Written By Lara Gillease
Life was going well. Everything was in place. Sarah loved her family, her work, her home, but something just made it all feel monotonous.
Why did she feel like she was just going through the motions? Why was she bored and listless? What was going on?
When she most needed to focus on work for some upcoming deadlines, she found herself daydreaming of taking a trip somewhere.
In recalling a recent trip to Italy with her husband, Sarah remembered visiting the Sistine Chapel and being in awe of the paintings and colors.
The Italian air smelled differently than anywhere she had ever been. She was captivated by how different Italian culture was compared to hers.
She remembers having this feeling of energy, aliveness and vitality, while even needing less sleep.
She noticed how soon after arriving home that feeling disappeared and she felt the monotony of her life again. Doing the same things day after day. Keeping to her schedule. Feeling overwhelmed by all the details of life.
Although Sarah longed to get away for this refreshing experience again, she knew she wouldn’t be able to for another six months.
What is going on here for Sarah?
And is there anything she can do in her day-to-day life to help shift her experience?
First, it is important to know about two kinds of experiences people typically have.
One kind happens when you see, hear or do something that is expected or habitual. It also happens when you move without thinking about it.
Like getting out of bed in the morning. You don’t have to try to learn how to get out of bed each morning – you already know how and just do it.
When you are experiencing or doing something habitual, you are making little or no new connections in your brain. You are repeating what you already know.
When you are doing your habitual, it is like you are on automatic pilot. Like when you don’t remember, after leaving the house for the day, whether or not you locked the front door.
2. New or Different
The other kind happens when you are experiencing something new or different hrough your senses (like Sarah’s trip to Italy). It can also be when you move in a new or different way AND you are paying attention to your sensations and the feelings that are generated.
When this happens, you’re expanding your brain’s ability to form new neural connections. Another way of saying this is that you are learning.
Anat Baniel, the founder and director of the Anat Baniel Method (ABM) NeuroMovement, describes this as having your Learning Switch* turned on. Although there is no actual switch in the brain, it is a way of describing a process that is going on within you.
When a person’s learning switch is on, it is usually accompanied by feelings of aliveness, vitality and an overall sense of well-being.
Again, like Sarah did on her trip to Italy, her learning switch was on as she took in all the different sights, sounds, smells, heard a new language, and observed a different culture.
Sarah, like many of us, is stuck in the habitual mode in her home life, while in contrast she was in Learning Mode while in Italy.
The amazing news is she can very easily do something in her day-to-day life to be in learning mode and create similar feelings of the aliveness she felt in Italy.
The secret is that she would need to actively engage in new and different experiences. This means learning how to do activities in new ways that are interesting to her.
She can do this by figuring out how to turn on the learning switch when she is doing routine things by:
1) Varying* how she does whatever she does.
Like when brushing her teeth or combing her hair, she could use her other hand.Also varying the format of what she does.
For instance if she has to write several emails, she could do them all within a specified time frame like an hour. When she’s done, she could change to doing something completely different like walking her dog for a half hour.
Then return to doing something like paying bills for the next hour.
Changing it up like this helps her brain work better and not get exhausted from doing any one type of task.
2) Going slower.*
She could take more time to feel what additional details she can notice by slowing down.
As opposed to quickly reaching for the mug on the top shelf, she could really slowly reach up and notice how she uses her body as she does it.
3) Change her routine.
She could change her routine by learning something entirely new. She could learn a new skill like ballroom dancing or new computer software or a game or how to speak a foreign language.
She is using deeply grooved neural pathways in her brain when she is doing repetitive actions and is on automatic pilot.
However, her brain and, in fact, everyone’s brain, CRAVES new experiences as well. This creates new neural pathways. We need to activate our learning switch in order to thrive.
So the next time you find yourself feeling bored or uninspired, it is probably a sign that you are on automatic pilot and your learning switch is turned off. It is easy for this to happen when you get caught up in the demands of life.
To shift this is just a matter of turning on your learning switch.
What are some things you can think of to do to turn on your learning switch? To bring more vitality, insight and inspiration back into your life?
Lara Gillease, President & Founder of Lara’s Integrative Movement since 2000, teaches adults and children how to turn their Learning Switch on and move with greater ease and freedom while relieving tension and stress in one-on-one sessions. She offers an online, at-home movement program, Move Free, designed for people over 40. She is also a Trainer in Anat Baniel’s ABM NeuroMovement International Training Programs for certifying new NeuroMovement Teachers. For more info, email her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
*These are some of the Nine Essentials Anat Baniel has identified that are necessary for learning to occur. Anat Baniel describes them in her book, Move Into Life, and in Kids Beyond Limits, her book for parents who have a special needs child, on how to apply them with their child.
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