The journey to mastery is ten thousand mistakes. In other words it takes a lot of learning to become skillfull. In our culture we look at mistakes as something to avoid, something to be ashamed of; we are defeated by our own self-criticism and judgements.
In reality mistakes are simply variations on a theme. When you observe a baby’s movements, initially they may appear to be random and certainly the child has no opinion about the “rightness” of what she or he is doing. However, these random actions are recorded in the infant’s brain and gradually the nervous system sorts and classifies them into patterns that become the basis of functional movement. This same principle applies to learning at any age; the brain needs information in order to improve and the more variety it has the more learning takes place.
It’s been said that variety is the spice of life; so why do we insist on the same old, same old in everything we do? As adults we believe that there is a correct way to do something and in order to master it we have to keep practicing that same thing without variation. We also tend to repeat what we do without thought or awareness. When you go to the gym notice how many people are watching TV or reading a book while they’re on a stationary bicycle or treadmill? People wonder why when they’ve been doing something for years that they’ve made little progress in or worse yet they’ve lost ground and are regressing!
Try the following, this may change how you think about learning.
Here are the “rules” for what you do next:
Don’t strain, only do 50% of what you could do and keep it light and fun.
Move slowly and notice what you’re doing.
Relax, breathe and enjoy the process.
Try not to be perfect—in fact do all of the variations “badly” a few times.
Stand up, have your feet comfortably apart and do a forward bend in the way you would normally do it. Notice how far you went and how it felt. We will come back to this at the end.
Don’t forget to use the rules I stated above:
Stand with your feet a little wider apart than normal and have your arms resting at your sides. Slide your right arm down your side towards your feet and back. Do the same thing to the left. Notice how your ribs fold on alternate sides as you do the movement.
Turn your body about 15 degrees to the left so that you’re standing over your foot and do a forward bend without pushing. You won’t bend as far in this position as you did to the front.
Repeat the movement to the right.
Sit forward on a chair with your feet back towards the legs of the chair. Bend forward from your hip joints and when you feel your weight shift into your feet, lift your bottom up and drop your head down so that you can look between your legs. Then unfold yourself back to standing. Repeat this a few times.
Back to the baseline:
Stand up and repeat the forward bend that you did at the beginning. Notice how the movement has changed. You may find that your range has improved and/or the quality of the movement has changed.
Can you think of some different ways to forward bend?
Notice if your variations have help you to improve even more. When you are going about your daily routine or are at the gym, try to do at least one or two things in a different way to exercise your body and your brain.
Sandra Bradshaw, Guild Certified Feldenkrais® Practitioner and Functional Movement Specialist will help you to boost your capacity to move effortlessly. With a background in special education, yoga, functional movement, and music, Sandra integrates this knowledge with the latest brain research to help you find solutions to your personal needs that are effective and long lasting. If you are interested in more information or would like to make an appointment, call Sandra today at 250 862 8489. Visit Sandra on her website at www.sandrabradshaw.com
The Feldenkrais Method® created by physicist Moshe Feldenkrais, PhD., combines precisely structured movement sequences with the latest advances in brain research; it will help you recover from specific areas of injury such as the neck and shoulders or to improve fluidity and ease in sports, recreational activities or life. Join the ranks of such notables as actress Whoopi Goldberg, cellist YoYo Ma and the members of the Canadian Men’s Alpine Ski Team in experiencing the benefits of this method.