This weekend, my car's navigation system opened a lens onto the internal process of unlearning movement habits, the process of Alexander Technique, of neuromuscular re-education. I needed to get to the other side of the mountain by car. The Notch Road connects the South side of Mt Mansfield to the North side. The Notch Road is only open for traffic during the summer months. The rest of the year it's mostly snow covered and makes a wonderful skiing and hiking trail. I know this since I just enjoyed a great skiing adventure on that road. My car's GPS doesn't know this.
I was worried to get lost on the long country roads winding through multiple towns in the valley to my destination on the other side of the mountain so I put the coordinates of my destination into my car's GPS. The GPS tells me that it will take me 10 minutes and presents me with directions over the Notch road. I can't figure out how to program the alternate route and trust that, once I start driving away from the Notch road into the valley, the GPS will recalculate and make the adjustments that reliably will guide me around the mountain on drivable roads.
You know that sometimes annoying righteous sounding voice your GPS has? Sometimes, especially when my nerves are a bit thin, this voice that's meant to guide and support me, seems to say: "Don't even dare to think about not following my directions" and later "I told you to turn left. Now I have to figure out how to get you back to catch up on that left turn. Pay attention dummy!"
This is the voice that spoke to me half around the mountain. 30 minutes straight, the computerized digital voice of authority in my car told me to turn around in order to get back to the Notch Road. "Turn left now," "Take the next road and then turn right"... HAAA!! I didn't fall for it. "You don't know what I know" I talked back to the Navigation lady. I felt privi to insider information. Information that I had gained from experience. If I wouldn't have experienced the Notch road on my skis just a few days earlier I might have let a tiny bit of doubt creep into my mind. This way I knew that I could trust my ability to see the bigger context of the situation. At least I knew where I didn't want to drive. As for actual helpful directions I was still hovering in the uncomfortable place of not knowing. I had to trust while gently holding onto my clear intention of arriving at my destination on time.
I continued to trust the process, calming myself by deep breathing and long exhales. I kept saying "No thank you. I will not turn right here." "No, I will not turn around." "NO!" I needed to say "No" to the continuous and persistent directions from the voice in my car.
After 30 minutes of saying "NO"and half way through the valley, my GPS recalculated and finally directed me with ease to my desired destination. After about 27 "NO" I was finally able to say "YES". It was a magical moment, so easy, so smooth. The voice of the GPS suddenly sounded calm and supportive. We were at peace again, me with my clear intentions, place of destination, and my car's GPS with meaningful directions.
We all have these built in coordinates and our own body-map. Our learned movement habits are stored away and readily accessible, just like the directions over the Notch road were for my GPS. At some point in our lives these movement habits made a lot of sense. Most of them still do. We are kinesthetic intelligent beings after all. Nature is intelligent.
The directions of my GPS leading me over the Notch road were the best directions when the road was open for traffic until end of October. What was meaningful at some point gets us stuck and in trouble at other times . It was only my stubborn decision to pause, reference the bigger context and then say NO to the piercing voice of habit that allowed me to pursue my intention. After 27 draining taxing NOs a new direction surfaced from the mind of my car's GPS and, YES, I did get to my intended destination on time.