David Laroche : Hello. Today, I would like to introduce you to an amazing woman. I love the wild brain. Today, we will talk about the brain and the power of your brain, of all brains. She’s Anat Baniel. It’s easy for me because it sounds like French. So you will love this interview. It’s just full of that. Hi, Anat.
Anat Baniel : Hi. How are you doing, David?
David Laroche: I’m fantastic. I’m very glad when I have the chance, the luck, to meet people about the brain and the inner power.
Anat Baniel: Good.
David Laroche: Good. Yes. I would like to let you introduce yourself. Who are you?
Anat Baniel: Okay. So my name is Anat Baniel. I work with helping people take advantage of the remarkable potential of their brains. So I work with adults, just normal people. Very often, people come to me because they either have back pain, or they have other issues, sometimes some illnesses. They’ve had accidents, and they want to come back to functioning. I’ve worked a lot with dancers, athletes, a lot of musicians.
David Laroche: Because they had accidents?
Anat Baniel: Musicians, very often, it’s a repetitive stress injury. They do a lot of repetitive movements, playing the music.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: They get neck pain, shoulder pain, bursitis, tendonitis, all the -itises. It stops them from the freedom to perform because you have to move, be able to move freely, to create music. Dancers, obvious. So they come to me, these people. Very often the reason they first come to me is because they have a problem. So as long as they can practice and do what they’re doing, and they get as good as they can get, but that’s what they are trained to do. When they have a problem and it doesn’t go away, then they start looking for solutions.
David Laroche: You are the solution.
Anat Baniel: Well, yes. Very often I am the solution. They usually start with doctors, and some of them even have surgeries, medical interventions, medications. When that doesn’t work well enough, they come to me. Now more people come to me sooner because they find out about me sooner…
David Laroche: The more you are famous, the more [inaudible 00:03:08] for the people.
Anat Baniel: …or recognized. Yes, they are aware of it. So these are the adults. I work a lot with children with special needs. That was not something I intended to do or planned to do, but I write about it in my book, “Kids Beyond Limits.” I had this first child that I encountered through my teacher, which I’ll talk to you about in a bit. It was remarkable. It was just like magic, what was going on.
As a result, my teacher started referring children to me, and I started working with children. I was not trained to work with children. I’m trained as a clinical psychologist. I was a dancer. Also I have a degree in statistics, and I’m interested in the sciences. So I was a mishmash of things. I started working with kids.
David Laroche: When you say kids, what age?
Anat Baniel: Well, by now, anywhere from five days up, but then it was usually a year, two, three, four, depends when they discovered me. Cerebral palsy, different kinds of brain damage, autism, genetic disorders, anything that interferes with their ability to spontaneously grow well, anything that interferes with the ability of the brain to learn as it would have otherwise.
So the principles that I use are applicable for healthy children and healthy adults because it’s helping the brain do its job better. So you move better. You think better. You feel better. You get much more potent, all across. The driving force of people, initially, to find me is usually trouble.
David Laroche: Okay. So you were saying about travel. Let’s imagine that people are following us. They think they don’t have any trouble. What could be [inaudible 00:05:14]?
Anat Baniel: Let me promise you. Everybody, if they close their eyes for one moment and are honest with themselves, there are things they want to do better. There are things they feel bad about. So people want to have a better posture, or people have some pain sometimes, or people start feeling like they’re older, or they want to be able to play sports better, or they do their yoga a little more flexible, or they feel that they’re not good lovers, or they feel that they’re not . . .
What happens is that people, oftentimes, can ignore that if they can do well enough, because very often the culture doesn’t support continued growth. There’s a wonderful biologist, evolutionary biologist, Gould that wrote many, many books. Unfortunately he died very young. In one of his books, he says that human beings are born to die unfinished. The thing that separates us from all other species that we know of is that we are born very unfinished. We are born not being able to do anything independent. Right?
Our brain is going to have to create five times its own size, by the time we’re young teenagers. We’re born very unfinished, but the quality, the way that the biology of the brain works, is that it never closes the deal. It never finishes. We can use ourselves as if we’re a finished product, but we thrive, we are healthiest, our immune system works best, everything works better in us, all our systems, when we keep growing and learning as if we’re unfinished, because we are unfinished.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: Does that make sense, what I said?
David Laroche: [inaudible 00:07:21] inconvenience of this kind of system.
Anat Baniel: I don’t understand what you mean by that.
David Laroche: I mean that we could think it could be a disadvantage to come to this planet in being unfinished.
Anat Baniel: Oh, yeah.
David Laroche: But it helps us to grow.
Anat Baniel: It’s actually our biggest advantage. We are also doing some things that are not good, as a result. But if you think lions, tigers, elephants, you name it, all the animals that are bigger and stronger than us, and we are in charge. Right?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: It’s intelligence. It’s creativity. It’s invention. Try to imagine that you could go back in history 200 years, only 200 years. It’s nothing.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Even 100, even 80, but 200 years, and try to tell these people what you’re doing here with me now.
David Laroche: You can’t imagine.
Anat Baniel: Talk Internet. It’s remarkable. We are not done. We are never done. That’s our biggest advantage, and that people don’t understand.
David Laroche: Okay. We are born with the ability to grow. Right?
Anat Baniel: We are born with a necessity to grow.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: I work with children that have trouble growing. I work with adults that have trouble, and the way they get out of it is through growing. So people think a lot of times, because of more traditional psychotherapy and approaches, people have the model of the onion. You know? Oh, I have a problem. Let’s peel the onion until we get to the core, until I become my true self. Right?
I tell my students, “If you peel the onion, what’ll happen is after you’re finished peeling all the layers, there’ll be nothing, and you’ll have a lot of tears.” There’s nothing. Most of the time, the way to get past limitation, past trouble, to do better, is what we don’t know yet. It’s what we haven’t developed in ourselves, in our own brains yet.
David Laroche: So how can we do to develop the . . .
Anat Baniel: Good question. That is where I live. That’s where my work lives. That’s where I live. So I want to suggest two or three things about the brain in general, and then I’ll go into the techniques, the tools to do it, because they’re very simple.
David Laroche: You mean the nine essentials?
Anat Baniel: The nine essentials.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. So the brain grows connections and forms itself. It structures itself through experiences from the body, from inside, then from outside, from our interaction with the world. It does it extremely rapidly early on. When a child is in a learning mode, the estimate is 1.8 million connections per second on the average. So it’s about 100 million new connections per minute. Right? So you can keep doing the math.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: It’s enormous potency. Right? The brain works with large numbers, large numbers. So that’s the brain change. That’s the brain plasticity. Right? The brain organizes itself, and it puts order in the disorder and makes sense out of the nonsense. So if it weren’t your brain doing it, you would look at me now. You would see, metaphorically, pixels, but you wouldn’t see face, eyes, nose, ears. That’s something that your brain learned. You made it up in your brain.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: So if you’re really drunk . . . Have you ever been really, really drunk or something like that and all of a sudden you can’t make sense of the key and the shape? You lost some of your ability to put order in the disorder, temporarily. People have brain damage and they can’t make sense of the sounds anymore. They don’t understand language. They know they could. They even know it’s language, but they can’t make sense of it.
I’m giving those examples so that it becomes more concrete for you and for the listener. So the brain’s job is to put order in the disorder and make sense out of the nonsense.
David Laroche: Wow. I love this sentence.
