See how many times you can brush your teeth using a hand toothbrush held in your non-dominant hand!
Check out my journey, described below…. and please share your experiences!
As in Previous posts, I have named my subconscious Peter! Peter sits on my shoulder and is my friend. But he is a misguided friend. Misguided because I have unwittingly taught Peter how to lead me through my life in ways that have caused me difficulties. Unfortunately, on occasions Peter is not very helpful because he overrides what I know is the best way to carry out any activity, and takes over before I have time to think.
Recently, I read that 95% of our daily acts are subconscious. That means that Peter Habit could well be in charge 95% of the time!
You may consider that as I teach the Alexander Technique it would be less than this for me, as when you learn the Alexander Technique you encourage every moment to be a conscious moment, but this requires discipline and I am sometimes lazy….
Here is the heart- felt story of my journey from Peter, subconsciously taking over an activity, to my taking conscious control of an activity. The activity chosen is the habitual daily routine of brushing my teeth:
I chose to brush teeth with non-dominant hand and to continue this activity for 10 days to see whether there a pattern emerged… this seemed to be more challenging.
The first day I woke up, went to bathroom and Peter picked up the electric toothbrush ( with MY dominant hand). I consciously put it down and went to find a hand toothbrush… Peter picked it up with MY dominant hand.
- I consciously changed hands. With the toothbrush now consciously in my non-dominant hand, I felt awkward and noticed my apprehension was causing tension difficulties…Peter made me think that I was being stupid trying to hold it with the wrong hand! He made me grasp it with more effort and told me it wouldn’t clean so well.
- I noticed that because Peter made me think it was more difficult, it was more difficult and I made it more difficult …. Peter encouraged me to use my whole body to master this new technique… I even noticed he was encouraging me to clench my dominant hand.
- However, by stopping Peter interfering, I consciously used my non-dominant hand, which brought me more into the moment and I began to brush my teeth with more awareness… noticing what muscles I needed to use and which ones I was tensing without need.
- Peter made me persevere … he had gathered that I REALLY NEEDED TO achieve this as he is the master of end-gaining! Persevere …. now that’s a word that brings in tension…. so I stopped Peter interfering for a moment and considered the means whereby I could brush my teeth with minimal effort and release the tension. I wanted to give up because it seemed so much effort, I thought it would have been much easier to let Peter do it for me.
This pattern continued but there were slight changes, when Peter took a back seat and the activity began to be slightly easier. The process of stopping Peter interfering, helped me to be more aware of tension and therefore more ready to stop think and release.
I was beginning to be less reliant on Peter Habit and the process began to get progressively easier , although it still didn’t feel ‘natural’. When I was very tired… I did forget and let Peter take over. I also felt frustrated because it was something that I had not chosen to do ( silly idea to use your non-dominant hand) and I felt I should be able to be free. Frustration caused tension patterns, feelings of inadequacy at times, and anger at my inability to discipline Peter Habit.
It most definitely showed how habitual my daily activities are and what patience and discipline I need to consciously change.
I am now back to cleaning my teeth with my dominant hand and notice that I stop and think less often and notice less about what is going on in my ‘self ‘. I need to be aware that I may be allowing Peter to take control. It is evident to me that conscious control takes considerable diligence when performing daily tasks, as they are so habitual.
This activity has reinforced my belief that by stopping Peter, I have found freedom, I have found I have choice and I have found great joy in the knowledge that by stopping, change is possible.