Thursday, January 26, 2006

Thursday, Jan. 26: Responsibility and Real Healing

I am seeing someone for private Feldenkrais® lessons who is in immense amounts of pain. Even to step up onto a very shallow 3 inch step seems a daunting and fearful proposition t this person, who I will call Sam. With the tools of Feldenkrais -- small movements, paying attention to the little details of real life like what is walking, what is sitting, what is vertical, what is going up a step, gentle touch to give the body/brain ideas of new options for moving and living, setting up conditions for functional awareness—together we can create conditions of deep and wonderful improvement. Healing can take place, where healing is a process that comes from within, and is organic and ongoing, rather than being “cured” or “fixed,” which comes from outside, and usually breaks down again later.

However, Sam has to take three gigantic commitments for this healing to happen.

One: There must be a commitment to being present as a first and foremost obligation. This means following the breathing, and being aware of gravity in every waking moment possible. It means to sense any “pain” as sensation in the moment and to discard all vague verbiage such as “I am in pain” as well as to discard verbiage that conceptualizes the present sensation, such as “My child self is afraid and therefore I am clenching up.”

Pain has to be sensed in the moment in specifics of real life. “I feel a stabbing pain in my left knee, about an inch in, and the pain is about one half inch in diameter, and near the edge of the pain I feel a slight throbbing and about two inches out from this, the skin feels warm, but much more comfortable.” Along with the pain, sensing of the rest of the body/brain is wonderful and useful, so we can realize that there are parts of us that are doing okay.

Two: an attitude of total responsibility needs to be cultivated. Which means that all the “this is happening to me…” frames of reference have to dissolve in the responsibility of “Now I am, somehow, someway, creating this pain in myself.” This sounds impossible, but it is immensely freeing. If I am causing my headache, then I can “uncause” my headache, to coin a sloppy new word. If I am causing my sore back, then I can learn ways of organizing myself to uncause this pain. This is why being “fixed” only leaves me dependant on the “fixer,” whereas taking responsibility and learning gives me a lifelong path of improvement.

This attitude of responsibility dovetails with being present in avoiding the temptation to go back into causes, such popular escapes as “I’m in pain because this and this happened in my dysfunctional childhood.” Childhood is gone. Patterns remains, but we, now, activate these patterns, usually unwittingly. To admit that somehow, somewhere we are behind these patterns is to set the stage for the third requirement.

Three. This third requirement is an attitude of good natured curiosity as to what the heck is gong on. “How am I helping to create this little one half inch stabbing in my knee right now?” This is not self-blame, or self-criticism, but something more like an excitement to go inside and figure out how I work, and by figuring that out, with some gentle help as to options, begin to discover alternatives to what I am doing. But even here, to become my own “fixer” gets in trouble. Of course we want to feel better, but a big commitment has to be to the adventure of discovery, or else we are going to get annoyed and discouraged if some of our experiments don’t result in instant improvement.

Consider a baby learning to crawl. It just learns and learns and learns, wasting not a second being annoyed or self-loathing because it hasn’t learned yet. Indeed, it usually doesn’t even know that it is going to end up crawling, but the discovery path is so compelling that it keeps at it hour after hour. This is the way of real healing, when we get on a discovery path. This seems like great advice for myself, as well, I can see. How about for you?


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