PastTense

Muscle Memory  59/90

Blog Post created by PastTense on Jan 31, 2020

About six years ago, my husband and I started swing dancing because I really wanted to learn and he really likes keeping me happy. We found a group that offers lessons and signed up for the intro-package. We now attend once a week and consider it date night. We have so much fun, we’re moving non-stop for an hour a week, and we have met some great people.

The highlight of the year comes during the first weekend in June. The airport sponsors an airshow of WWII military aircraft – both in flight and on static display. Caravans of people flood the airport with every article of equipment, clothing, uniforms, etc. from back in the day. There is everything from an authentic Army field hospital staffed by Army nurses in uniform to a USO stage.  At night, the hangars are cleared out and a Big Band sets up and plays swing music until midnight. Dancers from New York to Ohio attend, and of course, our club is there in numbers. I have seamed stockings, a vintage dress, and a red lipstick that get worn once a year at this event.

We discovered that taking lessons and dancing in an old building with our club are completely different from dancing on a crowded dance floor. There is a great deal of logistics that goes into planning and executing a twirling move. Adding to the general confusion, we are relative new-comers to this and we aren’t very good. There are times when we completely lose composure. Then we fall back on the basic moves and muscle memory to take over. Once you have practiced a move a hundred times, your brain doesn’t even get involved any more. Your muscles know what to do and they just do it.

I told you the story about dancing so I could talk about muscle memory. I had a revelation of sorts regarding muscle memory on the way in to work this morning.

Muscle memory is a motion imbedded in your muscles by repetition. It’s part of the habit we build around smoking. The addiction creates the habit and the habit feeds the addiction. A classic example of a vicious cycle and certainly a contributor to making smoking hard to quit.

I had a muscle memory moment this morning that nearly drove my car to the nearest gas station to buy smokes. I was rather surprised, to be honest. I thought the car triggers were dead and buried, but NO. I did discover something that worked for me, though. Instead of arguing with the craving, I focused on breathing. I didn’t start the negotiation cycle (that nicotine always wins, BTW). I just breathed. In – hold – out. I few cycles later, and I was pulling into my spot at work. PT wins this round!

Keep the quit

PT

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