A Bizarre Reason You Should Walk
Have you heard of optic flow? It’s one more reason for walking right for you.
Optical flow (optic flow) is “the pattern of the apparent movement of objects, surfaces, and edges in a visual scene caused by the relative movement between an observer and a scene.” For you, optic flow is the motion pattern created by your eye as you move relative to your environment. Walk, jog, or run and stationary things pass by.
Our brains are quite remarkable. As we move in space, various objects move past our eyes’ retinas at varying speeds (depending on how fast you are moving). Your brain understands how fast you are moving along and cancels out the movement such that the objects are not moving past me; instead, you are moving past them.
Now we come to today’s topic. When our brain circuitry interprets that we are moving through space, we can get a sense of relaxation. So, get out there and create optic flow. You can move fast or slowly, but variable speeds may be optimal. For me, walking each day promotes a sense of calm.
Optical flow, such as the movement of objects past you as you walk, quiets some of the circuits responsible for stress.
Walk, jog, run, or swim, and you may derive peace from optical flow. You can calm brain circuits central to threat detection. Do you perch in front of a computer all day long? You see, in two dimensions, fixed in space.
So get up and move!
One more thing: Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing and PTSD
EMDR stands for Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing. It is a type of psychotherapy used to help those experiencing emotional distress from disturbing life experiences.
Our brain’s processing center moves toward mental health. If the information processing system is blocked (for example, by a disturbing event), a system chemical imbalance and resultant suffering can result. If the blockage can be removed, the brain’s natural healing can resume.
Does it work? Some studies show an up to 90 percent improvement for post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. Let’s look at one specific study from HMO Kaiser Permanente. This research discovered that:
100 percent of the single-trauma victims and 77 percent of multiple trauma victims no longer had symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder after only three 90-minute sessions. This happened after only six 50-minute sessions. Moreover, 77 percent of combat veterans were free of PTSD in twelve sessions
For EMDR therapy, there are eight phases. Eye movements (or other stimulation) are used in one part of the session. Once the clinician determines which memory to target, s/he asks the subject to hold different aspects of the event in mind. The client simultaneously tracks the therapist’s hand as it moves back and forth across the client’s field of vision.
It is thought that internal associations arise, and the client can begin to process the memory and disturbing feelings. Harvard researchers think that the improvements may be related to the biology behind the Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep process. The EMDR Institute offers, for instance, “a rape victim shifts from feeling horror and self-disgust to holding the firm belief that, ‘I survived it, and I am strong.’”
Thank you for joining me today. I hope you enjoyed the piece and that you have a joy-filled day.