Anat Baniel: This is it. That’s it’s job. When it does that, it does it in terms of the physiology of it. It’s the whole structure and the connections and the impulses that go through and so on. The brain is basically an information system. So I asked myself the question, “What’s the information?” How do we get information? How does the brain . . .
David Laroche: By our sensor.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, and most people think of information as stimulation. So I rub the hand, and that’s the information. Because of my work with children, it was through the work with children that I realized that’s not what it is. We need it. Without it, nothing happens.
I worked with a child that couldn’t talk. So in therapy, the way they tried to get the child to talk was taking the tongue of the child and brush the tongue with a toothbrush to stimulate the tongue. Now if you take a moment, and you imagine somebody taking your tongue and starting to rub it with a brush, it would probably be very unpleasant. Because the child had cerebral palsy, the stimulation also made him . . . It was an overflow in the brain. So he got more tight, and it was harder for him to do and understand anything.
Then I thought he doesn’t need more stimulation. He needs less stimulation. Because with the stimulation that he gets, he can’t make sense of it. Any stimulation he gets, all he does is all the muscles contract. So he never learns to move. He can’t do anything. He can’t learn anything. That’s when I realized that what the information is is when the brain can discern, can perceive a difference.
David Laroche: Okay. Like a contrast?
Anat Baniel: Exactly. So if I’m colorblind, and there is black and white, I don’t see black and white, and I don’t have the distinction of color. There’s no color because there’s no difference. So a good brain, a powerful brain, is a brain that is able to perceive finer and finer differences. So when we want to get really good at something, we want to be able to notice more and more differences.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: On the kinesthetic level, like the muscles and the joints, what we feel from our movement, visually, auditorily, smell, and eventually thoughts. You see everything. You start looking at the world. You say, “What’s the level of refinement that this person can generate?”
David Laroche: Do you think it is what makes champions, for example, the ability to . . .
Anat Baniel: Absolutely.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: So if you look at musicians, from a certain level up, they all play the notes. What makes a difference between a good pianist and Arthur Rubinstein? It’s what he can hear and how he connects it to movement and the expression. What makes a difference between a child scribbling lines and Picasso? Right? He also scribbled lines.
David Laroche: Wow.
Anat Baniel: Yeah.
David Laroche: You make me think.
Anat Baniel: I can see that. Exactly. Excellent. So once we accept the premise, if you accept at least for the duration of the interview, a good brain is a brain that has ease and is looking to perceive differences. That means it’s awake. It becomes aware easily. It notices stuff. It does stuff with that information. It moves it around. Because once you feel differences, the way you’re going to put it together is unpredictable, completely unpredictable.
David Laroche: Just before [inaudible 00:16:26].
Anat Baniel: Yeah, sure.
David Laroche: We can increase our ability to see small differences.
Anat Baniel: To perceive small differences, to see, to hear, to feel, to smell. That’s exactly right. Our ability to perceive differences. The potency in which we perceive differences can increase and increase and increase and increase, to the point of being absolutely remarkable.
David Laroche: I have so many questions in my mind.
Anat Baniel: That’s good.
David Laroche: Do you know NLP?
Anat Baniel: Yes.
David Laroche: I’m not sure of the English term.
Anat Baniel: Say it in French maybe first, and then I’ll help you.
David Laroche: I will try English.
Anat Baniel: Okay. Go for it.
David Laroche: Yes. With the program . . . You understand that? They say that some people are more global and other people more specific. So do you think the specific people will be more . . .
Anat Baniel: Not necessarily. No. I know NLP. I met Richard Bandler, and I knew very well Leslie Bandler and some other people. Yeah, and I’ve read the books and all that stuff. So it’s not exactly overlap, but one of the ways to think is that one of the things the brain is supposed to do is to both do the background and the foreground, the focused and the general. Actually a really good brain can move from one to the other, easily.
A really, really good brain can keep a foreground and still have the background there. These are like the great martial artists and masters. They can focus on this, but they don’t lose the bigger . . .
David Laroche: [inaudible 00:18:09].
Anat Baniel: Yes, exactly. So again it’s a different thing. So people that are very focused don’t necessarily perceive differences better. They can be really bad at it, actually.
David Laroche: That’s why pianists, in the early age, develop [inaudible 00:18:28] brain?
Anat Baniel: Okay. What happens is the brain responds to its experience. So if you use your fingers to play the piano, the differentiation, what happens is when you perceive a difference . . . So a baby is born and all it can do is this and let go. Flex the hands and let go. And when they’re awake and active, actually their brain stimulates the muscles and it’s a healthy thing. Their hands tend to be in a fist. And then a few weeks, months pass and all of a sudden the baby does that. Have you seen babies go like that?
David Laroche: Yes, a new movement.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. No, they discovered that this is not this. They didn’t know it. They don’t even know it’s their hands. In the beginning, it’s these things.
David Laroche: How do they discover it?
Anat Baniel: Well, through movement. Movement is it. Movement is the driving force of everything, and I’ll talk about it in a minute. Then they discover it, and then they can do this independently. This is so exciting. You know? Then they do that, and people respond. So it accelerates it. This gets mapped in the brain, relative, by itself, but also relative in movement to other parts. So a big part of what happens with the brain is when you learn to distinguish the fingers.
Play the piano. It’s highly complex, but you have to feel this finger is not this finger. It’s different fingers. Right? Then you feel the wrist, and you have to feel the shoulder. Of course, hopefully in the future, they’ll teach them to feel their whole bodies when they play the piano. That’s part of the problem when they don’t get really good at it, most people.
So the brain becomes engaged with that, and that area of the brain becomes more densely mapped. It’s literal connections that control the movement, because it’s also the movement, and it’s also how you want the music to be, loud, soft, romantic or hard. It engages more and more of the brain, and it requires the brain to operate on a higher level.
That’s, I believe, one of the reasons that kids that learn music and also learn classical music tend to be smarter. They’re not really smarter than other kids to begin with, but they get themselves to be smarter because they put the demand on the brain. It gets the brain to be at a higher potency. You see? The brain can work at a higher level and lower levels. As we evolve, we can learn to use our brains better and better.
You think of it like a heart. You think of it of anything. It’s a tool. It’s an organ that has a job to do. When we get really tired, we don’t do as well. So I can be brilliant at 10:00 in the morning and an idiot at 10:00 at night. I actually am usually that way. By the time the day is over, I’m not going to be brilliant. I’m too tired. I’ve got to eat and go to sleep. It’s the same brain, but I potentiate it, de-potentiate it, potentiate it, de-potentiate it, but I only potentiate it to the level that I’ve learned how to potentiate it. So then we can get engaged in a process.
David Laroche: You can discover the . . .
Anat Baniel: The next level.
David Laroche: . . . the new level.
Anat Baniel: Exactly.
David Laroche: Learn how to manage it and then the new level.
Anat Baniel: Exactly. Exactly. That’s why people who are very good at one thing usually are very good at other things.
David Laroche: Can you repeat that?
Anat Baniel: People who are really good at doing one thing, like what’s his name, Itzhak Perlman, the violin player. I read an article about him, and the French talk about him. He’s the violin player.
David Laroche: Do you know him?
Anat Baniel: Personally no. He had a paralysis of his legs, polio as a child, and he’s a magnificent . . . Itzhak Perlman, he’s one of the world’s best violin players. There was a big spread on him in the New York Times Sunday Magazine, I think, a few years ago. They said, “Oh, he cooks fantastically well. He does this fantastically well, and he does that fantastically well.” I said, “Of course, because he’s a brain . . . ” Once the brain knows to do one thing really well, it knows to do other things really well. It can learn really quickly.
