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Guidelines for effective and efficient retraining

These are some general ideas that have helped me retain progress and achieve faster results over years of trials and errors. This is my advice to my younger self and to some extent to anyone without FD (just replace the word 'retrain' with 'practice').

#1 Do not attempt to retrain when you're not feeling well, feeling negative or frustrated.

#2 Walk away from your instrument before you start feeling negative, frustrated or exhausted. A good time to walk away from your instrument is when you wished you could have practiced a little bit more...

#3 Short and frequent sessions throughout the whole day far exceeds one long session in effectiveness. Tune into your sensations and keep your movements fresh as if it's the first time trying it for the day.

#4 Stop when you get used to any movement and do not repeat it just so you can confirm that you can do it! This is difficult especially if you have strived to practice until 'you got it under your belt'. You will get to confirm your newly acquired movement in some other session.

#5 Do not expect ANY progress during the session. Again, this might be a difficult idea to grasp in the beginning, but you will not experience significant improvement within the session. Think as you are filling the data bank by intentionally feeling one movement, one micro-second at a time. The progressive that you have made today during the session is not seen until you have accumulated enough data. Sometimes you will see it within next few days, sometimes even weeks later.

#6 DO expect your symptoms to appear like it gets worse from time to time. It might sometimes appear as though the progress that you've made before is completely gone, but your downtime is as important as your uptime. In fact, the lower your down is, the higher you spring back.

#7 Stop when you start focusing on your symptoms. Practice spreading your focus by tuning into some other parts of your body (ie wrist, forearm, elbow, shoulder, neck, stomach, hip, knee, ankle).

#8 Retraining does not occur only around your instrument. See what you can apply within your day to day activity.

#9 Nothing will ever work if you are not ready to get better. Have a honest conversation with yourself and see if you want to take full responsibility to recover.

#10 Develop an observational eye. Get into the habit of observing your body and dis-attach your movement with your emotions.

#11 Do not get over-elated when things go well at the moment, since you will be experiencing the same width of disappointment later. Self-regulating emotions does not mean you'll be cold hearted. This is precisely the practice that you will need to dis-attach your emotions from your dystonic movements.


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