(Re)Mind Your Body
It’s difficult to get across what 'Feldenkrais' is, but recently there emerged a great analogy.
Developmental psychologist Annette Karmiloff-Smith, on ‘The Life Scientific’ on Radio 4, described a ‘eureka moment’ she experienced when watching her small daughter trying to balance a knife on a cutlery rest. Over and over the girl placed the knife, over and over it failed to balance. The girl had acquired a theory about the world – that things balance at geometric centre – and this idea overcame her ability to observe what was actually happening and to adapt. Karmiloff-Smith knew that a younger child would have been able to balance the knife - they would have relied on what she called ‘kinaesthetic feedback’, that is, they would have attended to moving, sensing, and feeling and adapted to what that told them.
Feldenkrais classes offer real-time directed experiences of moving which enable the student to rediscover their ‘kinaesthetic feedback’. As for the younger child successfully balancing a knife, the process is empirical, trial and error, sensory, real and in a Feldenkrais phrase ‘the elusive obvious’ – so simple and effortless, you wonder why you haven’t sorted it out already. Humans have to learn how to sit, crawl, walk, use fine motor skills; but once acquired, the patterns repeat without conscious direction and they become habits.
Let’s compare these movement habits to the girl’s unhelpful ‘theory about the world’. Daily practices, injuries, tensions, social conditioning, can all contribute to habits of movement being not very ‘well organised’ in a Feldenkrais phrase, but they’re so familiar people don’t notice they’re not great theories – even when they are painful or even harmful. It is difficult to change - the superimposition of another theory (to use this muscle, to stand or sit like this not like that) can often seem to reinforce the first problem. Feldenkrais lessons offer a practical, possible, easy, enjoyable strategy to circumvent this – lateral thinking for bodies!
The sessions enable people to understand unwanted habits and change them, to move more easily, and to feel better. Many take class just to enjoy the pleasure of moving easily … yet others to experience the awareness – mindfulness – of your body and mind: being here, now!
The Feldenkrais Method® is widely used to prevent, manage and alleviate workplace injuries by large companies and individuals, especially in Germany and the US. It offers practical, enjoyable, affordable, optimistic experiences of moving with attention.
Finally, Neil Young credits Feldenkrais with sorting his back and feet issues .....(p400 in his autobiography).
Find out more from these links (thanks to originators)