Tuesday, August 08, 2006
Is FELDENKRAIS The Answer?
"It is a mistake to believe that a thought system based on lies is weak. Nothing made by a child of God is without power. It is essential to realize this, because otherwise you will be unable to escape from the prison you have made."
- A Course In Miracles
Is FELDENKRAIS the answer to everything? No. Absolutely not. It is only a means to an end, not an end in and of itself.
If you love to eat as much as I do, (growing up in Switzerland makes one appreciate both cooking and gastronomic finesse!) you know you have to do other things to burn calories! For myself, I ride my horse at least three days a week, and if I am cross training, I make sure she (my horse) gets exercise and turn out. When my horse is in training, I ride at least five days a week to get us both in shape, moving well and strong enough to gallop cross country at 35 miles an hour over solid jumps. Yet, we also need to still be balanced enough to do the sharper turns in the stadium jumping arena, and agile enough to do the graceful sideways moves that make up the balletlike patterns of classical dressage. It's a tall order. However, I do FELDENRKRAIS because it lends me the experience of earlier days. I feel much younger than my 44 years!
When I am cross training, I run, I ski, I swim, I walk. Walking will always be the best way to burn lactic acid, making the muscles less sore and permeating them with the oxygen vital to healthy muscle function. My first experience of this was years ago, when I went to Ireland for a five day horseback ride around the ring of Kerry. What an idylic voyage! As we crested the low mountains of Kerry, I became ever more curious to view the other side. I gleaned a sense of the compulsion for new territory that drove the early settlers of America ever westward. We traveled thirty miles a day over hill and dale on sure-footed Irish Thoroughbreds. Yet, at the end of the day, saddle sore and weary, the best cure and surety of good mobility the next morning was a slow walk along the verdant country roads before heading to bed.
I highly recommend whatever exercise you prefer. What you love is what lights you up. Granted, there are other methods of exercise that overlap with what FELDENKRAIS has to offer. Yet, there is a singular benefit to ATM, and that is that it improves your ability to particiapate in any other activity you set your hand or your mind to do. In my own experience, I can tell you that I tried a semester of yoga at school in college. I was in my early twenties and you would think it would have been easiest for me then. It was a basic Hatha Yoga class. However, I found it difficult and although the philosophy spoke to me, the physical aspect of it did not. What amazes me is that twenty years later, after getting a serious foundation of ATM, I went back to try some Yoga and found it EASIER! Riddle me this Batman, how could it be that a forty year old found Yoga easier than a twenty year old?
But lets recap some of the options. Tai Chi, for example teaches you to ground yourself more firmly in connection with your skeleton. This is an excellent practice that improves your mobility and your bodyawareness. As does Yoga. Yoga is at least as multidimensional as ATM. It also ecompasses the physical, mental and emotional aspects of experience. Yet, it is more invasive. It's about pushing the envelope. It's about stretching. Whereas FELDENKRAIS is about respecting your limitations. What's appropriate for you depends on where you are on the journey. Pilates is a really interesting choice because it not only builds strength, it teaches you to mobilize yourself from the inside and to reorganize yourself to include the deep muscles of your core in your self image. But, even pilates is easier with FELDENKRAIS!
The reason for this is that our limitations, in terms of movement, are usually self-imposed, assuming we have had no major accidents or surgeries. But even accidents are often survived without major misshap. The misshap occurs as a result of apprehending pain, of attempting to prevent anguish by blocking, holding and bracing against an impending incident that may never materialize. It takes energy to try to fend off every possible disomfort. Constantly scanning the environment for potential disaster is a perpetual drain. The practice of ATM all0ws us to knock down the walls of our own making. It first trains us to perceive the walls we have built to protect ourselves from further harm. Next, we look to see if how we feel is a true reflection of what we intend for we may think we fully intend to be open and freely mobile. Finally, we get to bridge the gap between awareness and intention. ATM is a call for accountability with SELF in a way that no other form of movement offers. Not only are you called to notice the discrepancies, you are given the means to work with yourself to break down the walls of limitation, even if you don't really understand what they are. By learning to open the door to your own innate intelligence and potential, you open yourself up to improvement without really having to understand how it works. Just recieve it in gratitude for what it is and be glad for 'not knowing'.
At first 'not knowing' seems difficult and uncomfortable. But it is a gift. It's an opening. It means you are truly teachable. Ask any of the philosophers of ancient Greece and you will find that this is exactly where you want to be. Ask any of the philosophers of our own time, and you will find that being in 'not knowing' grounds you in the present. This, of course, is the only moment we have any power over at all. Old blueprints of how to move, how to think and how to act may govern how we behave, but we can change all that by becoming present. As Eckhardt Tolle says, "The Moment of Power is NOW".
Check out www.eckharttolle.com for a new sense of being present. For more on A Course In Miracles, check out http://www.facim.org/acim/description.htm