Sunday, August 27, 2006

Sunday, August 27: The Joy of Feldenkrais® work

The Joy of Feldenkrais Work

Or should I call it Feldenkrais play?

Or should I call it Feldenkrais exploration?

Or should I call it Feldenkrais waking up to awareness?

Or should I call it the Feldenkrais Method®?

What the hey, we’re off to a good start, because one of the central principles of the Feldenkrais work/ play/ method is that to be free we need at least three options in anything we do. Anat Baniel has expanded this out to the obvious realization that having three options is necessary for emotional and intellectual freedom as well. If you can only feel one way about, say, the word “America,” you are probably a very stuck and /or boring person. If we can only think one way about the idea of “becoming more healthy,” once again we are probably stuck and boring and not living in a fertile place.

So, we sit on a chair. What are three ways of sitting on that chair?
  • Belly a little out and spine a bit arched, that’s one.

  • The normal, with belly back and a bit slumped, that’s two.

  • Belly out, head upright.

  • Belly in, head tilted forward.

  • And so on.

  • Now: doing all the above with following our breathing vs. not following our breathing and we have many options.

  • What’s this mean?

    It means awareness is fun, and awareness brings about a feeling that we can explore and enjoy our life more. And the other way around: exploring and enjoying our life, even something so common as sitting in a chair, can lead to awareness.

    Recall the title of one of Moshe Feldenkrais’ books: The Elusive Obvious. To sit in a chair is so obvious that we forget the elusive: we habitually sit in the chair in certain ways and we can mess/ play/ explore out into all sorts of different ways of sitting in this chair.

    So how would this work in the emotional realm? You can visit for many, many essays on how to cultivate happiness in a variety of circumstances. Let’s just give this as a starting example. You are in a relationship. The person that you thought was going to stay with you forever and ever leaves you.
  • The standard way to feel about this is: bad, poor me, how awful.

  • Then, another way is: to hell with the "bad" ex-partner.

  • And yet, and yet: there are lots of options. We have lots of options. So when the person who isn't "supposed" to leave us just does that, what options emotionally could we have as free and wise and open human beings?

    Well, for starters:
    • gratitude for the good times
    • sadness for the loss
    • amazement at the changes in life
    • curiosity about all our reactions
    • relief for the bad times that won’t be any more
    • love for the person for being honest with us
    • excitement about what is next in life
    • fear about what is next in life
    • curiosity about what is next in life
    • reflection about what we did wrong in this relationship
    • excitement about doing it better next time
    • excitement about having some time out of a relationship
    • bliss about being alive.

    And so on. See how wonderful life becomes when we give ourself options?

    In yoga, you can take the pose and make it a prison. Or you can take the pose and use it as a chance to explore all the different and subtle variations you can create within this asana. And what does asana mean? Seat. And we’ve already talking about the joys of exploring different ways of sitting. So in yoga, sit into triangle or down dog or cobra and change the angle of your pelvis, or head, or the rotation of your spine or the placement of your feet. Relax. Explore. Enjoy.

    Is that work? Yes, in that you don’t just plug along like a donkey always doing something the same way. Is it play? Yes, because you are trying out new combinations. Is it waking up? If you are aware and present as you do this, yes, and that is one of the most wonderful places to be, isn’t it, the waking up and knowing we are alive now place?

    Okay, and what about options in the thinking realm? Well, we started this essay with that, didn’t we? Call it Feldie play, or call it Feldie work, or call it Feldie exploration or call it The Feldenkrais Method. See how just changing the word picture gives our thinking and imagination another piece of the Big Picture. And what is the Big Picture?

    • We are alive.

    • We are humans.

    • We learned a lot to change from babies to walking and talking adults.

    • We learned a lot of habits, about which we are not aware, such as how we sit in a chair, or come up out of a chair, or move our bodies when we dance or make love.

    • By coming into awareness and trying variation and exploration we can continue learning and improve almost anything.

    • This can keep an ongoing opening to becoming more healthy and happy and wise and enthusiastic human beings.

    And that’s a nice start for our first posting in this blog. has hundreds of essays about not only Feldenkrais, but happiness, health, ecology and waking up to the present.