Morpheus from the movie Matrix has so many rememberable lines – one of them being “There’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path”. This speaks so clearly to one of our most powerful slip ups. We find ourself falling into this trap with our work, giving our friends advice, telling our kids what to do, changing habits and much more.
What is it that we forget? We forget that just telling ourselves, in other words, just thinking about something or changing our mindset is going to mean it will then happen. How many times have you done exactly that – you decide you want to do something new or change something that you currently do – and then after awhile you reflect and notice that the change you wanted to bring about just didn’t quite get there, if at all.
The stumbling block is action. You’ve thought about what you are going to do, you probably even have had some feelings – be in conscious or unconscious – about your reasons for your decision – but what you haven’t done is spend the time getting your “body” on board. Our bodies are constantly telling us what its feeling – if you pause, right this moment, you can try it out. In fact, lets do just that.
Just stay with me and take a deep breath, pause and hold your breath and then slowing release. Now do, do this one more time and during the second breathing start to notice the sensations in your body – are you hot / cold?; is your jaws clenched / relaxed?; do you feel a tightness anyway?; how are you holding yourself?; can you physically feel any strong sensations?
So, what you observed is called being somatically aware, said differently, listening to your body speak to you through the sensations you are feeling. If we take this one step further, if our bodies can speak to us, then have you ever wondered how our bodies learn? It stands to reason that perhaps our body might need a different way to learn, which is through “doing” and not “telling”. As the old saying goes actions speak louder than words 😉
Now we are getting somewhere 🙂 If we start to see that our bodies learn differently, we can then see we need to find out how to teach our body what we want to do, we have to start walking down the path to know it.
For each learning that you want to achieve, you would start to incorporate all three parts of you – your mind, heart and body. A way of doing this could look like the following:
1. What do you think about what you are wanting to achieve? What could get in your way of succeeding? What needs to change?
2. How do you feel about what you want to achieve? How would reaching success in this impact you?
3. What sensations can you pick up in your body when you think or start to work on what you want to achieve?
4. Lets assume for e.g., your answer to question 3 is: “I clench my jaws, I speak softer and bite my lip”.
5. As a simple first step, your focus then in helping your body to learn will be through the sensations you felt (referred to above). Said differently, you wouldn’t focus on relaxing your shoulders if its your jaws where the tension lies.
There is much more you can do in terms of the somatic learning around this but that is a discussion for another day. The golden thread in our conversation has been about opening our eyes to seeing that our body can’t be told what to do but needs to be shown how to do it.