Discussion thread 19

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Forum member:
I have noticed lately that when I listen to banjo players play very quickly, my right hand and arm tense up and I have a hard time visualizing myself playing at this speed.

Short possible answer/analysis: You hear the fast playing, question your ability (subconsciously maybe) given built up negative associations with FD, doubt leads to fear, fear = physiological response. Required: change of conscious + subconscious focus, based on changing mechanics and intention. It can be done 🙂

Addendum: Also, with MFD, we tend to focus on the things we can’t do, further adding fuel to the negative descending emotional spiral. The body then reacts accordingly, adding tension, and symptoms get worse.

We need to make a different decision – to decide only to focus on what we can do, what we are capable of right now, however simple that might be. For example, with banjo, if all we can do is a very slow and gentle arpeggiation, then we must be mentally present when we play it, and reinforce the joy we get from playing, even if it is something simple.

Of course we *want* to be playing fast, harder things, but giving attention to the things we can’t do is a dangerous strategy, as mentioned, and in MFD often leads to a reinforcement of symptoms.

Paradoxically, in focussing on what we can do, rather than what we desire, symptoms diminish and our playing improves – providing we also apply the principles of efficiency in body mechanics and clean, one-way intent.

The open-feeling breathing exercise I teach is a tool for doing this, as it requires mindful, present concentration. When combining this with efficient mechanics, symptoms begin to diminish.

The challenge is then to be patient, and condition this response into the nervous system over a period of time, occasionally raising the level of difficulty of exercises/songs/pieces, all the while focussing as much as possible on the *process* rather than the desired outcome.

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