I bought a new coffee maker last week and with happy expectation began to set the current time. The time shown would not budge. I read the user instructions over and over, and followed step by step to set the time yet nothing changed. Time frozen at 10:28.
I called customer service and shared my frustration. She said “does it say 10:28”? Yes! “That is actually a sticker – just remove the sticker.” Voila! Problem solved. The takeaway? User manuals aren’t always user friendly. (Sound familiar?)
We are not issued a users manual for how to operate our body when we most need it – mostly after the age of 8 when sitting in chairs in school, and soon after hunched over phones that become an exercise in spinal compression.
While being engaged in physical activity on a regular basis helps to activate muscular engagement and can be an antidote to downward pull (or bracing), we don’t really know how to modify our ingrained habits organically.
Years ago, I was baffled by the fact that I was a retiring ballerina who spent quite a few years working on acquiring strength, placement, beautiful lines and stamina. (Here’s my full story). Yet, with all that training – admittedly grueling at times – I was teetering on the brink of hopelessness, coupled with anguish and pain. This, even though I had stopped performing, and was active raising a family. But I was fortunate to discover something new and it was the only thing that helped.
Our mind, which is controlling our movements all day long anyway can direct us in a more efficient way, towards more ease with selectively controlled muscular effort.
If this sounds vague and impossible, try this simple movement:
Stand facing a mirror, arms hanging at your sides. Raise one arm to the side, shoulder level. Notice what muscles in your arm created that movement. Did your neck tighten? Repeat a few times.
Now tell yourself to make the same movement, but remain still. Notice if by only telling yourself to move you experience the muscular action previously.
Now begin moving your arm to the side, as before, but this time you will think of leading the movement with your fingers. Did you use the same muscles as before? Did your neck muscles tighten this time?
Did you use your brain to make that change?
If so, imagine what this new thought process can do for your ballroom dancing!
If you want to find out more about acquiring a User’s Manual for your body, book a lesson with me, either on zoom.com or if you are in the NY/NJ area at my studio in Montclair, NJ. Please use my contact form, tell me about yourself and leave your availability. I will respond within 24 hours.
Happy Dancing! If you know other dancers who may benefit from reading my blog, please forward.