Practicing Change

Practice ChangeSince this past Sunday, I have been attending a six-day immersion course of anatomy and biomechanics in Vancouver BC. There are twenty-five people in attendance. Most of these professionals are physical therapists, chiropractors, personal trainers, and manual therapists from all over the world. I have attended this course numerous times yet each time I learn more than the one before. Although my role is as a student, it is also as an observer and teaching assistant to those who are new to the course. The course looks at how the body’s 206 bones, 360 joints and over 600 muscles move in three-dimensional space with every step you take when walking. With each person, you can detect minute, subtle variations of how they unconsciously have organized their movement patterns. These patterns are reinforced to the point where the brain considers the variations normal. Each variation, no matter how seemingly small, will have a great effect on the entire system. Sometimes this results in excessive wear and/or pain.

As an observer, I began to notice more than just anatomical variations. Each morning participants would enter the conference room at about the same time and place their belongings in their own unique spot. Each morning they would sit in the same place in the room. We would often break off and work in small groups, but inevitably everyone would return to their same sitting spot. This led me to try an experiment. Every morning I would come into the room at a different time and place my belongings in a completely different spot. I also chose to sit in a completely different place. You might not think this accomplished much, but it did, at least mentally. It gave me a new perspective. It took away my ability to normalize myself in my surroundings and become complacent. It allowed me to pay attention to detail more. It also allowed me to think about what kinds of habits I have in my daily life that have “normalized” to the point there is no challenge or stimulation.

This might be as simple as writing with my left hand or leading with my right leg every time I go up stairs. Using my right hand to unlock doors with keys. It could be typing this blog using the same six fingers (rarely do I use my ring fingers and pinky fingers) or brushing my teeth with my left hand and crossing my left ankle over my right when sitting. I could create a long list of normalized actions that are unconscious behaviors on my part. So the fun challenge for me is to consciously choose other ways of doing these daily tasks. If nothing else it will give me an appreciation for how well my body has adapted to habits I was not even aware of. Try it for just one day and see what the outcome is for you. It could be the one little snowflake that begins an avalanche.