Pain, Have You Been Told, “Just LIVE With It”?

Each of us is bright,

We just forget to polish ourselves.

Moshe Feldenkrais called our brightness our latent genius. Fortunately he developed a system to polish it. The Feldenkrais Method is based on the premise that the primary function of the human brain is to learn and learning how to learn is more important than what we learn.

Learning how to learn isn’t encouraged in our growing process. Most of our formal education deals with compiling information. It’s goal oriented and reward seeking. The speed with which we reach our goal is so valued that we tend to seek the shortest route using the greatest effort. This eliminates  our creative exploration and the availability of choices. It is learning imposed from the outside.

However, our informal learning, the kind we did as an infant when we learned to pick up our head, turn, crawl, walk and jump, is the kind of learning that happens from the inside. It’s called somatic or kinesthetic learning. It’s motivated by childlike curiosity and the joy of being alive. It develops with the luxury of trial and error. The Feldenkrais Method helps us to rediscover this innate capacity by fine-tuning awareness through our kinesthetic sense which is the part of ourself that feels movement, knows touch, and recognizes spacial relationships. It’s connected to our inner wisdom and no one can teach it to us, we learn simply because it exists.

In the Feldenkrais Method, our body movement becomes our own personal laboratory for discoveries. We can feel how a turn of our head affects our spine, our ribs, our pelvis and even our feet. Sometimes we inhibit the efficient flow of a movement by tensing some part of ourselves. By preventing that part from joining the action, another body part becomes strained because it’s overworking; it wasn’t designed to carry such a large load. Often these overused areas are the places where we experience pain…..for instance in our neck, shoulders, or lower back. Consider the possibility that the problem is not be where the pain occurs.  If the underused areas learn to become active, the movement becomes more functionally integrated.

By bringing these areas into awareness, we empower ourselves to make more efficient, comfortable choices.  The part of our body that was habitually off line begins to reconnect and act more harmoniously with our intention. Stress and chronic  pain is often significantly relieved. This occurs because the whole nervous system has learned a better way to function and is more relaxed.

Another very important aspect of the work addresses the gaps that exist in our body image. By this, I mean a part of our self that our kinesthetic sense doesn’t perceive.  It’s like having blind spots in our personal behavior. This gap in self-knowledge blocks us from presence and spontaneity. By gently bringing ourselves to sense and use what was previously unnoticed, we bridge the gap and complete our felt-sense of ourselves. Then a funny thing happens: Our increased awareness of choice in motion becomes a metaphor and we begin to perceive other choices. These can be in the arenas of relationships, work, thinking, and creativity.  For instance, I’ve been told by more than one artist, that after a Feldenkrais Lesson with me, they went to their studio and painted in a completely new style, or completed an entire musical score for a show.

In a Feldenkrais class, the student usually lies on the floor and receives verbal guidance through a series of gentle, powerful, and cohesive movement sequences. These light up awareness and improve neural connections. (If being on the floor is too difficult, other options are available.) As the lesson develops, the student is encouraged to notice differences, especially in comfort levels and in relationship with the earth. The capacity to notice small differences develops kinesthetic intelligence and increases awareness. Awareness, in itself alone, is transformative. The group process is called AWARENESS THROUGH MOVEMENT. The individual hands-on work is a one-to-one experience of touch and guidance designed for each person.  It’s called FUNCTIONAL INTEGRATION.

Reading about the Feldenkrais Method is like reading about a gourmet dinner; it’s absolutely nothing like tasting the food! Experiencing it for yourself is the only way of knowing. So take a chance to polish your brightness! Explore the joy and ease of movement that awaits you.

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