Thursday, February 21, 2008

Feldenkrais, anyone?

The Feldenkrais Method is defined as "Awareness Through Movement", a practice developed by a man named Moshe Feldenkrais, somewhere around 1930. He used movement as a way of healing his damaged knee. His philosophy is that if you put your awareness into how your body is moving, you shift away from ingrained everyday habits. (just think of the times when you are driving your car, intending to visit a friend, but end up at work instead. Or brushing your teeth - do you really remember turning on the tap? putting toothpaste on your brush?)

Through Awareness of how we move, we force our brains to "pay attention", thereby changing those habitual pathways. Feldenkrais maintains that there is no division between mind and body, so when we have flexible bodies, we have flexible minds.

Does it sound like gobbledigook? Probably it's the way I'm explaining it.

I went to my Feldenkrais class the other day. Sitting on a cushioned chair,we closed our eyes and listened to the "teacher's" instructions.

In this lesson, we were instructed to move our necks to the left, using very small increments. No straining, no stretching. Just these tiny movements. Eyes closed, focusing on my neck and her voice, she next asked us to become aware of the right side of our bodies.
Did our ribcage expand as we were flexing our necks? What was our spine doing? Did our "sit bone" (don't you just love that word?) rise up to help in this movement? Are we remembering to breathe?

What you're not supposed to do is peek at the other people to see what they are doing. You are supposed to be concentrating on how your own body is moving.
So of course I looked over at the lady next to me. Could she bend her neck as far as I could? Hmmmm? The purpose is NOT to stretch. Tiny movements.
But I like stretching!
We went on to flexing our necks to the right, then lifting up the left "sit bone" to make our bodies look like the letter "C". Then the other side. Then opposite neck movement and "sit bone" movement.
Talk about Awareness. You can't possibly do those movements without being Aware.

Ha! I bet I can "move" (read: stretch) my neck more than LadyBesideMe can. Then the teacher will like me more, cause I'm better.
Did I really think that? Was that me thinking like a school kid? Naw, that was Ego peeking out of Pandora's Box.
Of course I ended up with a sore neck the next day.
Absolutely NOT what is supposed to happen after a Feldenkrais class. The object is to heal - not cause pain. Duhhhh.

Oh, and it gets worse - I decided to go swimming after class. More neck movements in the pool. Very smart! (not) Usually, after class I go home and relax. I need some "down time" to integrate the lesson.

Not that day. Let's just say in my war on body fat, I often go overboard on exercise and pay the price later on.
The indoor pool was warm (82 degrees) and on a weekday afternoon, almost empty.
I swam around for a bit, noticed my neck feeling sore, but in my usual fashion - ignored it.

Thinking to exercise my legs a bit more, I took a flutterboard, plopped it in the water, held on and kicked for dear life. I looked around. I wasn't moving. So I kicked harder. Still going nowhere. O.K. - I 'll do a few frog kicks to get some momentum going, then try kicking again.
Hmmm - guess I need more practice at this - another day. Forget the flutterboard. I'll just go back to a leisurely sidestroke.

The next morning I woke up with a throbbing neck.
I went to the fridge, took out a bag of frozen peas and held it against my neck.
Hubby looked up from his newspaper.
"How is your foot pain?" he asked.
Foot pain? I'd forgotten all about that.


Beverly said...

Hello, Wendy,
Thanks for your comment on my blog. I have read almost all your posts. You write so well. Your subject is a hard one, isn't it. I daily go to JeanMac's blog, A Mountain Too High, and marvel at her strength.

I lost my husband in an accident almost six years ago. I think God in His mercy took him instead of leaving him here to suffer and have me as a caregiver had he been so injured he could no longer do anything. You ladies amaze me, and it is wonderful that you have this outlet.

I shall be back.

Karen said...

Hi Wendy,
I haven't been here in what seems like just a little while, yet look at all that's been going on!
I love your foot affirmation - in 1992 I was divorced after 20 years of marriage to an idiot but I found myself constantly thinking "my heart is just broken." Then the light dawned - if I didn't stop that mantra, probably soon my heart really would be "broken". Ever since then I've tried to use positive body affirmations - it's good practice.

I think the beautiful picture of you and the grandbaby is new? (If it's not and I missed it, I'm sorry) Russ' second daughter was born with pyloric stenosis too. Very scary, but she is now a lovely 35 year old woman.

About my $300 cat? That would be the price the apartment is asking just to let him in the door. Outrageous. It's not like he's a pony. It is also non-refundable when you move - damage or no. But I have to give up my beloved dog and I cannot be without an animal companion. Plus the cat would be pissed.

Thanks for stopping by, Wendy, I love your visits!

Freadom said...

Neat post. It seems we get so caught up in what's in our minds (especially us writers) that we don't even pay attention to what's going on around us. Is that your point?

My wife often talks to me while I'm blogging, and then an hour later she'll say something like, "So, did you call to cancel that credit card?"

"Um, what credit care. We never talked about canceling a credit card," I'd say.

"We talked about it yesterday, and you gave a very clear 'YES DEAR'."

"I don't remember."

She likes to tease me that this is a guy thing, but perhaps, after reading your post here, it's more of a side effect of being a thinker.

sharryb said...

Hi Wendy,
I do Feldenkrais movement lessons also. Loved the honest way you described your process. It's so easy to get caught up in doing it right or doing it better. Plenty of people wouldn't even know they are doing that.

It took me awhile, but I've answered the questions from the meme you tagged me with. Check it out.


Wendy said...

Hi Beverly,
Yes, it's hard, being a caregiver and watching my Hubby deteriorate.
But losing your Hubby in an accident must have shocked you to the core! How awful!!
But somehow, we survive.
God Bless and thanks for stopping by.

Wendy said...

Hi Karen,
We seem to be following similar life paths. I divorced my husband back in 1993 - after 20 years of putting up with his stuff!
My heart had been shattered years before, but I kept up the marriage for the kids.
Might not have been the best decision in retrospect - but we do the best we can.

I used to do affirmations a long time ago, and have only just gotten back to it. It sure feels good and certainly doesn't hurt!

You are right. I just posted that pic of me and baby granddaughter. It was taken a year ago the very day that she was born. When I created this blog, I looked for a pic of me alone, but couldn't find any. All my pics are holding babies! So I didn't post any pic at all. After visiting other blogs, I realized how nice it is to put a face to the stories we read. Changed my mind and posted this pic.

$300.00 for the cat to live in the apartment is totally disgusting!! But definitely worth it for that beautiful pet.
Thanks for chatting - I enjoy your visits too.

Wendy said...

Hey Freedom,
Sorry to burst your bubble, but that wasn't the point. Although often I do blog in my brain and then tell myself to stop. I need to be in the here and now!

No, the point was, that my focus had been on my sore feet like FOREVER - and when you take the focus off that area of the body and put it somewhere else (my sore neck which I know will be temporary), you magically forget the horribly chronic foot pain.
Thanks for your comments - I like your interpretation too.

Amy said...

Oh, I do like this post--your inner comments during the class had me laughing out loud.

I've got one of those brains that never shut off and I simply must distract myself with other *pain,* even if we're talking emotional/mental stuff rather than physical symptoms like yours.

I found my way here through Rick's blog, and I'm very glad I did.