If you want to try to accomplish a specific goal, first try not to.
This may seem like the worst advice ever but it actually may be the best thing to get you where you would like to be quicker than if you kept on pushing in the same direction toward a particular goal. You might just need to spice it up with a little variation in order to achieve what you desire and more.
This idea of providing the brain with a variety of experiences and options in order to reach your destination rather than forcing or practicing through many repetitions in one particular way has been proven to yield greater results in less time.
Even with the research to support, it still may be hard to believe that doing something that appears completely unrelated to your goal could actually allow you to achieve this goal faster and with greater skill. I would not have believed it myself if it weren't for a clear reminder each time I work my way through a transformational movement lesson where the lesson guides you to move in many ways that sometimes seem ridiculous, and even impossible. However, at the end of each lesson, it is almost like magic, it all somehow comes together and all of a sudden what seemed impossible feels easy and actually pleasant. All of these "unrelated" movements and the information they provided my brain were all used to accomplish a desired and more organized movement at the end.
Actually, when I am not completely able to organize my body for the full movement at the end of a lesson is when I experience the power of variation the most. I know it is possible for the body to move in that way, just not mine. I do what I can in that moment, and then leave it alone. I then go on with the usual routine of life, and work through a variety of other movement lessons before returning to the lesson in which I was not able to fully "accomplish" the final movement curious if by chance there might just be some improvement. I had hoped to be a little closer and clearer but was amazed at how natural it felt to be able to move through the entire lesson with ease, that it would have now been hard to believe I ever had any difficulty at all. Not once had I practiced these movements or done anything particular to be closer to being able to do it. My brain used all the experiences and variations I provided it between the first attempt and second in order to make it possible.
This is something I have come to expect from movement lessons but I don't always go about everything in my life in this way, I must be conscious of it and remind myself not to force. Recently I received a refreshing reminder while practicing yoga. A particular pose just looked absurd and I REALLY did not expect to be able use my body in this way so I decided to just do something a little different and then something a little different than that. I played around with movement that looked similar to the particular pose and then things that were totally different, moving back and forth. Each time I returned to trying the actual pose it was a little better, easier, more possible until it all came together, again, like magic but it is more than that, it is the science of neuroplasticity.
It has been proven that the birth of new brain cells does not end in early childhood. The adult brain can also change, learn and grow new cells . Inserting some variation into your everyday routine is one way to promote the process of positive brain change. Things as simple as sitting in a different seat at the table, taking a different route to work or the store or brushing your teeth with the other hand can make a great difference and begin to wake up your brain to form new patterns and connections.
The power of variation never ceases to amaze and surprise me, like when I work with children using movement and their parents report they are no longer having tantrums or that they have stopped wetting the bed at night. We did not work directly on these outcomes within the lesson, yet somehow through the variety of information provided, the child's brain used it to their benefit, upgrading the system as a whole.
I invite you to give it a try in one or two areas of your life, and I would love to hear about any changes you might notice and what your brain will cook up with a little added spice.
Please feel free to send your stories to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Baniel, Anat. Easing into Fitness. What Doctors Don't Tell You . May, 2016 (Vol. 27, Issue 2).
Baniel, Anat. The Nine essentials of NeuroMovement®: Daily Tools to Overcome Pain and Increase Your Flexibility, Strength, Creativity, and Vitality.