Automaticity….What’s Yours?

Whatever you practice is what you will perform.”~ Paul Dennis

The first time I heard Paul, a gifted dancer and master teacher, utter these words in dance class, I didn’t fully appreciate the sweep of his wisdom.  After all, I knew very well that one goal of all of our practicing was to get us to automaticity.

Ah yes, automaticity.  What every practitioner of certain movements is aiming for at some level.  From musicians to professional athletes to dancers to circus performers.

Photo credit: Nikki Carrara

Photo credit: Nikki Carrara

Automaticity involves honing “…the ability to do things without occupying the mind with the low-level details required, allowing it to become an automatic response pattern or habit. It is usually the result of learning, repetition, and practice.”

Paul reiterated his resonant nugget of wisdom often enough that it became a mantra for me.  First in dancing…. then in living.

For one very cool thing about the body is also very true for the mind: The patterns we practice become our go-to choices.  Whether they are patterns in movement or in thinking. As you know, our habits are especially likely to be reverted to when we are anxious or stressed or need to make a snap decision.

So, if I practice my pliés with sound alignment during class, I am much more likely onstage to execute pliés with that safe alignment–even when I am jittery.  If I rehearse using a full range of motion, I increase the chances that my muscle memory will recreate that fullness when I perform.


What is at least equally exciting is this notion, known so well by yogis, therapists, and mindfulness practitioners, that what we practice mentally and emotionally is also likely to become our default pattern.  So, if we practice positivity, we are more likely to think and act in a positive way, even when external challenges intensify.

Compassion, flexibility, mindfulness, humor, openness, courage?  They are all experiences we are more likely to replicate, and get “better” at, if we practice them.  (Obviously the same is true for their negative counterparts….)

So, as I look back over the past year, and forward to a brand spanking new one, I’ve been chewing on what it is that I have been practicing.  As well as musing about what automaticity I’d like to develop in 2015.  Knowing that whatever it is I choose to repeat and repeat and repeat again is what I am more likely to perform.

And what will you be practicing?



This entry was posted in Inspiration, Kindness/Generosity, Mindful, Soulful and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

28 Responses to Automaticity….What’s Yours?

  1. kanzensakura says:

    One of my resolutions….practice, practice, practice kindness, compassion, positivity, sharing it. I was going to post about this for new years. You have inspired me!

    • SirenaTales says:

      Love your practice, Kanzen–you already seem quite good at it :). Thanks so much for being here with your signature generosity and honesty. Looking forward to your post! xoxo

  2. Lorien says:

    Really nice post Chloe. It inspires me to set an even clearer intention for my practice. This year, I’d like to practice unconditional self love–a tall order, but with practice, I think it might come more naturally. Thank you for your words, and thank you for you. 🙂

  3. words4jp says:

    I have much to practice. To be honest, i would prefer to live life in an actual dance class than out of it.

  4. Geo Sans says:


  5. Rachael Charmley says:

    A magical and timely post for many people including myself. It has reminded me that it is also a good time right now to acknowledge the changes I have made in my life for the good of myself and others. Thank you – and YEAH YEAH YEAH TO 2015 ❤ ❤ ❤ xxx

    • SirenaTales says:

      Oh, I love your idea of a retrospective, Rachael. You have inspired me to do the same. Once again, I am deeply grateful for your constant and abundant support this year. 2015?
      YEAH YEAH YEAH, baby! xox

  6. Luggage Lady says:

    You are such an incredible role model, Chloe, it’s hard to improve upon your brilliant approach… These two pretty much mirror your “compassion/openness” category, but I humbly add: acceptance/respectful engagement — the actions are vastly more important than the term! Thank you, as always, for triggering mindfulness in us all! ♥

    • SirenaTales says:

      “Acceptance/respectful engagement”–oooooo, LL, mind if I steal your great ideas for practicing? Thank you, as always, for lighting up my day and my heart. Love to you….

  7. roweeee says:

    Still working to achieve this with my violin bow. It doesn’t always hear me and does it’s own dance of rebellion quite aptly entitled “the saw”. xx Rowena

    • SirenaTales says:

      Heh–“the saw”–I know it well, from hearing rather than producing it, but I must say that I have my own “saws” with a variety of practices that are new and/or especially challenging. Thanks so much for offering your story with the great metaphor, roweeee. Your generosity to me is much appreciated! xo

      • roweeee says:

        Thanks Sirena. The violin has turned out to be a great metaphor, all quite by accident as I never intended to take it up and I never expected that it would help teach me how to ski and take on huge challenges. I joked with my family at Christmas that my real skill is in writing about playing the violin, which is just as valid really .
        May we both move through the “saws” this year and find new freedom of expression xx Rowena

      • SirenaTales says:

        Cheers to that good wish–thank you.xo

  8. diahannreyes says:

    What you describe makes me think of honing that muscle memory. Your post makes me think of a body meditation practice known as the BreatheStretch, originated by a teacher named Vajra Ma. I’ve been practicing for years and in the beginning, my head was all in the process and half the time I couldn’t figure out whether or not I was doing it right- now I just lay down and my body does it for me. Also – I love this new way of looking at patterns. I’m always trying to break out of patterns- stop living from the same default reactions and responses- so thank you for the reminder that patterns have their value in our lives too.

    • SirenaTales says:

      Oh, cool, Diahann–I hadn’t heard of that BreatheStretch practice, but your body doing it for you sounds excellent. Reminds me of how I sometiems feel that the movement is dancing me when I dance and I am just along for the ride. Those are the optimal moments :). Thanks again so much for being here, my insightful friend. xoxo

  9. davidprosser says:

    I shall practise staying alive another year to annoy my readers. We all deserve some fun.
    xxx Huge Hugs xxx

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