EMHH Episode 2: Are You Hurting Yourself or Your Horse with This Common Habit?

#humanmovement feldenkrais habits non-habitual movements Jan 21, 2021
Mary Debono with horse

Some habits are really useful. Other habits can be detrimental to ourselves and our horses. In this episode, you'll learn how your habits of movement and posture can contribute to stiffness, back pain, imbalances and even spinal damage!  

You'll learn simple ways to break out of your habitual, unconscious routine  and develop greater self awareness. With improved awareness, you'll move with more ease, comfort and choice. And when you explore non-habitual movements with your horse, your horse can become more flexible and balanced too. You'll also find out how to get my FREE videos. These unmounted exercises can help liberate you from harmful movement habits and improve your seat, position and balance on your horse.  Effortlessly!   

Podcast Episode #2 of Easier Movement, Happier Horses:  

Hello and welcome. I hope you're doing great today. Well, in this episode, we're going to be talking about your habits and I don't mean habits like smoking and over-drinking and watching too much Netflix. Although if you're doing any of those, you might want to knock them off because those aren't so good for you. But these habits we'll talk about today are actually habits of movement.

You know, your, your posture habits, how you move, things like that. And they not only impact you, but they really impact your horse to a great, to a great degree. And by the way, they impact your horse and whether or not you ride your horse, believe it or not. Of course, if you ride your horse,

then the stakes are really high, as far as your, your habits of movement. But even if you're just on the ground with your horse, you'll, you can negatively impact your horse with your habits. So we want to become aware of what we're doing, right? So that we can decide if we can, if we want to change things up,

if we want to improve how we move, how we stand, how we sit. So let me start by giving you a little story. This gentleman named Dan came to me. This was some time ago, pre pandemic. And he came to my office for Feldenkrais sessions because he was about to face his fourth back surgery. Yikes. And he came in and he sat down and I noticed right away that,

yeah, that's probably how he always sat to just seem very familiar and comfortable the way he was sitting like to him. You could just tell. And I knew he sat that way at work, driving his car, sitting on the sofa. You know, that was just the way Dan sat. And it was such a, it's actually a common way.

I see a lot of people sit this way, but you know, he was very crooked. He was like short on one side. In other words, the, his, his right ribs were closer together and he was longer in the rib cage on the left side. And he had thrown like all his weight onto his love seatbone. Again, this is actually a super common way that people sit.

He probably did it more than most. And he also wasn't a young guy. So he had more time to damage himself, hence all the back surgeries. And, you know, he worked with me over a little period of time and it was, you know, several sessions and it was great because he learned how to sit and stand and move in a way where he was much more balanced.

And it was his choice. It was no longer this compulsion to just sit that way with like lack of awareness and, you know, he didn't need the fourth back surgery. So super awesome. Now you might ask yourself, why would this smart guy, this he's a, he's a scientist? Why would he not know that he was hurting himself? Why would he not?

I realize that, you know, he was doing damage to himself and, and that Y you know, he had no awareness of how movement was contributing to his problem. And the reason is, you know, habits like this, and we all have them. We all do them. There are, they are under the level of consciousness. In other words,

once you're, you know, once your nervous system creates a habit, it just runs kind of in the background. Okay. It's not under your conscious control. It just sort of like, like a default program that just kind of runs in the background of your computer, kind of like that you don't even realize it. So it's below the level of consciousness below the level of awareness.

So if you were to just try to override that, like just say, okay, all right, now I know Mary mentioned about being straight. I'm going to be straight when I sit and you just try to like force yourself to be straight. You're not really solving the problem. In fact, you can make things worse or at least have additional problems.

Because now you're trying to use willpower. You're trying to use use force to keep yourself straight, which will just create other compensations and you'll have other problems. So we don't want to do that. What we want to do instead is basically convince your brain, convince your nervous system, that it can let go of that habit and shoes from a much healthier,

much better option, because we have to remember that habit started for a good reason, whatever habit is, even if it's a bad habit right now, your movement habit, it started as an intelligent response to a problem you were having to give a simple example, say you stub your toe and it really hurts. So you kind of hobble around the house a little bit,

right? Cause it hurts. And so taking the weight off of that foot is smart, right? Until it heals. Now what happens is, and especially if you had a bigger problem than a stubbed toe, is that, you know, over time the limp gets less and less. But what often happens is you're left with what I call an echo of a limp.

