Some of our habits may be hard to live with but actually we cannot live with out them.
Habits allow us to function. The brain learns to put a series of movements into simple chunks which make it possible to do many activities at once, like chewing gum and walking at the same time. Have you ever watched a child learning to walk?
It takes practice, lots of falling down and starting over with one step at a time. Eventually the process is established and no longer an effort. This ability becomes so familiar and such as part of us that we don’t have to consider the inner workings. And thus a habit is born. <!–more–>
Not having to re-invent the wheel each time is efficient and saves a lot of time (can’t we all use more time!). However most of these habits: physical, emotional and mental, are done without awareness or conscious “inhabiting” of ourselves. For better or for worse, this ability can leave the habit in charge rather than the awareness of our whole being.
Understanding your physical posture is the foundation of Alexander work. Because we so often learn posture at an early age from watching our parents or caregivers most of us do not learn supportive habits. Did Grandma have her neck forward, or did Daddy walk with his feet toed out? Imagine walking with one of your parents. What patterns of movement feel familiar?
If you want to change a physical habit I suggest you start with something simple; a familiar activity that you do on a regular basis.
One thing I have noticed that wreaks havoc with my posture is using the cell phone and the computer. I have seen this with many people. We tend to fall into our electronic devices. Necks/heads fall forward and we round our shoulders. Here are some diagrams to help you sense the right position: Head Directions, Neck Directions and Body Directions.
Start by simply being aware of your body while you are texting, emailing or what ever you like (chopping veggies or brushing your teeth are good too). Remind yourself to take up your full posture, to sit or stand in a way that supports your entire body/being. This is not always possible when we are in a hurry. Practice and awareness will make a difference.
Remember when changing a habit it needs kindness and patience. Also changing too quickly can cause instability, so easy does it!
As Mark Twain said “Habit is habit, and not to be flung out the window by any man, but coaxed downstairs one step at a time. Because these habits were learned so early on and often have emotional content, they don’t want to be cast aside but understood and released.
A few months a go a friend sent me a review of a book about habits. I was thrilled because working with and thinking about habits is one of my favorite pastimes! Here is a link to the book: The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It even goes into how habits develop and become part of how we function as a society,
Thank you for reading. Please share with anyone you know that might be interested.
Until next time,
All the Best,