It all started with a high-school production of the musical “No, No, Nanette.” I had sprained an ankle, but,”the show must go on,” so I tap-danced my way through “Tea for Two,” smiling the whole time.
(Click HERE for a much more recent, but similar, tap routine to that great old song.)
After a few decades of walking around, my ankle was still a bit weak and prone to injury. Several years ago, after I tumbled yet again, a physical therapist gave me a helpful tip:
“Stand on one leg every time you brush your teeth.”
His theory is that balancing for two to three minutes on each leg every day improves physical balance. This not only reduces those frequent injuries, but improves balance so that we gain steadiness rather than losing it as we age. Apparently, balance problems account for a large portion of falls among the elderly — so standing on one leg every day makes me much less likely to fall and break a hip when I retire.
And it seems to help. But that’s not the only reason I recommend this to my clients. There are two more excellent reasons to take the “Brush-Balance” challenge:
1) It’s incredibly SILLY. Do I need to tell you how helpful laughter can be in reducing stress and breaking habits of bleak thoughts? I didn’t think so. And in case you doubt the silliness of it all, allow me to demonstrate:
(I switch arms when I switch legs, which helps maintain balance a little easier. It also improved my dexterity with my left hand. For many years I was so strongly right-handed that the left was little more than decorative…)
2) Physical BALANCE is a metaphor. Ah, now we’re getting into the connection to hypnosis. Hypnosis is simply a way to get ideas or suggestions past the critical faculty that serves as a barrier between the conscious and subconscious aspects of the mind. There’s a part inside us that filters out new ideas that don’t fit with our world-view.
While skepticism is healthy when some political candidate is trying to tell you he can make your life great with the snap of his fingers, it can be a problem when you really WANT to believe that it’s possible to quit smoking overnight, without any side effects.
And there are lots of ways, in addition to hypnosis, to sneak new ideas into the subconscious: REPETITION (advertisers are good at this), MUSIC (jingles, once again!), ALTERED STATES, and METAPHOR (the story-teller has a moral, but because YOU interpret it, the point seems like your own idea). As an example of metaphor, I sometimes tell smokers a story from Ericksonian hypnotists Havens and Walters, about a man who decides to move out of his dream house after learning that it is full of toxic fumes.
In my case, I found that when I started off each day by BALANCING on one foot, it was a little easier for me to do things that helped me find BALANCE in my life. Work, exercise, friendship, romance, family, art — it’s not easy to keep everything going, is it?
Without my consciously thinking of it, the notion of BALANCE just creeps in, little by little. I’m not saying I’m perfect, by any means. Just that starting the day off with the goal of balance makes me just a tiny bit more likely to achieve it.
Being quite literal-minded, I take it even further — most days, I start out literally on the right track, standing on the right foot, and end the day allowing everything I don’t need to keep feeling or thinking to be left behind.
Try it for 21 days — and then let me know how this tip works for you!