So your brain is still holding onto the limp, but just in a small degree, like a little micro limp, if you will. And maybe that means that on one side of your pelvis, you kind of like hike it up. Maybe you don't put the same amount of weight in each foot as you walk. So you're, you're using your legs differently,

very common, by the way, you know, all sorts of little things like that, that would not at all be noticeable, especially to the untrained eye, but over time can cause you a lot of problems and can interfere with your writing. Thinking back to our example about sitting crooked, which is extremely common, right? That usually entails like even the leg on the sh what we're going to call the shorter side gets drawn up.

You might start losing your stirrup there again, you're throwing weight into your opposite seat bone often. Not always. It could sometimes be more weight in the same seat bone. It depends on how you do it, but basically you're making things harder for you as a writer and a lot harder for your horse. So this is really, really important. And by the way,

at the end of this episode, you're going to find out about the free resource I have for you to help you be more balanced when you sit okay, that you won't be so crooked. So that, and it's perfectly free. So we'll talk about that later. So let's think though about some habits you might have. So if you could go ahead please and interlace your fingers.

Now don't do this. If you're driving your car, wait till you park your car. But if you're doing something that it's okay to interlace your fingers, go ahead and do so and now look down and notice which thumb is on top. And you're either going to have the right thumb or the left them, right? So half of you will have the right half will have the left.

Now, if you would please straighten your fingers and move all the fingers over just one space and then interlace your fingers again. And that. So now your other thumb should be on top when you do that. Okay? So it's not just switching the thumbs. You have to move all of the fingers over one space. But when you do that, now you're going to be in a non habitual way of interlacing your fingers.

And it might feel really weird. One gal described it as holding it. It feels like holding hands with a stranger. I thought that was really good. And it does. It does feel, it feels weird, but now you may think, well, who cares? How I interlace my fingers? And it's not generally that consequential thing, but it actually does affect how you use your,

you know, your hands, your shoulders, you know, up into your neck, your back. So if you do a lot of it, it could be consequential. And actually in the Feldenkrais work, we often have people change how they interlace your fingers, do it the non habitual way, because let me tell you why it attracts the attention of your nervous system.

Your brain goes, Oh, that feels different. I have to pay attention. So you start paying attention to other things. It opens you up now to get out of that rut, that habitual rut, right? That rut of habits, if you will, and starts to wake up your brain. So that's one little way of doing it, right?

Pretty cool. Pretty simple. Now, what if you wanted to do more than that, which I suggest, so you think about what else can you do? That's not a visual, that'll wake up your brain. Well, let's think about how you relate to your horse. So many of us, right? We were trained. You do everything from the left side.

You know, you lead from the left. You mount from the left, you dismount from the left, it's all left, left, left. Well, that really can create a lot of one sidedness in you and your horse. Now, with that said, please, don't just mountain dismount from the right, without training your horse to safely accept that and to be really comfortable with that.

So please work with somebody I'm very knowledgeable on that before you just go and do that, because that could be dangerous, but it's a great thing to do because it will not only help, you know, wake up your nervous system and, and have more flexibility and coordination and more awareness, but your horse as well. So it works. Both is a win-win,

but again, be, be very mindful of how you do it. You certainly, you can start out by leading your horse from the other way, even halting your horse. Now, if you just have a traditional halter, you may have to turn it inside out. So it'll, it'll buckle on the right, but you can haul to your horse and buckle and everything from the right again,

be careful that yours doesn't get alarmed by this change, this sudden change, but just be super careful and mindful of doing it. They actually may cultures that have buckles on either side. So you can try that as well, but you know, think about your other routines. You do like maybe you always groom and tack up in this one spot, maybe change up the,

the, the environment, go somewhere else again. That's going to be non habitual. Your brain will go, Oh, something's different. I can start coming out of that. Rut, if you will, and opening yourself up to healthier choices and how you move and how you relate to your horse. So these are all, you know, they seem like simple changes,

