Creature of Habit

Whether I like it or not, I am a creature of habit, especially in the morning. A habit is a little oasis of comfort in my day. I know exactly how to do something and there are never surprises with habits. I repeat the same mini routine the same way and I get the same outcome. It feels deliciously, smugly comfortable. Oh, and don’t let anyone mess with my little habit. I find myself getting defensive, even aggressive, as I try to protect my comfort zone.

There are two classes of habits, good habits and bad habits. Both are formed in the same way, through repetition. By repeating a sequence over and over again, it becomes programmed into our sub-conscious. If you have taught a child how to tie their shoelaces, you will know how complex the task is. Trying to co-ordinate all those fingers and the two laces takes huge concentration but when was the last time you had to put any energy into that task? Now it is quick and easy, a habit, a program run by the sub-conscious which leaves you free to chat or think about where you are going to find the car keys.

What we think, what we feel and what we do form our reality. This is a comforting thought when it comes to the good stuff in life. If the way we do things gives us positive results then we want to be able to repeat those good results. A habit does just that. It enables us to repeat a “dance” of specific thoughts, emotions and physical movements which result in a desired outcome, with very little energetic input on our part. When last did you have to think about which bunny ear goes where when tying your shoelaces?  You still think the same thoughts but your brain does it all automatically in the background. Habits, by nature, take very little conscious thought, very little energetic input, and so, are more easily done. Being “in the habit” of doing exercise every day makes it easy to get out of bed and out the door for your run. It’s after a holiday that you feel more effort; you have to fight a little harder with yourself to get out and do.

Many of our habits are so ingrained, there is little to no conscious awareness when we do them. Have you ever gone cold with the thought that you have no recollection of closing the door as you left for work. Your thoughts were elsewhere and your subconscious closed up for you, locked the door, got into the car and started driving down the road.

Habits give us a repeatable, dependable outcome. They are a wonderful strategy for change in your life. If we are in the habit of thinking the same thoughts, feeling the same emotions and doing the same things every day, then our life will be same every day. If we want a different outcome, we need to change our habits, make new ones. Sometimes it is easier to start a new habit of NOT doing something. If you don’t want to eat chocolate every day, make a habit of not buying chocolate. If you want to move more, than maybe you need to think of NOT MOVING less; less TV, less Facebook, less Instagram.

Habits are always hard to begin with but with repetition, practice, it gets easier with time. Motivate yourself by thinking of the outcome, how your life will change if you do this today. How will life be in a few years’ time if you DON’T do this now? The choice is yours to make. The habit is yours to begin.

Wishing you luck in your new endeavours, start today and Keep Moving.

The Brain in my Pocket

I was listening to a chat on the radio this morning, about how dependent we have become on our devices. We no longer have to remember phone numbers or addresses. Facebook reminds us of birthdays and our trusty phones have reminders set for everything from the morning alarm to the hair appointment. It’s like keeping my brain in my pocket.
Our lives are so different to when I was a child. I had a telephone directory in my head. It was so easy to remember telephone numbers. There was no need to write them down, I just committed them to memory and there they were when I needed them. Snail mail meant everyone had an address with a postal code. I wrote many letters and always knew the addresses and postal codes. My head was a sponge that soaked up information and my filing system was efficient, so recall was quick and easy.
Today, listening to the radio it dawned on me how lazy I have become with my brain. I could justify this by saying that I am older, it’s natural to be more forgetful. After all, this is what we are told by society. It’s our go-to for all ailments… remember dear, you are older now. What a lovely excuse for being less than we used to be. I don’t want to be less, at least not yet. I work hard to maintain a level of physical fitness and I eat a clean diet of whole foods. I drink water and try to get outside regularly for a dose of vitamin D and some fresh air.
Everyone knows that to be fit takes constant training. What we don’t use, we lose and physical fitness really shows us this. If I get a cold and stop training for just two weeks and it feels like I am back to square one. Perhaps we should be seeing our brain as a muscle which needs constant training. So here is a controversial question… is “dementia” always a thing or can it be that we are forgetting things because we stop using our brains so they get “unfit” and don’t work as well as before? What we don’t use, we lose.
As a Pilates instructor, I see the effect of Pilates on the body and the brain. The brain’s primary job is to run the body. It controls everything from breath and heartbeat to how we move and what we do. Mostly we do all of this sub-consciously. Pilates is what I call prescribed movement. I am asking you to move in a specific way with specific muscles. In the beginning people really struggle with this, there is a war between what I am asking and what the brain wants to do. It’s a long way from the brain to the feet and I notice people lose their connection with their feet first, as though the brain’s field of influence is “shrinking back” towards the head. This improves with time but the minute you go off shoe shopping in your head, stop being there in the room, inside your body with your thoughts, that is when you end up using your back or doing the wrong exercise.
I believe that conscious movement, moving with conscious intent and staying conscious of my thoughts, is the best way to keep my brain and my body connected, healthy and alive. When I allow myself to run on autopilot, I am keeping myself small, staying on old neural pathways. Staying conscious and adding variety to my day by doing things differently means I am building new neural pathways. I like to think of it as brain training. So here is a challenge to do things differently… Let’s work harder to remember the date and what our schedule is for the day, so that when that reminder pings in our pocket we know what it is for and we are way ahead of it.