David Laroche: So I just had one small question before the nine essentials. Let’s imagine I would like to learn piano, cooking, and video editing, three different domains. So if I have to find the best strategies to learn the quickest way, the three domains, it is to focus on one domain, teach my brain to go deeper or higher, I don’t know, and then go to the next things? Or try to learn the three things at the same time?
Anat Baniel: Well, you can’t do it really at the same time, but you mean parallel.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Within the same timeframe. Well, I will give you a short answer now, and maybe when we talk about the essentials, we can expound on it. It’s a combination of the two. So you want to use the essentials for each and every one of them. So if you want to really have high potency of learning, once I tell you what the essentials are, I would use them in learning to do videography, cooking, and piano playing.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: I would focus on one of them for a little period of time, let’s say a week or 10 days or something like that, and then I would actually leave it alone and focus on something else.
David Laroche: Okay. Short barriers.
Anat Baniel: Yes. Focus. Then in the period where I focus on something else, I will do twice or three times, one hour or two hours of what I was doing before. I wouldn’t completely leave it alone, but I’ll do it after I took a break. So let’s say if you’re getting a lesson in videography, and you started learning to play the piano, you take a walk. You have lunch. You take a little nap. Then you play the piano for half an hour, 45 minutes. Then you go back to videography.
David Laroche: Okay. So the more you are training yourself, the more you are decreasing the times to change the activity.
Anat Baniel: Well, what you want to do is you want to give yourself enough time to really familiarize. I think of learning, of all learning, what I teach when I start . . . I also train people to be practitioners in what I do. So at first, I say, “Think of it like learning a new language.”
David Laroche: Yes, I would love to know.
Anat Baniel: By the way, yes, you would be able to use those principles. Excuse me. So in the beginning, you don’t know anything. The brain is like a soup. Right? So you hear sounds. I remember it because when I was a child, my father took our family to Berkeley. So we lived in Israel. We came to Berkeley, and everybody spoke English. I spoke Hebrew. They put me in school in my age group. I was 11 years old. So it was junior high school.
David Laroche: Wow.
Anat Baniel: It was the smartest thing they did, because they were very kind to me, the teachers. They gave me time. They didn’t insist I do homework right away, which was actually remarkable, when I think of it now backwards. I remember in the beginning, it just sounded like [noise]. I knew it was something that’s not my language, but it was just a mess. It was like a soup. It was nothing. Right? Just noise.
David Laroche: Yes, I understand that.
Anat Baniel: Then I remember one day, spontaneously, I knew when a sentence began and when a sentence ended. I had no idea what it meant. I didn’t understand meaning yet of the words. I didn’t know the words, but I could tell beginning and end of sentence, beginning and end of sentence. So at age 11, I had the experience of learning a language like a newborn.
Then a certain amount of time passed. I can’t tell you how long, because I wasn’t thinking of it. I was 11, but I remember becoming aware that all of a sudden I could tell when a word began and a word ended. So within the sentence, I could start perceiving. So my brain started discovering this structure of the English language. It could impose order.
Then all of a sudden, meaning. I started understanding meaning. In about a month to five weeks, I spoke English. I was 11. I immersed myself. Then I went to France. I wanted to learn to speak French. I was 17 and something, and I had time before I had to go to the army in Israel. So I asked my father to send me to France to learn French. So I went to Besançon. They have a program there for French.
Same story. I spoke maybe two sentences of French, but I spoke English. In three months, I spoke French. You understand? So now I haven’t used French much. I haven’t read much in French. So I’ve lost a bunch of it, but I spoke French. I had no inhibition. I made mistakes in grammar and everything. I didn’t care. I just spoke.
David Laroche: Yes, I do that.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, children do the same thing. So bringing it to you wanting to learn three different things . . .
David Laroche: It’s something you brought up, “To be able to do a lot of mistakes to learn.”
Anat Baniel: Huge. That’s one of my essentials.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: We’ll get to the essentials. Yes. No, but it’s good that you say it because it’s good it’s coming from you, because then it’s a lot more powerful than if it’s all coming from me.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: So anytime you want to learn something new, I would approach it like a newborn learning a language. So first of all, you want to go where people speak that language. You want to be with a piano. You want to be around pianos. I tell people, even those who already play, even professional people that make a living at it, I have them start doing silly things, like playing with their elbows or playing with their heels, mixing it up.
Because a little child, if you put it in front of a piano, it’ll do all kinds of weird things with the piano. It doesn’t know how it’s supposed to be operated. Right? So you give it room to discover and for the brain to do its work figuring it out. So you want to learn three things? Immerse yourself, but then don’t overdo it. Beck out. Give yourself rest. As important in learning is giving yourself time to rest, time to stop. Do it, and then don’t do it. Then do it, and don’t do it.
David Laroche: Every day, you mean?
Anat Baniel: Every day.
David Laroche: How do I know that I need to rest?
Anat Baniel: Twenty minutes. There’s research that shows that real active learning, 20 minutes max at a time.
David Laroche: So I do a 20-minute focus?
Anat Baniel: Yeah.
David Laroche: Then I rest.
Anat Baniel: You rest. You do something else. You go do something else. You come back. Your learning will just be exponentially more potent. Very different than how schools are constructed and how people think things should work. Yeah. So let’s go into the essentials because then it will make a lot more sense.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Okay? So we want to help the brain perceive differences and potentiate it in its ability to put order into the disorder and make sense out of the nonsense. That’s our job right now. Okay? So the first thing is movement with attention. The first thing is movement. Without movement, there’s nothing. Right? If you really stop moving, you’re dead.
Einstein said, “Nothing happens until something moves.” My teacher, Dr. Feldenkrais, said, “Movement is life. Without movement, life is unthinkable.” For him, if you couldn’t think, it was over. So it didn’t exist.
So movement but not movement the way grownups that want to look good and be fit think of movement like exercise – one, two, three, one, two, three. Repetition. It’s movement with attention, attention to what you feel as you move.
David Laroche: Okay. So you can do every move, but you just pay attention to what you’re doing.
Anat Baniel: To what you feel.
David Laroche: Yes, what you feel.
Anat Baniel: That’s actually key. So I move my arm and I feel it. I feel where it’s moving. I feel it’s heavy. Oh, I can feel my fourth finger more than the other fingers. Oh, I can feel something moving in my chest in front. I feel what I’m doing. Research Merzenich, “Movement without attention, zero detectable change in the brain.”
David Laroche: It’s amazing because we talked just yesterday, I think, to someone who lost a lot of kilos.
Anat Baniel: Weight.
David Laroche: A lot of weight. She learned that in paying attention just to how she eats, she lost a lot of . . .
Anat Baniel: Did she do Geneen Roth work?
David Laroche: No, I don’t know.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. That’s another person that . . . I don’t know if she’ll agree to be interviewed, but she’s remarkable.
David Laroche: Thank you.
Anat Baniel: She wrote “Women, Food, and God.” Thirty years ago, she wrote “When Food is Love.” She’s the one that started connecting. Yeah. Yeah, so maybe she got it by herself but yeah, absolutely. So you pay attention to what you feel as you move. That’s when the brain sprouts connections like there’s no tomorrow, fast, 1.8 million per second.
David Laroche: Wow.
Anat Baniel: Estimated. Children do that spontaneously. You’ve seen babies go and you think, “Oh, what a waste of time.” Without it, they will never learn to move. In the beginning, children have random movements. They don’t have intentional. They twitch and stuff. Without this random movement, they will never learn to move, because it gets them to feel, feel the shift of weight, feel pulls and pushes.