but they can be profound. Now just say, you always are very like regimented or, you know, habituated to how you groom and tack up. You do it in such and such order. You always start on this side, blah, blah, blah. Again, change it up. Maybe when you take your horse, like, you know, when you first get on,

you go down a certain path and you go on a trail a certain way again, change it up, right? You'll, you'll find a lot of benefits to this, both for you and your horse, and also things you do away from your horse, the more you do them, non habitually, the better. So for example, you're on the computer using a mouse,

change it to your non-dominant hand, right? That'll wake you up, brush your teeth with your non-dominant hand, all those things like, you know, you can, if you're using a key, you know, unlock your house, try in your non-dominant hand. So try to do a lot of things, you know, store your food, your food,

you know, whatever you can. Another good one for to do around the barn is if you're using the manure a fork, you know, organize it. So that the other hand is on top. Like in other words, we have very particular ways of how we, you know, we pick up a new order and how we sweep the barn aisle and how we rake and all that.

Well, do it the other way, do it the non habitual way and have fun exploring that because it's not just about your arms. It's like, you'll find that your, your chest will have to move differently, your spine, your pelvis. So those are really fun things to do that can actually help you. You know, the, the, the benefits can go far beyond just how you rake the bar Nile or sweep the barn aisle,

but you know how you ride, how you sit, how you move through life. So pretty cool stuff. If you wear a watch, put it on the other wrist, okay, that's going to wake you up. It's going to get the attention your brain. So these are all just simple things you can do. That can be very, very powerful.

Okay. And what's really fun is that you'll find that as you bring more and more non habitual stuff into your life is that it changes your perspective too. So we're going to devote a whole podcast episode at another time about habitual thoughts and how you can get out of habitual thinking. Because just like how movement habits can be totally unconscious. You don't even know you're doing them and they could be,

you know, harmful to you. Your thoughts are the same way. You can have thoughts that are totally not serving you, like really not serving you. And you don't even know you're having them because we have 60 to 70,000 thoughts, a J. And so many of them are they say about 95% actually are below your level of consciousness. So you're just repeating this thing is recording in your head that maybe tells you you're not good enough.

You're not smart enough. You're not coordinated enough. You're not a good writer. You know, whatever it's saying, right? So there are ways that we can address it. That, and that is really, really important too. So along with, you know, addressing your, your movement habits, your habits of thought are very important to be addressed.

Also, your horse has his or her own habits, right? They have habits on how they organize their movement, right? Some behavior habits they have as well. So we're, we'll address that in a future episode. But right now, what I'd love to ask you to do is play with this. You know, next time you pick up your phone,

put it in your other hand, you know, see how that feels. And then, you know, DM me on Facebook or email me, [email protected]. Let me know what you're doing differently. I would love, love, love to hear it. Maybe you have some really fun ideas of what you could do differently. And again,

this is a great way to, you know, help you develop more awareness of what you're doing. You know, more body awareness, if you will, more awareness of your, of just how you move through the day. And the more awareness we have, then the more chance we have to choose wisely to tell our brain, Hmm, let's reevaluate what we're doing and do it better,

easier, healthier. That's how we can stay, you know, moving youthfully through, you know, through life, helping our horses, move youthfully and athletically and all that good stuff. So to get my free resource that can help you, it'll help you in several ways, but one of them is to sit more balanced, and this is good for writers and non-writers alike because these are unmounted exercises.

They're unmounted Feldenkrais lessons, actually. And you'll improve, you know, movements of your spine in several different ways. And again, it helps you recognize what happens you have, and then you learn new ways, new, healthier, you know, more efficient ways of sitting and moving. Okay.

And you can get that at MaryDebono.com/rider.

And it's, it's free. So, MaryDebono.com/rider.

So I hope you've enjoyed this. Like I said, play around with doing non habitual things. We're going to, in future episodes, talk more about habits of thought, equine habits as well, and also how you could use non habitual movement and contact with your horse to help your horse and yourself simultaneously.

So cool stuff coming as well. So have fun. Thank you so much for being here. I so appreciate you. And I can't wait to talk to you again. Bye. For now.