Wednesday, March 29, 2006

Wednesday, March 29: Learning as a lifelong possibility

If a child wants to move, it moves. At first, the child is more or less moving at random, and in these random movements, every once in awhile some pleasing outcome will occur. The hand will touch the face, the feet will touch the ground in such a way as to move the body, the turning of the head and the pelvis will result in turning over.

The movements can then become learning, as the brain, the nervous system, the self gets very, very interested in the pattern that produces an action that is satisfying. Strange to say, and actually wonderful, this is how our brain is set up: to provide us with interesting and pleasurable outcomes.

What happens to us as adults? Why do we learn so little and do the same things over and over? To be safe? Maybe that a little, since avoidance of displeasure can come to overtake the pursuit of pleasure and learning as we grow older and ossify. Safe from what, is another good question, and this leads us to where the Feldenkrais work and the Byron Katie work overlap, where the pulls of outer approval can make us miserable in our emotional life as well as stunted in our learning life.

Fear of disapproval can lead us to say nothing in a relationship, when the whole world could change if we could just say, I wish we could spend more time together. Fear of not looking good or performing instantly with brilliance, keeps people from learning a musical instrument or taking up drawing, or even going to Feldenkrais classes. Complexity and ambiguity are both avoided, when in reality they are a great food for our lives and our learning.

Poor adults.

Lucky children.

And you won’t be surprised to find me recommending getting involved in the movement part of the Feldenkrais work to begin to recapture what it was once like to be a child.


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