All the time, they pay attention to what they feel. They sleep a lot. They eat a lot. They do this wasteful thing, and their brain starts, right away, starts organizing this and organizing that and having control over the mouth and then the eyes and then, gradually, the head. Then the hands take quite a while.
David Laroche: The brain is making connections between . . .
Anat Baniel: Huge, between the different parts, very dynamic. It’s very, very dynamic. It’s not like, “Arm,” in the brain. The brain actually maps the whole body in action. So if I’m doing this, the brain has to map the whole body for this.
David Laroche: Yeah, it’s amazing for me because, like I said, I was a computing engineer. We studied artificial intelligence.
Anat Baniel: Intelligence.
David Laroche: It was based on, I don’t know, this way. Just connect the sensor with the motion. Every time you do that, to help the robot to learn how to move . . .
Anat Baniel: Yes. Yeah. If I understand correctly, trying to do language recognition, in the beginning, they try to do one-to-one. Right? They realize that you do the smallest deviation, and the computer can’t recognize it. So you actually want to give the computer . . . You want to randomize the process, and you want to give the computer variations so it can recognize. It’s similar to what the brain does. The brain is, of course, much more complex. We don’t fully know everything the brain does. Yes, you’re absolutely on the right track.
So actually there’s enormous amount . . . For me, having learned statistics, it’s actually been extremely useful in understanding how to work with people, because I realized . . . So let’s say a child has a problem or an adult had a stroke, or somebody has back pain. People try to correct it by telling people the right thing to do. Stand straight. Take your shoulders back. Stretch the arm. Try to stretch it and make it hold a fork. They do it again and again, and it’s so sad because it really doesn’t work.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: People keep doing it because they think it should work, because they think you go directly to the point of outcome. Right? What I do is I randomize the process within a context. So it holds it together. It’s functional, but I do it like this and do it like that. So one of the essentials, on purpose, you do things in different ways. The brain spontaneously integrates it into the solution.
So the way I do it when I teach my students, I say, “We have enormous amount of say in the process, and we have zero control over the outcome. But if you understand the process, and you feed the process or the information, what you need, you can count on it getting better and better.
I’ve gotten children that were not supposed to stand up, to stand, to walk, to talk. I’ve taken people who’ve had stroke and helped them into full functioning. I’ve got musicians and top musicians, like world-famous musicians, that thought they had to change careers, to come back to their careers and not just be able to play in terms of the pain, but play better than they ever played before. So let’s talk about the essentials. The first one is movement with attention.
David Laroche: Yes, I just would like to ask you something else.
Anat Baniel: Okay. You’re going to keep me here until tomorrow. Yes.
David Laroche: Yes, I would love. You know when you see charisma or how to create energy in your body, just for usual people, you learn that you have to put your body like that, something like that, just straighten. What can be the best way to learn, for the people who are like that, to put their body like that?
Anat Baniel: To start doing movements, and I have . . . I’m not trying to sell my materials, but I have lessons that talk when you do it. Movement is a way . . . I call movement the language of the brain. Okay? So I have movement lessons that give the opportunity for the brain to feel other options.
David Laroche: Okay. So you don’t say . . .
Anat Baniel: Never. Never tell.
David Laroche: Do that.
Anat Baniel: No.
David Laroche: Try that. Try that. How do you feel with that? How do you feel with that?
Anat Baniel: Well, if I give them variations, then it’s good. I said, “Do this. Do you like this? Or not? Do this.” But a lot of times, people can’t do variations. They’re so stuck in their brain. You see? The brain gets certain habits.
David Laroche: They can’t do? Or they can’t feel?
Anat Baniel: They can’t feel it. They can’t do it. They don’t have the connections. They just can’t do it. So it’s like if you told me not to somersault backwards. I’d say . . . I have to have a process to have the bits and pieces, so I can know the trajectory of movement to somersault backwards. So if somebody always sits hunched like that . . . I can be hunched or not hunched, but the thing that brings you forward is freeing the belly, arching the back, and letting the spine shoot forward and up.
Many people hold their belly in. They don’t know they’re holding their belly in. Their back muscles are asleep. They’re not . . . The brain is not either connected . . . Some people, it actually, literally, never was properly connected, or it’s inhibited. It’s not awake. You tell them, “Sit like this.” They go like this, and they throw their head back, and they tighten. Then in two minutes, they’re going to have to go back. It’s too uncomfortable. So you have to give people a process where they get new information to do something new.
David Laroche: Yes, I would love to do that.
Anat Baniel: Yes, exactly. So movement with attention. You take the movements you already know, you already do. It can be walking. It can be rolling on the floor. It can be dancing. It can be anything. You shift your attention from trying to perform it a certain way or just doing it automatically, like on a treadmill at a gym. You just take five, seven minutes to just pay attention to what you feel and where you feel it, soles of your feet, the back of your head. You just learn to sort of scan yourself like that.
Then you go back to just doing what you were doing, and you’ll feel different. You’ll notice that the pain is gone. It’s amazing how quickly it works. It’s silly how miraculous it can be. The changes are just like pop. They pop like popcorn.
Second essential is slowing down. Extremely important. If you want something new to happen for you, if you’re learning something, slow down.
David Laroche: What do you mean?
Anat Baniel: I mean literally slow down. So if you’re going to learn to play the piano, you go and, on purpose, play really slow.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: You see? You’re going to do the camera. You’re not just [mumble] like that. That you do when you’re already an expert.
David Laroche: Okay. For example, if I take the language, I have to speak slowly.
Anat Baniel: You speak slow. I’m going to teach you to say a word in Hebrew. Okay? Something in Hebrew. Boker Tov. Try to say it.
David Laroche: Boker Tov.
Anat Baniel: That’s pretty good because you’re French. So you can hear the sounds in . . . shichlul.
David Laroche: Shichlul.
Anat Baniel: See? This one you couldn’t catch. Shichlul. You can’t catch it. It’s too fast, because it’s foreign. You see? I gave you, in Hebrew, something that you don’t say in French, which is the “ch” sound. Now I’m going to say it slowly. Shichlul.
David Laroche: Shichlul.
Anat Baniel: Voila. You see? You did it. Now you might forget it in a nanosecond because it’s so new, but you could say it because it was slow enough for your brain to follow.
David Laroche: To see the differences.
Anat Baniel: Exactly. Shichlul.
David Laroche: Shichlul.
Anat Baniel: Now you have the “ch” sound. You see? So it’s one sound, another sound, another sound, word. I’m giving you a word that I want to talk about in a few minutes. So fast, we can only do what we already know. Just put that on your forehead. Fast, we can only do what we already know. That’s how the brain is built.
David Laroche: We build your life in reproducing what we did.
Anat Baniel: Exactly. It’s important to be able to do things fast. So habits are important. That’s another form of brain plasticity. It’s called Hebbian plasticity, where you do something, you do it again, you do it again, you do it again, and then you just do it. You don’t even think about it. It goes into . . .
David Laroche: Like walking, speaking.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, and it’s important to be able to do things without having to pay full attention and go slow. But if you want to learn, if you want to upgrade the quality of the functioning of your brain and to get the brain to be this really amazing thing it can be, slow down. Sometimes people don’t learn. If all you do is you ask them to do what they’re doing slowly, or what they’re trying to do, and all of a sudden they can do it.
