Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Wed. Oct 18: Feldenkrais and the Big Self inside us all

We come into this world as miraculous beings. We are a genius, really. We can take a self that can hardly move and end up crawling and rolling over and walking and talking and running around and getting into mischief within a couple of years.

We are also socialized beings: when learning to talk, especially, we learn the “right” way to talk, as well as our “native” tongue. We learn to squelch certain phrases and our curiosity. We learn not to speak the truth.

And in our bodies. We learn bad habits by imitating restricted people around us. We learn bad habits by tensing and contracting in stressful situations. We learn bad habits after accidents when we don’t really have the support to heal in a natural way according to our own schedule and are forced into some model of “doing it right,” that limits us from everything else for the rest of our life.

And in our being. We are taught that we “shouldn’t” imagine that we could do such and such. We are taught that this is beyond us, and that that is impossible and that “our kind of people” don’t do this, and that such and such is a “nasty” movement, and that such and such thinking is “ridiculous.”

So, slowly and strangely, we are taught to limit ourselves. Parents, unknowingly, to top all the above off, usually don’t want to be surpassed by their children, so that even happiness can seem an affront and can be conditioned out of a bright and beautiful child.

Then, to top all this off: we go to school, and are taught to sit still, and to keep our eyes focused on The Teacher. We are more or less taught to restrict our breathing, restrict our motion, to restrict our curiosity, to restrict our communication, to restrict our urges, to restrict our individuality, to restrict our creativity. If you happen to think this doesn’t happen in the Waldorf system, go spend an hour in even the best class and you will see huge amounts of anti-wiggling, everyone pay attention to this and this moment going on.

Anyway; we are taught to be small.

And Feldenkrais has said that central to his work is getting us back to the Big Self we would have and could have been had not all these lids and clamps been shut down on and in us.

I was telling the short version of this to a friend last night at the farmer’s market, and she responded, I guess is you get that energy going from all those blocks, that would happen.

I didn’t really feel like taking the time to expand on how much this system goes beyond “energy” and “blockages,” and besides, a good start is a good start.

So, now. On paper, let’s expand that.

We are miracles of learning and a huge amount of that miracle has been shanghaied into learning how to restrict and diminish ourselves. One way out of this might be to do kind of The Artists Way thing, taking inventory of all the ways we were taught to stifle ourselves and whatnot.

Another is, as my friend suggested, just to start to move and from having been so stuck for so long, this will remind us that we are living beings. Thus the famous scene in all the Nerd Breaks Out movies, when the bookworm starts to dance or run or have wild sex or surf, or something showing life and vitality.

And then, the Feldenkrais way is somewhat sly and amazing, because it is about unlocking our ability to learn again. To learn, not in the dreary: do it this way kind of copying learning, that will teach us a new skill such as archery or golf or yoga ( and that learning a new skill does huge things for the person, let there be no doubt about that), but the learning that we did when we were a little genius.

This sort of learning is about trying this, trying that, going down dead ends, trial and error, exploring and enjoying. Like a musician trying this tune out and then this and then that, and ending up either Mozart and a Concerto with variations or John Coltrane and his variations. It is the leaving behind of the known, the exploring the unknown, the security to not be “right,” the joy of finding out all sorts of possibilities. This is what a good Feldenkrais lesson is about.

This is the Feldenkrais path to the Big Self, to open up the box on Learning itself, Learning and Awareness as core to life, and from that, everything and anything is possible. Almost. We still can’t fly, but we could learn to walk on a tight rope, if we went in enough steps and took it as the joy of learning and not the I have to do it now to show off to myself or others that I’m okay way.

Learning and Awareness mean a good life, a rich life and an expanding life. Like the child we were whose horizons were continually expanding, we are once again riding the life force of our Big Self.

(Whatever that means. But it hints at something grand, doesn’t it?)

One of my past essays of the Feldie Method spoke to this somewhat tangentially: Intro 3, a New Way of Thinking.

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