Function (kinetic consciousness)
One may analyze any movement experience through the perspective of exercise science, particularly musculoskeletal function, such as the pushing, pulling, extending and contracting actions of the body involved in any physical activity.
When experiencing personalized fitness programs targeted at increasing one’s cardiovascular, muscular strength and endurance capacity, attention is usually paid to quantitative indices that delineate the frequency, intensity, time and type (FITT) of activity. In addition to the quantitative measures that define the fitness experience, the Function register of flow consciousness in our Function2Flow model draws attention to the fundamental extending and contracting actions of the body (Smith & Lloyd, 2007; Lloyd & Smith, 2010). Thus, the functional register of movement consciousness also involves the body’s fluidity and the maintenance of an anatomical dexterity that allows these primary and elaborated motions, pushing, pulling, extending, and contracting give rise, developmentally, to standing, walking, running, swimming, kicking, throwing, holding, catching, swinging, leaping and landing (Gallahue and Donnelly, 2003).
When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better understand the role of muscular function:
- How would you describe the fundamental movement pattern that is at the heart of your desired activity (i.e., are you sitting, standing, reaching, twisting, etc.?)?
- What body parts and muscles are involved in your activity?
- What muscles contract/elongate in your desired action?
- How might this awareness help you refine this action?
- How might this awareness transfer to other activities?
Form (aesthetic consciousness)
One might analyze, teach and assess movement from the perspective of refining outer bodily form, e.g., the shape and pathway of a movement (as detailed by Laban & Lawrence, 1974; Laban, 1948; Laban, 1975) that can be performed on the basis of the functional capacities. Movement Form may be initially construed as the fundamental movement skills – those of locomotion, stability and manipulation. These skills can be reduced to techniques of, say, jumping for distance and landing to preserve that distance, balancing in a handstand and then rolling forwards, or throwing a chest pass with a basketball. Yet, a skillful action rests essentially on one’s capability of executing a motion or movement sequence in a particular activity context. Hence, one might also attend to Form as it applies to the game or activity as well. It is, after all, the particular configuration and composition of the long jump pit that determines the nature of the leap and landing. As Margaret Whitehead points out: Children need to learn how to engage with the “phenomena of the natural world” such as “gravity, gradient, fixed and moving objects, and water” (Whitehead, 2001).
When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better refine movement form:
- What body shapes/positions make it easier/harder to perform your activity?
- Think of your body, from head-to-toe, with attention on bony reference points such as the shoulder, elbow, wrist, hip, knee, and ankle, and describe in detail where you wish to place each part during the beginning, middle, and end phases of your movement.
- What cues/positional tips could you tell a peer to improve their performance?
- How does your bodily form adapt to different conditions and environments in which your activity is experienced (different terrains, weather conditions, objects, equipment, etc.)?
Feeling (kinaesthetic consciousness)
The inner sense of movement is very much connected to movement form and it is important to understand that the Function2Flow approach encourages interdisciplinary integration. As such, the Feeling register of movement consciousness is intricately linked to movement Form. Hence, what is kinesthetically sensed and felt in poses, postures, positions, gestures, and expressions properly establishes a requisite self-awareness towards the onset of Flow. For if the Feeling or ‘kinesthetic’ register is the “inner touch” of the external senses that gives to us a “sense of sensing” (Heller-Roazen, 2007), then the Form or ‘aesthetic’ register properly brings this inner sensing to fuller expression.
In specific activity contexts, we communicate very physically through the effort qualities of the movements enacted, the spatial arrangements and relationships created in the passages of play, and in the body shapes taken to convey specific intention. Curricula of health and physical education tend to interpret such self expression in conceptual and cognitive terms, suggesting that it is based on an explicit awareness of what the body does, where it moves, how it moves, and with whom (e.g. Ontario Ministry of Education, 2010, p. 24). One might consider, however, that this communicative competence involves a more primary, visceral sense of the body and its ‘expressive possibilities’ based on the movement exploration of breathing, balancing, timing and touch. By exploring the qualities of kinesthetic sensibility through breathing activities such as running, swimming, and yoga one learns to physically ‘read’ the overt intentions of others and to communicate one’s own.
When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better connect to what you feel both in your muscles and mood:
- Describe the rhythm of your breath during your activity. Is there a time when you typically breathe in, breathe out, and/or hold your breath? Pay attention to the phases of your activity and take time to sense and refine your ideal respiration cadence.
- How do you respond to the feeling of tired muscles during your activity?
- How would you describe your partner’s/ teammate’s body language when you see them perform this activity? What emotions do you think they are they feeling?
- Is there something you might adjust in your movement timing (i.e., making it more slow or more quick) to change how this movement feels?
- Is there something you might adjust in the amount of force you use to perform this movement (i.e., how soft, light, heavy, hard, etc.) to change the way this movement feels?
Flow (energetic consciousness)
One might understand and assess movement from the degree it exudes a sense of vitality, a sense of being fully alive. Hence one might attend to the energy experienced between the person, the motion (Shusterman, 2008; Sheets-Johnstone, 1999), others, and the world at large (Merleau-Ponty, 1968).
The energetic register of flow consciousness is the realization of interactivity (and relativity) as the fundamentally human and more-than-human condition. Vitality, bodily vigor and movement liveliness are primarily indices of ‘fitting with’ others. Becoming physically educated with the Function2Flow approach is a process of kinetically, kinesthetically, aesthetically and ultimately energetically finding resonances and synergies with others.
When you experience a mainstream or alternative activity, you may consider the following prompts to better connect to the emergence of flow:
- Did your movement have a consistent rhythm?
- Did the perception of time in performing the activity shift from ‘clock time’ to experiential time (i.e., did time speed up or slow down?)?
- Did it feel effortless?
- Did you feel a sense of connection to your environment?
- Did you feel a sense of connection to your peers?
- How did your desired plan for performing this activity compare to your actual experience?
- Did you have to ‘stop to think’ on occasion as you performed this activity, or were you able to think in the motions of your activity?
- How did you experience your partner’s participation in this activity? Describe your degree of interconnection/ synergy.