Autopilot: Dancing Another Day, Another Tour Jeté

March 10, 2015

Central Pennsylvania Youth Ballet A New Page Blog Autopilot

How many times have you driven somewhere and realized you do not remember exactly how you got there? Ever wonder if you locked your door, worry you left the oven on, or question “Did I let the dog back in before I left home?”

Not sure about you, but I certainly have. Autopilot behaviors. Performed every day these activities become typical and are, therefore, accomplished without much consideration. That is what leads your brain to wonder if the task was carried out at all, much less correctly.

Living a life on autopilot refers to performing the same routines — participating in the same activities day after day and week after week to the point where they require little thought or even control. The tendency is to become disengaged. Sounds somewhat like dancing, doesn’t it? And, you would be right. A huge amount of your dance training requires that you practice the same steps repeatedly. Yes, sometimes they may fall in a different order or are executed to different music, but essentially they are the same steps.

The art of dancing is demanding and a dancer should never stop wanting to grow. Yet with so much of your time involving repetition, how do you keep yourself from surrendering to a thoughtless routine in the studio? Well, today I am supplying you with three strategies to help you combat dancing on autopilot. These tools will help keep routine from sneaking up into the cockpit.

Revolutionize Habits

CPYB A New Page Blog AutopilotThis step begins with becoming in tune to what your habits even are. Are they negatively serving as a blockade? Have they been developed due to boredom? Maybe stressful or complicated situations are causing bad habits to materialize. If this is the case, it is time to replace such habits with new ones. Productive ones. Beneficial ones. Be patient with yourself though. Take it one at a time. Ask yourself: What small actionable steps can I take to free myself from my deeply rooted, not-so-good habits? This can be as simple as standing in a different place for barre and center work. A change of view for you and of you. Try different stretches. Work with a new partner. Switching it up and keeping your body guessing will keep both you and your brain charged and on the right runway.

Pay Attention

Being solely in attendance does not mean you are paying attention. As I mentioned earlier, the brain tends to default to autopilot when the same routines and activities are being implemented. True, dancers have to master routines in order to perfect their technique and artistry. Yet it is possible to get around the brain’s default mode by being fully attentive. Ask why. Why can’t I seem to nail this turn? Analyze it. Break it down. Ask for assistance. Do it again. Wonder how. How can I perfect my artistry? Take in the music. Work on movement quality. Play with musicality. Show up with an authentic, genuine focus. Give 100 percent of yourself to your practice and leave no room for those automatic thoughts attempting to creep in. Let them know you are the boss and you will be calling the shots from now on.

4 Lessons Ballet Taught Me About Life A New Page Blog

Got Goals?

Sure you do! Most people do. But goals can only be met when you understand that you have choices. Those choices need action. And, that action is what brings your goals to fruition. No goal will be fully realized if it is fueled by anything other than your own self-motivating thoughts. Do nothing because you have to and do everything because you want to. Keep it simple though. Do not over plan by spinning a wild web of details. Control self-limiting thoughts. Doubt, fear and negative thinking will only hold you back. Appreciate any and all progress regardless of the size. Live every second. Be present. Every moment matters. Let’s turn off the autopilot, live consciously, deliberately and with intention.

Writer’s Note: Oh, yes. I did remember to let in the dog out of the cold before I left home. Whew!

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