I love to hear my clients laugh. It suggests that they are not taking our work or themselves too seriously. As I talked about in my last blog this makes everything, especially learning, easier. Having said that there are times when I can pretty much predict that fear will, at least initially, replace the fun. Asking someone to juggle is one of those times.
The juggling ‘balls’ are actually small, soft beanbags as in this picture.
There is no possibility they will do any harm to my client, me or anything in the room. And yet fear is unmistakable in most people. It is usually related to not wanting to make a mistake i.e. drop a ball and layered on top of that is a fear of being judged.
Once some of the initial fear subsides and I have reassured my client that juggling provides great opportunities for learning, we make a start. Often the first things that become apparent are:
- All the focus is on catching the balls
- Frustration builds every time a ball is dropped
It is clear that a different strategy is needed so I ask my client to experiment with:
- Shifting their focus from trying at all costs to catch the balls to throwing them accurately. If you watch good jugglers they throw the balls so that they land in their hands; the skill is in the throw, not the catch
- Using each failed catch as an opportunity to practice noticing and not judging. ‘How fascinating’ as Benjamin Zander who co-wrote ‘The Art of Possibility’ would say. I have included a YouTube clip about this later in this blog
The simple act of juggling can teach us many useful things as long as we are willing to stay curious and open to learning in new and different ways. Here are some principles that I hope to get across when I teach my clients juggling:
- Focussing on the process (throwing the balls accurately) is the route to success rather than focussing only on the outcome (catching the balls)
- The importance of finding a sense of quiet before starting and maintaining it throughout the activity. Michael Gelb and Tony Buzan describe this ‘the art of relaxed concentration’ in their book ‘Lessons from the Art of Juggling’
- How approaching even a completely new and difficult task can be made easier if you can replace ‘judging’ with simply ‘noticing’
So, if you find yourself grappling with an activity and becoming increasingly frustrated, you might like to try drawing on the lessons that juggling has to offer including:
- Focussing on how you are doing what you are doing (the process) and trusting that in doing so you will get the outcome you want.
- Cultivating the art of ‘relaxed concentration’
- Saying ‘How fascinating’ if things don’t go quite as you would like them to maybe even loudly whilst throwing your arms up in the air as Benjamin Zander does in this YouTube clip
If this post has sparked your curiosity and you are interested in finding out how the Alexander Technique can help you please email me at email@example.com or call me on 07957 981240 get in touch using the contact icons
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