Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wednesday, Sept. 20: Slow Down, Lie Down and Learn

Not all Feldenkrais® lessons are lying on the floor or the ground. But most are.

(What is a Feldenkrais lesson, and why the little doodad ® after the word the first time it appears? Feldenkrais lessons are lessons in increasing the ease and intelligence and flexibility and coherence of our movements and our thinking and of our life. They come from the work of a man, Moshe Feldenkrais, who lived from 1904 to 1984. He had wrecked knees and at the time an operation could only guarantee him a 50/50 chance of walking afterwards. He thought these foolish odds and went about exploring his own self cure. He discovered it, and the method, also needing a doodad the first time around, is called the Feldenkrais Method.®

While we’re at it, we’ll get all the doodads out of the way. The Feldenkrais Method consists of group lessons, called Awareness Through Movement®, and individual lessons, called Functional Integration®. The lessons are contradictory to the “no pain / no gain" philosophy and to the efforting like a donkey that characterizes so much of modern yoga as well as sports as well as life. Instead of grunting with more effort through a movement we are already doing in a self-harming way, the Feldenkrais Method teaches us, in a vast variety of ways, to discover and enjoy and flourish in new and easier and more efficient manners of moving.

End the mini intro.)

Moshe is reputed to have said, that for people just to give up their struggle with daily life and lie on a table or on the floor for a few minutes was already half the benefit of the lesson.

I agree.

Everyone loves this surrender once they allow it, and they moan when you have a lesson that involves sitting or standing, and yet, and yet: they are too busy, too important, to scheduled inside and outside to take the time to come lie down, slow down and learn.

Yoga or Pilates, people can handle that, maybe, if they can rush there in a car and get worn out, or maybe even (in the rare case) move with awareness and attention in the class, but it’s upright, and it feels strong ( and it is strong, which is one of the great things of yoga and Pilates, but that is not the point here.)

The point is: we are afraid to let go and come to an aware state of relaxation. We want to either flop on the couch in front of the tube, or sip our glass of wine and go out into some drug induced relaxation, or go comatose on the bed. We don’t want to slow down, lie down and wake up to the moment.

Ohmygod, how scary can you get? Learning without huffing and puffing? Learning where we go inside and discover ourselves and aren’t busy comparing ourselves to the teacher and to other people in the room? Oh, dear, can we handle that?
And learning is why they are called Feldenkrais “lessons.” The hands on work is not a treatment, it’s a lesson. The group classes, are lessons. Lessons, not in the way we have experienced piano or singing or dancing or language or sports or yoga lessons, where the teachers says: Here this is the Right Way. Now do it the Right Way.

No, lessons where the teachers says: try this and that and still this other and how about this and how about that, and what can you learn in there?

A big part of why the lessons are so effective is because as students we are free from the ongoing effort to stand or sit in gravity. And another huge part is the freedom, this other sweet and very against the huff and puff grain freedom in the Feldenkrais Method (see, we don’t need the doodad now, which is a requirement of the Feldenkrais Guild), a freedom from ongoing effort to Do More, Do Faster, Do It Right.

Indeed as much as the moving and experimenting and watching and discovery in each lesson,: a big part of the lesson is in learning to let go of the Do More, Do Faster, Do Harder, Do It Right mentality.

This mentality is killing us. It is killing the earth. It is robbing our very moments, which is to say: our lives.

Time to slow down, lie down and learn? I think so. How about you?

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