We all have habits. Some are good for us, like jogging or having a set bedtime, and some are less good, like smoking or nail biting. Truth is, when you think of all that you do, is there anything that’s not a habit? How you hold a pen, how you reach for a glass, how you brush your teeth or comb your hair… these are habits too. Anything we do without giving it much thought is a habit, and in and of themselves, habits are neither good nor bad. They are simply the result of past success. We tried something once and got the result we were seeking, so we repeated it, and it must have kept working because we kept repeating it until our nervous system made it automatic.
You’ve probably heard the phrase, “Neurons that fire together, wire together.” This refers to our nervous system’s patterns of connection. The more we repeat something, the more likely we will repeat it again because the neurological links get strengthened with every use.
Thing is, we can outgrow a habit’s usefulness, yet we continue doing it because it has become easy, automatic and mindless. Often we don’t even realize our habits, because they become so deeply ingrained they seem like a part of who we are.
Good thing our nervous system is also primed for learning. What is learning, really? It’s making new connections between things or ideas that weren’t previously connected. Neurologically, it’s creating new links between neurons; literally forging new paths and making new patterns . If the new connections have better, more efficient results than our old connections, then we are likely to repeat them, and eventually create a new habit.
Neurological connections also operate under the use-it-or-lose-it principle. Although they may never completely disappear, by not using the old connections, they eventually become weak and fade away. It’s important to note that we can’t give up an old habit until we find something that serves us better to replace it with.
So how do you know if what you’re doing is the easiest, most efficient, most powerful way to do it? That’s where the Feldenkrais Method® can help. The lessons bring attention to your hidden habits and then explore new connections, allowing your nervous system to rewire itself in the best, most efficient, easiest way possible.
Anita Bueno is a Guild Certified Feldenkrais Practitioner ®
She teaches classes and offers private lessons at the Center of Grace in Manlius, NY.
Click for more information on Anita Bueno or on the Feldenkrais Method
Service Marks and Certification Marks belong to the Feldenkrais Guild® of North America