Unfamiliarity Land

Let’s say that the medium is movement, how an intention translates into physical action. The challenge or proof that you’re doing as you intend could be to use less effort, more mechanical advantage, perhaps even an ideal economy of applied physical energy during motion.

Maybe you have a goal in mind, a purpose about why you are wanting to improve the way you move. Now there is also another challenge about how to interrupt one’s own routines.

I’ll explain what I mean by that last sentence. One direction will, theoretically by default, “cancel out” the other. At the moment when you direct your whole self to go physically in one direction, the other possible options are de-selected. You can’t go two places at the same time.

If you try that theory out by putting  a new improvement into action – what happens is your old routines have the power to run interference on the new things that you really want. Your habits do this as if it’s life itself that is at risk. What’s unfamiliar and new is totally threatening to most people. Granted that some people can leap… but in order to leap, they need a complete conviction that they don’t want the old same thing. Another way around that is to go bit by bit to reassure yourself, and the imperative protective alarms never go off. There are obviously more ways to make the unfamiliar less scary too…

It takes a clarity of intent to gather one’s sense of purpose and direct one’s whole self. But, maybe that’s not what it takes. For instance, people used to tell me that I was patient when they saw the detail in my artwork. But for me, in an experience of absorption, an experience of being patience didn’t exist because my attention was fully engaged.

This ability to direct one’s attention has many qualities – some work with your goals and some don’t so well.  The one that work the most flexibly are ones that don’t focus on the goal – strangely enough. The admonition to “Just Do It,” will likely activate what is most familiarly trained and ingrained. This works fine if you know how to do what you’re trying to do – like a music conductor who only needs to give the signal at the right time.

But how to practice to train a flexible habit?

Strangely enough, the best route is indirect and paradoxical. It is a brand of surrender or suspension of desire. It even works to use a brand of trickery: refusing to mentally say the “action word” and instead stick to the new steps of what you imagine might improve things. It takes at least sixty-eight times to train a new skill!

As a skill, it turns out that “taking out the complication” of the habitual routines is all that’s necessary. “The goal does itself” as the hindrances or complications are removed. This happening is a strange feeling of effortlessness – something you might need to get used to experiencing.

It’s worth it – you figure that out by doing what you couldn’t do before. The land of unfamiliarity is where all the new discoveries are.