Friday, September 01, 2006

Friday, Sept. 1: Little Miss Sunshine, Healing and Feldenkrais

How does cure take place? How does change happen? I’ve just been re-acquainting myself with a healing system called Body Electronics (gleaned from the book, Body Electronics, by Thomas Chavez). Two concepts from it are relevant to today’s essay. In one, the contrast is made between “off” management of health issues, wherein the whole focus is to turn “off” the symptoms, usually by drugs. In this model, people seem to “get better,” but since the causes behind their symptoms weren’t dealt with, they actually get worse, as now, on top of the original troubles, they have inner disturbances from the drugs.

In “on” management, a way is found to go along with the body’s natural tendency to cure itself, and strength and balancing is given so the system can do what it needs to do, a burning out of something that needs to be cleared.

The second concept from Body Electronics is that we go through periods of balance and periods of de-stabilization, or chaos. The “off” systems bring us out of our destabilization at a lower level of balance, and the “on” systems leave us at a higher level of balance.

Now to Feldenkrais, which when dealing with sore backs or necks or shoulders makes the claim that the issue isn’t in the tissue, it’s between the ears. That is to say, it is the organization of ourselves that caused this soreness, and until we reorganize, by coming to a higher level of functioning ( that is to say, by learning) we will keep having this symptom, no matter how many chiropractors “adjust” us, or physical therapists get us “stronger.”

Okay now to Little Miss Sunshine. If you haven’t seen it, I think you’ll love it. This is a movie where we start with symptom heaven, a father who has a job that isn’t working, a mother who is out of sorts with her husband and her teenage son, the teenage son who hates everyone and won’t speak, the grandfather who snorts heroin, and the mother/wife’s brother, who has just failed at committing suicide. Into this mix, the one healthy person is the young daughter, who though chubby and normal, wants to be a beauty queen.

So, if left to themselves, each character would have their world set up to preserve their neurosis and their unhappiness. But, luckily for us, the viewers, the story forces them into chaos: they all have to get into a VW bus together for a long ride. And during this ride , numerous plot surprises mean their world gets more chaotic. This is a happy movie: they use the chaos to rise to a higher and even, by the end, a wonderful level.

So: they are messes. Chaos shakes up their world. They could sink to bigger messes, but they don’t, they rise to new and better people.

This is healing: to get a little extra stress into the system, and change. In Feldenkrais, we ideally create this "stress" by bringing people so gently they hardly realize it, to a challenging level of functioning. And then in that stress/chaos, show people a way to rise to a higher level of functioning, which is a new higher level of balance.

Think about times in your life when “hard times” ended up bringing about some of the best changes you ever went through and you’ll feel inside what I’m talking about.

No comments: