Beyond Repetition

When I am feeling stuck in my mind and in the physical world I find it helpful to offer myself a pattern interruption by practicing doing things with my non-dominant side. Movement meditations like postural yoga and snowboarding are great for this.

With yoga, postures are typically practiced back and forth, stimulating and developing agility on both sides of the body, balancing out the dominance of either side. This can increase and reorganize the potential ways we habitually act and respond to circumstance. Instead of always repeating the pattern in one direction, we can move through it in the other direction too, adapting our prior experience to fit the specifics of the new situation.

It is beyond just being the opposite, as we are not fully symmetrical. In many ways the second side is like learning a separate yet related thing.

While snowboarding tends to be a one-sided activity, we can bring in this balancing, like a yoga practice, by switching back and forth which foot we have forward. At first the non-dominant side feels awkward, as we’’re doing something familiar but in a different way. Which potentially makes it feel even harder at moments then if we didn’t already know how to do it before, because we are expecting it to be the same.

It can take a bit of unhooking ourselves from trying to recreate the same experience on the second side, for although we already know how to do it on the dominant side, the second side has its own variables. When I let go of trying to make it the same, I can learn about what it actually is, and respond to that.

This can be practiced with any typically one sided activity, or any activity at all.

As we break our attachments to the familiar, creating a pattern interruption in the momentum of habitual repetition, we can learn to sense the nuances of each situation we encounter. Each moment informed yet not defined by our experiences of the past.

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