Until next time, be conscious, and keep moving…

Heal Thy Self

It’s been a while since I last wrote a blog. Life surprised me, threw me off balance mentally and physically, in the form of vertigo. It is the strangest feeling to feel your world tip uncontrollably to one side. Your brain tells you there is no reason for this tipping sensation, but the body rebels and gravity seems to suck you violently off kilter, an invisible pressure which forces you to the ground.

There are various “treatments” for vertigo. Some people say you need to be physically rotated by a doctor, others that you need to go to a chiropractor. As a kinesiologist, I knew that my crazy tilting sensations were a physical manifestation of my emotional turmoil. I needed to work through my darkness and I truly believed I would emerge on the other side of the emotional storm, sailing straight and strong.  Sure enough, after about a month of my loopy roller-coaster, my world resettled and the vertigo vanished as quickly as it came.

We carry within us an innate wisdom and the god given ability to heal. Modern life has tricked us into forgetting that we are the expert for all things “us”. It helps to have a sound board, someone who can stand as the Isumataq, the keeper of the sacred space in which wisdom is revealed. A facilitator can guide you to discover your own inner wisdom and thus initiate your own healing. There is calmness in knowing that sometimes symptoms, though physical in nature, may have an emotional or energetic root cause. There is a great deal of fear triggered by illness or dis-ease. We have become so focused on life threatening conditions and so dependent on pharmaceuticals, we seem to have forgotten that sometimes we have a cold because we need to get rest, or that constipation may be a function of holding on for dear life, to all we no longer need. Tummy aches are often connected to fear or anxiety rather than a bug. Considering what your symptom prevents you from doing can give you clues as to the cause of your dis-ease. We have been programmed to believe that it takes a long time to heal. Sometimes, when the message your body is sending is understood, healing can be instantaneous.

Take back your power, listen to the ancient wisdom within and be your healthy self, Heal – thy self.

Until next time, keep living, keep learning, keep moving…

 

Inner Burdens

I spent last weekend doing the PSYCH-K® Master Facilitator course in Cape Town. The thing that stands out most is the power of this simple protocol. When you spend all those hours working together with other facilitators, there is a communal energy which fills the building and the shifts are profound.

I work alone most of the time, cut off from others in my field by mountains and the space of the little Karoo.  It is always a treat to share space with kindred spirits, sharing experience and learning new techniques. And it reaffirms the power of the work, and its ability to melt away resistance, and leave one feeling inspired and free from old tethers.

PSYCK-K® is all about removing limiting beliefs, and filling the void with new, positive and empowering belief systems. It is fascinating how we wrap our most secret truths and deepest hurts in a padding of seemingly innocuous thoughts. How many times over the weekend did I hear the words “I thought this was going to be a quick and easy balance”? The shifts were mental, physical and emotional, as we put down burdens we had been carrying around, sometimes for years.

Our subconscious is developed in the first six years of life, when we are downloading all that happens in our young lives. Unfortunately, our perceptions of our experiences are not always positive. This is how our limiting beliefs develop.  They will stay there, sabotaging our happiness until they are “reprogrammed” with better, supporting beliefs. So what is a limiting belief? Try “I am not good enough” or “Life is hard”, “There’s not enough love/money/time” or “I can’t study/do sport/lose weight.”  What is that little voice in your head saying, that inner critic? Or is your burden a memory, frozen in time, always ready to remind you that you are unworthy? The burden of things carried silently within us grows with every passing year. How do we put down these burdens? Where do we even begin?

The PSYCH-K® process is gentle and non-invasive. It is not necessary to rehash past hurts and talk about them endlessly. You can address past, present or future issues without sharing the details, very effectively. As your facilitator, I am there as a guide, to accompany you through your process, in a safe and supportive way. You can even work via telephone or internet, just as effectively, so no need to travel to find a facilitator. And just by the way, you are never too old to shift a limiting belief or to put down a burden.

The lighter the load, the easier it is to keep moving…