Monday, January 15, 2007
Finding the motivation to initiate a change in behavior is what holds most people back. There is no question that AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT (ATM) can help you initiate major shifts in your life, but how do you get into the habit of doing it?
There are four keys to making any substantial change in behavior. This subject has fascinated me for years precisely because I work with people actively engaged in looking at - or actively avoiding - how their lifestyle choices create pain and suffering. Why is it that different people respond differently to the same situation? One person's blessing is another person's worst nightmare. How does that compute?
Key #1 Define Your Values
What is really important to you that you kind of gloss currently? Becoming more conscious of what is really important to you is different than spending your time doing what has to be taken care of. Of course there are things that you have to do, like dishes, car maintenance and washing your sheets, but how do you find the impetus to do things that are above and beyond what has to be handled? Find the value in what is important to you personally.
ATM is a form of self-care that allows what is really relevant to bubble up from your subconscious mind. The very activity itself lends itself to connecting more deeply with what you value. But what if you are having trouble just beginning, or just signing up for a class that you know on some level you would like to do? What then? Remember that the FELDENKRAIS Method is not just about becoming more physically mobile or dealing with physical pain. It's about becoming more fluid in your thinking, in your solutions, in pursuing your bliss and making your life more fulfilling on all levels.
A Motivational Exercise
Free-writing in the morning, right after you wake up is a great way to allow your values to guide you into new behaviors. Think about what's bothering you, or what's on your mind. What issue is up for you? Give yourself ten minutes to complete a series of seven sentences around that issue and you will find, not only do you have more clarity, but you are accessing your subconscious intelligence. Often you already know what to do, you just need to allow yourself to get in touch with it. The issue you are working with fills in the blank. The sentence stem you begin with is this: "If I were more conscious about what is really important to me, I would..." Fill in the blank, seven times, each day for at least five days.
Commitment is the decision to carry out an intention even when the initial excitement has faded. When you feel yourself lagging, remember the initial enthusiasm and excitement you felt. When you 'don't feel' like it, remember that you can change how you feel by changing how you move - which may be as simple as free-writing about what you would do if you were more conscious about what is valuable to you. From there, you will find it easy to move right on in to a full blown ATM by following along with an audio cd or calling to sign up for support with a live instructor.
Key #2 Create Bite-Size, Measurable Goals
For example, improving your posture might be a goal you aspire to because you have made the connection between slumping and pain in your shoulders and neck. For most people, improving their posture seems an insurmountable, overwhelming task. But going to an ATM class weekly for an hour over six weeks and doing a 40 minute ATM at home with a cd once a week is both finite and measurable. It's a bit of a catch 22, you cannot stay connected to the overall goal because you can't remember how good it felt to stand upright, supported by your skeleton without having your muscles work overtime to keep you from falling over. Yet, if you break it down into measurable steps, you can create a sense of success, of staying on track and of working towards your goal.
There is one catch - sometimes things take longer than anticipated. Sometimes having an initial plan is not really enough, it's just a beginning. When you bump into this caveat, it's time to sit down again and repeat the process from the beginning - with compassion, no judgement. It's called re-evaluating your goals and it's an important part of staying realistic, motivated and consistent.
Key #3 Avoid the "All or Nothing" Trap
Would you give up earning money just because you missed a day at work? Of course not. Whatever happens, the show must go on, right? Well, what difference would you see in your life if you applied the same attitude to your personal goals? When you fall off the horse, get up, dust yourself off, and get back on. Be more conscious. How? Apply the basic principles of ATM: go more slowly, pay more attention, and observe your reactions and experiences with compassion. Be a witness to your own learning without guilt, shame or judgment, but with attentive support, acceptance of what is and compassion for yourself.
Key #4 Find Accountability
Get the individual attention you need to monitor how you are doing, with someone who can help role model these behaviors for you. When you commit to a live class over a series of weeks, your ATM teacher can give you feedback and encouragement. Teaching ATM is all about teaching people how to be there for themselves. It's about supporting you in becoming more attentive to your own needs, more accepting of who you are and more compassionate with your personal foibles and lack of clarity around some things. We all have places where we are stuck or where we don't always act in our own best interest. Find the support you need to realize your own intentions.
If this idea appeals to you, the idea of having someone coach you through the process of making significant changes in your way of relating to yourself, call me, I will be happy to work with you to flesh out your goals and to stick to them! This would involve an initial consultation, and weekly follow-up by phone and/or email. - Gabrielle