We think of “the body” and “the mind” as being two separate things because of a few metaphysical ideas from people like Aristotle and Descartes (amongst others), which were then parlayed in philosophies and then taken up as axioms (without evidence) by generations of theorists and inventors of ideas about how humans work.
We’ve reached the stage where we cannot talk about human experience or behavior without reference to these words, and allied concepts like ‘conscious’ and ‘unconscious’, spitting them out without a moment’s pause.
But the thing is… there is no evidence that “the mind” and “the body” are two different and completely separate systems, which sometimes (mysteriously) deal with each other.
There is ZERO evidence for the existence of “the unconscious mind” as some special and separate place that you have to go to visit – a place where another you is in charge who does weird things like want to have sex with your parent of the opposite gender, and mess you around to make you feel bad… because mommy took the spoon away when you were an infant.
These theoretical illusions have dominated our thinking for too long, and it’s time to leave these vestiges of another age when we kowtowed to presumed authorities no matter how drugged out or plain crazy they were.
For example, Freud with his falsifying his session notes (to bring his client’s statements more in line with his theories), addiction to injected substances, and his social phobia, which is the main reason why psychoanalytic clients lay on a sofa looking at the ceiling, or the analyst sits out of direct view of the client.
They do this because it to made FREUD comfortable…
All of these words should be understood as “explanatory labels” which may or may not reflect reality.
The fact that such a wide variety of conflicting-in-theory high weirdenesses create therapeutic benefit for some but not all, and at a rate higher than placebo success rates, suggest that there’s something beyond the theories in any of the works of therapeutic cargo cult priests and proprietary shamans by the hour, in terms of the results people achieve.
People change. Some people just go ahead and make changes without anyone else’s permission or supervision. Other people want or need someone to guide them or hold their hand. Some people want to be coerced and will wait until change is demanded by circumstance.
My key interests have been studying the people who just do things. The ones who just change.
The other people I study are the outliers – the one’s whose results skew the statistical averages, and so their results are excluded from the calculations in many studies. These are the people who know something you and I don’t know.
These are the ones who by accident, practice, or luck of the gene pool demonstrate capabilities beyond average BUT there’s still much to learn from them. The biggest pattern (which we have been addressing from different angles already; wearing different clothes, or different masks) is that body-mind is ONE and not two. The dividing line is false. Habits are trigger (external or internal is irrelevant) + habituated behavior + our reaction/comment on this “event” – they are ONE, packaged as one, stored as one, and even your “instant or not so instant replay doesn’t count as a new and different event, but as yet another example of already established pattern.
Man… that is a kick in the butt. You can’t even think about what you think and feel about the habit without your brain chalking it up as another reinforcing instance.
But this provides an unexpected benefit or angle of approach. As we seem to like to pretend that the body and mind are separate; and usually we think that The Body (“It”) is a something else, albeit one that we are mysteriously engaged with in an intimate way; by approaching pattern change through the body rather than doing something with our minds and then acting it out through our meat-puppet, we can make habit change a whole lot easier.
Many forms of body work trick us into change by doing things that we don’t expect – novel movements, removing key elements of how our somato-sensory cortex maps things (for example, removing the shearing force of gravity which is the key to our limbic system, by having us lay down on a padded surface, and activating some, but not all, of the neuromuscular patterns associated with standing, balancing, walking, etc.), and mainly by changing the relationship between our awareness of movement and other aspects of embodied experience, and the physical actions themselves.
Some body work systems are incredibly sophisticated in their “brain hacking” maneuvers.
We can use some of this sophistication ourselves.
For example, by patterning and placing our awareness on the qualities of our physical movements, or the qualities of our internal process, and then modifying those, we can stretch and even break the automatic connection between a trigger and the behavior itself.
Some experiments to try:
- concentrate on streamlining the physical components of a series of actions by releasing excess tension as you proceed.
- streamline the connections and elegance of physical or mental actions. Elegance relates to using the fewest resources to the greatest effect. For example, smoothing the links between sections of an action.
I’ve just observed my own typing behaviors and streamlined several components:
- How I move my eyes between paper documents and the computer screen
- keeping my typing speed consistent without large gaps or pauses in time
- keeping my typing continuous without pauses for “thinking”
- lightening my touch on the keyboard
- softening my breathing
All created increased speed in output but also a change in my working state, which became smoother, lighter and more comfortable.
Change the qualities of your internal process.
If you are talking to yourself in a less than helpful manner; change to writing or typing it out and engage in a dialogue with it in writing.
If you are repeating the same scenario or narrative over and over again; label it ‘Scenario 1’ in your mind. Ask yourself “What is Scenario 2?” and run out a different scene on the same material but perhaps from a different point of view, perspective or even time period e.g “their” point of view, The Kardashians and their film crew who were just around the corner point of view, your mother or father, the people in the next room. The viewpoint of before something happened, the viewpoint of 30 years from now (are you planning on still thinking this way 30 years from now? (The grudge pattern).
Carry on with Scenario 3, Scenario 4, etc. changing perspectives until you remember who are you and who is “driving the bus”. Change point of view.
Try moving, dancing, swaying and/or singing, declaiming, humming loudly on the theme of your thoughts. You can create swift and powerful changes in pattern this way as it runs all over habits and their feedback loops.
Physicalize your thinking
Take physical sensations and make them symbols by intensifying and physically enacting the feelings. If you feel “stuck”; act it out… make it bigger and intensify it… pull your shoulders in, make your arms into imprisoning bands, make it hard to breathe, enlarge it until either it can’t be intensified further or you are moved to change it somehow.
Don’t “decide” to change it, don’t “try” to do something with it, and don’t resist it… tire it out, stretch it, and play with it until it gives in.
There is deeper wisdom in working with non-verbal habits, emotions and reactions this way but we’ll need to save it for another occasion.
Add this to both your pattern design and your pattern interrupting repertoire.
You need to do some serious play with this for some time to really get it, but once you’ve got it – some resistant patterns will be toast.