The Nine Essentials
The Nine Essentials form the core of the Anat Baniel Method. Each of the Nine Essentials describes one of the brain’s requirements for waking up and doing its job well. That is, creating new connections and avoiding rigidity and automaticity when needing to overcome pain and limitation to thus reach new levels of physical and cognitive performance. Validated by modern science’s latest discoveries in the area of brain plasticity—the brain’s ability to change and grow new neurological pathways and connections throughout life. The Nine Essentials offer you concrete, effective, and immediate ways to easily tap into your brain’s enormous potential. With the Essentials, the brain becomes a brilliant problem solver, leading to breakthroughs in movement abilities, pain relief, and peak performance.
Essential 1—Movement with Attention
Movement is Life. Movement helps the brain grow and form. The brain is organized through movement. In turn, it is the brain that organizes all movement: the movement of our body, our thinking, our feelings, and our emotions. But movement alone is not enough. Automatic movement—movement done without attention—only grooves in the already existing patterns. When we bring attention to what we feel as we move, the brain immediately starts building billions of new neurological connections that usher in changes, learning and transformation.
Essential 2—The Learning Switch
The brain is either in a learning mode—the learning switch is on—or not. Healthy young children have their learning switch on and the dial turned on “high.” Their eyes are bright, their movement lithe, and they are full of energy.
Repetition, drill, and everyday stresses, as well as habitual patterns of thought, exercise, and emotions, all tend to turn the learning switch off. The same happens when a child has special challenges, or a person has suffered trauma or injury. For the brain to properly do its job, the “learning switch” needs to be on. Once on, at any age, life becomes a wonderful new adventure, filled with movement, creativity, and new possibilities.
We have all heard the expressions “no pain, no gain” and “try harder.” However, in order to overcome pain and limitation and thrive, the brain needs the exact opposite—less force. For the brain to receive new information, it needs to perceive differences. By reducing the force with which we move and think, we increase our sensitivity. With the resulting increased sensitivity, we greatly enhance our brain’s ability to perceive the finest of differences. These perceptions give the brain the new information it needs to organize successful action and become more alive and vital in both body and mind.
Variation is everywhere, and is more than just the spice of life. It’s a necessity for optimum health. Variation provides your brain with the richness of information it needs to create new possibilities in your movements, feelings, thoughts, and actions. It helps increase your awareness and lifts you out of rigidity and “being stuck.” By introducing variation and playfulness into everything you do, you awaken all your senses. New ideas occur and new possibilities emerge in your life.
Fast, we can only do what we already know. This is how the brain works. To learn and master new skills and overcome limitation, the first thing to do is slow way down. Slow actually gets the brain’s attention and stimulates the formation of rich new neural patterns. Slow gets us out of the automatic mode in our movements, speech, thoughts, and social interactions. It lets us feel and experience life at a deeper, more profound level.
Enthusiasm is self-generated; it is a skill you can develop, choose to do and become good at. Enthusiasm tells your brain what is important to you, amplifying whatever that is, making it stand out, infusing it with energy to grow more. Enthusiasm is a powerful energy that lifts you up, and inspires you and others. It lights up your brain, helping to usher in changes, transforming the most mundane situation or task, adding meaning and generating delight. Enthusiasm helps make the impossible possible.
Essential 7—Flexible Goals
“Keeping your eyes on the prize” is a great way for most people to fail. Freeing yourself from the compulsion to achieve a goal in a certain way and at a certain time keeps you open-minded. You are available to recognize opportunities you might never have noticed had you been fixed on a too rigidly set course. There is no way to know in advance the path that will lead you to achieving your goal. Know your goal and embrace all the unexpected steps, mis-steps, and re-routes. They are a rich source of valuable information for your brain to lead you to your goal. Flexible goals will reduce your anxiety, increase your creativity, resulting in greater success, vitality, and joy.
Essential 8—Imagination & Dreams
Einstein said: “Imagination is everything. It is the preview to life’s coming attractions.” Through imagination your brain figures out new possibilities before actually having to perform. When imagining, the brain grows new neural connections. Our dreams call upon us from our future. They give us our unique life path to follow and guide our brains to continue growing and developing. Your imagination and dreams give you the ability to create something that has never been there before, transcending your current limitations and leading you to develop your authentic life path.
Awaring—the action of generating awareness—is to be knowledgeable about what you are doing, sensing, thinking, and experiencing at any given moment. Awaring is the opposite of automaticity and compulsion. It is a unique human capacity that can catapult us to remarkable heights. When you are aware, you are fully alive and present. Your brain is working at its highest level, noticing subtle nuances of what is going on around and within you, revealing options and potentials, greatly accelerating learning. You are enlivened and joyful, contributing to others, becoming more enlightened, and fulfilling more and more of your human destiny.