Let’s say we have put all this energy into learning constructive, new innovations we’d like to do for ourselves. But after spending some time learning, now we could use a way to practice whatever we can do. Designing a way to practice that works to improve gradually is key. We want to reinforce the new, unfamiliar behavior so it develops into a new routine, so we can say we really “know it.”
But training a new, constructive habit is tricky, because our ways of gaining a new habit might be suspect. Slowness is an important tactic in designing a new habit to better ourselves. We would want to prevent ourselves from repeating what we know we don’t want to do, and this often takes going slowly. To the extent we can avoid doing what we don’t want, then our new routine will not merely be “Good enough for Rock’n’Roll,” It will truly be “Practice Makes Perfect.”
That saying is deceptive because most often, “Practice Makes Permanent.” We need to be careful of what we allow ourselves to repeat. Best if each repetition is its own mini-experiment. It’s even best if the opportunity to experiment arrives unexpectedly!
There is this Aldous Huxley novel titled: “Island” where wild parrots have been taught to randomly squawk, “ATTENTION! Attention! HERE and Now! Here and NOW!”
- What that would be like, to have a suggestion to experiment?
- What if it happened at unexpected moments?
- What if I could set up some sort of random notification to use to remember what I know how to do – so it could happen more often?
So I went looking. I found this cute little app for my smart phone called “Enlighten.” It was made as a meditation timer. But I’ve begun to use it for so many other purposes. (My phone is Android, but I selected this one from a wealth of others, so I’m sure you’ll find one for yourself if you have another brand of phone.)
This little app for a smart phone is pretty cool because you can type in any sort of random provocation or saying into it. What you typed then re-arrives somewhat unexpectedly as a notification and/or sound.
(Would be great if you could enter in a list of varied provocations into the app, without knowing which one would come up. Also if you could choose the sound. But those aren’t a feature yet.)
Since I like to apply Alexander Technique principles, I set the notification to say:
“A bit freer?”
This reminds me in unexpected moments to lengthen my whole body and make whatever I’m doing more fluid and fun.
There’s also a “temple bell” sound in the “Enlighten” application that can be set to go off in intervals that’s not very intrusive. For my students, I’d recommend to figure out how long you can sustain your attention and set the timer to go off just beyond it.
It works great! I look around and notice …how this moment is different.