So many kids failing school because the teachers run through the thing. I work with kids that are considered challenged. They have real difficulties. I work with kids on the autism spectrum that the world absolutely doesn’t make sense to them. I’m doing a training now for people to learn how to work with autistic kids. So I’ve been showing videos of my own work. I usually don’t watch my own work because I don’t care. I’ve done it already, but I show it to them, and I can see how I’m doing it.
You see, from Monday to Wednesday, in three days, a boy, 13-year-old that talks, but nonsense, and agitated and anxious and mess, just a mess, autistic, really autistic. The fourth day, quiet, lying on the table. I said, “Bend your knee. Put your feet standing. Lift your pelvis. Turn around.” He said something. I said, “That was nonsense. What are you trying to talk about?” He already knows the difference between sense and nonsense. So then he can start joking about it. Three days. Six lessons.
David Laroche: So for example, for me, I have to explain to people that to have quick results . . .
Anat Baniel: Slow down.
David Laroche: Slow. Okay. What is the third one?
Anat Baniel: That’s excellent. Third one is reducing the force with which you do things. These things actually work together. You slow down. You reduce the force. You pay attention to what you feel. You reduce the force. So very often, when we try to do something . . .
David Laroche: Letting go?
Anat Baniel: It’s not letting go. It’s doing it with as little force as possible. So if I’m trying to learn how to do a certain movement, people go, again, fast and hard. Again, it’s how the brain is built. So think of people trying to learn a bicycle. Okay?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: They fall in the beginning. Right?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: They fall. They fall. Right?
David Laroche: Yes, they want to go fast but to not fall.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, fast would help them not fall because of the structure of the . . . But they fall because they use too much force, and they use too many muscles that they shouldn’t be using. What they really learn is to not do undifferentiated, crude . . . That’s why they fall. To really ride the bicycle, you have to adjust.
David Laroche: Differences.
Anat Baniel: Differences and differentiation and refinement. You understand. The people who do tricks, like in circuses and stuff, they stand on one leg. The bicycle wants to fall all the time, the gravitational force, but they feel the finest little difference, and they can move their spine in tiny little ways and their head to adjust. If they did big adjustments, they’d fall. The adjustments are too big. They’re too forceful. You know what happens when we use a lot of force? We lose sensitivity. You see?
The sound is really loud. That’s a form of force, of intensity. Another way of saying it is intensity. So if you do very strong intensity of sound, I put some sound in the back, you don’t hear the difference. You walk down Broadway Avenue in New York, and somebody talks to you. You will never hear them. There’s too much background. Light, same thing, a lot of light. You add a little light. You’re a filmmaker. You wouldn’t see the difference. But it’s dim, or it’s dark. You do the tiniest light, far away. You see it. The brain is built to discern differences in relation to the background noise. Noise meaning intensity.
David Laroche: Yeah, I can see that when I am listening to music or a video on the plane. I increase the volume.
Anat Baniel: Because there’s [noise] in the background of the plane. Right. Right. Exactly. So again, when I work with people, like some of the, again, world premier musicians, they’re already . . . I can’t do what they do. They’re amazing, but I can hear. I hear very clearly. I get them to do it with less force and slower and pay attention to what they feel. I say, “Don’t worry about the notes right now. Don’t worry to play correctly.” The worst thing to do when you want to do better is to try to do things correctly upfront. How do you know what’s correct?
If you’re going to do something new, you don’t know it. Right? People are crazy. They try to do something they’ve never done right, from the beginning.
David Laroche: The right things don’t exist.
Anat Baniel: I know, but there’s an optimization. Yeah. But if you’re trying to do it right or well before you know what you’re doing, you’re never going to get beyond mediocre, guaranteed. The people who get really good at what they do are the people that are interested in what they’re doing, not wanting an outcome upfront. So the next essential is variations. You can call variations play. You can call it mistakes, intentional mistakes, but I call it variations.
David Laroche: Just try new things.
Anat Baniel: Yes, but if we’re talking something specific you’re learning, do the same thing in different ways. Do it badly. So this is my philosophy. It’s in the book, one of my favorite stories. So I was working with this really well-known cellist from one of the top quartets in the world. He was depressed. He was in a lot of pain, and he could barely play. That was his life. Right? He played since he was a little boy.
So he came with his cello. I was in Germany, and I had time for one lesson to give him. I looked at him, and I asked him to play Schubert. Beautiful, but I looked at him and I thought, “Oh, my God. He’s a genius if he can play, moving so poorly.” You know? I could see how he was taught as a child, harsh and constrained and, “Do it this way.” So he figured out how to do it, but now he’s paying the price. Right?
So there was no time to put him to do my usual process. So I kept him with the cello, and I asked him to play for me Anna Magdalena Bach like “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” He was almost offended because he’s one of the world’s best cellists, and I’m asking him to play what little children begin.
I said to him, “Don’t worry. I know you can play very complex things,” but there was already a variation. He’s not been asked to play this for many years. So it’s kind of like a cognitive emotional, kind of like, “What? Me? Play that?” So it’s already not like, “I’m this,” because he has a full identity including the pain.
Then I said to him, “Can you play badly?” He was a little bit taken aback. I encouraged him and he couldn’t do it. He was so compulsive about playing well. He’s always looked to play well his whole life. So I said to him, “Do you teach little students? Musicians usually have students.” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Do some of them play badly?” He said, “Yes.” I said, “Just think of one of them. Remember how they played badly, and imitate it.”
So he did that. I gave him a pathway to playing badly so he did that. So then I said to him, “Play badly in a different way.”
David Laroche: It was funny for him?
Anat Baniel: Then he got interested. He was a very serious guy, but he got interested. Third way to play badly, then he got really interested. Fourth way to play badly, he got very, very . . . When he was doing it, I was moving him. I was also doing my stuff. So he couldn’t play well no matter what. I was moving his shoulders and everything.
And then I asked him to do it the fifth way. He couldn’t think of a fifth way. I said, “Now go and just play.” The pain was gone. So this is how powerful variations are.
David Laroche: It was because our brain was rigid?
Anat Baniel: Yeah, he was stuck in his pattern. A healthy brain is a brain that invents all the time, a little like this, a little like that. Then you get ahead, but then it can get out of it and do things differently. I have a good friend. You should interview her too. She’s now in Colorado. She’s Allison Armstrong.
David Laroche: I will go to Colorado in September.
Anat Baniel: Allison Armstrong. Interview Allison. She works on relationships, men, women. She’s amazing. She’s wonderful. She used to be in TLC. She’s not doing it right now. She teaches certain things in her workshops. She would spend hours trying to teach those things. I won’t go into it right now, what it is. The women would sort of get it, and then the men. She understood what I’m doing. Now she tells them, “I want you to learn it, but do what you do and do it badly. Now do it badly another way.” She figured it out. She says in five minutes, 150 women know how to do it.
So she’s been trying to teach it correctly. Three days, it didn’t work. She asked them to do it this way, this way, badly. Find out how . . . She brings a few of them to the stage. You’re going to change how you teach. I can see that now. You’re starting to understand it.
David Laroche: Yes. Sometimes, just for the film, I ask for people . . . Show me how you are depressed.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. Yeah.
David Laroche: I’m thinking. Okay. It’s not only fun. It’s teaching people.
Anat Baniel: No, you say, “Are you always depressed the same way? Show me being depressed one way, another way. Show me being . . . ” If you take variation, if you read, also, the book “Kids Beyond Limits” . . . I’m going to talk about it. I talk about a real case where – never mind the whole story – they put the baby in a cast, a healthy baby. So it didn’t have the random movements. It didn’t have the variation. He couldn’t move. When they took the cast off, his brain didn’t know how to do it. Couldn’t do it.
