Saturday, March 25, 2006

Saturday, March 25: Learning at the Glitch Point

Okay. A new day, a new computer. Let’s call today Saturday. Let’s call this computer Jack’s. Let’s watch the breathing and wonder: what am I going to write about today. The training program is fantastic, with the crucial idea of learning as the core of what the Feldenkrais work is about.

Learning is discovering a difference that makes difference.

Learning is not knowing, and having this insane story that we have to already know everything gets in the way of learning. To learn we have to not know something, then we’ve got an emptiness which we can fill, then we’ve got a gap we can fill in, then we’ve got something we don’t know how to do which we can learn to do.

In Feldenkrais we have lots of small movements. Sometimes these seem trivial, to lie on our sides and move a shoulder forward and back, say. But to do this and notice what else moves as we move our shoulder, that then takes the movement to a higher level, the level of awareness. Can we learn to be more aware?

Other movements are complicated. We did one yesterday: lie on the belly and take the head and shoulder girdle right and left a number of times until grasping the right ankle with the right hand when bending that way, or grasping the left ankle with the left hand when bending that way becomes doable. In this, if little glitches get in the way, we have two choices. One, to just power on through and pretend we know it all. Two, to slow down and feel what is the glitch all about and how we can make it easy and sweet in this spot too. This will slow down our determination to reach the goal, the ankle grabbing, but it will give us insight and learning about how to more smoothly and efficiently reach that goal.

The lesson goes on. Take the right ankle in the right hand while on the belly, arch the back, bring the foot up and over and place it on the ground to the left of where we were lying on our belly so that we are now on our backs, with belly and back both arched forward and foot flat on the floor. This one is a great temptation to power on through and give ourselves the mental pat on the back: “Can do.” And in this powering we have lost the opportunity to learn something about arching, or our attention, or using less effort where it is not needed (the face, say), of being one with our breathing while we attempt something difficult. Many chances to learn, or the habitual way: power on through and pretend we know.

Not knowing, the gateway to learning. How to know when we don’t know? Ah, a good question. Slow down. Pay attention. Notice what is happening.

Good fun, eh?


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