Am I my habits?

(from the archives 3/7/01)

self image

Twice last week, I had a vivid example of how our mental processes have a physical pattern embedded in them.  Often, the way we communicate, think or project our self image to the world has a physical pattern that feel as though it matches.  However, I am finding that the physical pattern tends to have excess contraction and activity, and creates stress and tension in the body.  Giving that pattern up, we often feel that we temporarily lose our connection to the environment, those around us and even to ourselves.

I have a couple who study with me bi-weekly.  During their last lesson, I observed Greg* had a quick, energetic pattern of muscle response when I gave him verbal instructions.  I said to Greg* "You make mental connections and your mind moves very quickly, doesn't it?"  His wife vigorously nodded confirmation.   I pointed out that Greg's mental process was being mirrored in his muscles, only the physical pattern involved a lot of contraction and "grabbing on".  I worked with him to slow his body's response time down, so he could let go of the physical mirror, yet still experience his quick mind.

Mary*, during a group class, observed that she used her hands to talk, even when she was on the phone with someone.  We worked with her exploring what it was like to speak, even leaving her hands resting in her lap.  I also asked her to slow her tempo down by 10%, so she could stay more aware as she thought about what she wanted to say.  Although she felt odd, those in the class reported her speaking was much clearer, and they could comprehend the ideas she was talking about more fully.

Sometimes our habits feel like our personalities.  Levels of muscular tension are so familiar, we mistake them for our "selves".   That feeling isn't always accurate.  Perhaps when we let go, wemay come to "feel" even more like ourselves!

*Names have been changed