These words seem so close in their meaning yet maintain important distinctions
that potentially yield changes in how we function.
Perception: Loosely, how one organizes, identifies and interprets sensory information. It may be filtered through past learning, memory and expectation.
For example, two individuals are suffering with the same circumstance; they both have a splinter in their right forefinger. The first, a truck driver has had splinters while on the job in the past and has determined she can manage to get from point A to point B without any problem or delay and continues with her job as usual.
The second, a violinist, has also had a splinter in her finger and the results have usually been disastrous or at least less than ideal. Listeners have heard the consequences.
Same input, different response. History, for which there is no substitute and memory, informs our actions
Awareness: The ability to consciously receive information, in this context sensory, but not necessarily to understand its meaning or consequence.
Those individuals who suffer from chronic back pain often lose their internal compass. They may confuse upright with actually (more on Reality later) being off axis, being bent, sidewise or any other point not actually as is. This can create a constellation of problems by coming up short, going too long past the intended point or even falling down as a consequence.
By mis-judging the You-Are-Here spot all the subsequent actions are less than accurate or ideal and may eventually lead to overload/overuse in spite of good intentions.
Reality: The state of things as they actually are rather than as they appear or are imagined.
In the context of movement training and manual therapy it is the job of the therapist to reconcile these states in order to allow the individual to be safe in their activities of daily living. Exercises done in broad strokes i.e. 'I pick things up, I put things down' may offer the sense of having 'done something' but to what end?
Awareness Precedes Control: In the performance of activities of daily living and exercises for better health it is critical to be able to maintain spot on accuracy that is self administered. Perfect internal radar for a smooth flight and seamless arrival.
The Principle of Least Effort: In today's market we want to invest wisely. We hope for the greatest yield for the least amount of investment. So it is with movement.
Often unknowingly, the acts of reaching and grabbing, standing upright, speaking swallowing and chewing, walking and breathing (see last months installation) are so overloaded with extraneous effort and inaccurate movement that they are recipes for orthopedic job security.
When we gradually register what we are actually doing and learn to control movements in a less stressful manner we can be safer, more energetic and productive with resources left over at the end of the day for elective activities.
A well trained movement and manual therapist will consider all these points in order to be the best advocate in your personal process.