Wednesday musings, 7/6/16: The value of the experience

Wednesday musings, 7/6/16
I have a client that is a bit of a perfectionist. He has also played golf as a hobby for years. He regularly takes lessons to improve his skill, and for many of these lessons, when the pro would make a correction, he would try and do what the pro said, only to have things tighten. His swing would be less fluid and his body would be braced. 

This is common when learning a new skill. In order to accomplish a (relatively) foreign movement, the brain tries to tell the body how to do that task. Sometimes, what the brain is asking the body to do is impossible because of current fitness level or joint restrictions, and so the body will carve out a slightly different route, a detour to accomplish the movement. Over time, this becomes the default setting. If someone tries to change that particular habit, unless the individual practicing the skill has access, both mentally and physically, to the area that would allow the requested change to take place, things will either stay the same or get a little bit worse. I regularly teach yoga to US Navy captains in their 40s and 50s. When asking them to make the foreign shape of downdog, for instance, I am always very careful to ask for the basic components of the shape, rather than cueing specific aspects of the pose. By establishing body awareness and a general understanding of the elements of the skill, this (hopefully) sets them up for success and decreases the risk of developing habits that might not serve them well down the road.

The client that plays golf came in recently and said, “my work with you has allowed me to feel when I am getting tense during the golf game. I understand how to relax, and I can make sense of the corrections the golf pro suggests.” I have no idea if he’s shooting a lower score, but this type of awareness serves to enhance his basic skills. Focusing on the experience instead of the end product leads to a greater sense of success, regardless of the number on the score card.

*This is a really thought provoking piece from Brain Pickings. Though it's from a different perspective, it conveys a similar theme: https://www.brainpickings.org/2013/05/20/bill-watterson-1990-kenyon-speech/