unconsciously patterned

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How often do you change what you do?

I don’t mean change job or your career.  I mean change behaviour.

How much of your daily, weekly, monthly routine is just that, routine?

Do you get up at the same time? Wash, dress and eat in the same order? Do you always have a cup of tea? Eat the same things, drink the same juice? Do you go to work the same way, leave at the same time, make the same checks before leaving?  Do you have the same routines on arrival at work? Get a coffee, hang up your coat, switch on your computer, go to your locker…? Do you have lunch at the same time, eat the same choices, go with the same people? Do you leave at the same time, get the same bus or train, have the same routine when you walk through the door at home?

Do you shop the same day of the week? Wash the car or cut the grass Saturday or Sunday? Do you do the washing or ironing on a set day? Do the kids have after school club every Tuesday? Do you go skiing every year, or have a week in the sun?

How often do you deliberately change things?
Do you change more than you don’t?
Do you maintain more than you alter?
What might happen if you changed more?

It’s not that change is intrinsically good or bad, it’s simply that so much of what we do becomes an unconscious pattern, a sloppy given, an unthinking routine. It’s a missed opportunity to experiment, to learn, to improve.

 

when a mask might reveal, not conceal…

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I had the pleasure of attending The Lab recently, where in the midst of some great experiments into being human, we explored working with masks.

If you have seen the excellent ventriloquist comedian Nina Conti you will know part of her act involves applying a partial mask to an audience member. Nina then controls the mouth parts with a remote,  so that the individual seems to be agreeing to do something outrageous, or says something inappropriate, even though their body language suggests horror, or disagreement, at the prospect.

It is a clever representation of the power of a mask. The act demonstrates a freedom and what can be possible if we don’t feel seen, whilst juxtaposing the obvious visibility of the individual’s body squirming at what they are saying, through Nina. Simultaneously, the act allows Nina, as the ventriloquist, to say and do things she might never do herself.

In our Lab experiment we saw people assuming the whole character, mannerisms, language, opinions of their ‘character behind the mask’.

A mask, in a sense, gives us permission to be someone else. To reveal a part of ourselves we may normally keep subdued or hidden. It also gives us permission to conceal ourselves behind the mask. Be it gender, ethnicity, geographic origin. We sometimes use non-visual masks too. Hiding behind our organisational or societal status or role.

I wonder what we are capable of if we could wear a mask at will?

What truth would we be able to speak?
What feeling could we emote?
How much more ourselves we might be?
How much might we conceal?

 

just who is the dinosaur?

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In my childhood I vaguely recall a film called ‘The land that time forgot’. Something about dinosaurs still thriving on a long lost island that a submarine, full of people, stumbles upon. The tale largely about their struggle to survive. I doubt it was a classic.

In our own lifetime though, we too forget such strange lands from our distant past. The land where play is everything. Where time has no meaning. Where larger inhabitants set the rules and look after us. Care free. A land where train rides are a wild adventure, long before we come to terms with commuting. A land where owning wellies with heels that light up, having chocolate cake, or getting stickers, is both thrilling and fulfilling. A land where magic prospers and wonder thrives.

For many, a happy time. Exploration and discovery, learning, fun, play, all at the heart of our daily existence. Our aspirations are simple.

Then we become adults. We struggle in this strange new land, working hard to earn money to buy possessions, or to save for a holiday to get us through. We sleep little. We struggle with worry and anxiety. Relationships are hard. Friendships move on line, with electronic photos and status updates a proxy for being together, as we were when we were six. Real living a film story, with plot and dramatic twist and turn. We drink too much to cope. Work too hard to play.

Childhood fun and freedom. A world of play, experimentation, learning.

The land that adults forgot?

 

 

what would your big toe say?

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A friend of mine once declared that to be a favourite coaching question of theirs. “What would your big toe say?”

I can’t vouch for its effectiveness as a question. Or its appropriateness.

I do like it though.

The notion of paying attention to a physical part of you fascinates me.

On occasion, when I have found it difficult to get to sleep, I focus my attention on my foot. It works. Maybe it is the sheer mundaneness of directing all my conscious attention to my foot that helps me nod off? Boring the conscious mind into submission perhaps? I pay total attention to my foot’s position. The toes, ankle, sole. To its boundaries; where it begins and ends. To any sensations I have in it, such as a slight tickle, or the feel of the sheet.

I guess my ear would do just as well, but I haven’t learned to build such a close relationship with my ear yet. Or my nose, which I suspect has its attention focused on breathing; and I am very grateful to it for that. Whereas my foot and I are on good terms. We have an understanding.

I think this is why I like the question “What would your big toe say?”

Not, you understand, because it’s a part of the foot. Rather, because it’s a part of you. A part of me. A body part playing an unfamiliar role.

Sometimes we over value the brain. We consult it constantly. We pay it too much respect arguably. Sure, it has its uses. A bit like my nose and breathing, I wouldn’t want to be without my brain. But sometimes I wonder what the rest of me thinks? What do other parts of me feel about this?

Sometimes I listen to my gut or to my heart, why not my big toe?

Try it. Next time you want another perspective,  or you’re stuck, or you just want a less busy response from yourself, ask…

“What would my big toe say about this?”

And if that doesn’t work… start a conversation with your elbow.