Monday, August 28, 2006

Monday, August 28: Feldenkrais as Learning

One way to look at people is either being “okay” or broken. If they are “okay” leave well enough alone. If they are “broken,” take ‘em in for fixing. Fix ‘em with drugs or fix ‘em with the chiropractor popping this or that back into place, or even fix ‘em with the massage to soothe out the tension.

The way I like to look at this, at us, at myself, at people is that we are all amazing bundles of stuck places/ habits and on the other hand we are full of potentials and possibilities. A child with cerebral palsy is stuck in different ways than a star tennis player and both have potentialities to improve. And for both, this improvement will feel wonderful. And a so-called "small" improvement can snowball out into changing a whole life.

And when I talk about improvement, I’m taking about improving at all sorts of levels.
• Improving abilities in co-ordination and flexibility.

• Improving in awareness of ourselves in the moment

• Improving abilities to experiment and improvise

• Improving our understanding of ourselves

• Improving our feelings about ourselves

• Improving abilities to solve problems

• Improving in breathing

• Improving in balance

• Improving in health

• Improving our creativity

• Improving our learning.

Learning is at the core of what the Feldenkrais Method is all about. We don’t “fix” a sore shoulder. We learn how our shoulder and neck and back and spine and breath and brain and feet and arms all work together and don’t’ work together. We discover our habitual patterns. We explore, learn and delight in many options from our habitual patterns. This is brain and body and whole self learning.

As a child learns to crawl, not doing "body work," nor doing "brain work," nor "fixing" themselves, nor "coming into balance," so Feldenkrais lessons and explorations are an opportunity for the whole self to evolve to a higher, more complex, more satisfying level. "Improvement" often, rightfully so, has a bad reputation, being one-sided and usually involving forcing one part of ourselves with another. This is real improvement, because it is based in the delightful activity which human beings delight in when they get back to it: learning.

So we don't have Feldenkrais "treatments" when we do one on one work. We have "lessons." The group "lessons" are different than many "lessons," because there is not a "right way" to do something that is getting crammed down the students system. Opportunities to learn are being presented. Slow, aware, mindful exploratory activity is the core, whether in group or private lessons. If learning takes place, the lesson is successful.

We move toward freedom.

We move towards being able to be a larger person, to live a more full life, to connect with the world in a more fluid and graceful way.

As Feldenkrais said, “We aren’t interested in flexible bodies, we are interested in flexible minds.”

This is what the method is about: learning how we are and who we are and discovering ways of being softer and smarter and kinder ( and more pleasurable as well as more potent) in our actions with ourselves and in the world.

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