“If you know “what” you are doing and even more important “how” you use yourself to act, you will be able to do things the way you want.” – Moshe Feldenkrais
Simply click the link below to access this and other videos of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais speaking about the ideas in “How to Do Anything Better.”
Now that I’ve completed “How to Do Anything Better”, I plan to take a little break to edit and formalize. Then on to my next project – Another Book!
The working title of the new book is “Calm Your Nerves”. It will include many – at least 21 – simple self-help tips for calming your nervous system and for creating ease in your life. I hope you’ll join me on the journey and let me know how each of these tips helps you in your daily life.
Before I jump into the new book, I’m going to take a short writing break. In the meantime, I’d like to treat you to a few videos of Dr. Moshe Feldenkrais talking about many of the ideas in “How to Do Anything Better.” Feldenkrais and his Method were the inspiration for “How to Do Anything Better.” See if you can find the key elements in both the book and the videos.
Feel free to share any of this material with family and friends. After all, ease is good for everyone.
So there you have it. Over the past few months, I’ve outlined simple guidelines for making your learning process richer, easier and more enjoyable. Now what?
Now, I would like your help.
My goal is to turn these musings into a book to serve as a handy reference and reminder to anyone and everyone setting out to learn. What I need is input on what works and what doesn’t.
Please take a moment to review and reflect and then let me know your thoughts.
Here are a few questions to guide you:
Was this guide helpful?
Did you have a favorite post? Why?
What was your least favorite post? Why?
Was the writing clear?
If there was confusion, what was it and what would you need for it to become clear?
Did the ideas cause you to think and reflect?
(Please note – my idea was to create a foundation for reflection, and a basis for approaching learning organically rather than a step by step guide to doing a particular action.)
Which style of graphics did you prefer?
Did you have a favorite graphic? If yes, what was it?
Did the quotes support or hinder your understanding?
Do you have other editorial comments?
And finally – when finalized into book form, is this something you would purchase for yourself or for others?
Many thanks for your support and help. Feel free to comment directly on the posts or e-mail me privately if you prefer. I look forward to hearing from you.
So all of these musings boil down to a very few guidelines for learning…
1. Pay attention to what you are doing.
2. Go slowly. Give yourself time to pause and assess between repetitions.
3. Do LESS than you know you can do.
4. Challenge yourself just a little bit at a time. Set obtainable goals.
5. Focus on EASE. Remember – struggle is optional.
6. Do many repetitions. Each time do things just a little bit differently.
7. Let go of striving. Let pleasure and joy be your guides to learning.
8. Play. Explore. Try things many ways.
In life, there are moments when it is best to forget yourself completely, when accomplishment becomes an immediate NEED and all thought of learning must be abandoned. The world is full of examples of people who exhibit super-human strength, who risk life and limb, in their efforts to save another or themselves from impending doom.
To live fully is to allow yourself to act according to circumstances.
It also means differentiating a true state of emergency from that which is self-imposed.
Allowing yourself to learn – slowly and without struggle – brings you to that place where you CAN act quickly and powerfully when you need to.
Learning prepares you to perform the tasks of your life – be they highly skilled or ordinary – with grace and ease. In other words – BETTER.
Whatever demands you face in the future, know that all your mucking about, all the trial and error and going slowly with attention that you experience while you were learning are what bring you to the level of expertise that allow you to do what needs to be done with grace, skill and intuition.
What we have been talking about so far is explicit learning – the act of consciously setting out to learn something, anything, better. But there is another, deeper kind of learning that happens as a result of all that explicit learning. It’s called IMPLICIT learning.
Implicit learning is what happens when you no longer have to think about what you are doing. It is that deep knowing that does not require conscious thought. It is the result of hours of practice, focus, awareness, patience, and all the things we’ve been talking about. Implicit learning is what you experience when you’re in the zone. It’s what happens when you make appropriate choices without contemplating those choices. It’s what you exhibit when you are acting without thinking. In fact, shifting into “thinking” mode when you are in the zone takes you out of it and brings you back to a state of raw learning. Thinking, you become a novice once again and all your skill means nothing. That’s what happens when someone who is highly skilled chokes — they start to think about what they are doing rather than rely on and trust the deep well of knowledge that resides inside.
To create that deep well of knowledge, however, requires explicit learning. To live fully, to reach your own “zone” requires much learning.
So… Learn on!
Learning how to do something, anything, in one effective and effortless way is the first step to understanding and deep knowing. Once you’ve attained proficiency you’re ready to move beyond the limitations of “one”.
