Yes, beginning to ride a bike is tricky. It’s wobbly and slightly terrifying and you are relying on someone much larger than yourself to hold you steady while you learn.
But you’re not really learning to ride a bike. You’re transitioning between not knowing how to ride a bike (really easy) to knowing exactly how to ride a bike (also really easy).
My trainer once told me “Strength is a skill”.
When I’m showing a client how to do an exercise for the first time, the first response is usually “What?! I can’t do that!”
make them do it they give it a go.
Their form is terrible; there are usually a few wobbles and a furrowed brow; and one particular client of mine had a very cute habit of poking the tip of her tongue out while she was concentrating. As a trainer, I’ll have to make some adjustments, coach them through while correcting their form, and reminding them how to breathe while they do it. And after a while, lo, behold – they manage to squeeze out a few reps of fantastic form, and prove to themselves they can do it after all. Ta da!
While the client is integrating all this complex information of movement, form, breath, balance and control, their brains are wiring together new neural pathways. With repetition the pathways become stronger and thicker, making it easier to recall exactly how to perform the exercise next time. (That’s why you never forget how to ride a bike).
And the more I think about that statement “Strength is a skill” I realise that I can apply that to so many areas of my life. Everything is a skill and I can choose to unlearn old ways and form new pathways.
I can create the patterns of my desire through mindful repetition.
Choosing to eat wholesome food that I like can be tricky at first. I’ve built up patterns of either eating
a) food that does not serve my highest purpose but tastes amazing;
b) food that does serve me but tastes like shredded cardboard.
So as I transition to my new pattern, I need to consciously choose and reinforce this message “I choose food that tastes good AND feels good”.
There is a coffee shop near my work that sells amazing banana bread and delicious gluten free bread. When I go to get my mid-morning coffee, I have a choice. Do I choose the squishy, oh-so-tasty high GI banana bread laden with gluten (of which I am intolerant) and that’ll I burn through in an hour? Or do I choose the delicious gluten free pumpkin bread, lightly toasted with fresh avocado and a sprinkling of salt and pepper that will fill me with sustained energy?
Each choice is equally delicious. One choice will bring me pleasure, but not joy.
Each time I consciously choose the food that tastes good AND feels good (it’s the gluten free bread with avocado btw) I strengthen a pattern of my desire.
Over time, this pattern becomes easier and easier.
And after a while, lo behold – I’m choosing yummy nutritious food without
obsessing over it even thinking about it and I can go about my day. Ta da!
What new pattern will you choose? Got any mindfulness tips? Do you have a cute concentration habit? Share in the comments below.