At first glance, the Feldenkrais method looks to be a type of bodywork, but it is not. It’s more like a return to the self, and no wonder then that it was born in proximity of Chassidic roots, some of which hold the concept of returning to yourself as the seeds of spiritual growth.
Moshe Feldenkrais had his own way of emphasizing a return to self as a type of therapeutic intervention. I once watched a video where he finished his client’s sentence, “you want to feel like you did before.”
It can be hard to guide someone who is lying down in pain through a process of sensing and feeling, but that is what the method requires. It works a bit like trying to solve a problem over and over, then going out for a run or walk only to find the solution spontaneously at the forefront of your mind. The awareness, and then breaks in awareness, help the student to learn something he or she can’t seem to learn otherwise.
In a culture that seems more than ever to bounce between the extremes of urgency and exhaustion, the method is very respectful to the notion that learning something to a level of proficiency takes time. It asks us to slow down, see what’s there. See what we thought was there. Prove things to ourselves. Learn things we didn’t know.
I recall watching my nephew, at a very young age, moving his fingers along the pages of a book quickly, pretending to silently read before the age when he could, trying to dupe me and others into thinking he had processed the words. Life is like that sometimes, certainly competitive education can be. Although, we all know that what really happens in one’s mind, no one knows except the person who is thinking it.
When we rush, we make mistakes, we forget. We get ahead of ourselves. And we lose trust in ourselves. This process asks us to slow down- there is no need to hurry or prove anything to anyone.
When I do Feldenkrais, I often end up wanting to watch my grandmother’s favorite movie, “Born Yesterday.” I don’t know why, I just do. I also want to listen to music from when I was young, and often I hear it like I did when I was young too.
Why becoming more aware of my movements and the body would produce such a feeling of flow or ease is not easy to explain, but not necessarily hard to attain. It’s something people can see from the outside, because the face and vocal prosody become more engaged too. All of this is within the realm of “the body.”
After I do Feldenkrais, I feel motivated to work on my business and cook healthy meals. I want to walk slowly in the park and admire the smell of barbecue from others in my neighborhood.
I start relating to my body less as the alignment of joints and more as breath, skin, wind and light.
I look up more, because there is more that I see and hear. Life slows down and breath just comes in and returns again.