05 Feb 2017 You Cannot Learn On Autopilot
An outing with my son inspired me to write this blog post. My son was trying out for a tennis academy and we had to drive across London to get to this new venue. The drive was through new roads, a new area on a fairly dark evening with lots of traffic. I noticed I was a lot more cautious than normal, I was paying attention to all the road signs, the traffic signals, shape of junctions. I was anticipating everything by using my eyes and ears. I was fully present on that drive. It reminded me of conversations I often have with my clients when we are discussing movement. I ask them to recall a time when they were driving a car or walking somewhere that they were familiar with, like the supermarket. When they arrive at their destination, can they remember every twist and turn they took to get there? Probably not, because when you are familiar, in your comfort zone, you don’t really pay that much attention. You don’t have to, because your brain is operating on autopilot.
Now, that’s useful because if you were aware of everything every single moment of your day, you would go crazy. Your brain selects what it feels you should be aware of and blocks out the rest. When we are doing a movement class, it is sometimes tempting to go into autopilot. Have you ever been in a class where you are going through the motions? Same exercises, same routine – maybe even thinking of what to have for lunch? If yes, then you were on autopilot. Your brain has left the room!
Yet, if we want to foster change, it is so important to develop sensory feeling and awareness. When you start to pay attention to those little movements, the brain wakes up. It says ‘this is something new, something I need to pay attention to’. In that important moment, when your brain wakes up, it’s when you learn. I strongly encourage my clients to foster sensory awareness. We often move slowly and thoughtfully to develop this notion. The IM Method builds sensory awareness as it is crucial to making change. If you want to change a pattern, to learn, to get out of pain, to change habits, you have to foster sensory awareness. Look for those subtle messages from the body. It will take a lot of concentration, but that’s what makes it so powerful. If it were easy, it would not really change anything. Get your brain’s attention.