Friday, December 31, 2010
Thank goodness for habits, how would we live our
lives if we had to think about how to get up from a chair every time we needed
to, how to put our clothes on in the morning?
Habits are the automatic pilot our brain has designed to allow us to pay
attention to the task at hand.
They become a
problem, however, when they kick in without our being aware of it, and start
interfering with our movements and our lives.
Habitual movements are often the cause of pain that seem to have no
clear cause, because if you are not aware that you are doing something, how can
you change it?
Pain is really good at getting us back into
automatic pilot mode. It takes over the
majority of our brain’s awareness, forcing it to switch automatic habitual
movement just to keep us functional. How
many times have you found yourself unable to reproduce at home the pain
relieving techniques that you were able to find at your therapist’s office?
The key to switching your brain out of its automatic
pilot is not a home exercise program that you must repeat over and over, it is learning
to pay attention to the quality of the movement you are performing and learning
to notice subtle differences in your movement patterns. This is only possible when you perform slow,
small movements. Slow, small movements
performed with curiosity and attention have the ability to reawaken the brain’s
capacity to learn, and to move it out of its automatic pilot state and into its
new connections building state at all stages of life.
So, even our deepest ingrained habits can be
changed, our brain can be restructured. Top
neuroscientists have finally proven our brain’s capacity for change and for
plasticity and even its capacity to produce new brain cells well into the 8th
decade of life.
The goal of
this blog is to give you quick practical ways to bring your brain back into its
learning mode and out of its habitual mode through the use of the principles of
the Feldenkrais Method and the Anat Baniel Method.
As you are sitting, reading this blog, notice whether
you can feel your sits bones, the bones on which you are sitting at the
moment. Start to slowly, very gently
arch your low back a little and then slouch back, paying attention to how your
weight shifts forward toward your pubic bone and then back toward to tail bone
as you do that movement. How does your
chest move to keep your eyes on the words you are reading while your pelvis is
rocking forward and back? Try not moving
your chest while you are rolling your pelvis back and forth, does it make it
easier or harder to roll your pelvis?
Now try allowing your ribs to move to accommodate the movement of your
When you get back up to stand, experiment with
keeping your chest immobile or allowing it to move during the day, and choose
which feels better. Remember: Small, slow, with attention.
For more information on the Feldenkrais Method and
the Anat Baniel Method, please check the following websites: www.kineticbalance.com,
Catherine Wycoff is a physical therapist,
Feldenkrais practitioner and Anat Baniel Method for Children practitioner and
is working with people of all ages from premature babies in the NICU to older