I invite you to get quiet for a moment and, the best you can, recall the first few months of a little one’s life. Those tiny beings, when they are awake, are not typically still. What they are doing are multiple random experiments in movement- some of which lead to an “outcome” such as rolling over or reaching a toy. That is the process through which neurotypical children develop – experiments that lead to desired outcomes. Two hallmarks of this process are that there are many “experiments” and as yet no habits.
As adults we can learn a lot from babes about the creative process, whether it is creating art of some sort, or a life well-lived. Assuming that you can “get it right” in one go is unlikely to be successful, and a desire not to make mistakes significantly inhibits the process.
However, once a little one discovers something useful, like rolling over or crawling or walking, the way that thing is done becomes habituated and there is no longer a need to experiment or pay much attention. To a large extent habits are actually useful. Imagine having to make a conscious effort every time you brought a fork to your mouth!
That said, habitual ways of moving, thinking and feeling can keep us stuck – whether we want to create art or a good life. To be creative after all, is to do something in a new way.
As a movement professional practicing Feldenkrais® and the Anat Baniel(sm) methods, part of what I do is to use gentle hands on and easy movement as tools to help folks recognize habits that are not serving them and offer alternatives. Whether changing a conscious or unconscious movement habit, or helping develop new or lost movement skills, I always start from where someone is and step by step create the conditions to learn something new. There are no protocols. Each session is a creative process- what I so love about my work!
Below I will share a short and simple movement exploration designed to help you sense, in an embodied way, the power of habit and how you might, through a step by step process, more easily choose an alternative. For those of you who may have done this previously, I can share from experience that you can always discover something new.
- Begin by finding a quiet and comfortable place to sit. Settle in and draw your attention inward.
• Now gently interlace your fingers and note which thumb is closest to you. Rest your hands. _
• Repeat the same movement.
It is likely that the same thumb is nearest because most folks have an habitual way of interlacing their fingers. Rest your hands.
- This time interlace your fingers the other or “non-habitual” way. The opposite thumb will be nearest to you.
- Uncross them and repeat this variation two or three more times. Rest your hands.
- Now alternate the two interlacings three or four times. Rest your hands.
- One more time just interlace your fingers in the “non-habitual” way. Is it easier or does it feel less odd than the first time you did it?
What habit or habits might you like to shift?
What did you learn from this lesson about changing habits?
One tool I use in my work is variation. Another is iteration or what Feldenkrais practitioners call approximation. Each of the variations in the exploration progressively points towards some desired learning.
Hope you enjoyed this exploration.
Curious to learn more about what I do? Feel free to explore this site and contact me via the web contact.