The Feldenkrais Method can best be described as an intelligently structured “learning-to-learn” approach. Its characteristic playfulness is modelled on natural learning-processes as found in childhood. ‘Making mistakes’ is encouraged since they may lead to unexpected discoveries and surprising results. Predetermined goals are avoided because they tend to inhibit real learning. Feldenkrais used to say:
“In knowing what to achieve before we have learned how to learn, we can reach only the limit of our ignorance”.
- Our nervous system senses fine differences best when the level of stimulation is small. Sensing these differences creates the most potent and lasting neuromuscular change appropriate to the individual, and it’s why there’s a strong emphasis on movement quality (light, easy, soft, slow, smooth) over quantity (we don’t do many rote repetitions or use big ranges of motion very often).
- So to dispel a common misconception: Feldenkrais lessons aren’t gentle to be nice. They’re gentle so they can work, and so that your attention won’t be distracted by stretch, strain, or pain and thus diverted from the new, very refined sensations that will lead most rapidly to your improvement, short and long-term.
- Under these healthy learning conditions, our nervous system will spontaneously begin to approximate the improved biomechanical organizations that the lesson structures point to. This process becomes fascinating and pleasurable and self-reinforcing—in or out of a Feldenkrais lesson, consciously and unconsciously. Quality of life improvements will follow by necessity as awareness improves.
- Over time (even within one lesson) a new self awareness arises. (Awareness is simply a practiced and automatic attention.) Through awareness we begin to spontaneously move more efficiently, pleasurably, and sustainably in the lesson movements and in our own activities.
- Eventually we can even consciously call up an easier image of self use when we notice we’re in pain, straining, or frustrated in our activities. Self-confidence rises as we feel we are real agents of change for ourselves through improving our comfort and effectiveness in the world.
- Given the choice, our nervous system rewires to be able to choose simpler, more efficient self organizations in any activity. This capacity to change how we function is called neuroplasticity.
- Muscles are dumb, by the way. Nearly all of them only do what our brains tell them to do. It’s just that much of the telling has become unaware habit. Feldenkrais reintroduces awareness and choice.
- Finally, we so often lie down to study because it reduces the load on the nervous system dramatically. Some studies show as much as 90% of our brain function is related to not falling when we’re standing. By doing lessons in a non-habitual orientation to gravity we have a chance to address aspects of self that were far too locked into habitual postural work to uncover new options safely.
- Our self: brain, body, consciousness, spirit if you will…it’s all operated by one nervous system. It functions as a whole at all times. We cannot separate out aspects or parts to “work on.” Fascinatingly, as we effect change in any sphere of the self image (Moshe Feldenkrais said the self image was composed of thinking, feeling, sensing, and acting), the others all change too. This leads to other applications of the method. Though movement is our “way in” and the primary language of the brain, Feldenkrais can lead to surprising psychological improvement. Many students come to stem anxiety or unlock their creativity.
Humans experience an array of emotions, anything from happiness, to sadness to extreme joy and depression. Each one of these emotions creates a different feeling within the body. After all, our body releases different chemicals when we experience various things that make us happy and each chemical works to create a different environment within the body. For example if your brain releases serotonin, dopamine or oxytocin, you will feel good and happy. Conversely, if your body releases cortisol while you are stressed, you will have an entirely different feeling associated more with the body kicking into survival mode.
What about when we are thinking negative thoughts all the time? Or how about when we are thinking positive thoughts? What about when we are not emotionally charged to neither positive nor negative? Let’s explore how these affect our body and life.
Posted by Joe Martino | A Better Living
Does your baby like tummy time? Most don’t, for good reason. Until infants are able to roll into the tummy position on their own, most of them find it uncomfortable, immobilizing, and no doubt highly discouraging.
But rather than listen to our babies, we are asked to put our faith in recent studies about plagiocephaly (flat-headedness), studies that don’t take into account the fact that infants are now spending more time than ever in restrictive devices (like car seats, bouncy seats and carriers) that inhibit babies from doing what they are naturally inclined to do: round out the back of their heads by turning them from side to side.
Instead, the back position and rousingly successful “Back to Sleep” campaign (which has cut the SIDS rate in the US in half since it began in 1992) have been named as the culprits. So, rather than understand these studies as a reflection of the need for more free movement and floor time during the baby’s waking hours, many experts have concluded that imposing tummy time is the answer.
In this insightful guest post, Irene Lyon, a Feldenkrais and Somatic Experiencing Practitioner (and producer/director of the world renowned “Baby Liv” video), sheds light on the valuable developmental processes hindered when tummy time is imposed early, and helps us see tummy time from our baby’s point of view.