Exercise 97 Improving Your Kinesthetic Instincts

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In the movie, "Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, Sundance was asked to shoot a tin can with his gun out of the holster. He took aim with his eye and missed. When he put his gun into his holster and drew from the hip, he hit the can easily and instinctively.

Instinct is a catch-all word that describes an 'unconscious' activity which is hard to describe in words. If you act instinctively, you just know how to do a certain thing. In sports and games, you often develop kinesthetic instincts that enable you to play well -- dunking basketballs, shooting arrows, throwing a knife, playing darts, pitching horseshoes, etc.

A man delivering consistently good tennis shots across the net is exhibiting this unconscious faculty in his accuracy. If an opponent comments to him about his remarkable play, his conscious awareness more likely will interrupt the fluidity of his kinesthetic swinging and his timing will invariably be disrupted. The spatial variables of the tennis game are more completely understood by the non-analytical side of the brain. One way to disengage the verbal, analytical side of the brain from interrupting your play is to say, "Bounce!" whenever the ball bounces, and "Hit!" whenever it hits the racket. This procedure takes your mind off the analysis of your shots.

Less involved kinesthetic activities like walking, running, bicycling or shifting car gears are less easily disrupted. Balancing, juggling or doing gymnastics require more synchronized coordination. To improve your bowling or your shooting of a bow and arrow, distract the analytical side of the brain by bringing your conscious awareness to your breathing and count to 10 as you inhale.

To improve your basketball, use the basket as the center of a clock. Call out your position as the time of day before you shoot. For example, as you move to the side of the basket to shoot, say to yourself, "I'm at 3 o'clock." Recite the 2's table while doing gymnastics, playing soccer or wrestling. When skiing, call out numbers to indicate the angle of your skis with the snow. Repeat an affirmation over and over while hitting a baseball or playing golf, like "I'm getting better and better." Sing a tune while fencing or shooting skeet.

As an instinctive exercise for the tennis player, practice hitting tennis balls at a tin can without thinking analytically right or wrong. For the fisherman with a casting rod, chunk a practice plug into a garbage can. Then after getting good at that, plunk it into a bucket.

For the hunter, use a BB rifle and shoot at small rubber balls thrown into the air

(you can see a BB in flight). After that, shatter aspirins in flight! With practice, you'll acquire an inexplicable 'feel' to it. Kinesthetic adjustments will be made without your conscious evaluation, and you'll get closer and closer until you finally do it. If you try to think about your actions and exercise conscious control, you lose control. Improve the attitude of the exercise by extending excitement and enthusiasm towards the object and the lesson. Then enjoy yourself and simply let go.

Japanese Buddhist monks can throw consistent bull's eyes into a dart board by using their peripheral vision alone. A football quarterback going back to pass, instinctively uses his peripheral vision to avoid on rushers while focusing his attention on the intended recipient of his pass. For instinctive practice, read something on a blackboard in front of you while throwing paper wads or coins into a bucket at varying angles to the right or left of you. Archery in the days of Robin Hood was a right brain "kinesthetic instinctiveness," not the left brain sighting-device approach of today.

The 'instincts' of some martial artists are so keen that they can virtually break or catch an arrow in flight toward them. To improve kinesthetic skills, first visualize the action you want to take (see "Exercise -- Improving Your Visualization Skills"). See and feel yourself doing it correctly. When you get good at that, you'll find that it'll only take a moment to precede the movement inwardly and you'll achieve better results. As an exercise, hold a wine glass in your left hand and pour water into it from a long necked watering can at a distance of 3 to 4 feet away without spilling a drop! Practice visualizing the action first, and soon you'll be doing it easily.

Remember, the above drills are designed to make use of more of your unused potential. Whether you find an immediate use for your newly acquired skills or not is irrelevant. Pathways and avenues in the quagmires of your mind are being opened up. These in turn will lead to other areas and so forth. The more mental and physical skills that you acquire, the easier it will be to acquire others.

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