Friday, July 22, 2005

Feldenkrais introduction 3, a new way of thinking

Life can be a burden, or a routine, or an adventure. With the proper wallet and disposition, we can find adventure in foreign lands or jumping out of airplanes or going the next step beyond coveting the neighbor’s spouse.

And yet…luckily for the human lot, we all have at hand, right now, this very instant, without any requirement of cash, status, proper dress, adequate body shape, or an other of the normal hoops we jump though in the burdened and routine life, without any of that, we can be present to this moment.

(See the article called Three Layers of Awareness: Skeleton, Breath and Light/Sound for a practical hands and mind on version of being present, now, this now and any now.)

I recently gave a presentation to a group of businessmen about the Feldenkrais Method®. One of the concepts I used most was of the work as the practical application of the title, The Elusive Obvious. One example they really enjoyed was the elusive obvious of what was involved in going from sitting to standing, the transferring of weight from the rear end to the feet. This was wonderfully obvious once their awareness was brought to the actual movement of their centers of gravity and its usefulness became obvious as they experienced as easier transition. While talking about sitting to standing could have gotten us nowhere for a long time, to actually move, and move in a new way, brought a concrete awareness of this shifting of weight, and Walla: another book title, awareness through movement came about.

Another aspect of the work I emphasized was the shifting out of habitual modes of movement. Again, with the sitting to standing movement, they could feel and experience their habitual way, and then notice the ease of an new way of going about this. As practical people they were well aware of the often crippling effects of routine behaviors and procedures, and as people in bodies, they appreciated feeling an easier way of doing something they had taken for granted as knowing “how to do.”

Having an option, they liked, as we all do, especially when the option creates a feeling of ease and potency. ( Another book title lurking here.). This option comes from various layers of awareness. An awareness of the elusive obvious that we are in the field of gravity; the elusive obvious that to move we must realize, consciously or unconsciously, that we have arms, legs, pelvis, feet ( a body as it were); the elusive obvious that sitting it sitting and standing is standing; the elusive obvious that this moving can take place in different ways.

This is an amazing batch of awarenesses when you think about it: we live in a field of gravity, we have a body that moves, we have habitual ways of moving, there are other possible ways of moving. As people ( we, or our students) go about exploring new ways of moving, whole new worlds of learning open up. People can discover that they are in a rush to “get it right,” that they hold their breath and clench up when an open ended situation appears, that they get into something like a panic when they don’t now “how to do it,” that fear of disapproval and hunger for approval can get in the way of learning something in small and digestible doses. We’ve all experienced this, and it is our great privilege to set up conditions wherein our students can begin to “learn to learn” the difference between learning and performance, a lesson that is worth learning over and over again.

This is a shift that we are offering, an amazing offer, the shift from the putting of attention of “getting it right,” to putting awareness on the many facets of curiosity: “What is my habit?,” “What are alternative ways of doing this?,” “What happens when I try this differently?,” “What is it like to do it even ‘worse’ than I usually do?,” “What is happening to my breathing while all this is going on?”

And so on. And hey, what is happening, in this nowish now place, to our breathing, and to our five lines and to our connection to gravity and light and sound? We’ve gone our whole lives without writing or reading whatever is to come next, a little pause to sink into pure physical awareness, that’s a nice thing, even while writing/reading, especially if our habit is never to pause in these activities.

And there, too, a new way of learning, the way of taking stock, of having rests, of giving pause to integrate and digest. Nice idea. Nice practice in this world of no more siestas, and no more praying and very little meditation in the day, except when we retreat from the day or the world. Taking the pause to hang out with not knowing, with taking in what we’ve gotten so far.

Which is: what we are doing is offering two branches of awareness. An awareness of what is, and an awareness of possibilities. Here’s a schematic I came up with during the rewrite, out on a lawn, in a Sonoma park, the sound of wind in the trees, the dappled light coming down between the sycamore leaves, the cooling feel of the late afternoon air, and still, the good old pen in certain fingers, moving across the page in a certain way.


We have one
It moves and ( almost) breaths
Of movement
And breathing/ not breathing
Of thought:
“Right way” to do something
Getting approval, fitting in, fear of disapproval
Getting it Done, performance

New combinations
Different speeds, usually slower, sometimes faster
Smaller is okay, sometimes large
Scope of movement
How other “parts” can be brought in
What inhibits; what “helps”
Effect on breathing, connection to breathing
New thinking
Rests are okay, good, wonderful
Not knowing is okay, good, wonderful
Discovery and experimentation
Doing it wrong for fun and learning
What is “our” way?
The joy of learning


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