Sunday, September 03, 2006

Sunday, Sept. 3: Another oldie: Between the Ears

Happy Thanksgiving;

Let’s say I have a repetitive strain injury, aka RSI . My hands and fingers seem tense and cramped and painful, from too much time at the computer, perhaps. One way to look at this as a problem of the hands, or a problem of computer-itis. However, another way of looking at this is as a problem between the ears. What does that mean? It means that the problem is that my brain has forgotten how to use my hands the way nature designed hands to be used, as part of an arm, which is part of a shoulder girdle, which is floating near and in synch with my ribs, which are attached to my spine, which is connected to my pelvis, which is rooted down into the floor via my legs and feet.

So according to nature, when I use my hands at the computer, I can feel their use all the way down into my feet. According to bad habits that have gotten into that space between the ears, the hands are supposed to crank away on their own. Guess which way is going to feel easy and integrated with all of me, and which way is going to lead to pain and injury.

This is what Moshe ´ Feldenkrais discovered that led to his creating the Feldenkrais Method®. His knees were wrecked from soccer and a mental habit of playing with intent to win at all costs. At the time, in the 1940’s, his doctors told him an operation would have a 50% chance of success. He thought that was the same as flipping a coin and set out to discover how to heal himself. Drawing on his background as a judo master, and a scientist, he set out to discover how our bodies work, when they work efficiently, and from observing babies in his wife’s pediatric practice, he saw more of how we move when we move naturally. He discovered that to heal his knees, he need to learn to more naturally move his ankles and toes and legs and pelvis and ribs and spine and neck and breathing and eyes, and brain. He needed to relearn how to go about something with curiosity rather than intent to succeed. When he learned all this, he could walk and even do judo again in his seventies with knees which should have left him paralyzed.

This is the glory of finding a solution between the ears, rather than in the knees or the hands or the shoulders or the back.

Similarly, in the “Work” of Byron Katie (see links, to right), the usual suspects are rejected as the cause of the pain. Instead of a “bad” husband who says the wrong thing to us, and a “bad” wife who doesn’t smile at the right time, or “bad” parents who criticized us, or “bad” children who disobey, or “bad” people around town who don’t appreciate us or return our calls, the problem is between our ears. It is our thinking about and reaction to their so called “bad” behaviors that causes us the pain. This is not to say that all is equal, and we might as well be rude or selfish since if others don’t like it, it’s their problem. This is about our own freedom and happiness inside. The world is such that other people are going to be busy or distracted or mean or selfish occasionally and we can either deal with our pain as a problem between our ears, which we can do something about, or as a problem “out there,” which is usually a straight path to frustration and ineffectiveness.

This all relates to the essay two back on seeing a “problem” as a chance to use our curiosity and intelligence to make the whole system better rather than falling for the attack mode. So whether it’s insects attacking plants that stimulates us to improve the soil and growing conditions, or a “bad” person, who stimulates us to see what in our thinking and reacting is setting us up to push our own buttons, or a sore back giving us a chance to learn how to organize ourselves in a freer and more natural way, these “problems” are all an opportunity to use that most miraculous (and under-utilized) piece of matter in the universe: our human brains.

( More of Byron Katie at

Hey, hello, you are here. Keep looking, reading and enjoying. Contact me for Feldenkrais or Byron Katie lessons, at 707-996-1437

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