Several earlier blogs introduced mantras that remind one to engage in behaviors needed to avoid the dangers or inefficiencies caused by age related changes in capacities (ARCs).
The whole point of the mantras is to cause this change to become a habit that kicks in appropriately as the situation demands without requiring firm commands.
Now that sounds simple enough. The body learns to automatically engage in the protective activity at the right time without reminders. It’s become a habit. But there’s not much about any art of aging that’s simple. (Or at least not in my aging world.) I’ve been using mantras consciously ever since I began writing about them almost 4 years ago (Nose and Toes 11/16/17), and have added several more (Center! Center! Focus! Focus! One thing at a time! Finish what you start!). Still it’s only recently that I’ve actually become aware that my body has incorporated some of them into habits. “Nose and Toes” is still the hardest one to keep track of. I’m so busy paying attention to what I’m doing that I don’t think about the feet. Usually it’s a sudden stomach-dropping sense of being out of balance that tells me my nose and toes are out of alignment and once again I vow to remember to command “Nose and Toes!!!!” The “Focus! Focus” mantra is there some of the time, but not others. My ARC-ing Working Memory now invades more and more everyday activities, so that may be interfering with my ability to habituate focus.
Discovering that an adaptation had become a habit proved to be a vague, elusive experience. One day I noticed that, without a mantra, my body was centering when I stood up and before I took that first step. Not long after, I sensed it happening when I picked up an object to move it about. I not only re-centered, but brought the object close to my body. Hoorah! More recent mantras about “one thing at a time” and “finish what you start” (9/23/20), have “caught on” more quickly. Noticing that they had become a habit was not just a recognition of new habits. These two actually created a glow of pleasure and pride not only in their automaticity but also the results.
It was only after I actually began to notice these new habits with more than one activity and on more occasions that I was able to identify what to look for to recognize that an adaptation actually had “caught on”. Once I knew that, I was able to set my search for other areas of habituation. It appeared that the sensing habituation in and of itself was another new adaptation that had to be learned. For me, at this stage, it feels like a very “iffy” skill.
Of course there’s the reality that our ARCs are continually progressing and messing with our daily living, so developing new adaptations and habituating them are a reality of aging. We’re like puppy dogs chasing our tails. The tail is always there to be chased.
Anyone who thinks that being aged ( particularly really aged), is a time of boring stagnation and quietude just hasn’t been there. Aging may look like a still pond, but it’s a complex roiling one.