„We act according to the image we make of ourselves. I eat, walk, talk, think, observe, love according to the way I feel about myself. This ego-image that one makes of oneself is partly inherited, partly acquired; in a third part it comes about through self-education.“
Awareness through Movement, Suhrkamp 1978
Flexible body & flexible mind
With the Feldenkrais Method® you are the explorer of yourself and find new spots and exciting places in and with your body that you have never “visited” before or perhaps not for a long time. You are allowed to playfully experiment like a child and reorganise your movement patterns in the process. You can not only become more mobile on a physical level, but also gain mental flexibility. Just as planning and control of movement take place via the brain and nervous system, all sensory impressions and sensory information are also processed and utilised there. Motor skills and physical posture have an effect on our mental attitude and vice versa. Our way of moving and our way of thinking influence each other reciprocally. How we “use” ourselves depends on how we see ourselves. So when we work with the Feldenkrais Method® we are also working on our self-image.
Welcome and uninvited guests
A person’s entire biography finds its expression on a mental and physical level. Our mental attitude is anchored physically, and every physical experience is also imprinted mentally. Both are in a constant interrelation.
As adults, we have countless habits, i.e. automated processes and functions that we do not consciously perceive in everyday life. Among the necessary and beneficial automatisms, however, there are of course also the “uninvited guests”. Permanent one-sided or wrong stresses on our system have a great impact on our well-being. Even posture and movement patterns that were originally favourable for us can have a negative effect depending on the situation or after a certain time.
A defensive reaction in a threatening situation or a protective posture in the case of great pain are sensible and appropriate in the acute situation. But if they become entrenched and remain unconscious, they have unpleasant long-term consequences for the musculoskeletal system and our nervous system.
We all know the effects of such stress: Headaches, back pain, general tension, sleep disorders, nervousness, neck and shoulder complaints, diffuse dizziness and, and, … the list can go on and on.
„Nothing about our behaviour patterns is constant unless we are convinced that it is.“
„Movement is life. Life is a process. Improve the quality of the process and you improve the quality of life itself.“
How do you experience your movements, your postures in everyday life?
… tense, painful, energy-sapping, breath-taking, exhausting, tiring …?
… light, playful, pleasant, effortless, flowing, elegant, exhilarating …?
Perhaps you never really think about it. Or you have lost the feeling for it over time. In our hurried everyday life we also repress many things, consciously and unconsciously. But maybe you also recognise some of the rather unfavourable qualities and would like to change them? But how do you do that?
Surely you would immediately opt for an easier, more pleasant way of using yourself if you could pull it straight out of the hat.
To achieve this freedom, training in self-awareness is part of the solution, among other things. Other pieces of the puzzle include curiosity and playfulness, doing things casually, being fully in explorer mode. The Feldenkrais Method® offers and encourages exactly that. You experiment with new possibilities and can learn to recognise connections. The focus is never on a goal, but on a continuous learning process. If you engage in it, it enables you more and more to self-regulation.
When we observe a small child trying to bring a spoonful of porridge to its mouth and half of it ends up somewhere else instead of in the mouth, we get a faint idea of the enormous learning effort that must be behind this seemingly simple activity. Not only that, but our brain calculates this movement, which is carried out an infinite number of times in our lives, in countless variations even before the actual action, in order to achieve the most precise result possible. If a sudden change occurs during the pre-calculated action, for example if we are pushed while bringing the spoon to our mouth, the spoon and its contents will probably hit their target inaccurately or even miss it.
If we were to practise this “incident” consciously, like throwing a pie in a classic slapstick act, perhaps even with different spoon sizes and contents, we would eventually become masters bringing the spoon into our mouths while being bumped into.
This small, rather absurd example shows that when we learn a new function, we have to try it out countless times and in many different variations. We fail, we improve and we have to practise until we have mastered it so well that it can be called up precisely and automatically. Only then does it move into the background of our consciousness and become second nature to us, so to speak.
„Since organic learning was the original way we organised ourselves in relation to the world, it can also be the way to reclaim our agency, as well as reform our habits of movement and action that enable us to live fulfilling, active, joyful lives. Lie down on the ground and start growing anew!“
„Brainwork without connection to reality is not thinking, just as random contractions of muscles are neither action nor movement.“
Awareness through Movement, Suhrkamp 1978
Only when we know what we are doing and recognise how we are doing it is change possible.
Put simply: our brain is constantly busy, among other things, sorting incoming information and stimuli via our sensory channels and comparing them with stored experiences. In doing so, it constantly adapts to new circumstances. In principle, our brain is therefore capable of creating new neuronal connections and changing its structure and functions throughout our lives. This ability is called neuroplasticity.
Automatisms & freedom of choice
In order to be able to live at all, our brain has to store all learned functions in the right place, so that the well-rehearsed can change into mostly unconscious automatisms. This includes, above all, the development of motor skills, i.e. the learning of all the movements of the human body, which takes place during childhood.
As adults, we usually no longer have to learn how to climb stairs, drink from a cup of coffee or put on a jacket. All this is integrated into our automatic repertoire of movements, we just do it.
But how we do something is the crucial question. We hardly ever ask ourselves this question in everyday life. If we start to pay more attention to this question, our awareness of it can grow along with it. We begin to discover new possibilities and experience our self-efficacy. With this experience, we gain quality of life and a desire for more of it. Do you too?
„Awareness gives us the freedom to make a choice.“