You did programming. Without variations, we can’t learn. When I have kids that have a hard time doing math, I say, “How much is one plus one?” They say, “Four.” I say, “Great. How much is two plus three? How much is that?” The parents, now they read my book. They know what I do. But in the beginning, parents would come to me, fly. They pay me a lot of money, and I’m teaching their kids the wrong thing. I say to the kid, “Don’t worry about the right answer. I already know it. You don’t have to give me the correct answer because I know it.”
This is one of the biggest crazy things that teachers do. How much is one and one? Why do I have to tell you? You already know it. Don’t you? I get every child to understand numbers. I’ve not had a child yet that I couldn’t get them to understand numbers, including genetic this and da, da, da.
David Laroche: Wow.
Anat Baniel: Not all of them become brilliant mathematicians, but they understand numbers. They can do basic manipulation. Then I reverse it. They ask me, and I make mistakes. Of course, the beginning mistakes, I make them big enough so they can feel the difference. You see? How much is one and one? Two-thousand. They go, “No, you made a mistake.” Well, if they know it’s not 2000, they’re getting close to knowing what it is.
David Laroche: What do you say when they do a mistake? What do you say?
Anat Baniel: I don’t call it a mistake.
David Laroche: Yes. Yes, but what do you say?
Anat Baniel: I say, “Great. That’s great.” Why not? Why not have three plus four be 25, for now?
David Laroche: How do they know that it’s not the right answer?
Anat Baniel: Well, I do all kinds of stuff, and I keep moving them so their brain can sort information better. I get them there. Read the book. I talk about that too. But I’ll tell you a story, a child on the autism spectrum, Andy. I did this, I don’t know, a few months ago. He couldn’t write letters, and he didn’t . . . He recognized letters when I wrote them, but he couldn’t write, and he couldn’t read. He couldn’t put it together.
So first, everybody does the opposite of what I described to you. So first, they gave him a sheet with two lines, two lines, and told him to write inside the lines because it was so messy. Right? So that didn’t work. So they created squares and said, “Write the letter in the square.” Soon enough, they were going to sit on him. Right? This is force, by the way. When you can’t keep something in a certain, and you try to force it into there, it’s a form of force. Force is not just mechanical force.
David Laroche: So you just ask him to . . .
Anat Baniel: So I wrote a letter, and I said, “Do you know what it is?” I wrote a capital letter and said, “What is it?” He said, “A.” I was so happy. I didn’t know if he was going to recognize it. I don’t know. I find out. So I said, “Great.” I had this little thing with paper, and I say, “Now, you write A, but write it really badly.” So I’m asking him to do what he’s going to do anyway. I have no idea.
So nobody ever asked him to write badly. So it caught his attention. See, it’s a form of movement. It’s ideation of movement with attention. So he thought and thought and thought and thought. So he had to run some images in his head. He had to do something in relation to that letter. So he started to notice bad, good, worse, better. Then he went, and he just did a dot.
So I said to him, “That’s real bad.” I said, “It’s so bad, I would never even guess it’s a letter.” I speak the truth to the kids, to the adults too. I said to him, “Make it bad, but not so bad.”
David Laroche: Yes, you use the differences.
Anat Baniel: Then what I did . . . Never mind. Until we did all kind . . . He chose a letter, and I wrote it badly. You know? We went back and forth, and then I created the square. I could see he’s holding his breath. He already knows he’s going to fail. Right? I said to him, “Andy, what letter do you want to write?” He chose a letter, and I said, “I want you to write it, but one condition, that not all of the letter is in the square.” I impose a variation. I said, “Not all . . . “
This is an autistic kid that didn’t used to look in your eyes. Right? They’re out to lunch. Right? They don’t relate. All that story. Right? He looks at me. His eyes are this big, and he says, “You are kidding me.” I said, “No, I’m very serious.” He sat down, and he thought and thought and thought, and meticulously made sure that part of the letter is in and part of the letter is out. I knew that we were done, because now he knows where is above, below, to the side.
I said to the mother, “Don’t do any homework with him.” They fly in from Utah. So she does work with him in the hotel. I said, “Just let him do what he wants. I bet you he’s going to take the paper and write letters inside the lines.” She said he took the paper when they got to the hotel, an hour and a half, he wrote letters inside the lines because all of a sudden, he could see it. His brain could make sense of it. Variation is very important. Now I’m going to run through the other few because I’ve got to leave.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Okay. I don’t know what you’re going to do with this interview. It’s so long. I don’t know if . . .
David Laroche: Yes, I love it. The people who are following me will love it.
Anat Baniel: Will love it. Okay. So we’ve had movement with attention to what you feel, slowing down, reducing the force, variation. The next one is flexible goals. I don’t know if I’m saying them in order, but the next one is flexible goals.
Flexible goals mean we want to have goals. But again, we cannot put the goal in the front. The goal should be thrown out like you’re going to fish a fish. You throw it.
David Laroche: Intention.
Anat Baniel: You have the intention, and then you hold . . . You keep that intention with you, your dreams. You go to a movie, something somebody said, something you did. Your brain will start picking bits and pieces from your daily life, of what’s relevant, to getting there. A lot of times, you can’t know in advance what is going to be relevant. You just don’t know.
You understand that because you’ve already done a big . . . What you’ve accomplished already shouldn’t have happened according to a linear. Michael Merzenich, I read his research. It started about 15 years go. I thought, “Finally somebody in science is getting the point.” I was so happy. But how am I going to meet him? Then sure enough, this happened, then that happened, this and that, and then a phone call. Now here we are and now we’re doing research together. It took 10 years, but so what?
Some things take five minutes. Some things take 20 years. I didn’t stop doing stuff in the middle. I didn’t sit and wait. I did everything else in the meanwhile. Flexible goals. You get a child that can’t crawl or can’t walk or can’t write. If you try to make them crawl, try to make them . . . I say, “If he could, he would. If she could, she would.” All you’re doing is you’re driving the limitations deeper into the brain, because we learn our experience.
So if I try to do this with my hand, but my hand does that, and I have the intention to do this, and my hand does that again. Next time I think of doing this, I’ll do that. This is it. The brain doesn’t know anything else. It learns based on what it experiences. So we have to do a process. It always starts where we are.
Always connect to where we are or connect to the person where they are, and start moving around there. Expand it and move, and then we hop, and we start moving there. Then we hop, and we start moving there. That’s how we really can make big progress very, very, very quickly. It’s unpredictable. The process, we can really create a fantastic process, but we can’t control the outcome. It happens when it happens.
My experience is that when I work with a child to be able to do, or an adult, to do this, the outcomes are a lot more than what we planned for and, a lot of times, things we didn’t even think about before. So it becomes like magic. Yeah. So that’s that.
The next one is enthusiasm. Enthusiasm, I see it as an action, not as a reaction. So people say, “Oh, I’m so excited. I got my ice cream. I’m so happy.” That’s okay.
David Laroche: Yeah, something happened.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. Enthusiasm is actually a mechanism to amplify differences. So for instance, if I wanted to learn to do something, and all of a sudden, I do it in a new way, a little bit better. I can either say, “Yeah, but I’m still not playing Carnegie Hall,” and then the brain goes, “Oh, not good.” Inhibition. It’s like you take away the oxygen. You put down the lights. Because the brain amplifies what it deems to be successful and help our survival. Right?
