Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Twenty-one days to create a new neural pathway - part 1

Talking to some MBSR students last night we were discussing creating new neural pathways based on good habits and positive thinking rather than the 'worst case scenario' survival mode. Someone asked how long it takes and whilst I don't have any research to back this up I do remember Sister Chan Khong (Thich Nhat Hanh's right hand person) saying if you practise something every day for 21 days it forms a new habit. We also discussed mindfulness being part of a holistic programme of well-being, including diet and exercise. Whilst I wholeheartedly agree with this in theory, I find the exercise part particularly difficult to implement. Since giving up playing hockey at school in place of drama I have had little interest in exercise. Now my husband is an avid walker, and tries to go out for a walk every day, but he can rarely persuade me to go with him! There is always something more important to do inside.
But having considered what I was talking about with my students last night I feel it is time to put this into practice, and implement a 21-day programme where I will do some exercise every day.
Day 1 (23rd April) - didn't quite go as planned as I didn't have time to do any Mindful Movements (my exercise of choice) before going out this morning. So the exercise today has involved a brisk walk uphill trying to get back to the car before getting a parking ticket (and failing!) and some gentle gardening. Well at least it's something! And I was reminded that being outside is a good way of stopping feeling sleepy and tired, which had been the case indoors. Funny how I always seem to forget that!
Day 2 - two lots of Mindful Movements (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWerJwf3-3I) today. I got up and did them firstly before meditating, then with a graduate MBSR group in Ilkley this evening. Practising with other people is always a good motivation. I also did a bit of gentle gardening so today has been a good day.
Day 3- Mindful Movements before morning meditation.
Day 4 - Mindful Movements after morning meditation. Got into a lovely flow with the breathing and enjoyed extending the number of certain movements.
Day 5 - did some yoga stretches and Salute to the sun this morning for a change.
Day 6 - Salute to the sun and Mindful Movements after morning meditation. Although it doesn't feel in place yet the idea of regular movements is no longer so daunting and it does feel good to stretch and get the body moving gently.
Day 7 - Mindful Movements and Salute to the sun after morning meditation. I wonder what will happen when the habit energy ebbs and I don't want to do it? The body is feeling the ache of being stretched in unused ways, but it is not unpleasant. An afternoon stroll round the garden is an added bonus and the sun makes its presence known.

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