“You must unlearn what you have learned” – Yoda
Rather than making another New Year’s Resolution (do any of us keep them?) or attempting to give up something big (why set ourselves up for failure?) – Clear out mental space heading into the new year by practicing a little unlearning.
Unlearning these four things could be life-changing this New Year!
1. Unlearn the way you stand
Sorry guys. You’re probably standing wrong, walking wrong and – if you run – running wrong. (I know. bad news.) But it’s not your fault and there’s a simple hack (yes! good news!) Better yet, the solution is right under your nose (literally) – or, rather, it’s right at your FEET. Those awesome bare feet of yours (possibly wrapped right now in a pair of “performance” athletic shoes?) are nothing short of a miracle. Think about it! It took millions of years in the laboratory of human evolution for our bi-pedal foundation to be created. Shoes are a relatively new invention, which (cool and fashionable as they may be) have rendered our bodies incapable of a biomechanically natural gait. Want to learn how to align your spine and entire body from the foundation up? First you must unlearn your shoe-wearing way of standing, walking, and running because it’s not optimal – and will likely cause you pain in the long run. On the contrary, a little unlearning will go a long way! Take off your shoe and check out your foot. Does it stay pretty much in the shape of a shoe? Spread your toes… Find some grass or dirt… Absorb some of the Earth’s free electrons and (sensually!) re-connect with your feet. They are far smarter than you think.
2. Unlearn computer neck
Most of us get plenty of “computer neck” practice every day – and it’s not just while sitting at the computer. Looking at your phone texting? (Computer neck.) Driving? (Computer neck.) Reading? (Computer neck.) Sitting on the floor for some QT with the kids? (Computer neck.) Zoned out in front of a football game on TV? (Computer neck.) “Computer neck” happens any time our head comes forward, removing the natural cervical curve from our neck, which is an extension of our spine. Computer neck also usually comes with the super sexy benefits of rounded shoulders, a protruding belly, and a slumped, low-energy posture (sarcasm here.) Yep – life pulls us out of alignment, but a little unlearning can be freeing. Try this right now: Draw your throat (your hyoid bone) back, feeling your ears naturally align over your shoulders. When you move your throat back, you probably also will feel your shoulder blades move down your back in a “V” and you may feel your heart naturally open and your lungs expand. Your body already knows how to do this because it is part of optimal “plumb-line alignment” (see #1/FEET for the other end of that equation!) Ears/shoulders/ribs/hips/heels all want to stack and align with one another in our bodies. Computer neck is something we’re inventing in this technology age – it’s a great one to let go and unlearn.
3. Unlearn stress breathing and reacting
If you’re like most people, you probably don’t spend too much time thinking about breathing throughout the course of a day. But for a second pause and notice: How are you breathing right now? Your body breathes you (so to speak) and that is a pretty rad miracle! But our fight or flight reactions can kick in when we don’t necessarily want them to. For example, in a stressful life situation – like an intense business meeting, a fight with your partner, or even a challenging physical sport – you might hold your breath and/or tense up (the bear-chasing-you response!) We get used to this and start to think it is “normal” to be flooded or overtaken by this adrenaline-fed monster every time we find ourselves amidst challenge. We also think it’s “normal” to react the way we do. Guess what? Odds are you are not being chased by a bear 99% of the time you experience stress. You’re safe. You’re facing a challenge, but you are OK. Notice what’s actually happening in this moment, be present, and breathe deeply. Your body will take cues from your breathing, and come back down to a centered place. When you are calm and centered, all your body’s systems operate and function optimally. When you unlearn reaction, you make room for response. This practice is called mindfulness, and it’s a great thing to learn (once you’re done reading this article about unlearning.)
4. Unlearn your “normal” routine
Let’s keep this one short and sweet. Life is both of those things (short and sweet!) and none of us wants to spend our life in a state of mindless, unconscious, reactive routine. Yet, every day we probably find ourselves repeating some ridiculous, unhealthy, learned pattern. Wouldn’t it be amazing to commit to un-learning just one of those old patterns in the New Year? Why not start NOW? TODAY? Take off your shoes. Turn off the computer. Breathe. Be present. Find something healthy that makes you feel GOOD, and do it often! Enjoy your new habit. If you try something new and it doesn’t feel right, try another thing until you find something that suits you. Own it. Love it. Be passionate about it. After all, life is short – and we’ve got a lot of unlearning to do.
Photo: Getty Images