Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tuesday, Sept. 26: Presence is the End, Presence is the Way

This has been said before, and maybe this won’t be the last time: either we are here, now, in our lives, or we are not.

That sounds so stark, doesn’t it? Oh, well.

In Feldenkrais, if we are lucky, the teacher is present and the client is present, and that is the main lesson. And that sounds like cheating, doesn’t it? Because if we aren’t efforting, how can we get anything done? If we are diagnosing and “fixing,” how can change come about?

I keep coming back to that first metamorphosis in our life: from helpless blob to crawling little troublemaker. No one fixed us. We weren’t ever diagnosed with non-crawling syndrome. We weren’t, unless we had overly anxious and not having a life parents, on any timetable as to when crawling was the thing to do.

We weren’t taught. No crawling class from nine to ten each morning. No one demonstrated. No one gave us directions.

We were present. We were inquisitive. We explored in our moving and our brains. Our brains did what they are meant to do: they learned. We learned. We transformed.

That’s what a Feldenkrais lesson is all about, learning and transformation.

Can it be so easy? If we, teacher and student could remain present, it would be that easy. But the “get better” syndrome. The “get rid of my pain:” syndrome. The “fix me I’m a helpless baby” syndrome all come into full force. I know, that sounds exaggerated, but it actually is at the core of so called “civilized” medicine: that the doctor fixes and we are just passive swallowers of pills and knives and occasional good advice of the sort eat better and exercise, or of the sort: rest more. Or both. Usually it’s just fix me, drug me, cure me, I’m out of the loop.

Imagine a baby waiting around for someone to fix her or his “non-crawling syndrome.” We’d think it a pretty pathetic child, or in huge need of Feldenkrais, because something like cerebral palsy is getting in the way of the brain’s and the person’s innate abilities to explore and learn.

So, students want to be fixed, teacher want to prove they can fix, and the present and presence gets missed, and that’s mainly what makes it harder.

And then, along with the fix me thing is an almost total lack of responsibility for our own healing, so people go home from a lesson, having learned to move slowly and give themselves lots of awareness, and they forget all that and go into acting and thinking and moving in exactly the ways that wrecked them in the first place.

And I’ll guarantee you this: the ways we move when we wreck ourselves are never in the present.

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