David Laroche: So you have to celebrate each step.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, but not . . . With others, like with children, I teach the parents not to clap, not to say, “Do it again,” because it inhibits. It actually creates inhibition, and it shifts the attention of the child from themselves to outside, to approval. If you want to be really a powerful person, whether people approve you or not doesn’t matter. You can care to empower other people. You can decide to be a good human being, but not because they approve of you.
David Laroche: So how do you learn to . . .
Anat Baniel: To do that?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: You decide to. So one way, for instance, an exercise you can do, is you can go to the supermarket, and you can buy some things. You stand in line, and you decide . . . The checkout person . . . Decide to find something that you really like about them. You don’t have to talk to them. It can be the button on their shirt. It can be their hairdo. It can be their voice. Just learn to look at them and be enthusiastic and something you really are enthusiastic about.
Every time there’s rain . . . I heard the news yesterday to know what the weather is going to be. They say, “Oh, it’s going to be really great tomorrow because we’re going to have sunshine, but then Friday everybody get ready. It’s not going to be so great.” I went like, “What a stupid, awful way to talk about the weather.” Why isn’t rain wonderful? Every drop is a celebration. We need the water, and it smells good, and it cleans the air. Oh, my God. I get a little wet. Okay. Then get dry. You see? It’s really education.
David Laroche: You have to educate yourself.
Anat Baniel: Yourself, about you and about other people, not clap and say, “You’re a good boy,” or, “You’re a good man.”
David Laroche: Can you celebrate yourself?
Anat Baniel: You better. You better. It’s the hardest to celebrate the self. I’m talking from experience. You know? The hardest is to celebrate the self, because we internalize the criticism and all that crap.
David Laroche: So don’t worry to have a celebration from others.
Anat Baniel: Yes.
David Laroche: But learn to give your celebration.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. Yeah, celebration in terms of things. So for me, I don’t even experience it so much as celebration, but when I work with people, very often I see the miracle before they get it that it’s amazing. I see into the future. I see the trajectory. I see where it’s heading. So when the child could write a letter, half-in, half-out of the box, I knew that he was going to be able to write now. His mother couldn’t know that. So I carry the enthusiasm for other people.
One of the reasons that people do so well around me is because I get enthusiastic, and they’re going, “Oh, what did I just do? Oh, I did that. Oh, great.” Then it perceives a difference, and it’s learned.
David Laroche: So you don’t say it is the right thing.
Anat Baniel: Oh, never. Never.
David Laroche: You are just enthused.
Anat Baniel: This is it. Feel. Now you do that. Now it’s louder. Now it’s softer. Do you like it? Don’t you like it? When it’s something that doesn’t work for me, I’m very open about it. I worked with a boy that was really pretty destructive, a couple weeks ago. He said, “Well, I like mischief.” Mischief is like you’re cute. You’re doing little jokes on people. I said to him, “That’s not mischief.” I said, “That’s disgusting behavior.” I said, not you are disgusting, but, “This is disgusting behavior.”
He says, “I don’t like it that you call it disgusting behavior.” I said, “You don’t have to like it. You like it, or you don’t like it. This is disgusting behavior. This is mischief. This is being polite. This is being destructive.” I just gave him . . . So you know what he could do? He could stop being destructive. Because most people, when they’re destructive, they don’t know it. It looks like they know it because you see it, but they don’t see it.
People do bad behaviors. People fail because they’re lacking sufficient differentiation. They are lacking sufficient perception of differences. So they don’t have the road to get there. So the next essential, because I really have to leave . . .
David Laroche: I would close the door if I [inaudible 01:08:41].
Anat Baniel: Okay. So we are movement, slow, variations, force, goals, enthusiasm. We have three more to go. The learning switch. The learning switch is a bit harder to talk about. Physiologically the brain is either in a learning mode or is not in a learning mode.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: I talk about organic learning, personal learning, learning where you change as you learn. So I’m not talking about memorizing the date of when Napoleon went to Russia or something, invaded Russia. It’s also important learning, but I’m talking the kind of learning that each time you do this little piece of learning, you’re a different person.
David Laroche: [Inaudible 01:09:28].
Anat Baniel: It’s you. It’s kinesthetic. It’s who you are. You discover it. It’s a discovery within yourself. That is a feeling I know when I’m in a learning mode. Your learning switch right now is way up. I can see you processing. I can see the breathing. You are [rambles]. You can’t take it in fast enough. She is too. I can feel her on the side. I just don’t look at her because I know I’m supposed to look towards the camera. So I’m disciplined.
So a simple example is if we’re sick, if we have fever, if we’re tired, if we have distraction, our learning switch is not on. If we’re fearful, we are not going to learn the kind of learning we are talking about. We’re not going to. The brain is in survival mode. So that’s very easy to see that it might learn certain things that you learn under traumatic conditions, but that’s a learning that reduces differentiation and throws the brain off a good track, brings it to post-traumatic stress disorder and things like that. So I’m not talking about that now.
Then the brain can be in a learning mode. In a learning mode, it can be different levels of potency. Again, it’s an action. You learn to learn. You learn what it feels like to learn, and then you do it more and you become a really potent learner. So I work with people. The thing I do, from the very first moment I start working with them . . . I don’t really care in the beginning. The arm is here. The leg is there. They read. They don’t read. I’m not worried about that because I know that if their brain is going to be a good brain, they’re going to learn it.
I rely on the brain. I don’t have to worry about that, but I have to make sure that the brain is doing its job, that it’s a good brain. That’s why Merzenich wrote that my work helps people have a stronger, better brain. It doesn’t say, “Her work helps people touch their toes or read.” I can do that, but the better your brain, the better you can learn.
So the learning switch, especially when you work with yourself, you say, “I want to learn this,” but go inside and say, “Okay. Can I really? Am I in that mode where I can be receptive? I can learn.” If you are, fine. If not, don’t do it that time. Do it another time. All the essentials that I just mentioned, all of them also awaken the learning switch. You slow down. The learning switch gets more potent. So it’s interrelated.
The next one is imagination and dreams. Imagination is by itself . . . When you intentionally use imagination, you upgrade your brain.
David Laroche: Einstein loves that.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, but it is. The brain doesn’t really know the difference. When you dream a dream at night, and then you wake up, when you were dreaming the dream, you didn’t know you were dreaming. The brain doesn’t know. It just does what it does what it does. Right? So it’s brilliant, and it’s an idiot at the same time. So we have to make sure we use it in a good way. Imagination upgrades the brain, training ourselves to really close our eyes. It’s not simple to do, really.
One of the easy ways to train imagination is when you decide to do a movement. You do it, and then you stop, and then you imagine doing it, because it’s so concrete, and it’s so immediate. Movement is . . .
David Laroche: Is this the reason why visualization in sport is so . . .
Anat Baniel: Is so powerful. You can make it even better, in the sense that you want to bring the feeling of doing it. Then you do it, and then you want to do it differently. So you want to bring variations, not just go in a narrow funnel. But yes, that’s one of the reasons it’s so powerful. You upgrade the brain, and then you go back, and you try, and you say, “Oh, how close is my imagined movement to my actual movement?” You understand?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Then you go back, and you imagine it. Then you imagine, “Okay. I’m going to move it like this.” Right? So I’m showing you. Then you move it like this. Then you go back and forth. Another very powerful thing to do is to imagine on one side. So you learn to do a certain movement. I don’t know, whatever you want to learn to do, but you do it on one side only. It’s very good to do it lying down, because then you take away the demand of the gravitational force, the balance demand. So the brain is much freer to take risks.
