She is holding a lotus, symbol of the Self-Realization happening to yogis
who have blossomed beyond Ego Consciousness!
Do you assume that doing “what feels right” is always the right thing to do? Is it true of everything all the time? Is it true whether you are talking about movement or behavior? Is it true whether your sensory perception is accurate or not? And who is assessing what is right or wrong, the human limited mind of your ego or your higher consciousness?
This concept of “unreliable sensory perception” is at the core of the Alexander Technique which I have been teaching for over two decades. This unreliability of perception is often the reason why you may spend time, energy and money to change your habits, only to find the outcome to be unsuccessful or not sustainable. The good news is that, once you realize and acknowledge that it is unreliable, you can proceed to reeducate your sensory perception as you expand your awareness, and unlearn habits that do not serve you. Then you can truly be in tune with the innate wisdom of your body and of your higher consciousness.
Movement and Sensory Perception
A) Sometimes, you are moving in a context where there are “no preconceived ideas“ like playing with movement in a spirit of exploration such as an improvisation dance for instance. In such a situation, you naturally tend to listen to your whole body. Therefore your body wisdom is guiding you. Going with what feels right then is appropriate, safe and restorative. Children are very good at that, especially babies.
In the short video below, notice the baby girl’s eyes leading her head which leads her shoulders which lead her whole body to spiral until she lands on her belly. And she can do this back and forth. Body wisdom at work when left alone. Skeletal system and necessary muscle tension working together effortlessly throughout the whole motion.
Reconnecting with the evolution of baby movements is very beneficial for adults to rediscover their motion potential and even process tension stored in the body over time!
B) When you walk, when you sit, when you do pretty much anything where “habits” or “preconceived ideas” play a big part, can you trust, that what feels right, is necessarily right for you? Maybe not, due to the power of habits and of the mind overriding your body wisdom!
For instance, in my last blog about “Yoga Body, Daily Body & Sensory Perception“ , I talk about the connection between daily body and yoga body in relation to posture. I show how our sensory perception often corrupted by our daily habits of movements is not 100% reliable once on the mat. What is habitual is mistaken for what is natural. Hence injuries brewing down the road on or off the mat.
Does it mean your sensory perception cannot be trusted at all? No, of course. If you listen to what feels right, you are less likely to let your mind shape your body up only according to preconceived ideas of what the body should be doing. But listening to your body’s pain edge, stretching edge or strengthening edge is different from listening to your whole body wisdom.
Your focus on a specific aspect of the body or on a specific body part often blinds you to hearing the wise guidance of your whole body. Your body wisdom can only come loud and clear when you function as an integrated self. When in touch with your body as an integrated whole though, you will perceive the specific as well!
Integrated One leg Stand with a dynamic relationship between the head, neck, torso and leg!
I am purposely choosing a striking example here: battered women. A phenomenon that many do not understand. Why would anyone stay with a loved one when being mistreated by them? Could it be they grew up with a parent they loved who was mistreating them physically and their notion of being loved got corrupted out of habits just like our sensory perception? Or maybe they were verbally mistreated and their lack of self-worth led them to feel they deserved to be mistreated that way? It is not my field of expertise but I wanted to make my point. It may feel right to stay with someone you love despite being mistreated. Yet, how trustworthy is this “feeling right” corrupted by past experiences?
On a lighter note, when you do not grow up in a culture that eats snails, the idea of eating snails may feel very wrong. Is it right or wrong? Neither. It is what the French do. They even consider it a delicacy.
So often, what feels right or wrong is relative to habits.
Frederick Matthias Alexander used to say that sometimes, we need to accept what feels wrong (the challenged habit) so it can feel right again in the natural way. Have you ever considered that? Working with a teacher at the beginning is quite helpful to keep things in perspective because most of us are not comfortable with the concept of “feeling wrong” in any context. We were trained to believe it is always a bad thing. Hopefully now you see that one needs a bigger picture to assess more accurately whether “a feeling” is right or wrong. We need to investigate where is it coming from before we condemn or embrace it!
It is not always easy to make that step towards the unknown. When on a path towards personal growth, we eventually do it though. It is said that when we are ready the teacher appears. And when this happens, it is time to go along. Our higher consciousness knows it!
Why is it we are often afraid to go in the cave that holds the treasure we are looking for?
Our dual nature, no doubt! Our human limited self tends to feel right staying with what is familiar while our higher consciousness knows with clarity that going into that cave is the right thing to do. Only fear holds us back! Luckily for us, we are born to thrive sooner or later!
"How to Unlearn Habits that Create Body Stiffness On and Off the Mat" (Based on the Alexander Technique Principles and Facts)