Updated: Jan 31, 2022
Some of us are quite averse to the mere idea of habits. The concept reeks of boring routine, of a life of repetition with no sparkle. Who wants to do the same every day?
There are thing we know are good for us and would like to have in our life on a regular basis: a good night’s sleep, eating well, exercise, to name just a few.
I am a Feldenkrais practitioner. I work with movement, and I want to have more physical activity in my daily life. I also help my clients have more physical activity in their lives. This would constitute a habit, wouldn’t it, if we could make movement part of our day.
Still, the idea of a routine to be repeated every day is not in the least attractive to me. I get bored easily; I know I won’t keep it up.
So here’s what I've come up with: a daily routine that is different every day.
My idea is to make movement with awareness a habit. It is an attitude rather than a specific action. It means you stop the rat race, you slow down and observe closely what you are doing. It means giving yourself the opportunity to improve, reduce effort, increase the efficiency of your action and not hurt yourself.
It is surprising how little we do those things. Most of us have no idea how to take care of ourselves. We are usually too busy to listen to the tiny feedback messages we constantly receive from our body.
Our nervous system seems to need a reminder of this art of listening to itself. We were all masters of this art in the early phases of our lives. This is how we learned to lift our head, to roll over, to crawl and to walk. We were attentive and curious, we listened, we played and tried many options and variations. This is how an organic learning process occurs.
And, in our busy adult life we seem to have forgotten this fine and subtle art. We don’t find the time to take a break and re-examine our habitual patterns of action.
I've found a way to balance this tension between the need to explore, to play, to slow down and try new things, and the lack of time and peace of mind from which I suffer, like so many of us. This is where the idea of creating a habit comes in.
I found out that taking tiny breaks - really short ones, no more than three minutes - in which I stop, stand up, make some conscious slow movements, and sit back at the computer, is surprisingly effective. That is, if I do it repeatedly: three minutes every day.
You may think that three minutes wouldn’t make a difference. And you’re probably right. But do them constantly, every day, and they add up to something quite powerful. You’d be surprised.
I am in awe at the power of tiny habits. You make it tiny so that it’s doable. You make it constant so that it’s effective. And things happen!