You lie down, and you do a movement, and you get yourself . . . I do that in my tapes, in my DVDs and so on. I have a lot of stuff also on YouTube that people can see. You do that, and then you imagine it on the other side. You do a movement, and then you imagine it on the other side. Soon enough . . .
David Laroche: You do it on the other side.
Anat Baniel: Either you do a whole sequence on one side, and you imagine it only on the other side. Very often, by doing it on one side, you know what to imagine. One of the problems of asking people to . . .
David Laroche: Then do you do what you imagine on the other side? I started with that. Okay. I imagine that.
Anat Baniel: That in this side. You imagine. You can do what you want. You can sometimes just to one movement to see how well you imagine.
David Laroche: Yes, but when I finish to imagine, do I try to do it with . . .
Anat Baniel: Sometimes.
David Laroche: Okay.
Anat Baniel: Sometimes you just sequence imagine, but you do it one time to test it, to check it, to see how good your imagination worked, whether what you thought was useful or not.
David Laroche: Do you advise to do that every day?
Anat Baniel: Yes, if you are up to it. It’s amazing because you really train your way of thinking. You train your thinking that way.
David Laroche: Wow.
Anat Baniel: It’s very . . . Because it’s connected to movement and the feeling of movement, it’s real. People can say . . . She did very well, “The Secret.” So people sit and watch the video. They talk about quantum physics, which is basically the model of the brain. But then how do you get from sitting on your sofa, to having $2 million in the bank? Most people just don’t because it’s not enough to just have the idea. You have to take action, and you have to be good at how you take action. That’s where the essentials come in.
David Laroche: You have to learn to do what your brain can imagine.
Anat Baniel: Yes, and make it closer and closer. You see? Because imagination . . . Think of it as thinking. Thinking, true thinking, leads to a change of action, in action. Thinking generates action.
David Laroche: So last question is a short question. If I am an entrepreneur, and I have a lot of ideas, to train that, it could be to try a lot of my new ideas.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. Yes, and then . . . We have to take it case-by-case. It’s a little hard to generalize. It depends what your ideas are. You do small . . . You think, “How am I going to get it? What am I going to do?” It’s those elements that you can already think. You imagine, and then you test it out. You try it. Then you come back. You do little tests. There’s little elements that you can test.
David Laroche: I’m understanding why I improved a lot in public speaking. I was shy, and I started to do one conference each day, during one year. So a lot of conferences I did. Each day, I was looking for just one thing to try differently.
Anat Baniel: Okay. Here you go. That’s what I’m talking about. So here you have it systematized and associated to brain science, basically, because I have a ton of research quoted in the back of both of the books.
David Laroche: So how can people follow you?
Anat Baniel: Wait. So there’s one more essential.
David Laroche: Okay. Yes.
Anat Baniel: That is awareness. Now I think of awareness not as a passive thing, but as an action. Every one of my essentials is action-based.
David Laroche: What is the difference between awareness and consciousness?
Anat Baniel: Okay. I do make a difference. I write about it. Most people say it’s one thing. I use it as two different things. Consciousness is a general sense of orientation in space and so on. So if you have a dog, the dog knows where the food is. Right? If you pack your bags, the dog is going to get sad. So that’s consciousness. The dog is conscious enough to notice, to react to the fact that there are suitcases. They’re going to leave. Right?
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: However, I doubt that the dog that sits moping on the floor, being sad, I doubt that at that moment, the dog says, “Oh, my goodness. Look at me. I’m moping because my owner is leaving.” It’s just doing it. Awareness is, “I know that I know.”
David Laroche: [Inaudible 01:18:57] person.
Anat Baniel: Yes, exactly. My ability to observe myself and know. So I know I’m moving my hand like that. I know I can see you. You can layer. The ability, the skill . . . Awareness is a skill that can be and needs to be developed. I tell you. Human beings and dogs that are unaware are painful.
David Laroche: For example, in the [inaudible 01:19:25] conflict, it’s a lot to be able to be aware of what is.
Anat Baniel: Yeah, and to see, but it also gives you freedom. It gives room for invention. It gives room for the unexpected. So awareness, I believe, is a byproduct . . . The skill, the ability for awareness is a byproduct of the hugeness of the size of the brain in terms of the connections, the complexity.
So the more we evolve ourselves, and the more we feel what’s going on, then the more we differentiate. The more we are able to notice what’s going on. Awareness.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat: It’s, of course, perception of differences, big time. Right? It’s the youngest function in the brain. It’s the slowest function in the brain, and it’s the one that humanity could use a lot of. So the final thing I want to say is the word, shichlul, S-H-I-C-H-L-U-L, shichlul doesn’t exist in the Latin languages. I checked. It’s a Hebrew word. What it means is increased improvement and increased refinement through increased complexity. Improvement and refinement, increased refinement, through increased complexity.
That means that if I want to be able to do a refined movement, if I don’t have enough differentiation, it can’t be very delicate. So the complexity, the differentiation, the size, the freedom that it gives to just do it just the way you think it, just the way you hear it, or in a whole new way.
It also means, in the Jewish tradition, in the spiritual tradition, it means “crowning beauty.” So what I said to you in the beginning, our job is to grow, not to go peel the onion because all you’ll do is you’ll cry and find nothing in the center. Right? You have trouble. Say, “Okay. What can I learn? Where am I not developed enough yet? Where have I neglected myself? Which aspects of myself . . . ”
It’s crude. It’s still a chunk. It’s not refined. It doesn’t have bits and pieces I can play with to form sentences, to form poetry, to form ideas, to form movement, to form emotional differentiation. Wherever you feel . . . People tell you that you are the least . . . The most trouble, that’s where you have least differentiation.
Sometimes if you want your business to work better, but you have a lot of differentiation in business already, but you really are not that great with your kids and your wife, if you go and differentiate yourself, your movement, your emotions, your relationship to your kids and your wife, you will find that you will do a lot better in your business, not because that is directly . . .
It’s because you, as a brain, will have now . . . That will be differentiated and integrated into the total computation, because one of the ways of thinking . . . The brain just computes nonstop. So if I want to put my hand here, the brain has to compute what to do with my bones and muscles to get me there. Right?
David Laroche: That’s great.
Anat Baniel: Now you know everything about my work.
David Laroche: Yeah. I heard a lot of things. I will discover more things. So you have to buy this book, I think. If you here now at the end of this video, buy this book.
Anat Baniel: Can you get my . . . Oh, here. I want people to be . . . If they have children with special needs . . .
David Laroche: “Move Into Life” and “Kids Beyond Limits.” So go on Amazon.
Anat Baniel: Amazon.
David Laroche: Amazon. You can buy it now. Just take action now.
Anat Baniel: Thank you.
David Laroche: I would like to thank you very much. It was an amazing interview.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. Yeah.
David Laroche: I loved it.
Anat Baniel: Yeah. You asked me before, where people can find.
David Laroche: Yes.
Anat Baniel: Just my website, so Anatbanielmethod, A-N-A-T-B-A-N-I-E-L-M-E-T-H-O-D, .com, or if they just put in Anat Baniel, Google will get them there. I loved the interview. You’re a real thinker. I love that. That was wonderful. It’s a delight.
David Laroche: I am very interested.
Anat Baniel: Yeah.
David Laroche: So I’m glad you feel that.
Anat Baniel: I do. I really do.