Awareness through Feldenkrais

By Josephine 2005

At 25 years of age I have returned to hometown, Perth, for 4 months. It’s the first time I have lived here since setting off four years ago to travel and work across the globe. My motivation for taking this time out at home stems from two major reasons. A need to stop, reassess and clarify my direction and purpose in life. Also a growing need to address my physical condition, scoliosis. Scoliosis is ‘an excessive, sideways curvature of the spine’. (Encarta World English Dictionary) I wear orthotics, have dabbled in the Alexander Technique, had a diagnosis from a rather dry spinal surgeon specialist, experimented with hatha yoga, been the recipient of wonderful massages and have been crunched by a well meaning Osteopath.

I have found we are living in a world where modern treatment is all too often practised with little awareness of concern for the patient’s potential and interest to manage, understand and be an integral part for their individual condition. Frustration has prevailed when seeing specialists and highly trained people working apart and separate from each other, blinkered to the confines of their own method and understanding when dealing with a common condition. This has lead me to seek professionals who operate with an open mind, in turn leading me to a treatment that allows, indeed relies on, the emphasis for change and progress to start and end with me. Among other things, I had been led to working with a Feldenkrais practitioner.

In my personal experience these past 3 or 4 months, as I have reviewed the habits of my body and created new ones, I have opened my mind and been able to observe the pathways within. I have observed the emotional and logical thought process changes subsequent to my physical reconditioning, or more accurately physical deconditioning.

The links I have observed between physical and emotional challenges have been profound, giving me insight to the nature of the interaction and reaction to the world, people and events around me.

The key emotions I have witnessed arise are:

  • Sadness and a sense of loss with the urge to cry and retreat;
  • Anger and a sense of frustration with the thought to seek alternative treatment or give up;
  • Contemplation and a sense of awakening with a thirst for knowledge;
  • Joy and a sense of freedom with an urge to share this with others in some way.

Sadness arises when I realise that I have been holding onto something in my body, and that to move past it I have to let go. When I realise that I have to change my way of looking at a situation in order to overcome it.

Anger comes when I can’t feel a sensation (a block) that I think I should be able to feel. Or when pain persists after hard work, my expectation being that the work I put in should be equalled by my pain relief. Anger also results when things get hard, I don’t understand why, and I am looking to someone else to do the work for me.

Contemplation dawns with a clichéd sense that a light bulb has been switched on in my head, as jI realise that I have options in my body that allow me to move differently and more effectively when compared to my previous habitual movement. This usually occurs when I stumble across a new physical sensation that I wasn’t expecting or consciously looking for.

Joy is not only a result of pain relief. Joy arises with a feeling of being in touch with my body, this new body awareness making available to me greater freedom and understanding of movement. Allowing greater freedom and understanding full stop!

Once I begin to recognise and understand this process, I am able to relate it to other aspects of my life and interaction with the world. For example, when I feel angry in a situation, I am able to effect a warning switch that sends a message to my consciousness that there must be something I am not understanding about the situation. Therefore I have the option to stop and investigate before I react. Often the anger dissipates through my investigation and subsequent understanding of the particular situation. I am in the process of training my mind to work in this fashion through the practice of physical movement, in this case, through the Feldenkrais Method.

After journeying across the world into the heart of Africa, Mexico, Central America, India, Nepal, Thailand and Europe, I feel that in some ways it is only now that I really begin my journey. I look to the world, the future and my place in it with a renewed sense of wonder, clarity, openness and personal power.