Archive for December, 2011

What Feels Right

Recently I was very impressed with an interesting neuroscience TED talk.   http://is.gd/4ZZmI1

I wish I could just highlight the portion I’d like to discuss.  Daniel Wolpert “The Real Reason for Brains,” documented the phenomena that people tend to exaggerate whatever they repeat, without realizing they are doing it in his experiment.  I’m referring to his results of his research with the jagged upward results  – that came from his children declaring the other person hit them “harder.”

So, now it’s a fact that anything that repeats will disappear perceptually from our awareness. People tend to add more effort, assuming that’s required to do the job. We tend to forget that repetitive practice automates the routine and trains a habit. We may not know that establishing a habit also disappears the sensation of performing the action.

This idea is also related to an excellent blog post by Jennifer Schneiderman at http://is.gd/rTk67A

There’s nothing wrong with any position, even slumping. Getting stuck in a self-imposed limitation can become a problem, over time.

Whenever a student tells me they have a pain, I always wonder if they are doing something to themselves repetitively in an everyday action, such as walking. Sure enough, when I observe them walking, there is some little extra thing they are habitually doing that they can undo that will address the issue.  Turns out that Alexander Technique teachers are a bit like a human gait laboratory, (without the recommendations of surgical solutions!)

Inside of us, our judgement of limb orientation and required effort feels like truth – it’s perceptually deceptive. But it’s this same “deception” that allows us to learn and adapt. There’s pleasure in being able to do something reliably. Of course, everyone knows how to slump! People go into the same sort of slump each time, and this is gratifying that you can get what you want in a reliable way.

Habits are designed to become innate, so we CAN have the pleasure of relying on them and add more new skills on top. With a chain of turning small abilities into habits, that’s how we build a complex skill.

That’s why consistently using Alexander Technique feels like such a threatening challenge – because it takes us into the unknown. Most people find it uncomfortable to not know what you’re doing, or how to do it. Later you might learn that the unknown is cool and fun. But it does take mental effort – because learning cuts new pathways in the brain.

Movement is what the brain is evolved to learn!

Strangely enough, our judgment of effort is a relative sense – although it feels like truthful fact. Moving in a way that is more efficient and constructive using Alexander Technique feels strangely unfamiliar, but it’s …easier. Extend your tolerance for welcoming the unknown and get somewhere new – now!


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