To really know how to do something is to be able to do it several different ways. After all, you never know when you might encounter a circumstance when the tried and true isn’t quite right. Imagine how much more prepared you will be to face the unknown if your skill is broader than a single option.
Once you’re feeling confident in your ability to successfully complete a task, or execute a skill, begin to muck about with other possibilities. Use the tools you have been exploring and see if you can find at least 3 alternatives that are equally (if not more) effective.
Prepare for real life by practicing not just the “one” way you found that worked but the alternatives as well.
Learning in reverse offers a special opportunity. Most importantly, it requires a level of focus that shifts you out of habit and puts you in control of your actions.
It is often said that hindsight is 20/20. Learning affords the perfect opportunity to put the maxim to the test.
If you are truly paying attention to what you are doing, letting go of judgment and allowing the process of learning to be “organic” as opposed to forced, you will be able repeat your actions in reverse. Doing so gives you the chance to clearly observe what you did to get to where you are.
Even if the actual action steps can’t be rewound, you can replay them in your mind – in reverse – reviewing where were your actions smooth? where unsure? where could you have made even the slightest difference?
Take a moment to slowly rewind your tape, physically if possible or in your imagination if it’s not. As you move in reverse, following the exact path you previously followed, notice what you do and what you feel each step of the way. Assess each step of your backward journey by asking yourself these questions?
Are my actions easy, smooth and effortless?
Am I struggling, pushing, tightening my jaw (or another part of my body) or holding my breath? (Note: Even if the “action” you are reviewing is not a primarily physical one, your body will give you clues that all is not as “natural” as you might presume. Look for clues to struggle by tuning in to your breathing and level of muscular tension.)
Is there any element of trying to do this “correctly” or am I simply doing what comes naturally?
Am I trying to “perform” or am I allowing myself to feel, sense and explore what is possible at this moment?
Now that I see where I am, how else could I approach what comes next?
Once you are aware of your actions and where you catch yourself holding, try the actual, forward action again – this time in slow motion. Notice what happens as you close in on the part where you start to tense. Can you pause there, back up and approach that step again and again each time making the tiniest adjustment in your action until the motion becomes smooth and easy?
If your action is not a physical one, let your breathing be your guide as you review and repeat your action in your mind. Can you find a way to once again play your tape forward making tiny tiny changes until you find you are able to breathe easily and freely as you imagine yourself doing what it is you want to do?
Think of two students out to learn the same task. One applies himself, pushing as hard as he can in order to achieve his goal. The other makes a game of it, enjoying the process as much as he desires the result. Which gains ultimate success?
The drive to strive is founded on the notion that hard work is essential to achievement. It is rooted in the internal conviction that without struggle, all efforts are somehow invalid or inadequate – that the “student” is somehow inadequate. AND that redemption can only be earned through pushing, striving and struggle.
Paradoxically, all that “trying hard” inhibits the process of learning and hinders the ability to become fluent and fluid in your desired skill.
That’s not to say that effort and time are not required; or that a laissez-faire attitude will pay off. Learning is not a linear progression. It requires patience and, above all, curiosity.
Proficiency can only be achieved through diligence and practice. Yet neither require you to push, strive or struggle.
True learning comes when you abandon “trying” in favor of observing, assessing and experimenting. When you see that an option doesn’t work, get creative and find another approach. Be curious. Make the process enjoyable. In doing so, you will unburden yourself of struggle and open your mind and brain to untold possibilities for learning.
The answer may surprise you.
When you are assessing your actions and taking stock of what you are doing, let pleasure – yes, PLEASURE – be your guide.
Pleasure? That pseudo-four-letter word that smacks of self-indulgence and laziness and, and, and…? Yes! THAT pleasure.
Pleasure, the sense of ease and flow that comes when you are NOT striving and struggling, deepens your breathing and opens your neuronal circuits to allow you to learn – fully and deeply. Pleasure allows you to feel and take satisfaction in your accomplishments.
Pleasure is not synonymous with laziness. Quite the contrary. If you find true pleasure in what you are doing aren’t you motivated to do more? With doing more comes more opportunity to learn. Learning becomes “organic”. It happens without you forcing or striving.
Pleasure brings joy. If there is no joy the question is begged, “Why are you pursuing this goal?”
Is this something you must learn? How can you bring joy to the process?
Hint: Let go of effort, move slowly and easily toward your goal and above all – look for pleasure.