Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Wednesday, Sept. 6: Awareness, Feldenkrais and WakeUp Feldenkrais

Feldenkrais, in and of itself, is a huge boost toward waking up. To do movements such as turning our eyes to the left as we turn our heads to the right, requires an attention to the moment. To follow instructions that have us doing something we have never done before, requires an attention that we can’t have if our mind is wandering.

And then, the repetition of the movements gives us a chance to either finally let our mind wander, or to deeply get more and more aware of how these movements are affecting us. Unlike yoga where you do a posture and then move on within a couple of minutes, in a Feldenkrais lesson you can spend half an hour doing variations on one movement. To some people this is agony. They want to stress and rip and get moving. Which is fine, though these tend to be the people who have back injuries a couple of times a year.

Leaving all that out, Feldenkrais also gives us a chance to give a deeper attention to ourselves because so many of the lessons are on the ground, where we don’t have to contend with gravity, and can focus a big chunk of our brain on the arms or feet or hips or pelvis or ribs, or spine, all without the usual tug of war with gravity and keeping upright.

And in addition to slowness and repetition and being out of gravity and novelty of movement, we are given the sweet opportunity, in the better lessons, to participate in a discovery of option A way to move, and option B, and option C, and maybe more. We are given a vacation from “doing it right,” and get to go into direct sensory experience of the difference in ease and range and connection and effort if we do something a variety of ways.

This is not only a vacation, but an incentive to zone in on the present, because this experience is so unlike so much of our everyday life, where “getting it right,” is what we stress and strain and worry over, sometimes almost constantly. This might be “getting it right” about getting to the next place(s) on time, or “getting it right” in doing the job the way someone wants us to, or “getting it right” in impressing someone, or “getting it right” in the yoga studio, or “getting it right” in our diet.

In many Feldenkrais lessons, we experiment with a bunch of ways of doing something. Maybe all are right. Maybe all are wrong. This doesn’t matter. What matters is whether or not we can notice a difference, and if we can, learning is happening. And then, we don’t have to “get it right” to know what to do with the learning, because our whole mind/body system is designed to pick out the easiest and most pleasant ways of doing things, if the options are available to it. To “it” means to us, and that’s what these lessons are about: giving us options and learning and information and sensations of new and more interesting and easier and better ways of doing and thinking and even feeling.

Okay, okay. So what is WakeUp Feldenkrais? WakeUp Feldenkrais is an opportunity to use this awareness to bring awareness to the center of our life. Often we will have a Feldenkrais lesson and then when it is over, go into unconscious yammer about how great a lesson it was. What if we stayed aware once we began to talk?

Usually we come into the lesson in some sort of ‘this is the kind of day I’ve been having’ mode, rather than: this is how I am standing and breathing as I come into the room mode. What if the very coming to the lesson were the beginning of waking up to the moment?

And then when we go home from a lesson, more at ease and connected to ourselves. How can we keep an awareness in our moving as we get ready for bed or read a book or talk with someone in our homes after the lesson?

This might sound hard, as if we always need to be vigilant.

I’d say it’s exciting, as if we could always be awake.

That’s what WakeUp Feldenkrais is about, for starters.

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