two years now, to resolve some of the chronic problems I had and to put my body in order, and last year I have started doing the same with my clients. Enjoy!
Hello, Aleš! For the start, I would ask you to describe briefly, what do you do exactly, why that in particular, and what was the main reason that made you start to study the Somatics?
Hello to you, Saša! I study human movement principles and the development of mind and the body. As I worked a lot on my health and myself and through huge desire to get rid of the severe pain that I had in my left leg, I have tried all the available methods I could get and finally achieved the long-term relief through performing somatic exercises and learning Hanna somatics from Martha Peterson. Eventually, I upgraded my knowledge, developed what I learned and combined it with my previous experiences in cycling and RKC work. It slowly redrafted in integral method, which I teach my clients in order to help and enable them to get rid of the pain and limitations they have, to understand how we are functioning from a different perspective and how to do more with less. I call it AEQ Clinical Somatics.
In my previous article, I already mentioned the sensory-motor amnesia. Could you explain this concept to us, and its consequences?
Reflexes are, like all other organic events, twofold, sensory (sensing) and motoric, so when they become habitual and inadvertent it is a double loss, the loss of both the conscious control of motoric functions and the sensory feedback of motoric activity. All of the above can be attributed to the state of the sensory-motor amnesia. It is a condition that occurs universally in the human race as a predictable result of conditions caused by a long-term stress. The constant repetition of stressful stimuli will result in the loss of conscious voluntary control of the significant areas of skeletal muscles, usually those dominant in the center of gravity, i.e. muscles at the junction of the pelvis and chest. When the sensory-motor amnesia occurs, we cannot voluntary feel or control these areas of muscles. For example, a person may try to relax with the amnesia-affected muscles of the lumbar area, but that ability is gone; the sense and the feeling of movement of these muscles are beyond the scope of a person’s conscious voluntary control. The muscles remain rigid and immobile, as if they belong to someone else. Since such a reaction to the permanent stress can last for a long time, the implication is a connection of the chronic muscle contraction with aging.
How does the somatics solve the problem of the sensory-motor amnesia?
Through education about the conscious movement intended to study how our awareness, our conscious mind senses and controls the muscles. That is, through increasing the sensation of muscle movements we increase the control of movement and thereby improve coordination and efficiency. This brings us closer to the proper motives for moving and increasing pleasure. As everyone can see, seeking greater pleasure (which we feel as a result of better efficiency) is the main motivation of a child to explore and learn new skills. And this can be achieved only through learning that is comfortable and pleasant. With much effort, pain and discomfort we can only perform movements, but not improve them, because we cannot do a movement whose purpose is the performance and learning it at the same time. Through somatic exercises, we learn how to be able to do more accurate and controlled moves that are necessary for life or sport achievement.
Somatics helped me to recover much faster from training, to be stronger with less effort and to get out of bed in the morning without the usual stiffness I felt before. How is it that today, despite the increasing body strength and level of fitness, we end up with such deteriorating condition of the human body?
It is because people train to boost the absolute power, not on the effective one. Improving the effective power requires learning, which is a process that takes time and is not as tempting as „hard core“ training and sweating through limits. People do not want to wait and proceed slowly; they want to get the injury-free skills by using harsh training, the skills that can actually be learned only by progressively and slowly increasing the load with more feeling, control, coordination and efficiency. Today, people cannot learn to be effective at work because they have the machines that are working for them. Then they want to deal with their need for movement and stress relief with an intense physical effort or lingering repetitive movements that draw attention to the goal or other things that have nothing to do with what they are doing. However, in the end, that leads to pain and weaker performance, which are not logical, but so ubiquitous. And then people look for solutions in new equipment, or find justification for their problems in ageing or genetics.
I just can’t imagine that people used to live that way. Can somatics help them to stay strong and feel mobile at the same time?
Yes, by improving the efficiency of movement, the parasitic tonus in the muscles is reduced and the precision and feedback of what we do increase. That way we can increase our strength by using a complete approach and thus feel better. We are able to relax and lengthen our muscles that need to be extended in the particular movement much better and thus we need smaller contraction of the agonist muscle for the same work. We see this as having more power, and in the results and boosting performance. If a person is not mobile enough without pain, which is caused by that same movement, the strength cannot be maintained with good proportion between invested effort and gained effect. If this ratio is not positive, we will not be able to work long and eventually we will give up, or injuries and pain will stop us.
Enduring pain leads to increasing emotional numbness and tightness. And living becomes more of a fight and less pleasure. Quite unnecessary.
What would you recommend to people, besides the Somatics of course, what changes should be introduced to avoid the negative consequences of the modern lifestyle?
Doing more movements which purpose is learning and raising quality control of the movement. A fast-paced life we live today requires efficiency, which can be improved only through learning how to do the movements with more coordination. To be able to do that we need more control that seeks more feeling and sensing. Pain, strain and effort reduce our sense and by that they make it hard to control and coordinate our movement; consequently the efficiency decreases and in time we feel less pleasure in movement. We move by force so that we can finish as soon as possible. We accept the „no pain no gain“ theorem although evolution clearly indicates that the right rule is „no pain = more gain“. But people today don't want to learn and think, or take the time to understand the movement. What matters is „just do it“, and it is no wonder that nowadays we can buy the kinesio tapes in the local supermarket. Sports activity is healthy and useful and in our time of machines and electric snow shovels a necessary part of our lives. Nevertheless, it is important to know that in order to practice our sports activity in a healthy manner we need to know how to move. If we learned to run at the age of 5 that doesn't mean that we know how to run at 35. Everything we learn we forget or change. We need to harmonize the mind and the body regularly so that the system could work optimally. Only then, our movement is easy and full of enjoyment. That way we can reduce the impact of our rapid, insensitive and strained life to a minimum.
Thank you very much for this interview, I wish you a lot of success in your future work.
Until next reading,